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Royals announce Alex Gordon’s retirement after 14 years

Alex Gordon, who hit one of the biggest home runs in Royals history and gained seven Gold Gloves in left field, announced his retirement on Thursday.

The Royals stated Gordon will play out the final four matches of the season, making Sunday his last game in the major leagues.

Gordon, who was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, played his entire 14-year career (2007-20) with the Royals. He is one of three Royals position players to play at least 14 campaigns in Kansas City, joining George Brett (21 seasons) and Frank White (18).

Both of those players have had their number retired by the team. Gordon is the Royals’ all-time leader in leadoff home runs (14) and hit-by-pitches (121). He is also in the top 10 for multiple franchise career statistics. That contains home runs (190, 4th), doubles (357, 5th), extra-base hits (573, 5th), hits (1,641, 6th) and RBIs (749, 6th).

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After making his debut as a third baseman, Gordon was sent to Triple-A following a slow start and moved to left field. Gordon thrived in this new position, winning seven Gold Glove awards.

Gordon’s biggest moment came in the 2015 World Series. With the Royals trailing 3-2 in Game 1, Gordon stepped to the plate with one out and crushed a home run to center field off Mets closer Jeurys Familia.

The Royals went on to win in 14 innings and took the championship in five games.

Gordon re-signed with the Royals on a $4 million, one-year contract after his $72 million, four-year deal expired following the 2019 season.

Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 draft by the Royals and has since become one of the most popular players in the franchise’s half-century existence.

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Aaron Judge first Yankee in 13 years to homer in 5 straight

Aaron Judge homered for the fifth straight game Sunday, becoming the first New York Yankees player in 13 years to accomplish the feat.

The big slugger connected off left-handed reliever Matt Hall in the second inning, sending a three-run drive off the second deck in left field at Yankee Stadium to give New York a 3-2 lead over the Boston Red Sox. Judge went deep again in the eighth, blasting a two-run shot off Matt Barnes to give the Yankees their final two runs in a 9-7 victory.

“I really think he’s on a mission right now,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. The previous Yankees hitter to go deep in five consecutive games was Alex Rodriguez in September 2007.

Judge joined A-Rod as the only players in club history to hit five home runs in the first eight games of a season. Rodriguez also did that in 2007.

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With no fans allowed at Yankee Stadium because of the coronavirus pandemic, teammates in the dugout were easily heard bellowing in excitement when Judge connected.

“Not locked in yet. Still trying to find it,” Judge said. “I’m feeling good.”

Judge, who used the coronavirus hiatus to rehab a fractured first right rib and subsequent punctured lung, entered the shortened season with a clean bill of health. 

“He’s healthy, man. He’s a stud,” Yankees first baseman Luke Voit said. “He’s in a groove right now. It’s a guy that you don’t want to take your eyes off when he’s hitting.”

Judge had never homered in four games in a row until he connected during Saturday’s 5-2 triumph over Boston. The two-time All-Star led the American League with 52 home runs in 2017, when he was the AL Rookie of the Year and runner-up for MVP. Limited by injuries the past two years, Judge hit 27 homers each campaign.

The home runs Sunday gave Judge six homers and 14 RBIs in eight games this year.

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Thompson wins 3M Open, 2nd Tour win in 7 years

American Michael Thompson obtained the 3M Open in Blaine, Minnesota on Sunday by two strokes to claim his second career PGA Tour triumph and his first in seven years.

The 35-year-old was solid throughout the tournament and didn’t buckle under pressure, sinking a 12-foot putt on the par-five 18th to seal the win under sunny skies at TPC Twin Cities.

“It has been a long time,” an emotional Thompson said after his round of four-under 67.

“I’m really sad my wife and kids aren’t here to celebrate this with me. I can’t wait to see them. Babe, I love you,” he stated. Thompson, who was tied for the lead coming into Sunday’s final round, produced his best shot on the par-four 16th, where his long shot from the greenside bunker landed a couple feet from the hole.

