Tagged in: return

Los Angeles Dodgers taking time to build Clayton Kershaw back up for return, Dave Roberts says

The Los Angeles Dodgers started the second half of their season on Friday with lingering uncertainty over the status of longtime ace Clayton Kershaw, who is on the injured list with inflammation in his left forearm.

Kershaw has been working out, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, but there’s still no telling when he will resume throwing and begin to build back up for a return to the rotation.

Kershaw, who has a 3.39 ERA with 127 strikeouts and 19 walks in 106 1/3 innings this campaign, last pitched on July 3 and underwent an MRI less than a week later that revealed only inflammation in the area of his pitching elbow.

“We’re gonna take this time to give him a breather,” Roberts said. “This is something that, with the soreness and then taking some time here to build back up for the sprint, I think, makes sense, and Clayton’s on board with that.”

The Dodgers, two games behind the National League West-leading San Francisco Giants, went into the season with an abundance of starting-pitching depth but entered the All-Star break with serious questions about their rotation.

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With Kershaw on the IL, Dustin May opting for season-ending Tommy John surgery and Trevor Bauer on administrative leave at least until July 27 while facing sexual assault allegations, the Dodgers are down to four healthy starters.

One of those four, David Price, is just now being stretched out after spending the first three-plus months of the season in the bullpen.

Josiah Gray, the Dodgers’ top prospect, is among the internal options the Dodgers are considering for the vacant rotation spot, Roberts said.

Gray, 23, dealt with a shoulder injury earlier this year but has pitched six scoreless innings in two outings since his return for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Roberts indicated that Kershaw’s rehab process is rooted mostly in pragmatism. “That is something that once it kind of came about, it made sense to take the time to cut some of the season off and save some bullets for the rest of the season and throughout out the postseason,” Roberts said.

“We feel good about it. I’m not sure exactly when he’s gonna start playing catch again, but I feel good about the process.”

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Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. vows he will return from torn ACL stronger than ever

Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. has worked hard to reach the stratosphere of Major League Baseball. A day after suffering a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee, Acuna vowed to work harder than ever to stay there.

“The only thing I can say is that I’m obviously going to put maximum effort to come back stronger than ever,” Acuna said via Braves interpreter Franco Garcia during a Zoom call on Sunday. “If was giving 500 percent before, I’m about to start giving 1,000 percent.”

Acuna suffered the injury during Atlanta’s 5-4 triumph over the Marlins on Saturday when he landed awkwardly on the warning track while chasing a fly ball struck by Miami’s Jazz Chisholm Jr. Acuna grabbed at his knee in agony while Chisholm circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run.

The match was delayed for more than 10 minutes after Acuna initially tried to walk off the field but was unable to do so under his own power. As he was carried away on a cart, cameras caught an emotional Acuna tearing up after what turned out to be a season-ending injury, though he says he did not initially know that was the case.

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“I knew something was wrong,” Acuna said. “I guess I didn’t understand the severity of it, until the doctor told me about it later on. Nothing I can do about it now. I can’t control things I can’t control.”

Late Saturday, the Braves revealed via social media that Acuna had indeed suffered a complete tear of his ACL and would undergo surgery.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that Acuna is expected to miss nine to 10 months, which would put him in jeopardy of missing the start of the 2022 season.

However long it takes, Acuna vows to come back as good as he was when he went down.

“I think I’m a patient person and I think that’s going to work in my favor,” Acuna said. “Continue to work hard, trust the process of the rehab. Just continue to work hard. You get out what you put in.”

Acuna did not discuss a timetable regarding his eventual return, saying that his surgery has not yet been programmed. For now, he is preparing to go, as planned, to Colorado for the All-Star Game, where he would have started in the outfield for the National League.

“(Being selected) means a lot to me,” Acuna said. “In that same sense, those fans who went out and voted for me, they deserve it as much as I did. I wouldn’t be here without them.” Before his injury, Acuna was putting up another stellar campaign that had him positioned for a run at his first MVP award.

He leads the Braves in batting average (.283), homers (24) and stolen bases this season (17), and leads all big leaguers with 72 runs scored.

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George leads Clippers over Paul and Suns, 106-92 in Game 3

Paul George scored 27 points and the Los Angeles Clippers pulled away in a dominant third quarter, beating newly returned Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns 106-92 on Thursday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.

