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Updated: 2 hours 19 min ago

Venters Returns, Crazy Eights, Rays Extend Win Streak To Five

2 hours 49 min ago
Rays Set Franchise Mark, Score 8-Runs For Fourth Game In A Row AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The Tampa Bay Rays won their fifth straight game defeating the Baltimore Orioles 8-4. Andrew Kittredge (1-2, 5.23 ERA) picks up the win for the Rays who improve to 9-13 on the year. Former Ray Alex Cobb (0-3, 13,11 ERA) took the loss for the Orioles who drop to 6-18 on the year.

It was a complete team effort for the Rays who used a potent offense to battle back from a 3-1 deficit scoring four in the fifth inning, a run in the sixth, and two in the seventh.

“Obviously offensively everybody contributed,” said Manager Kevin Cash. “A lot of our pitchers contributed. Matt Andriese give him a lot of credit. We haven’t found that role for him here lately, it worked out tonight that’s kind of how we drew it up.”

More On The Offense:

The Rays offense continued to assault opposing pitching. For the first time in franchise history, their offense scored eight or more runs in four consecutive games.

Over the last seven games the Rays have scored 48 runs on 80 hits while batting .326 as a team with 10 homers. They are hitting .354 with runners in scoring position.

Every member of the lineup had a hit. Joey Wendle went 3-for-5 with three RBI and is now hitting .328. Daniel Roberston reached base four times getting two hits, hit by a pitch, and drawing a walk. He’s now batting .340. Denard Span had a pair of hits and scored a pair of runs. Adeiny Hechavarria also had a multi-hit game including his second homer of the season.

Faria Struggles:

Jake Faria was not sharp working just 4.1-innings allowing four earned runs on four hits while walking five and striking out and walking three. He threw 83 pitches with 50 for strikes.

The Pen Shuts It Down:

After the Rays took the lead in the top of the fifth, Jake Faria came out to open the bottom of the inning. He struck out Trey Mancini to open the inning, but allowed a home run to Chance Sisco that cut the Rays lead to 5-4 and ended his night. Andrew Kittredge came in and retired the final two batters of the inning.

Jonny Venters, who hadn’t appeared in a MLB game since the 2012 NL Wild Card game, opened the sixth inning. He needed just four pitches to retire Chris Davis on a ground ball to third baseman Daniel Robertson. It had been 2028 days since his last appearance. (Read More About Venters Here)

“It was an amazing experience, just to get out there on a big league mound. In a big league game.” Venter said. “To be able to get an out and help this team win was a special thing. I’ll never forget the rest of my life.” His family was in attendance at the game, “dream come true, really.” he added.

Jonny's journey.#RaysUp pic.twitter.com/blxHTuyHND

— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 26, 2018

Matt Andriese came in to replace Venters and retired eight of the nine batters he faced before turning the ball over to Jose Alvarado.  Alvarado retired the side in order to secure the victory.

Up Next For Rays: 

Tampa Bay and Baltimore will finish their rain shortened series Thursday at 7:05.  Chris Archer (1-1, 6.59 ERA) takes the hill for the Rays. The Orioles counter with Dylan Bundy (1-2, 1.42 ERA).

The post Venters Returns, Crazy Eights, Rays Extend Win Streak To Five appeared first on Sports Talk Florida.

Categories: Florida Sports News

Jonny Venters Completes Long Journey Back To Big Leagues

3 hours 55 min ago
Venters Returns To MLB After 2,028 Day Absence 

6 years and THREE Tommy John surgeries later, Jonny Venters made his return to the Majors. pic.twitter.com/bdDSL3zvYK

— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 26, 2018

Jonny Venters had not pitched in a big league game since the 2012 NL Wild Card game while he was a member of the Atlanta Braves. He underwent Tommy John surgies in 2005, 2013, and 2014.  In 2016, he underwent an additional, “half-Tommy John” by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays recalled Venters from Triple-A Durham.  To make room on the roster, Hunter Wood was optioned.

Venters arrived at Durham Bulls Athletic Park early in the morning as the Bulls had a 10:30 a.m. first pitch against the Buffalo Bison. The game was delayed by rain and while waiting for the tarp to come off the field he was told that he was being recalled by the Rays.

“It’s hard to put into words how I’m feeling. It’s been an emotional day,” Venters told reporters. “I’m excited to be here. Grateful for the opportunity. Hopefully go out and get some people out today.”

He entered the game in the bottom of the sixth inning to face Chris Davis. He retired Davis on a groundball to third baseman Daniel Robertson on four pitches.

According to an online Tommy John database compiled by Jon Roegele of FanGraphs, Venters is the first pitcher ever to return to the majors after three Tommy John surgeries

Per the Elias Sports Bureau:
  • Venters is the first All-Star to return to the major leagues after missing at least 5 years (5 years, 202 days) since 1997 All-Star Justin Thompson. Thompson who returned with Texas on Aug 18, 2005. It was his first game since Aug 15, 1999, a gap of 6 years, 3 days.
  • The last player to return to the majors after missing 5 years or more was St Louis Cardinal Chad Huffman. He returned on June 8, 2017, his first game since July 3, 2010 (6 years, 340 days).
  • The last pitcher to return to the majors after missing 5 years or more was Chicago White Sox Gregory Infante. He made his return on May 15, 2017, his first game since October 1, 2010 (6 years, 226 days).
The Road Back:

Jonny's journey.#RaysUp pic.twitter.com/blxHTuyHND

— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 26, 2018

On March 11, 2015 the Rays signed him to a minor league deal. They had hoped to be the beneficiary of a long and patient rehab process. He continued his rehab and crawled back on top of the mound at George Steinbrenner Field on June 4, 2016. That night, he logged an inning with the Rays High-A affiliate Charlotte Stone Crabs.

It was his first live game action since he took the mound on October 3, 2012 for the Atlanta Braves against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unfortunately, the feel good story wouldn’t last.  Venters comeback was cut short after hurting his elbow in an outing for the Crabs on June 20th. He had a fourth surgery on his elbow to re-attach a ligament, by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

It was a surprise to see him rejoin the Rays in 2017 and continue to attempt a comeback from 3 1/2 Tommy John Surgeries, but Venters was determined. Overall, in 2017 across the Rays minor leagues in 2017 he was able to log 23.2-innings in 24 games striking out 11 batters per nine innings.

In five games with the Durham Bulls this season, Venters has worked 5.2-innings allowing 1-earned run while striking out six and walking five.

 

 

The post Jonny Venters Completes Long Journey Back To Big Leagues appeared first on Sports Talk Florida.

Categories: Florida Sports News

The NFL Draft: A Study In Salary Suppression

4 hours 49 min ago

Hold down those salaries.

 

There are numerous non-football people who make a lot of money analyzing the National Football League draft who will never say these words. The National Football League draft is a violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and is only made legal through collective bargaining. The draft is illegal as it stops elite college football players from shopping around for the best job. The players are denied choices where they can work. They have just one place to go. If they decide not to report to the team that drafts them, those players can sit out, force a trade or play in Canada.

