Tagged in: training camp

Texas Rangers reliever Jonathan Hernandez shut down from pitching at least 4 weeks with UCL sprain

The Texas Rangers will be without one of their top relievers to initiate the season after hard-throwing Jonathan Hernandez was shut down from pitching for at least four weeks because of a ligament sprain in his right elbow.

Rangers general manager Chris Young stated Tuesday that an MRI revealed a low-grade ulnar collateral ligament sprain after the right-hander felt something when throwing his last batting practice session.

Hernandez had a breakout season last year, when he was 5-1 with a 2.90 ERA in 27 appearances in the pandemic-shortened 60-game season. He had 31 strikeouts and eight walks in 31 innings, relying heavily on a sinker that averaged nearly 98 mph.

“The good news on him is that this [injury] is one that normally recovers and responds well with some rest,” Young said from the team’s spring training camp in Surprise, Arizona. Young also stated that outfielder/designated hitter Willie Calhoun is dealing with some mild groin tightness after playing Monday.

The team planned to be cautious with Calhoun for a few days but didn’t initially plan an MRI.

That game came exactly one year after Calhoun was hit in the face by a fastball that broke his jaw during a spring training game.

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Young said the Rangers would re-evaluate Hernandez after four weeks, and determine then if the 24-year-old’s ulnar collateral ligament has healed enough to begin a throwing program. He hadn’t yet pitched in a spring training game and will need significant time to build back up once he can throw again.

“Jonathan is obviously one we were counting on,” said Young, who expects the reliever to be out at least a couple of months. “This one hurts a little bit. But there’s still a chance he pitches this year.”

While Hernandez didn’t have any save opportunities last season, he pitched in some high-leverage situations. The Rangers expected to use him in a similar role this year, with maybe some opportunities as the closer.

“We kind of anticipated him being obviously one of our back-end guys, a multiple inning-type pitcher as well,” manager Chris Woodward said. “He’s an eighth-, ninth-inning guy that we can pitch for the eighth and the ninth if we wanted to. We don’t have that option with some of our other guys.”

Jose Leclerc is coming back from a shoulder injury the closer sustained a week into last season, when pitched in only two matches. Left-handed Joely Rodriguez, who had a 2.13 ERA and struck out 17 in his 12⅔ innings last season, is still behind in spring training because of a sprained ankle before getting to camp. He is expected to throw his first bullpen session Friday.

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Deshaun Watson met with Houston Texans coach David Culley, still wants to be traded

Quarterback Deshaun Watson met with new Houston Texans coach David Culley last Friday, according to sources, and informed Culley that he has no plan of suiting up for the team again.

Upset over the way the organization has operated in recent years, Watson has asked the Texans to trade him and has had very little contact with the team since the season ended.

The conversation with Culley is believed to have been the first between the two. Culley said in his introductory news conference that he expected Watson to be on the team in 2021.

But according to the sources, Watson’s message to Culley in Friday’s meeting was that nothing has changed on his end and he still would like to be traded. So far, the Texans have told interested teams that they don’t intend to trade Watson, who just last summer signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension that runs through 2025.

Trading Watson would cost the Texans $21.6 million in dead money against this year’s salary cap — a significant hit since his cap number if he’s on the team is just $15.94 million.

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Any team acquiring the young superstar would get a tremendous bargain in 2021, as Watson is arranged to earn just $10.54 million in salary this year before that number jumps to $35 million in 2022, $37 million in 2023 and $32 million each in 2024 and 2025.

If the Texans choose not to trade Watson, he could opt not to report to mandatory team activities or training camp, but at a cost.

Houston can fine Watson $95,877 for missing minicamp and can fine him $50,000 per day for each day of training camp missed, plus one week’s salary — $620,000 — for each preseason game missed. In the unlikely scenario that Watson chooses to retire, the Texans can collect $21.6 million.

Watson’s trade request came after he was reportedly unhappy with the process used by the team to hire new general manager Nick Caserio in early January.

Watson set career highs in the 2020 season in passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage. He also threw a career-low seven interceptions. His 33 touchdowns and 4,823 passing yards were single-season franchise records.

He is the NFL’s career leader in completion percentage at 67.8%, ahead of New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. In 2020, Watson became just the 11th player in NFL history to complete at least 70% of his passes in a season.