The Clippers cut their series deficit to 2-1, ending the Suns’ franchise-record playoff winning streak at nine games.

Kawhi Leonard remained out with a right knee sprain, leaving George to carry the load again. After missing two crucial free throws in a one-point loss in Game 2, Paul had 15 rebounds and eight assists and played a game-high 43 minutes. He made 6 of 7 free throws.

The Suns got Paul back after he missed the first two games while being sidelined since June 16 because of the NBA’s health and safety protocols. The former Clipper, who was booed heartily during intros, had 15 points and 12 assists, but was 5 of 19 from the field.

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Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 18 points.

Reggie Jackson added 23 points for the Clippers, and Ivica Zubac had 15 points and tied his career playoff high with 16 rebounds.

Game 4 is Saturday night at Staples Center.

After Phoenix won the first two games by a combined seven points, the teams played a close first half. Then the Clippers went to work in front of their raucous, Thunder Stix-pounding fans.

They took control with the biggest run of the game, a 21-3 spurt that left them leading 71-56 in the third. Terance Mann got it going with six straight points and Jackson scored four in a row before George scored inside. Zubac dunked off George’s pass and made a pair of free throws. The Suns were limited to a 3-pointer by Paul.

Devin Booker picked up his third and fourth fouls in a 42-second span during the Clippers’ run. Booker — wearing a clear mask to protect his nose that required stitches after he and Patrick Beverley banged heads in Game 2 — was 5 of 21 from the field, making only one of seven 3-point tries, and finished with 15 points.

Jae Crowder, who assisted on Deandre Ayton’s winning dunk on Tuesday, fouled out with 4:51 remaining. He had nine points, six rebounds and six assists.

George capped the third by banking in a 3-pointer from just inside midcourt, and it beat the buzzer, stunning the fans and sending the Clippers into the fourth leading 80-69. He nearly bobbled the ball along the right sideline, with Booker and Cam Johnson pressuring, before getting the shot off.

Luke Kennard opened the fourth with a 3 from the right corner, getting fouled and making the free throw. Marcus Morris hit a three before George got fouled. He confidently made both, keeping the Clippers ahead 89-71.

Cameron Payne, who so ably filled in for Paul in the first two games, went down with a left ankle injury after playing four minutes and didn’t return.

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New York Mets lose Marcus Stroman to hip injury, Joey Lucchesi to Tommy John; Michael Conforto’s IL return delayed

Marcus Stroman has a sore hip, Michael Conforto’s return was delayed due to coronavirus concerns and Joey Lucchesi is out for the campaign.

The hits just keep on coming for the injury-riddled New York Mets.

Stroman, the team’s most durable starting pitcher this season, exited Tuesday night’s outing versus Atlanta in the second inning due to an aching left hip.

Conforto is on deck to come off the injured list, but the right fielder wasn’t activated Tuesday after Triple-A Syracuse’s scheduled match was postponed to allow for more COVID-19 testing and contact tracing within the organization.

Conforto spent last weekend on a rehab assignment with Syracuse, so the Mets said they decided not to reinstate him Tuesday “out of an abundance of caution.” The team said Conforto tested negative Tuesday night and it plans to activate him before Wednesday’s game against the Braves. He has been sidelined since straining his right hamstring on May 16.

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Lucchesi, however, is headed for Tommy John surgery, the Mets confirmed Tuesday.

The left-hander had solidified a spot at the back of the rotation by posting a 1.19 ERA over his previous five starts.

Stroman threw 18 pitches in a hitless first inning and fell behind Austin Riley 2-1 leading off the second before manager Luis Rojas and an athletic trainer visited the mound.

With the entire infield and plate umpire Pat Hoberg gathered around Stroman, the right-hander consulted with Rojas and the trainer while making throwing motions. Stroman threw one warmup pitch to catcher James McCann before another extended consultation.

Stroman then threw two more warmup pitches and kept talking with everyone at the mound — this time in a group that included first base umpire Ron Kulpa — before walking off .

Prior to Tuesday, Stroman had lasted at least six innings in eight consecutive starts. He and left-hander David Peterson are the only Mets pitchers to take every scheduled turn this year.

Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom spent two weeks on the injured list with tightness in his side — and exited two starts this month with arm ailments — while Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard have yet to pitch this season because of injuries.