Here is how the draft becomes legal even though a third party, the incoming college players are hurt. NFL owners and the National Football League Players Association can collectively bargain conditions for the draft and if that means shutting down college football players job possibilities so be it. The cottage industry that makes a ton of money talking essentially about nothing, college players being drafted into the NFL, needs to keep the pretense going and say nothing. The league claims it wants competitive balance and having the worst football teams take the best players in a draft order that starts with the worst team picking first does that. But in reality, that isn’t the reason that the owners want the draft. By having a draft, the owners can suppress salaries and stop owners from bidding for the best college players. Football fans want every bit of information on players with the hopes that their team will get the best of the available players through the draft. What they really are celebrating is a suppression of trade and NFL owners are very happy no one notices or cares that the draft is essentially illegally that it is only legit through collective bargaining and a union agreeing to terms. The draft is a salary suppression tactic.

NFL DRAFT 2014 at the Radio City Music Hall

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Categories: Florida Sports News

Bruins vs Maple Leafs: Game 7 Preview

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 16:52

Winner to determine Lightning opponent, time of game 1

One spot remains for the semi-final round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. After tonight, one of the NHL’s best teams will be out and the survivor will face the Tampa Bay Lightning. Game Seven is already the most exciting phrase in hockey, but despite only being a first round series, tonight’s Game Seven will be a touch more special.

It features two of the NHL’s most decorated franchises and two teams in different organizational statuses. The Boston Bruins are recent Stanley Cup Champions and for a portion of the season, favorites for the Cup this year. They lean on their top line of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand, but also feature remarkable forward depth with David Krejci, Danton Heinen, Noel Acciari, and recent pickup Ryan Donato. All can score, all can skate, and all can give the Leafs fits.

Their blue line is anchored by Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy, wildly different players who embody the Bruins perfectly. Chara symbolizes the strength and size that has always defined Bruins hockey, dating back to Eddie Shore. McAvoy symbolizes the American and Collegiate pipelines to young skill and excitement the Bruins have developed in recent years. Depth like Matt Grzelyck, Torey Krug, and Adam McQuaid give Boston plenty to work with on the backend.

And backing up the Bruins in net is Tuuka Rask, whom Toronto gifted to Boston for Andrew Raycroft back in 2005, a move that still haunts the Leafs’ franchise. Rask has his name on the Stanley Cup and on the Vezina Trophy and promises to be the same, reliable Tuuka on home ice.

While Boston has seen recent success, the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the least successful teams in the expansion era. They’ve not won a playoff series in 13 years, and famously lost their last playoff Game Seven against Boston in 2013. Despite the bad history, the new generation of Leafs carries themselves with swagger and confidence that only skilled youth can bring. Auston Matthews won the Calder Trophy last year and helped Toronto put a scare into the President’s Trophy winning Washington Capitals. This year, he has cemented himself as a superstar in the league and the face of the Leafs. While he’s not been at his best this series, Matthews still draws the brunt of likely Selke winner Patrice Bergeron’s defensive time. William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Tyler Bozak, and James van Riemsdyk have picked up the scoring in Matthews’ slump and kept the Leafs humming along. Veterans Patrick Marleau has provided guile and experience and Nazm Kadri returned from suspension with a bang for Games Five and Six. The forwards promise to give Boston more problems in the final game.

The Leafs’ blue line has never been a strength, but they can still burn Boston. Nikita Zaitsev, Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner can all skate both ways and jump into the offensive play. They can play their own end, but they’ve all made mistakes in their own end. Ron Hainsey and Roman Polak play tough, but both lack the speed to keep with some of Boston’s top skaters. They make up for it with veteran guile and good stick work, but if Boston has any advantage, it’s on the blue line.

While the blue line is suspect, Toronto has the luxury of a high quality goaltender. Frederick Anderson has been spectacular since Game Three, and has recorded 40, 42, and 32 save wins to propel the Leafs to victory. If he’s on, Boston will have a hard time pulling out a victory.

Boston has the advantage of playing infront of a packed house at TD Garden with some of the loudest fans in all of sports. But Toronto has the emotion of representing their city after Monday’s terrible terrorist attack. They carried the heart of their city on their sleeves in Game Six and played their best game of the series. They’ll be prepared for Game Seven.

Boston is the more decorated team. They’ve won the Stanley Cup, Rask has a Vezina, Chara has a Norris, and Bergeron has four Selkes and is in line to win his record fifth this summer. Chara and Bergeron are both future Hall of Famers who will have their numbers retired after they’re done playing and have led the Bruins to success. They lead a hungry troop of talented players that can win the Stanley Cup this season.

Toronto is new on the playoff stage, but capable of winning. Matthews is a superstar. Nylander, Marner, Marleau, and Anderson are all capable of being heroes. And the team represents a city that needs a hero and a franchise that is being reborn.

The game will not only determine the Lightning’s conference semifinal opponent, but the timing of game 1.  If the Bruins win, game 1 will be Saturday at 3:00.  If the Maple Leafs win, the game will take place at 8:00 on Saturday, as Saturday is of course Hockey Night In Canada.

Who will win? No idea. Game Seven is a different beast. The puck drops at 7:30. Don’t miss it.

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Categories: Florida Sports News

Meet Didi Gregorius, the Yankees’ Most Underappreciated Star

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 16:42

Yankee shortstop a key piece of the puzzle

On a roster oozing with star power, Didi Gregorius is often forgotten about as a necessary variable to the Yankees championship equation. With all the big names currently lacing up for the pinstripes, it is easy to lose sight of Gregorius, who may be the most well-rounded player on this team. Born in the Amsterdam, Netherlands, Mariekson Julius “Didi” Gregorius is in his prime at 28 years old and looks to be blossoming into one of the premier shortstops in the game. The nickname Didi is a family name his father went by which has stuck in the United States as it is easier to pronounce than Mariekson. A 3rd generation baseball player, his father and grandfather both played baseball professionally. Didi Sr. played for the Amsterdam Pirates and his grandfather was a 6 foot 7 pitcher for Lucky Strike, a team in his native Curacao. Baseball runs in this young player’s veins and the underappreciated star has a lot to prove this season.

Follow Yankees Shortstop Didi Gregorius on Twitter @DidiG18

Through 22 games this season, Didi Gregorius is hitting .347 to go along with 8 homeruns, 7 doubles and 27 runs batted in. Up to this point, he has walked more than he has struck out (9:15 K:BB ratio) and looks to poised to build on last year’s breakout campaign where he put up big numbers and finished in the top 20 in AL MVP voting. The middle infielder has shown that he can be a middle of the order producing hitter and is a key cog in the Yankees lineup. He has proven to be a piece that perfectly complements the all or nothing approach that is prevalent in this lineup structure. Through his high contact rate and gap-to-gap approach, he is the ideal fit to hit in front of the big boppers the Bronx bombers currently deploy. Although never discussed when talking about the stars in the Yanks lineup, Gregorius who looks to be more than able to take on the task. In the post-Jeter era, the shortstop position has been solidified by the Dutch magician and no baseball mind can downplay the importance of solidifying the center of the field to any baseball team that wants to be successful.

Winning teams are filled with players exactly like Didi Gregorius. Not only is he developing into the perfect bat to hit alongside teammates Stanton, Judge and Sanchez, he is also a reliable defender at the games most demanding position aside from catcher. In a Yankees uniform, he has been consistent defensively, posting only 9 errors in 135 games last year and has 1 error so far in 2018. The wiry athlete has always had the talent and range to be a great defender, the difference in his development in New York has been through the mental aspect of the game where he has matured and limited mistakes that his position, with the high volume of chances, can have a high tendency to make.