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Harden returns to Rockets, scores 12 in preseason debut

James Harden was back in a Houston uniform.

It’s still uncertain how many more times that’ll happen.

The three-time defending NBA scoring champion made his preseason debut with the Rockets on Tuesday night, after practicing only one time with his team following a late arrival to training camp amid incessant trade speculation. Harden scored 12 points in 21 minutes and the Rockets beat the San Antonio Spurs 112-98.

Harden also had four assists, three rebounds and two steals. He checked out for the final time with 5:02 left in the third quarter, having missed his final four shots.

John Wall and Ben McLemore each had 15 points for the Rockets, who got 11 points apiece from Eric Gordon and Jae’Sean Tate and 11 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins. Lonnie Walker IV scored 17 for the Spurs, who got 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds from Dejounte Murray. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 12, while Rudy Gay and Devin Vassell each added 11 for San Antonio.

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Harden seemed anything but disinterested to start his first live game action of the season.

He stood immediately to the right of new Rockets coach Stephen Silas in the pregame huddle, his eyes staring intently at whatever Silas was sketching up before taking the floor.

His first shot was a made straightaway 3-pointer, his second attempt led to him getting fouled from beyond the arc and making three free throws.

So, his shooting touch was there, at least at the outset — as was his touch on passes. He connected with Danuel House on a three-quarter-court chest pass to set up a dunk late in the opening quarter, timing clearly not much of an issue after a couple months off.

Harden went 3 for 10 from the field, including 2 for 6 from 3-point range. He also went 4 for 5 at the free-throw line.

The Rockets lost guard Chris Clemons with 9:58 left, after he was taken off the court in a wheelchair. Clemons made a 3-pointer for an 87-74 Houston lead, and after retreating to the defensive end for the ensuing possession, appeared to take a bad step and immediately started reaching for his right Achilles area.

There was no immediate diagnosis of Clemons’ injury. There are four matches Wednesday, followed by seven on Thursday, eight on Friday and then three in the preseason finales Saturday. The regular season starts on Dec. 22.

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Draymond Green, James Wiseman absent from Golden State Warriors practice

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green and No. 2 overall draft pick James Wiseman missed Day 1 of the team’s training camp Monday.

Coach Steve Kerr didn’t detail why the two were absent but did say they were the only two players not to take the court. Kerr noted that he couldn’t elaborate on what Green and Wiseman are able to do at the moment.

“I will not comment on that any further,” Kerr said. “I’m not allowed to comment on that. You can make your own deductions. I know it’s really tricky.”

Last week, general manager Bob Myers acknowledged without providing names that two players had tested positive for COVID-19 and said they would be out at least 10 days before being tested again. Kerr noted the awkwardness for both coaches and media in trying to give an update on the health of his team without revealing who tested positive.

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“I’m just trying to figure out which one of you has put all the pieces together and figured out what’s happening here,” Kerr said. “I think you guys all got it.”

It’s the same awkward dance that is going on throughout the NBA this season concerning to injury updates and players’ privacy. Kerr knows that the uncertain nature of the virus makes it something that will hover over the league all season.

“This is the nature of this season, so everybody’s going to be dealing with it,” he said. “Every team in the league. I think the way we’re looking at it is we’re lucky to be playing basketball. We’re grateful for the opportunity to compete and play, and any difficulties to the season pale in comparison to what’s happening out in the world, so there won’t be much talk from our end about COVID and the protocols and what it means to our team … What matters is the protocols and being healthy and safe and keeping everybody that way.”

Kerr isn’t worried about Green’s readiness to play as soon as he is medically cleared to hit the floor.

“When he’s ready to go, he’ll be out there,” Kerr said. “I’m not worried about Draymond. He’s got a better feel for what we do than anybody, so he’ll be fine once he gets rolling with practice.”

As for Wiseman, getting him prepared for the condensed season will be trickier. Kerr knows that it will be hard to get the second overall pick in last month’s draft ready after his training camp absence, but he isn’t going to complain about the hand the Warriors have been dealt. “It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it goes,” Kerr said.

“Our coaching staff has been showing him tape the last few days, and he’s still getting some homework in between now and the time he’ll be able to play again. So it’s not ideal, but nothing’s ideal for anybody in 2020.”

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Jets release veteran starting right guard Brian Winters

The New York Jets have released Brian Winters, who started at right guard until being sidelined by an injury last year and was the team’s longest-tenured player.