Rojas stated before the game he didn’t know who would start in Lucchesi’s place Wednesday night.

“We have guys that can go long in our bullpen if they get another day of rest tonight,” Rojas said.

Yennsy Diaz relieved Stroman and completed a walk to Riley — which was charged to Stroman — and then loaded the bases with none out before striking out three straight batters. Rojas said on June 8 that Conforto was still a couple of weeks from starting a rehab assignment. But he was able to resume baseball activities at Citi Field during the previous homestand and hit .182 in three rehab games for Syracuse last weekend.

“He’s actually exceeded our expectations,” acting general manager Zack Scott said Tuesday. “Hit all the kind of objective markers on his strength of his hamstring. He’s ready to go.”

Conforto is hitting .230 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 33 games.

Lucchesi’s injury was another blow to a rotation that was already thin behind deGrom, Taijuan Walker and Stroman. Still, the unit has been splendid all season, a big reason the depleted Mets lead the NL East. Lucchesi was placed on the injured list Saturday, one day after he threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings against Washington. An MRI revealed a significant tear of his left UCL and a second opinion Tuesday confirmed the diagnosis. He is arranged  to undergo surgery Thursday.

“Tough break for Joey and for the club,” Scott said. “He’s got a full tear, so it’s pretty cut-and-dry.”

Lucchesi’s injury leaves just Peterson behind deGrom, Walker and Stroman. With Carrasco (right hamstring) and Syndergaard (elbow) still several weeks from returning, Scott said he would “explore all options” for rotation reinforcements.

Before the game, the Mets recalled reserve catcher Patrick Mazeika from Syracuse and optioned infielder-outfielder Brandon Drury to their top farm club. Right-hander Robert Stock was claimed from the Chicago Cubs and optioned to Triple-A.

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Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout doesn’t have timetable for return

Mike Trout says his right calf is starting to feel better, but the Los Angeles Angels superstar still doesn’t know when he will be able to return.

The time-time AL MVP went on the injured list on May 18 after straining his calf the night before versus the Cleveland Indians. The Angels said at the time that Trout would miss six to eight weeks, which would sideline him through the All-Star break.

“Today was probably my best day yet, just tolerance-wise. As far as activities, I’m doing as much as I can to strengthen around the calf muscle,” Trout said before Monday’s game versus the Kansas City Royals.

Trout said he would like to start jogging soon but doesn’t have a timetable on when he would be able to do that, much less resume baseball activities. He said he is walking on a treadmill but not with any intensity.

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“I’m happy with my progress so far. It has been good the last couple of days,” he said. “I should have a better idea on a return date once I start moving around, as in jogging and running.”

At the time of his injury, Trout was leading the majors in on-base percentage (.466) and OPS (1.090), with eight home runs and 18 RBI. His .425 batting average in April was the best of his 11-year career.

Juan Lagares has started in center field in 16 of the 19 games that Trout has missed, with Taylor Ward starting the other three.

Lagares and Ward have combined to go 13 of 70 with no homers and seven RBI in games they have started in center.

Los Angeles is 9-10 since Trout went on the IL. It went into Monday’s game trailing Oakland by seven games in the AL West.

Trout said during home games he usually watches the first couple innings from the dugout before going into the clubhouse to continue his rehab. He also continues to attend hitter’s meetings.

“It seems like there are games where we score a bunch of runs and then the next game it is pretty quiet,” he said. “It’s tough being on the bench. You know, there’s only so much you can do and you want to be out there.”

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‘Rusty’ Federer beaten on ATP tour return in Geneva Open

A rusty Roger Federer was defeated 6-4 4-6 6-4 by Spaniard Pablo Andujar on his return to the ATP Tour at the claycourt Geneva Open on Tuesday, but there were still plenty of positives for the Swiss in his performance.

Federer missed nearly the entire 2020 season after twice having knee surgery. He returned to the Tour at the Qatar Open in March, but had not played since losing in the quarter-finals in Doha.

On Tuesday, the 39-year-old went toe-to-toe with Andujar in their first-ever meeting, showing plenty of encouraging signs with his shot-making and on-court movement ahead of the French Open.

After bouncing back in the second set, Federer looked poised to run away with the contest before an uncharacteristic lapse in concentration put paid to his hopes of an extended run at his home tournament.