In the three-team trade that brought the shortstop to New York, (Didi Gregorius to NY, Shane Greene to DET, and Robbie Ray to ARI) no fan thought he would have the impact that he is having today. Gregorius displayed weaknesses in his early development that pointed towards a lack of power in his swing, and patience in his approach that would hinder his value as an offensive player. He looked to be a spray type contact hitter who did not really hit for a high average. Many thought that he would be a stepping stone for some other splashy free agent shortstop but rest assured that this versatile, dynamic playmaker will be as important as anyone in a Yankees post season run. Overcoming these perceived weaknesses is nothing strange to the budding star. Throughout his young career, he seemed destined to be a “glove only” shortstop who lacked the pop to be a threat at the plate on a consistent basis. On the contrary, he has developed into an excellent left-handed hitter with unexpected power, taking full advantage of the short right field dimensions of Yankee Stadium.

Proving the doubters wrong has been a part of his plan all along and he has to stepped up in the spotlight for the Yankees. The Dutch-born star developed into an all-around Major League stud who can not only make all the necessary defensive plays but also support the team offensively as a run producer with game changing extra base hit ability. Stanton, Judge and Sanchez are great hitters but are also very streaky, so his consistency will be an integral part of plans at an extended postseason run. It is a pleasure to introduce you to do Didi Gregorius, the Yankees’ most underappreciated star and a crucial piece to their ultimate goal of another World Series.

The post Meet Didi Gregorius, the Yankees’ Most Underappreciated Star appeared first on Sports Talk Florida.

Categories: Florida Sports News

Buehler! Top Prospect Shines In Dodgers’ 2-1 Win Over Miami

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 06:11

Goes five scoreless innings in MLB debut

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Walker Buehler asked a reporter if he had anything in his teeth before the TV lights turned on.

The Dodgers’ prized prospect was equally cool on the mound, tossing five scoreless innings in his first major league start, and Los Angeles defeated the Miami Marlins 2-1 on Monday night.

“He’s pretty confident and cocky,” shortstop Enrique Hernandez said. “We kind of like his attitude sometimes.”

Buehler topped out at 99 mph while allowing four hits in an 89-pitch outing. The 23-year-old right-hander struck out five and walked three in helping the Dodgers (11-10) move above .500 for the first time this season with their third straight win.

“He’s a guy with a tremendous arm,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

Cody Bellinger drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

“We’re finally starting to play good and we’ve got to keep it going,” said Hernandez, who homered on a 3-2 pitch from Marlins starter Jarlin Garcia in the fourth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Hernandez backed Buehler with two sparkling defensive plays in place of shortstop Corey Seager, who struck out as a pinch hitter in the eighth.

After Buehler issued a two-out walk to Garcia, Hernandez made a diving stop on a ball headed up the middle and whipped around to complete a pinpoint throw to first to end the inning.

Hernandez turned in a similar play in the third to throw out Starlin Castro for the second out.

“They don’t do that very much in low-A ball,” Buehler said. “These guys are really good.”

Buehler pitched himself in and out of trouble in the first.

After retiring leadoff hitter Miguel Rojas on a grounder, Buehler gave up consecutive singles on identical 89 mph sliders to J.T. Realmuto and Castro. Brian Anderson took a called third strike before Cameron Maybin walked to load the bases.

But Buehler was unruffled. He got JB Shuck on a swinging strike to end the inning and start a run of retiring seven of eight batters.

“I’ve had the bases loaded a lot in my life,” Buehler said. “It would be great to dominate, but to put up zeros and come out of the game unscathed is the biggest thing. The more and more comfortable you get here, I think the fastball command will come.”

Maybin singled on a 95 mph fastball from Buehler in the fourth.

Realmuto singled on a 78 mph curve from Buehler with two outs in the fifth before he induced an inning-ending groundout from Castro.

“He has a really good fastball and he mixed four different pitches, which is pretty rare for a guy who can throw that hard,” Realmuto said.

Garcia gave up one run and four hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked one as the Marlins fell to 2-8 on the road with their season-high fifth straight loss overall.

Miami tied it 1-all in the eighth on Anderson’s RBI single off J.T. Chargois.

Chris Taylor doubled leading off the bottom half, went to third on Hernandez’s bunt single and scored on Bellinger’s lineout to right.

Adam Liberatore (1-0) got the win in relief, his first since July 21, 2016. Josh Fields pitched the ninth for his first save.

Kyle Barraclough (0-1) took the loss, allowing one run and two hits in the eighth.

Buehler, drafted in the first round by the Dodgers in 2015 out of Vanderbilt, made his major league debut last September as a reliever when the team insisted on limiting his innings. He allowed eight runs in 9 1/3 innings last year and didn’t make the playoff roster.

Buehler pitched sparingly in spring training, giving up one hit without allowing a run in four innings. He began the season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, going 1-0 with a 2.10 ERA in three starts.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Buehler’s performance didn’t change anything as far as the team’s cautious approach with him.

“There is a learning curve that is happening before our eyes,” he said. “We’ve got to think about the next decision.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Marlins: RHP Elieser Hernandez (tooth infection) will throw five innings Tuesday when he begins a rehab assignment. … Martin Prado (left hamstring strain) will play seven innings at third base Tuesday in the start of a rehab assignment. … JT Riddle (right shoulder tendinitis) will play five innings at shortstop in his rehab assignment. … 1B-OF Garrett Cooper (bruised right wrist) will begin range-of-motion exercises.

Dodgers: 2B-3B Logan Forsythe (right shoulder inflammation) took grounders and did some throwing, but no rehab assignment has been scheduled. … LHP Rich Hill (left middle finger inflammation) is set to throw 75 pitches in a simulated game Tuesday.

HEAVY WORKLOAD

Buehler’s 89 pitches were the most he’s thrown in his pro career. He said it was also the most since he pitched in the College World Series. “It was kind of a wake up for me,” he said. “I’ve felt for a while that I can throw more, but as I said, I understand it and we’ll move forward that way.”

UP NEXT

LHP Dillon Peters (2-2, 6.98 ERA) starts for the Marlins against RHP Kenta Maeda (2-1, 3.77).

___

By Beth Harris of the Associated Press

The post Buehler! Top Prospect Shines In Dodgers’ 2-1 Win Over Miami appeared first on Sports Talk Florida.

Categories: Florida Sports News

Gregorius, Sanchez, Yanks Top Twins 8-3

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 06:06

Win is Yankees’ fourth straight

NEW YORK (AP) — Didi Gregorius had another big game at Yankee Stadium with a two-run homer and three RBIs, and Gary Sanchez homered twice to help CC Sabathia and New York romp past the Minnesota Twins yet again, 8-3 on Tuesday night.

Aaron Judge hit his seventh home run as the Yankees went deep four times for the second straight night. Gleyber Torres had a pair of hits and his first RBI for New York, which extended a winning streak to four for the first time under new manager Aaron Boone and sent the Twins to their season-worst fifth consecutive loss.

A night after a 14-1 drubbing, New York beat Minnesota for the sixth straight time and improved to 27-9 against the Twins at new Yankee Stadium, including the playoffs. Judge was a triple short of the cycle and Gregorius also had three hits.

Sabathia (1-0) rarely allowed hard contact in his second start back from the disabled list and gave up an unearned run and two hits in six innings. He is 20-9 in 39 regular-season starts against the Twins.

Gregorius hit an RBI single for a 2-1 lead in the third and pulled a changeup just inside the right-field foul pole and into the second deck for a 5-1 margin in the fifth. All eight of his home runs and 23 of his 27 RBIs this year have come at home. Babe Ruth (1921) and Alex Rodriguez (2007) are the only other Yankees with that many homers and RBIs in the first 22 games.