The timing of the release is surprising because general manager Joe Douglas said lately that Winters would be given a chance to go to training camp and compete for the starting job.

Winters was due to make a non-guaranteed $7.3 million in the final year of a four-year, $29 million contract. There will be no cap hit for the Jets; the entire $7.3 million comes off the books.

The Jets overhauled their offensive line in the offseason, including signing guard Greg Van Roten to a three-year deal.

Van Roten is expected to be the team’s starter at right guard this campaign.

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The Jets also re-signed starting left guard Alex Lewis and signed center Connor McGovern and tackle George Fant to multiyear contracts. In addition, the Jets used their first-round draft pick (11th overall) on offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.

A starter since his rookie year in 2013, Winters suffered a shoulder injury last training camp but started the regular season in his familiar right guard position and lasted nine matches before succumbing to the pain. He underwent surgery and was placed on injured reserve.

Winters, 29, is known for his toughness. In 2017, he missed only three games despite an abdominal tear, which required surgery after the season.

The following year, he didn’t miss a single snap on offense. He entered the league in 2013 as a third-round pick out of Kent State. He was second to running back Bilal Powell as the longest-tenured Jets on the 2019 team. Winters has appeared in 89 games, including 79 starts, over nine seasons.

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Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence debating whether to report to training camp

The Dallas Cowboys could be without their star pass rusher entering training camp.

DeMarcus Lawrence, a two-time Pro Bowl selection in 2017 and 2018, is debating whether or not he will skip training camp due to the upcoming birth of his daughter. His wife is due in October and the current coronavirus pandemic may make it unsafe for Lawrence and his family.

Cowboys training camp is set to start on July 28. “I’m taking it one day at a time, talking with my team and trying to figure out as many details as possible before I make a decision and have it set in stone,” Lawrence told ESPN.

“Shoot, I love to ride with my brothers and play the game of football. When I have to take that away from myself, it’s hard and I don’t want to make a decision like that. But I also have to make sure I’m taking care of my family. Family is No. 1. After the game of football is done, that’s the only thing I have to depend on, so I’ve got to take care of them.”

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He doesn’t want to miss his daughter’s birth after being absent for his son’s birth back in 2014.

“But my No. 1 concern is will I be able to see my family and be there for my daughter’s birth?” Lawrence said. “If I can’t be, we’re really going to have to take some major difficult considerations about this season, because I’m not missing the birth of another child.”

The Cowboys haven’t exactly had the best of offseason. Dallas was recently unable to complete a long-term contract with franchise quarterback Dak Prescott.

The failure to get a deal done before the deadline last Wednesday means the 27-year-old will play on a franchise tag — a one-year deal — worth $31.4 million. Lawrence is entering the second year of a five-year, $105 million deal — with $65 million guaranteed — that he inked prior to the begining of the 2019 season.

If he sits out training camp, he would be forced to repay part of his bonus.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Jason Pierre-Paul undergoes knee surgery

Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul published on Snapchat that he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Friday, describing the procedure as a “tune-up.”

Pierre-Paul posted video of himself waiting for surgery at the hospital, getting into his car afterwards and walking on crutches with his knee bandaged.

“Get this surgery. You feel me? But I’m Gucci though. You feel me?” Pierre-Paul said in the video. “Because your boy just had to do it. He just had to do it.”

… Your boy good. I just had a little tune-up. But to be honest, if I’m going to break that sack record this year, I needed to do the surgery. So I did it.” A source told ESPN that there are no concerns about him missing the start of training camp.

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After suffering two fractured vertebrae in his neck last offseason, Pierre-Paul went on to record 8.5 sacks in 10 matches in 2019, while teammate Shaq Barrett led the NFL with 19.5 sacks.

Throughout the season last year, Pierre-Paul was listed on the injury report with a knee injury but continued to play.

Earlier this offseason, he signed a new two-year deal worth $25 million. The surgery was performed to alleviate some discomfort he was feeling.

“Your boy good. I just had a little tune-up,” Pierre-Paul said. “You feel me? But to be honest, if I’m gonna break that sack record this year, I needed to do the surgery. So I did it.”

The two-time Pro Bowl selection was traded from the New York Giants to the Buccaneers before the 2018 season. Earlier this off-season, Pierre-Paul signed a two-year, $25 million deal with the Buccaneers.

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