Andujar, ranked 75th in the world, made a strong start, while Federer struggled to settle into his serving rhythm early on.

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The top seed landed just 40% of his first serves in the first set, but still never looked like being broken until a wobble in his final service game permitted Andujar to capitalize on two consecutive unforced errors and take the opener.

The second set was a different story.

Federer broke early to take a 2-1 lead and, with his serve finally firing, began imposing himself on proceedings, shortening the rallies with his serve-and-volley game and moving his adversary about at will.

Federer earned himself two set points with his first ace of the match and forced the contest into the decider with a powerful crosscourt forehand.

The third set followed a similar pattern to the second.

After both players held their opening service games Federer edged ahead to take a 2-1 lead, earning the break with a glorious passing shot at full stretch.

He held his next two service games to love, but it was Andujar who provided the late twist, breaking back to level the match at 4-4 and then holding to go 5-4 ahead.

Federer, under pressure and serving to stay in the match, handed the Spaniard two match points with a pair of unforced errors. He saved both, but Andujar regained the advantage when Federer struck a forehand wide off the frame of his racket.

The Spaniard sealed the victory when Federer sent another forehand wide, celebrating by clasping his head in his hands, with a stunned look on his face, before running to the net to shake hands with his opponent.

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Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow on track to return for Week 1, Dr. Neal ElAttrache says

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who underwent reconstructive left knee surgery in December, is “all systems go” for the Sept. 12 regular-season opener versus the Minnesota Vikings, according to Dr. Neal ElAttrache of Kerlan-Jobe in Los Angeles.

“He’s on track for full go for start of the season,” ElAttrache, who operated on Burrow in December, wrote in a text. “He’s doing all the work. He’s worked his tail off and been an amazingly mature participant in his recovery. He’s focused and great to work with.”

Burrow had told “The Cris Collinsworth Podcast” that he expected to be there for the first snap in 2021. But now ElAttrache is working with the Bengals’ medical staff on Burrow’s rehabilitation, and they consider that goal is well within reach.

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Doctors do not want any contact until nine months, which could lead to Burrow sitting out the preseason.

But the goal, now well within reach, is to be ready for the start of the regular campaign.

“We are very happy with his recovery to say the least,” ElAttrache said. “Notwithstanding the nature of his injury and extent of his reconstruction, his knee is performing perfectly.

“We just had him tested out here with a high-tech video and biomechanical evaluation and he was ahead of where we anticipated and well into the return to performance phase of his recovery. With him already performing this way, it’s ‘all systems go’ for the start of the season.”

Burrow suffered the injury during a Nov. 22 loss at Washington. He then underwent surgery Dec. 2. Before the injury, Burrow had validated his draft selection as the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, starting 10 games and completing 65.3% of his passes for 2,688 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.

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Bulls complete sweep of Hornets in LaVine’s return, 120-99

For one night, the Chicago Bulls looked like a playoff-worthy team.

The return of Zach LaVine to the floor certainly had something to do with the Bulls’ inspired effort, which ended a four-game skid.

Nikola Vucevic had 29 points and 14 rebounds, LaVine had 13 points after missing 11 matches due to the league’s health and safety protocols, and the Bulls swept the season series from the Charlotte Hornets with a 120-99 victory on Thursday night.

“It definitely opened up some things for us,” Bulls coach Billy Donovan said of LaVine’s return.

Said Vucevic: “We’re happy to have him back. We played a great game and that helped motivating us and getting us ready to play knowing he was back. So hopefully we will continue to play that way.”

Chicago is a long shot to make the postseason, still 3 1/2 games behind Washington for the final spot in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.

The Bulls have six games left; the Wizards have five. LaVine said he felt “really tired” after the long layoff and wanted to make sure he didn’t try to do too much.

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“I told (my teammates), don’t expect me to try to go get 40 (points) the first night,” LaVine said.

LaVine averaged more than 30 points in his five previous games before being sidelined, but mostly deferred to his teammates in the first three quarters, attempting six shots. But he started to show his scoring ability with back-to-back jump shots to start the fourth quarter before Donovan took him out after 27 minutes of action.

“I thought there was a lot more opportunities for him to shoot the ball, and to try to go score and attack,” Donovan said.