Jose Berrios (2-2) entered with 14 consecutive scoreless innings and had 29 strikeouts and one walk in his first four outings. He allowed five runs, six hits and two walks in four-plus innings, raising his ERA from 1.63 to 2.84.

Dellin Betances entered with a 5-1 lead in the sixth but lasted just four batters, giving up a pair of walks, a hit and another unearned run. David Robertson pitched out of two-on, one-out trouble by striking out Ehire Adrianza and retiring pinch-hitter Joe Mauer on a comebacker.

Judge led off the bottom half with a loud, opposite-field drive to right off Tyler Duffey, who was brought up from the minors before the game for his season debut. Judge became the fastest in major league history to hit 63 career home runs, doing it in 203 games, four fewer than Mark McGwire.

Sanchez, whose second-inning home run tied the score, hit a two-run drive later in the seventh into the netting above Monument Park in center. Judge, arms crossed, gave Sanchez the silent treatment in the dugout before smiling and giving Sanchez a hug.

Errors by Judge in right, Neil Walker at first, Torres while covering first and Betances raised the Yankees’ total to 22 in 22 games, tied for the major league lead.

Eduardo Escobar had three hits, a walk and an RBI for the Twins. Brian Dozier went 0 for 4 after getting hits in Minnesota’s first 17 games — 24 in a row dating to last season.

EMERGING EMOJI

As the Yankees add new players, Gregorius comes up with additional emojis for his tweets that follow wins. Torres is Baby bottle, Giancarlo Stanton is Volcano and Tyler Austin is Police car. Luis Severino has grown from Baby last season to Child.

WHIFFS

A night after going 4 for 4, Stanton had his second three-strikeout game this season to go along with a pair of five-strikeout games.

HE’S BACK

Released during spring training and re-signed last week, 1B Adam Lind made his season debut for the Yankees’ Class A farm team in Tampa and went 3 for 3 with a double, walk and RBI.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: OF Byron Buxton (migraines) will go to extended spring training after fouling a ball off his left foot Sunday during a rehab assignment with Class A Fort Myers.

Yankees: 3B Brandon Drury (migraines) is on track to start a rehab assignment Wednesday with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

UP NEXT

RHP Sonny Gray (1-1, 8.27 ERA), who has totaled just 16 1/3 innings in four starts, is on the mound for the Yankees on Wednesday night, when RHP Lance Lynn (0-1, 6.00) starts for Minnesota. Lynn’s only previous outing against the Yankees was a five-hit shutout for St. Louis in 2014.

___

By Ronald Blum of the Associated Press.

The post Gregorius, Sanchez, Yanks Top Twins 8-3 appeared first on Sports Talk Florida.

Categories: Florida Sports News

Believe It! 76ers Roll With Meek Mill Past Heat In Game 5

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 06:03

Miami Heat’s season over

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons shined again in front of rapper Meek Mill, and the dominant duo ushered the nightmares-into-dreams Process of the Philadelphia 76ers into the second round with a 104-91 win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.

The 76ers, winners of 10 games just two seasons ago, are in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2012.

They await the winner of Milwaukee-Boston. The Celtics lead the series 3-2.

The Sixers won the series 4-1 and turned the Wells Fargo Center into the wildest house party in the city. Embiid had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Simmons had 14 points and 10 boards, and the entire team had rappers, politicians, actors and kids dancing along for the ride.

Mill made a dramatic return hours after Pennsylvania’s highest court ordered him freed while he appeals decade-old gun and drug convictions.

He was taken from prison by helicopter to Philadelphia, where he rang the ceremonial bell at the start of Game 5.

The post Believe It! 76ers Roll With Meek Mill Past Heat In Game 5 appeared first on Sports Talk Florida.

Categories: Florida Sports News

The NFL’s Farm System, College Football, Is Losing Popularity

Wed, 04/25/2018 - 02:56

Is college football suffering a decline in popularity as well?

 

The National Football League’s Draft depends on the college football industry which serves as a farm system or more importantly a free research and development laboratory for the 32 teams. So how is the farm system doing? 2017 was a down year as attendance at games fell three percent. There was an average of 42,203 people who attended games a decline of about 1,400 customers per game compared to 2016 figures. College football attendance has dropped over the past four years and is down about 10 percent over the past decade. The numbers should be sending a scare from the NFL down to the high school level as interest in football is slumping. There may be another reason too. Today’s college students aren’t as interested in the product as the college students who came before them.

On the television side, in 2017, the NFL lost viewers. The college game also saw a drop off in people in front of the TV. The NFL lost nearly 10 percent of its 2016 viewership in 2017. The 2017 college numbers were not good either. ABC saw an 18 percent slippage, CBS shed 10 percent of its viewers, ESPN lost six percent and NBC three percent. Rupert Murdoch’s FOX over the air TV syndication did register a 23 percent gain with the addition of Big Ten Games and Murdoch’s FOX Sports One was up by four percent. The college game did get mixed news during the Bowl season. The 2018 College Football Championship game was up nine percent with 28 and a half million viewers. Some games did well, some didn’t. The college football industry has used words such as being under siege when it comes to how people perceive the game of football. College football is trying to make a persuasive argument that football is important. But there is a concussion issue causing problems.

North Squad quarterback Josh Allen of Wyoming (17) in action during the North team’s practice for Saturday’s Senior Bowl college football game in Mobile, Ala.,Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018.(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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Categories: Florida Sports News

Buccaneers: A Mock Draft From Someone Who Mocks Drafts

Tue, 04/24/2018 - 19:16
A draft skeptic tries a Buccaneers mock draft

The NFL Draft has occupied four months of the Buccaneers fan calendar. Since January, Bucs fans have been spending the bulk of their football time speculating about need, hyping up players, and making sweeping statements about where those players will end up in the pros.

If it were up to me, the NFL Draft would take place close to the beginning of March. Why do we need more than one month after the Super Bowl to evaluate prospects? After the Super Bowl, the combine is held. There would be a couple of weeks left for pro days, then the draft would happen. After that, miracle of miracles, the draft would be over.

For those who are not fans of the NFL Draft itself, the four months of draft talk is borderline unbearable. I’m often left with some questions about the event. How many ‘elite’ players do NFL people think are in the league at any given time, for example. Oh do we hear that word a lot come draft season, but to me if the quality isn’t rare within the league, then simply being in the league is enough to give you the status. More or less, ‘elite’ is nothing but a buzzword in football circles, meaning as close to nothing as you can get.

Of course, in saying all of this I am doing little more than raining on the parades of millions of NFL fans. For many, only football will do, and talking about the draft prolongs the amount of time the game is in our minds. Sure, a lot of us can just turn on a hockey game or a baseball game to pass the time until kickoff 2018, but everybody else just has the draft.

It is in that light that I went to a mock draft simulator to conduct my very own mock draft, selecting as the Buccaneers while the computer did the rest. I did some research, listened to some draft talk, and went right into it. Let’s take a look at one possible way the draft could play out.

Disclaimer: Tim Williams is not an NFL General Manager and would undoubtedly make a terrible NFL GM. There would have to be a six-digit number of people that you, the reader, would rather entrust with a war room than Tim Williams.

In the mock draft simulator I used, the first three players off the board were quarterbacks. This might not be the most likely scenario, given that the New York Giants would then need to figure out whether to start the rookie and part ways with Eli Manning. It is not, however, impossible to imagine.