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He made the birdie putt to retake the lead and never looked back, finishing 19-under 265 for the tournament, which was played without fans in attendance to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Fellow American Adam Long finished second after carding 17-under 267 for the tournament while nine players tied for third at 16-under including Tony Finau, Max Homa and Richy Werenski.

With the victory, Thompson, who came into the tournament ranked 218 in the world, will now be qualified to compete at next month’s PGA Championship in San Francisco.

Thompson’s only other victory came at the Honda Classic in 2013. He was a runner up at the 2012 U.S. Open.

Next up for Thompson is the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis starting Thursday and then the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco the following week.

“That’s what makes this game so unbelievable is that we have to play for our job every year,” he said. “To know that I have security for two more years and to get into all those tournaments … it’s just a huge bonus. I’ll have to get my mind right for sweating next week, but oh man, it’s just so exciting.”

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Tiger closes inconsistent Memorial with 4-over 76

Tiger Woods wrapped up the Memorial Tournament on Sunday with a 76 in his final round, putting him six strokes over par for the week.  

Consistency was an issue in his first official tournament since February, and he was tied for 41st place when he finished play at Muirfield Village Golf Club. He was more than 10 strokes behind leader Jon Rahm going into the clubhouse.

Woods was under par in two of his first three rounds, but he had just three birdies to go with five bogeys and a double bogey in Round 4 in Dublin, Ohio.

The round started well for Woods, opening with a birdie on the first hole thanks to a long putt.

He was accurate with his drive for the first few holes, but it was his short game that abandoned him as the round started to unravel.

A bogey on No. 4, double bogey on No. 7, and two more bogeys on No. 8 and 9 ruined any opportunity he had at a promising final round, ending up four over on the front nine.

In his defense, the problems were consistent for just about everyone playing Sunday Things got a little better on the back nine, seeing more fairways and greens in regulation. He navigated the tough conditions to earn pars before closing with a strong run on the final few holes.

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Though his work on the green was rough earlier in the day, the back-to-back birdies featured putts of 17 and 21 feet.

He also hit the fairway on 10 out of 14 drives, the most of any round this week, per PGATour.com. The closing performance should provide plenty of momentum heading forward this season.

A bogey on 18 is also excusable, as it came after a brief weather delay before he returned for his final three strokes.

This was the first PGA Tour event for Woods since the Genesis Invitational, before the campaign was suspended because of the coronavirus. Fans last saw him at Capital One’s “The Match: Champions for Charity” in May, an exhibition alongside Phil Mickelson, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

Regardless of the result this week, Woods saw the value in competing against the best in the world.

“Well, I think that getting back into the flow and competing again and playing at this level, I hadn’t done that in a while,” he said, per Mike Wells of ESPN. “Playing home and playing out here is so very different.” The next step is to stay healthy, particularly with his back apparently feeling stiff at times during this tournament, per Wells.

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Yankees’ Aaron Judge out another day with stiff neck

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was held out of action for a second consecutive day Sunday due to a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year was scratched from a simulated match Saturday after waking up with a sore neck, and the right fielder was not included in either lineup for an intrasquad scrimmage Sunday.

New York manager Aaron Boone stated Judge got treatment at Yankee Stadium on Sunday and was improving.

“Just thought it was better not to push through it today,” Boone said.

The Yankees are set to open a pandemic-shortened season July 23 at Washington. Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and used the coronavirus hiatus to recover.

He had been swinging at full strength for at least a couple of weeks before camp opened and had been a full-go in intrasquad action over the past week.

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The 6-foot-7 star has missed time each of the past two campaigns.

He broke his right wrist on a hit-by-pitch in 2018 and went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

When he’s been on the field, Judge has proved himself to be one of the sport’s most complete players, but staying healthy has been an issue the last two seasons. After playing in 155 games in 2017 — when he won AL Rookie of the Year honors going away and finished second in the MVP voting — Judge was limited to 112 games in 2018 and 102 games in 2019 because of different injuries.

Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka played catch Sunday to 100 feet and is ramping up his cardio but remains in concussion protocol. The Japanese starter was hit in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s 112 mph line drive eight days ago. Boone is still unclear when Tanaka will return to the mound.