“But with him being out three weeks and the respect he has for his teammates, and I think he just tried to fit in and take the shots that were there and not try to force things.”

P.J. Washington, who missed Charlotte’s last game for the birth of his child, had 24 points on six 3-pointers. 

Malik Monk added 20 points off the bench for the Hornets, who played without Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges and Devonte Graham.

Charlotte could have clinched a spot in the play-in tournament had it won.

But Vucevic would have none of it. He returned after missing two games with right adductor tightness and dominated. Looking fresh, he made 12 of 24 shots from the field and was 5 of 7 from 3-point range, helping opening things up for his teammates.

“I think they just played harder than us every time we played them,” Washington said. “For us, it’s just about defense at the end of the day. We have to stop teams from getting offensive rebounds and easy second-chance points.”

The Bulls, who beat the Hornets by 13 and 17 points in the two previous meetings, jumped out to a 48-33 lead this time.

It appeared Charlotte might make a game of it after hitting 8 of 13 3-point attempts in the second quarter to cut the lead to five, but the Bulls extended their lead to 22 entering the fourth quarter.

“We’ve struggled with Chicago all year,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “Give them credit. For whatever reason, the matchup does not fit our group.”

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Halep starts clay season with dominant win over Vondrousova

Simona Halep returned from injury to begin her clay-court season with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Marketa Vondrousova on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the Porsche Grand Prix.

The third-ranked Romanian was back on court for the first time since a shoulder injury forced her out of the Miami Open last month, and it was only her second match since her straight-sets loss to Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarterfinals in February.

“Starting the clay-court season makes me very happy and motivated, extra motivated actually,” Halep said in a post-match news conference.

“I missed playing matches. I had a few weeks without an official match and it was kind of tough when I started the match, but my mind was strong enough just to give focus on what I have to play. So, I did it great and today it was a great match.

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“I was a little bit nervous before the match because I played twice against her and she beat me every time.

There was no sign of rust as Halep wrapped up her victory over Vondrousova in less than an hour without facing a single break point.

Halep will play Ekaterina Alexandrova in the quarterfinals after the Russian upset eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic 6-1, 7-5.

Elina Svitolina came through a tougher test as she defeats three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber 7-6 (4), 6-3. Svitolina was 3-1 down in the tiebreaker before winning six of the next seven points, and she didn’t face a break point in the second set. The fourth-seeded Ukrainian will face Petra Kvitova in the quarters.

Karolina Pliskova hit 21 aces as she beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to set up a meeting with top-ranked Ash Barty.

Fifth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka swept past Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-4, 6-2. Sabalenka next faces Anett Kontaveit, who eliminated Sofia Kenin on Wednesday.

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Kevin Durant unlikely to return for Brooklyn Nets this week, coach Steve Nash says

Kevin Durant will not play versus the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, and Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash stated he doubts Durant will play this week as he continues to rehab from a hamstring strain that has sidelined him for a month and a half.

Nash stated Sunday that Durant “looks good” and “is progressing” but “still needs to be monitored and still needs to get a certain amount of markers under his belt” before he returns to game action.

Durant last played on Feb. 13 versus the Golden State Warriors. Durant stayed back during Brooklyn’s three-game road trip to Portland, Utah and Detroit last week while he worked through what Nash deemed a “critical last part” of his rehabilitation.

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The Nets were also without Kyrie Irving and Landry Shamet on that trip. Irving, who was not with the team while he attended to a family matter, will play on Monday. Shamet, who has been treating a right ankle sprain, has been ruled out against the Timberwolves.

Nash stated he doesn’t think that Shamet will return to the lineup this week, either.

After the Nets host the Timberwolves, they face Houston on Wednesday and the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday — all of which Durant and Shamet are likely to miss, according to Nash.

Nash reiterated that he doesn’t believe Shamet’s ankle will be a “long-term thing,” while Durant still has a few more tests to pass in his hamstring recovery.

Initially, the Nets ruled out Durant for two matches, but further imaging revealed a more severe strain than the team initially thought.

Nash has said that they also have the luxury of not rushing Durant back because the team has continued to win. The Nets, Nash said, are prioritizing Durant’s long-term health in what they hope will be a deep playoff run.

“There’s still steps for him to take,” Nash said of Durant, “although he looks great, is progressing and will definitely be back with us. It’s just, I don’t think this week is likely.”

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