Keep in mind, hype aside, that NFL Draft prospects are generally lumped close together from pick to pick. Just about everyone in the top ten of somebody’s draft board has the potential to end up in the Hall of Fame. There is a lot of uncertainty this year because there’s little dropoff in the top ten.

I toyed with the idea of picking Minkah Fitzpatrick with the Buccaneers’ first round pick. To me, Fitzpatrick fills a much deeper need for the Buccaneers in a passer’s division. At the same time, trying to put myself in the shoes of Jason Licht, the pressure to draft Barkley would be intense. After all, the way people talk, you would think somebody has already carved out his Pro Football Hall of Fame bust in eager anticipation.

To be honest, I don’t think the Buccaneers employ enough variety in their running attack to bring on somebody like Barkley. All the talent in the world won’t do a team any good if they don’t properly utilize it, and the Bucs are already flush with skill position players who need the football regularly. Personally, I would rather roll the dice with Peyton Barber and a couple of veteran backs than hope that the Buccaneers overhaul their offense for a rookie, which I believe they would have to do.

Still, if Saquon Barkley is on the board at 7, it would be a bigger story for the Bucs to not pick him. A safety can be great and never get his proper due, just ask John Lynch when it comes time for Hall of Fame voting every year. Public demand says the Buccaneers need a running back, that they’re comfortable blaming their lack of run production in 2017 entirely on the people getting carries. If he’s on the board, Barkley is the pick. I’ll admit, I was hoping for Bradley Chubb instead.

In this scenario, Barkley would return kicks and punts as well as playing in the backfield. The Buccaneers’ poor play in the return game was an underspoken reason they were often in a poor position in 2017. They need to improve in the third phase, and getting a premier player who can return kicks and punts would help tremendously in that.

With the splashy pick sorted out, I waited on the Buccaneers’ second round pick. I was left with three solid options: Center James Daniels, Guard Billy Price, or Cornerback Mike Hughes. The Buccaneers’ offensive line needs upgrades and so too does the secondary. With running back sorted out, trenches and defense should be the focus.

In the end, the pick had to be Mike Hughes. The offensive line disappointed in 2017, but improvement in the secondary is mission-critical for one key reason: Everyone else in the NFC South can pass extremely well. The Buccaneers will not improve in their division until they make it difficult to pass on the defense. Last year, it was remarkably easy to beat the Buccaneers in the air.

Hughes also went to Central Florida, after a long collegiate journey that involved stops in North Carolina and Garden City Community College. If Barkley would be unwilling to return kicks and punts, Hughes did a solid job in the return gme at UCF.

Had I been allowed, I would likely have traded up two picks to take Arden Key instead.  Key went the pick in front of the Buccaneers in this mock.  Granted, with Jason Pierre-Paul and Vinny Curry arriving, there’s less direct need for an edge rusher, but there is no such thing as too much pressure on the QB.

Tampa Bay has no third round pick, so I spent that round watching tackles, centers, and guards come off the board.

In the fourth round, I was left with no options on the offensive line, where the Bucs need help. Wanting to continue locking up the secondary, I went for Marcus Allen out of Penn State. Having the same name as a legend gives me some pause, but if Isaiah Thomas can be a useful NBA point guard, maybe there’s room for multiple people with the same name to be grerat at a sport. Allen has a lot of really good superlatives in his scouting report, and could start right away for a Bucs team so pressed in the defensive backfield that Chris Conte remains on the roster.

Tampa Bay’s fifth round pick gave me few clear cut options, but I ended up taking Scott Quessenberry, a center out of UCLA. If the Buccaneers do not come out of the draft with a lineman or two, they are going to be taking a big risk that their veterans will bounce back from disappointing 2017 seasons.

Toward the end of the mock draft I found myself just guessing. Let’s face it, it’s insane to do a mock draft that covers the entire event. The board will never shape out according to plan, and one would need to read hundreds of scouting reports to have any idea who we’re looking at.

In the sixth round I took Poona Ford and Taron Johnson. Ford, a defensive lineman, can add to the depth of a team that was so pressed on the D-line in 2017 that injuries forced them to run a two man front at times. Johnson likewise adds to depth in the secondary.

The Buccaneers have the second to last pick in this year’s draft. I used it on Phillip Lindsay to provide RB depth in case anything should go wrong with Barkley, which the draftniks assure me is impossible.

===

After a seven round mock draft, to be honest I haven’t softened to the concept. Like the draft itself, I was simply glad the mock was over.

If you ask me, the fun part comes after the draft. If you’re going to speculate on rookies, speculate on the ones you know your favorite team will be fielding next year, rather than ones that they could if things work out just so. The latter option only opens yourself up to disappointment, and the NFL Draft is supposed to be about hope.

Sure, many of the same teams are such fixtures in the top ten we can probably pencil them into the top ten again next year. And sure, if picking high in the draft was a franchise must than the New England Patriots are even more impossible than we realized. Largely, the draft is a state for hype and speculation.

That is not to say that fans shouldn’t enjoy Thursday night’s first round and the later days of the draft. It is, however, a warning. Let the drafter beware.

The post Buccaneers: A Mock Draft From Someone Who Mocks Drafts appeared first on Sports Talk Florida.

Categories: Florida Sports News

Canton, Ohio Wants The 2019 NFL Draft

Tue, 04/24/2018 - 03:33

Another case of show me the money.

 

 

The countdown to the kickoff of the 2018 NFL Draft can now be measured in hours. But the National Football League planning department is already looking ahead to the 2019 Draft which technically is the beginning of the 100th anniversary of the NFL. The NFL Draft is put out to bid. Whoever shows the NFL owners the best money deal gets the three day event. The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton and Cleveland are teaming up and has made a pitch along with Denver, Kansas City and Nashville. The NFL with a different name, the American Pro Football Association, started in Canton at a meeting at Ralph Hay’s Humpmobile car showroom on September 17, 1920. The league changed its name in 1922 to the National Football League, the last Humpmobile came off the assembly lines in 1939.

The NFL is dangling the Draft before cities. Some economists claim that it is worthwhile for a city to snag the event. NFL friendly economists pulled out some numbers proving the 2017 Philadelphia NFL Draft was a big success for the city as it attracted 250,000 people and had an economic impact of $100 million although those figures are guesses and are never proven. Canton may need the money as the planned expansion of the Pro Football Hall of Fame into a football village has problems and money is needed in a hurry to get the project done. The proposal was for Canton to become a tourist hub with four-star hotel, a state-of-the-art stadium, a water park, a youth sports complex, a retail promenade, convention space, a 143-bed assisted living facility for retired Hall of Famers and a small hospital. Stark County, Ohio politicians may have to bail out the project which now has an estimated billion dollar price tag by raising local taxes. The 2019 draft winner will be announced in May.

 

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Categories: Florida Sports News

Erik Kuselias Makes Sense Of Rays’ Win Streak

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 22:17

Rays have won four in a row, swept Minnesota

Just as Rays fans thought their team was an outright disaster in 2018, Tampa Bay pulled off a week in which they won five out of six.  The pitching is coming around, the hitting is putting up numbers, and suddenly the Rays look more than a little feisty.  What to make of all this?  Erik Kuselias investigates.

