Update on the latest sports
Sale to get Tommy John
BOSTON (AP) — San Francisco Giants right-hander Tyler Beede will undergo Tommy John elbow surgery. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi made the announcement and Beede’s surgery will be performed by Dr. Keith Meister in the Dallas area. Beede joined others who are having procedures, some because there is ample time given baseball’s season being pushed back because of the novel coronavirus. The Red Sox announced Thursday that left-hander Chris Sale would have Tommy John surgery. The operation would keep him out the entire 2020 baseball season if and when it resumes after the coronavirus pandemic. The team made the announcement two weeks after saying that the 30-year-old left-hander had a flexor strain near the elbow. At the time, the team hoped Sale would avoid the operation that usually requires a full year to recover from.
And Houston’s Justin Verlander underwent groin surgery.
Minor league players to receive allowances
UNDATED (AP) — Minor league players shut out of spring training camps will receive allowances from teams through April 8, and a plan is underway to compensate those players during the postponed portion of the regular season. Minor leaguers will receive allowances of $400 per week from teams in a lump sum. That’s a significant bump from their usual spring per diems of $100-200 per week. Teams hope that will allow players to cover housing, food and other expenses through the previously scheduled end of spring training. The minor league season was supposed to open April 9. MLB said it is working with teams to develop an industry-wide plan to compensate players for missed games.
Olympic flame arrives in Japan
TOKYO (AP) — The Olympic flame has arrived in Japan from Greece and was greeted in a scaled-down ceremony at an air base in northern Japan. The flame touched down amid doubts if the Tokyo Games can open as scheduled on July 24 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Organizers and the IOC say it will, but postponement or cancellation is seen as a growing option. The flame reached Japan aboard a white aircraft painted with the inscription “Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay” along its side. The flame will stay in northern Japan for almost a week until the four-month torch relay begins officially on March 26 from the northern Fukushima prefecture. This is the northeastern part of Japan that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and meltdown of three nuclear reactors.
NFL allowing teams to announce free agency agreements
UNDATED (AP) — The NFL’s off-the-field business has joined most of the rest of the country in full work-from-home mode. That has turned signings and trades into tests of patience and technology. Conducting a free agency period during a global pandemic has produced complications well beyond the usual salary-cap constraints. Because team facilities have closed out of concern for the spread of the coronavirus, players have not been able to take the physical exams required to finalize contracts with team physicians. The biggest news on the second day of the new league year was the Los Angeles Rams releasing running back Todd Gurley.
In other NFL news:
— The Los Angeles Rams have released Todd Gurley. The superstar running back had a massive contract and a troubling injury history. The Rams made the move several minutes before roughly $10 million in the three-time Pro Bowl selection’s contract became fully guaranteed. Gurley will consume $20.15 million in dead salary cap space this season for the Rams, who signed the 2015 first-round pick to a four-year, $60 million contract with $45 million guaranteed in June 2018. Gurley was cut before even playing the first year of that contract extension, which made him the highest-paid running back in the NFL at the time.
— A person with knowledge of the move tells The Associated Press that the Denver Broncos are waiving Joe Flacco after he failed his physical. Flacco sustained a neck injury last season and missed the final two months of the season. He was eventually replaced by rookie Drew Lock. Earlier this week the Broncos agreed to terms with new backup quarterback Jeff Driskel. Cutting ties with Flacco means the Broncos take a $13 million salary cap hit but it also frees up $10 million for the team to spend in free agency.
— The Baltimore Ravens have announced the deal that secured defensive end Calais Campbell, a skilled run-stopper who also has a knack for getting to the quarterback. To get Campbell, Baltimore gave Jacksonville the 2020 fifth-round pick it got from Atlanta in a trade that sent tight end Hayden Hurst to the Falcons. The Ravens agreed in principle with Campbell on a one-year contract extension, pending the passing of his physical.