Boone said Clint Frazier is expected to resume playing the outfield this week after being limited to designated hitter so far due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

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Masahiro Tanaka returns to Yankee Stadium only two days after taking 112 mph liner to head

The Yankees had their Sunday brightened by Masahiro Tanaka, who came to the ballpark and seemed well a day after being hit in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s line drive.

They’re hoping Yankee Stadium’s lights will do the same this week.

Encouraged by Tanaka’s progress after Saturday’s scare, the Yankees are planning to hold intrasquad night games Monday and Tuesday in the Bronx as they prepare for the July 23 start of a 60-game regular season condensed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 7 p.m. scrimmages will both air on YES Network, giving fans at least a couple of live looks at the defending AL East champions this summer. Left-hander J.A. Happ is expected to start against young righty Clarke Schmidt on Monday, and new ace Gerrit Cole — signed to a $324 million, nine-year free agent deal last winter — is set to pitch Tuesday.

New York has also been working to calendar exhibition matches in the next 2 1/2 weeks with other clubs, possibly the Mets, but nothing has been formalized. “We’re putting a premium on live reps as much as we can,” manager Aaron Boone said.

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Sunday’s second day of summer camp certainly went smoother than the first. The opener carried a somber feel after Stanton’s comebacker drilled Tanaka in the right side of his head in the third at-bat of the session.

Left-hander James Paxton said Sunday that Stanton’s shot was measured at 112 mph (180 kph).

Tanaka was released from the hospital Saturday night after a CT scan came back negative, and he is in concussion protocol. Boone is cautiously optimistic Tanaka could be ready by opening day.

“I think all the signs are pointing that he really dodged a bullet there,” Boone stated.

All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman and catcher Gary Sanchez took the field Sunday after missing Saturday’s workout. They arrived in New York a day later than teammates due to travel issues and had to wait for results from intake virus testing.

Chapman threw a bullpen, and Sanchez took live at-bats against Paxton, who looked sharp in his first simulated game of this camp.

Paxton is ramping up following back surgery in February that would have cost him much of the campaign if not for the delay.

The big left-hander walked Sanchez to start, then struck out Miguel Andujar, Tyler Wade and Sanchez successively. It was an encouraging sign for a club already without starter Luis Severino for the year due to Tommy John surgery and now facing questions about Tanaka’s availability.

“I had no problem with the back,” Paxton said. “Everything felt really good.”

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Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Edgar Santana suspended 80 games

Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Edgar Santana will miss all of the abbreviated 2020 campaign after being suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

MLB revealed Sunday that Santana tested positive for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance.

The 28-year-old Santana is in the process of a comeback after missing all of the 2019 campaign following reconstructive surgery on his right elbow in September 2018. Santana is 3-4 with a 3.31 ERA in 88 career games, all with the Pirates. He worked five hitless innings of relief in spring training before the MLB season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2018, he appeared in 69 games for the Pirates, going 3-4 with a 3.31 ERA. He struck out 74 in 66⅓ innings that season.

Pirates general manager Ben Cherington called Santana’s suspension “disappointing.”

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“The Pirates are disappointed to learn of today’s news that Edgar Santana has received an 80-game suspension as a result of a violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” Pirates GM Ben Cherington said in a statement. “Because of the confidentiality requirements of the Program, we will not have further comment on this matter.”

In one of the last rounds of roster moves the Pirates made before the MLB roster freeze that went into place due to the coronavirus shutdown, Santana was optioned to Triple-A. This was a bit of a surprise as he appeared to have a great chance to make the MLB roster out of spring training.

Santana’s salary of $581,500 was reduced to $215,370 due to the shortened season, and he will lose all of it. He received a $60,000 salary advance, however, and that money will be repaid to the team from the International Tax Fund.

This suspension will be a big blow to Santana’s career. When he is eligible to pitch in games again he will be 29-years-old. While 29 is not old, the last time he pitched in a MLB match he was 26. Also, missing back-to-back seasons is difficult for any player to overcome.

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