Sports Talk Florida’s Tampa Bay Rays insider Steve Kinsella joins Erik to break down the week in Rays baseball, and most importantly their weekend sweep of the Minnesota Twins.  Steve tells listeners that the Rays might be better than they think so far.  It will be a long season in many ways in St. Petersburg, but there are things to like about these Rays and there is hope for the future.

Listen to the Erik Kuselias Show, weekday mornings from 7-9 on Sports Talk 1040 Tampa Bay.

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Categories: Florida Sports News

Alameda County Wants Out Of The Oakland Sports Business

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 02:54

Alameda is trying to get rid of its share of sports venues.

 

 

 

Alameda County, California wants to get out of the sports business and has been stating that it was time to go for a while. Alameda officials want to get out of the deal with Oakland in the ownership of the Coliseum and the arena in the city. They are negotiating an exit deal. The thought is let Oakland manage the property and decide what to do with the stadium and arena and parking lot. The sports complex is the host to a Major League Baseball team, a National Football League franchise and a National Basketball Association team. The complex opened in 1966 and is at the end of its lifespan. The Oakland A’s ownership wants to remain in the city and has offered to buy the Coliseum property. The NFL’s Raiders will play at the Coliseum for the next two seasons, then Mark Davis will take his business to Las Vegas. The Golden State Warriors NBA franchise is going across the bay to San Francisco after the 2018-19 season.

The city and county have an arena that has debt payments through 2026 with no anchor tenant after 2019. The stadium was rebuilt in 1996 to accommodate Al Davis and his Raiders and has a pile of debt. The debt issue was the make or break part of the Raiders-Oakland negotiation. Mark Davis and his attorneys did not want to pay the remaining Coliseum debt as part of an Oakland football stadium deal and then got a three quarters of a billion dollars’ worth of subsidies from Nevada to help fund a Las Vegas football stadium. There was no way Oakland could compete with Las Vegas and Nevada’s subsidies. Oakland A’s owners want a stadium closer to Oakland’s downtown but the Coliseum-Arena complex does have some positives. The Bay Area Rapid Transit has a stop in the area and there is a big parking lot for events. Alameda County wants out.

 

The NBA team is headed to San Francisco.

 

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Categories: Florida Sports News

Keys Sends US Into Second Straight Fed Cup Final

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 02:06
United States’ Madison Keys, left, celebrates with teammate, from left, Sloane Stephens, Coco Vandeweghe, Bethanie Mattek Sands and team captain Kathy Rinaldi after she won her Fed Cup semifinal singles tennis match against France’s Pauline Parmentier, in Aix-en-Provence, southern France, Sunday, April 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Claude Paris) Chris Evert Academy product advances USA

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France (AP) — Defending champion United States will play in a second consecutive Fed Cup final after defeating France 3-2 on Sunday.

Madison Keys secured the decisive point for the visiting team by beating Pauline Parmentier 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the second reverse singles. Keys’ victory gave the U.S. an unassailable 3-1 lead over France in the World Group semifinals.

The Czech Republic will host the U.S. in the Nov. 10-11 final after defeating Germany 4-1 in Stuttgart.

The French later salvaged some pride in front of their home crowd as Amandine Hesse and Kristina Mladenovic beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe 6-4, 3-6, 10-6.

The 13th-ranked Keys, a late replacement for Vandeweghe, came back from a 4-1 deficit in the first set and made the decisive break in the ninth game of the second set with two consecutive winners.

“The girls did so well, both today and yesterday. We are very fortunate to have such a strong group and now we are looking forward to what is going to be a great final,” U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said.

Parmentier fought hard until the end and saved two set points in the opener, but ultimately surrendered to Keys’ deep groundstrokes. The Frenchwoman had a chance to break back while trailing 5-4 in the second set but Keys used her big serve to win three consecutive points and seal the match.

Earlier, Sloane Stephens had given a 2-1 lead to the U.S. with a 6-2, 6-0 thrashing of Mladenovic.

The U.S. Open champion delivered a ruthless display against the 20th-ranked Mladenovic and prevailed in 54 minutes. Stephens hit 16 winners and converted five of six break chances at the 6,700-capacity Arena Pays d’Aix on indoor clay.

“That was a really good one. You never anticipate a scoreline like the way it turned out but it was really solid,” said Stephens, who earned two points for the U.S. team over the weekend in the southern French city.

The Americans extended their winning record to 12-2 against the French.

The U.S. beat Belarus 3-2 in the 2017 final.

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Categories: Florida Sports News

Andrew Landry Wins Texas Open For First PGA Tour Title

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 02:03
Andrew Landry tees off on the 7th hole during the third round at the Valero Texas Open golf tournament, Saturday, April 21, 2018, in San Antonio, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas) Two stroke victory for the Texan

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Andrew Landry won the Valero Texas Open on Sunday for his first PGA Tour victory, pulling away with early birdies and holding on with par saves.

The 30-year-old Texan parred the final seven holes for a 4-under 68 and a two-stroke victory over Trey Mullinax and Sean O’Hair. Landry finished at 17-under 271 at TPC San Antonio.

Landry took a two-stroke lead to the par-5 18th after Mullinax chunked a flop shot and bogeyed the short par-4 17th. Landry hit a 55-foot putt over a ridge to 3 feet for par on 17 and made an 8-footer on 18 after running a 50-foot downhill birdie try past.

Mullinax closed with a 69 a day after breaking the AT&T Oaks Course record with a 62. O’Hair shot 66.

Tied for the third-round lead with Zach Johnson, Landry birdied the first three holes and added two more on Nos. 6 and 10. He bogeyed the par-4 11th before the closing par run.

Landry won in his 32nd PGA Tour start. He earned his tour card last year on the Web.com Tour, and lost a playoff to Jon Rahm in January in the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Landry played at Arkansas after starring at Port Neches-Groves High School east of Houston. He now lives in the Austin area.

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Categories: Florida Sports News

Smother and Advance: Lightning Defeat Devils To Move On

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 03:40
Defense, aggressive play propel Lightning to Conference Semis

For the entire 2017-18 regular season, the Lightning were defined by a top line that towered above everybody else. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov have been the headliners from the opening puck drop. On Saturday, and throughout this series with the Devils, the Lightning showed that they are not at all a top-heavy hockey team. The 3-1 win to eliminate the New Jersey Devils involved contributions from every line, and provided more than enough evidence that the Tampa Bay Lightning can use preparation and game-planning to break a team down.

Now that the playoffs have started, it’s Tampa Bay’s depth from line to like that carried them over the New Jersey Devils. A goal from Mikhail Sergachev paced the Lightning for the first two periods, and relentless pressing hockey from each Tampa Bay line kept the Devils down all afternoon.

Kucherov scored as well, a long goal that turned out to be the game-winner for Tampa Bay, but the performance was a team one. The game, and the series, was an example of everything the Lightning can do to disrupt an opponent. They came in with a game plan designed to take advantage of the Devils’ weaknesses against things like forechecking while forcing New Jersey to play outside of their preferred style of redirects in front of net.

Saturday’s game put a stamp on a formative moment in Nikita Kucherov’s ascendency. It also underlined Mikhail Sergachev’s arrival as an impact defenseman. Andrei Vasilevskiy put on a goaltending show, and a Lightning team that prefers to get into a track meet had to grind out a playoff win against a desparate team with a goalie standing on his head in Cory Schneider.

With the Devils facing elimination, the Lightning knew game 5 would be important even by playoff standards. A win would mean not having to go back to New Jersey. Perhaps, even, the Bruins and Maple Leafs could end up in an extended series and give the Lightning even more time to keep rested.

“Ultimately, you just don’t want to get on the plane again,” said coach Jon Cooper. “There’s still series left, but it’s the wear and tear on the body and mind. The earlier you can close out … we’ll take the rest, take a step back, more time to prepare, and it’s actually good to watch the other teams beat each other up for a little bit.”

When the favorite in a series is ahead and playing at home, the best idea is to simply make the other team earn every inch of the 200-foot rink. Tampa Bay did that on Saturday afternoon, pressing New Jersey on the forecheck and limiting their ability to put people in front of goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Lightning came out with a lot of energy to start the game, pressing the action right away and making the Devils chase them. This process paid off when Mikhail Sergachev fired a wrist shot over the glove of Cory Schneider to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead in the early going.

The second period was a defensive masterwork for a Lightning team that isn’t typically most comfortable in that mode. The Devils managed just four shots in the twenty minutes, never getting much of a good look on Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Devils could not get possession of the puck, and that problem was exacerbated by a dropoff in discipline that hamstrung their chances of a comeback.

Tampa Bay had four power play opportunities in the second period. In their eight power play minutes, they managed to score zero goals. Part of that is a more deliberate setup than the team is used to on offense, seemingly designed to prevent the Devils from explosive plays. The rest of it is a credit to how well Schneider has played this series. Schneider turned away several great Lightning opportunities across those four man advantages, keeping New Jersey in the game and therefore in the series.

Keep in mind Cory Schneider was not the Devils’ starting goalie coming into the series. He had lost that job throughout the season to Keith Kinkaid, but Kinkaid was pulled in game two’s blowout Lightning win and never returned to the ice.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Lightning played a very physical form of hockey in game five. Tampa Bay had never really been known as a team that is particularly happy to drop the gloves and mix things up, but playoff series tend to create bad blood and the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal has been no different. Several run ins with the Devils, including former Lightning fan favorite Brian Boyle, had both teams ready to lay down a big hit in game five.

The Lightning responded to that playoff atmosphere with some tremendous checking. Ryan McDonagh laid a Devils player out in the first with a completely clean check. Ryan Callahan legally hit Mirco Mueller so hard that Mueller went backward like a cartoon character. In a low-scoring game, these big hits gave people something to get loud about and keep the energy flowing through Amalie Arena.

“It was a team tonight. Vasy stood on his head when he had to, they had some surges there as you would expect. We had some guys blocking shots, and…we played well defensively too. And that’s a recipe for success in the playoffs.” Ryan Callahan was everywhere on Saturday afternoon, contributing physically, controlling the puck, and helping set the tone for the Lightning’s victory.

It was more of the same throughout the third period, with the Lightning in firm control of the action and Cory Schneider in full control of the Lightning. Tampa Bay concentrated on their defense, and it paid off in a big way. They blocked shots, challenged every pass, and made New Jersey work for everything.

Eventually, it was Nikita Kucherov extending the lead from the blue line, 12:27 into the third period. The shot found its way past three Devils defenders and Schneider to deliver what certainly looked at the time like the finishing shot.

The Lightning’s next opponent is uncertain at the time of this submission. The Boston Bruins lead the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 in the series that will determine the Lightning’s opponent, and puck dropped at 8:00 on Saturday night in game five of that series.

The two opponents provide sharp contrasts. The Lightning played Toronto very well in the regular season, while Boston was largely a thorn in their side and their toughest competition in conference.

Whether the Lightning have a preference, of course they would never let such a thing slip after the game. “Good luck to them” said Cooper when he was asked about any preference in opponent, laughing as he left the press conference.

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Categories: Florida Sports News

Rhode Island Still Trying To Get A Minor League Stadium Deal

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 02:48

The best money offer wins.

 

 

 

The 2018 Minor League Baseball season has a long way to go but that doesn’t mean minor league baseball team owners are not looking ahead. The owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston’s Triple A International League affiliate still want a new stadium in the Rhode Island city. There are politicians in Rhode Island who would like to work out a deal to pour taxpayers money into a new facility that would look like Fenway Park in Boston. There are also politicians in Worcester, Massachusetts who are willing to spend money to get the Pawtucket Red Sox owners to relocate to the Massachusetts city west of Boston. There are some questions that need to be raised. Since Minor League Baseball operators and Major League Baseball is now protected from having to pay a minimum wage for seasonal employees, minor league players, why do the Pawtucket Red Sox owners or any minor league owners need a place with all sorts of revenue generating gadgets? Is public money subsidizing the team or is it going the owners’ wallet?

Pawtucket’s owners wanted Rhode Island taxpayers to put up $44 million to help build the stadium. The Pawtucket Red Sox owners think they can use an outdoor facility 365 days a year, Pawtucket has harsh winters, and the owners also want to develop land around the stadium complete with a hotel along with retail and residential space. How much property tax will be paid and how many incentives Rhode Island will have to hand out have not been answered. Minor league baseball doesn’t produce much economic impact and offers only per diem jobs. A new stadium will mean higher prices for customers who can afford luxury boxes and club seats with valet parking which make money for owners. Pawtucket Red Sox ownership wants customers not fans. Meanwhile, Worcester is keeping the pressure up on the Rhode Island city. City leaders want the team.

 

 

Major League Baseball considers minor league players seasonal employees

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Categories: Florida Sports News

Cash Makes It Official, Chirinos Takes A Spot In Rays Rotation

Sat, 04/21/2018 - 23:16
Rays Tab Chirinos As Fourth Starter

Tampa Bay Rays Manager Kevin Cash announced today that Yonny Chirinos will start Sunday’s series finale against the Minnesota Twins. Additionally, Chirinos’ addition to the rotation is now official.

In four appearances (3-starts) Chirinos has posted an 0-1 mark with a 2.70 ERA (6-ER/20-IP) while striking out 15 and walking five. He built up his pitch count in each appearance (56, 54, 75, 89), which was a big variable in officially joining the rotation.

“I just think that where he got built up with his pitch count, he’s comfortable now that he can provide right around that 100-pitch mark.” said Cash. “We had been going back and  forth with it. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to build these guys up.”

Cash believes that inserting Chirinos into the rotation will allow proper utilization for the entire staff. “Now in theory it should line us up to where those guys [relievers] can get their 2-3 inning workload in the middle bullpen session and allow the starters to just go out and be starters.”

Rays Eovaldi Making Progress In Recovery:

Coming out of spring training the Rays were set to use a four man rotation. Chris Archer, Blake Snell, Nathan Eovaldi, and Jake Faria would carry the starts while a mosaic of relievers would handle the fifth start when needed.

The plan took it’s first hit just prior to opening day when Nathan Eovaldi experienced elbow discomfort and required surgery to remove bone spurs. Eovaldi is expected to return to the team sometime near the end of May.

He threw off the mound at Tropicana Field today and had another good day. According to Cash, pitching coach Kyle Snyder has called Eovaldi’s progress pretty remarkable. Cash said that he’s as much on schedule [to return] if not ahead of it.

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Categories: Florida Sports News

Archer Clears Pesky Hurdle Against Twins Lefty Heavy Lineup

Sat, 04/21/2018 - 18:38
Left-Handed Bats Have Been Archer’s Kryptomite

Entering Friday’s start against the Minnesota Twins Tampa Bay Rays righty Chris Archer had been torched by left-handed batters. They were batting .450/.511/.825 (18-for-40) with a trio of home runs. He had struggled with his command walking six while striking out only five.

Jason Collette at The Process Report (here) provided an in-depth look at Archer’s season. Specifically, he examined his struggles against left-handed batters and a new position on the rubber.  “Change is not easy nor are the results immediate.” Collette wrote. “Archer is clearly trying something different this year, and while it is helping his moneymaker be even better against righties, his numbers are rather bankrupt against lefties through four outings.”

Twins Manager Paul Molitor stacked his lineup with six left-handed batters. Let’s get the negative out of the way first. Logan Morrison, who entered the game batting .068/.180/.091 (3-for-44) without a homer, belted his first homer in the second inning.

Overall Archer held the seven left handed batters to 3-for-17 while striking out one and walking one.  Below is how the left-handed batter has hit right handed pitching this season and how they fared against Archer last night.

Joe Mauer –  .342/.457/.474 (13-for-38)/0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Eddie Rosario – .238/.289/.405 (10-for-42)/0-for-3

Logan Morrison – .054/.167/.081 (2-for-37)/1-for-3 with a home run

Jason Castro – .176/.243/.294 (6-for-34)/0-for-2 with a strikeout

Max Kepler – .270/.386/.568 (10-for-37)/1-for-2 (single)

Robbie Grossman – .059/.111/.059 (1-for-17)/0-for-2

Eduardo Escobar – .297/.341/.514/ 1-for-2 with a double, walk

Collette also pointed to a change that Archer had made this season.  He is referring to where he stands on the rubber as shown in the tweet below:

Looking at Archer's early struggles vs LHB & noticing he's moved over quite a bit from the 1B to the 3B side of the rubber (9/17 vs 4/18) pic.twitter.com/yHUkBF6OLz

— Jason Collette (@jasoncollette) April 20, 2018

Hopefully, last night was the night Archer, pitching coach Kyle Snyder, and fans will point back to as the game that the change finally paid dividends (more on his struggles here). At least for now, it’d be a safe bet that teams are going to stack their lineup with as many left-handed bats as they can muster up.

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Categories: Florida Sports News

Rays 8 – Twins 7, 10 Innings: What You Need To Know

Sat, 04/21/2018 - 06:49
Takeaways from the Rays’ Friday night thriller

What looked at times like a convincing win for the Rays turned into an extra inning thriller on Friday night as the Tampa Bay Rays prevailed on a controversial call at first base and a heads-up running play by Johnny Field in a 8-7 tenth inning win.

Field came charging home as Zach Duke failed to get his foot on the bag following a bouncing ball to first base off the bat of Denard Span.  On replay it looked as though Duke’s foot did indeed hit the bag, but umpires and the replay ump in New York begged to differ.  The run counted, the play was scored E-1, and the Rays had their second consecutive win.

“I didn’t know if it was getting through the hole or not or if they were going to field it,” said Field, “so I was running.”  Field’s persistence paid off, as in the confusion of seeing Span called safe there was simply no time for Duke to throw the ball in to catcher Jason Castro to try and get Field at home.  The only chance the Twins had to get out of the inning was the review going their way.

It was a rough night for the bullpens on Friday in St. Petersburg.  The Twins rallied for five runs off the Tampa Bay bullpen, taking the lead in the ninth inning, but the Rays tied the game on Fernando Rodney to take the game to extra innings.

The Rays led by as much as 6-2 before the bullpen unraveled.  Chris Archer pitched 6.2 strong innings, allowing just two runs in the effort, but it was all erased by late inning struggles as the Twins mounted a frantic comeback.

The Rays managed to tie in the bottom of the ninth.  Carlos Gomez stole second after being hit by a pitch, and with two outs Brad Miller put one just barely over shortstop Eduardo Escobar to tie the game.

Denard Span contributed three runs batted in on the night, including knocking home the runs that put the Rays ahead in the fifth.  Coming into the eighth inning, the Rays held a lead of 6-2, but that’s when the bullpen began to unravel, tying the game late and changing the face of the ballgame.

Some thoughts on the Rays and Friday night’s game:

-Chris Archer’s primary job, as the top starter on the Rays, is to “save the bullpen” and eat up as much of a game as possible before handing the ball over to the relievers.  This is made all the more important, of course, for a Rays team that insists on the three-man rotation experiment, devoting two games every week to bullpen work.

Archer did that for the most part on Friday night, putting up his first quality start of the season.  Archer went 6.2 innings, allowing just five hits and two runs.  He walked one and struck out five.  92 pitches were thrown in the start.  He left the bullpen with just seven outs to get, albeit with a one run lead.

Archer was in high spirits after the game, deferring largely to the work of his battery-mate.  “I felt good.  Wilson [Ramos] did a great job out there.  …  He’s a game changer behind the plate with the ability to call the game, to throw, to block.”

Minnesota Twins’ Eddie Rosario (20) celebrates with Joe Mauer (7) after Rosario hit a grand slam off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Sergio Romo during the eighth inning of a baseball game Friday, April 20, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

-The bullpen, always a point of concern, had a moment of tension on Friday night when Jose Alvarado and Sergio Romo combined to load the bases in the eighth inning.  After Romo induced a strikeout from Miguel Sano, he was left in to face lefty Eddie Rosario.  Romo struggles with left handed hitters, and Rosario had two grand slams coming in.  Romo couldn’t keep the left fielder in the ballpark, and suddenly Archer’s performance led to nothing but a no-decision.

-Logan Morrison came into Friday night’s game hitting .068.  That abysmal number was the worst in baseball.  In fact, his entire slash line was the worst in baseball.  Coming into Friday night, Morrison’s WAR was “what is it good for”.  Yet there he was, giving the Twins the lead in the second inning by taking Chris Archer’s pitch over the right field fence.  It was Morrison’s first game back at the Trop after two seasons with the Rays, proving again that there is little in baseball that is more dangerous than an ex-player returning to play against you.

-Tampa’s own Denard Span remains on top of his game with the Rays.  He doubled in two runs in the fifth to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead.  He did get caught at home trying to take an extra base on confusion resulting from an infield hit, but the big at bat has become a theme in Span’s first few weeks with Tampa Bay.  Span would later have a two run single, helping close the book on Minnesota starter Lance Lynn.

-Brian Dozier of the Twins extended his hitting streak to 14 games in 2018, and 21 dating back to last season when he singled off Chris Archer in the 6th inning.  The 14 game streak is currently the longest in the league.

-Daniel Robertson is seeing the ball extremely well out of pitchers’ hands.  He drove up Lance Lynn’s pitch count Friday night, seeing 21 pitches across his first three plate appearances.  In the third appearance, he drew a nine-pitch walk, then advanced first-to-third on a run and hit single.  Lynn threw 95 pitches on Friday night.  Over 1/5 of those pitches were thrown to Daniel Robertson.  In all, the third baseman saw 28 pitches on the night, going 1’/3 with an RBI single and a walk.  He wore down the starter and got through against a reliever.

-The manager’s challenge came back to bite the Rays, possibly twice.  They used their challenge on a Mallex Smith near-catch in the fourth inning, where the ball squirted out of his glove at the end.  The play was not overturned, nor should it have been.  The very next at bat, Max Kepler barely legged out a single that might have been overturned on replay.  Later on, the bottom of the sixth ended on a caught stealing call against Joey Wendle that really looked on replay like Wendle had beaten the tag.  The Rays had a runner on third at the time, and could have had a big sixth had it been allowed to continue

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