— The Minnesota Vikings and kicker Dan Bailey have agreed to terms on a new contract. Bailey was fourth in the NFL in 2019 with a 93.1 percent field goal rate, his best since 2015. Bailey made 27 of 29 kicks, including all three tries from 50-plus yards. Bailey also landed touchbacks on 66 of 87 kickoffs. The 32-year-old joined veteran punter Britton Colquitt in returning to the Vikings, after both specialists became free agents.
— Darius Slay got what he was waiting for — a trade out of Detroit and a big new contract. The Lions agreed to trade Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles, ending the standout cornerback’s seven-year stint in Detroit. Agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed the trade Thursday and said Slay has agreed to a three-year, $50 million extension with Philadelphia. The Lions drafted Slay 36th overall in 2013, and he earned All-Pro honors in 2017.
— The Cleveland Browns beefed up their defensive front, agreeing to terms with former Bengals tackle Andrew Billings. His agency announced the move with a posting on Twitter. Billings is the third defensive player to strike a deal with the Browns in 24 hours. The team reached deals with linebacker B.J. Goodson and safety Karl Joseph on Wednesday.
— The Buffalo Bills have confirmed signing safety Jordan Poyer to a two-year contract extension, which locks up the three-year starter through the 2022 season. Poyer was entering the final year of the four-year contract.
— The Jacksonville Jaguars are bringing back a key backup on their offensive line. The Jaguars agreed to terms with center/guard Tyler Shatley on a one-year contract worth $1.5 million. The deal includes $600,000 guaranteed. The Jags previously agreed to terms with Cleveland linebacker Joe Schobert, Cincinnati cornerback Darqueze Dennard and Arizona defensive lineman Rodney Gunter over the last two days.
— A person familiar with the deal says the San Francisco 49ers have agreed to a one-year contract worth about $3 million with free agent guard Tom Compton. Compton will help fill the void created by the planned release of Mike Person.
Saints head coach test positive
UNDATED (AP) — New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton told ESPN that he learned Thursday he has tested positive for the new coronavirus. Payton is the first employee of either an NFL team or the league to make such a diagnosis public. He tells the network he came forward to motivate people to educate themselves about what they can do to help fight the pandemic. Payton says he took the test Monday after he began to feel ill a day earlier. He adds that he has not been admitted to a hospital and does not have a fever or cough. The 56-year-old coach says he has been resting comfortably at home, where is in in self-quarantine.
In other virus-related developments:
— The number of known coronavirus cases within the NBA has doubled to 14. Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics pleaded with people to take social distancing more seriously Thursday and the league ordered all teams to shutter their training facilities indefinitely. Smart revealed that he tested positive and the Los Angeles Lakers said two of their players tested positive as well, bringing the number of players who have acquired the virus to 10. The Philadelphia 76ers said three members of their organization tested positive and the Denver Nuggets said someone within their franchise was positive as well.
— The NBA has told its teams to close its training and practice facilities to all players and staff starting Friday. The league says the shuttering will last indefinitely in the latest response to the global coronavirus pandemic. The league told teams of the new directive in a memo sent Thursday afternoon, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. As recently as Monday, the NBA was telling teams that individual workouts could take place using what the league called the “one player, one coach, one basket” rule. Now, that’s not even permitted.
—The Philadelphia 76ers say three members of the organization have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Sixers did not identify the members. They say players, coaches and specific basketball operations support staff were tested for COVID-19. The tests were secured and processed privately. All other tests results are currently negative. The individuals are in self-isolation and will be monitored closely by medical professionals.
-Celtics guard Marcus Smart says he has tested positive for the coronavirus. The Celtics said in a statement Thursday night that they received word of a positive COVID-19 test by a player who had been exposed to a known positive case. They didn’t identify him, but Smart confirmed it was him in a video posted on Twitter. He added that he is not exhibiting any symptoms and is feeling well thus far. Boston played the Utah Jazz on March 6. Since then, Jazz All-Star players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have both tested positive for the virus.
— The Denver Nuggets say an unidentified member of the organization has tested positive for the new coronavirus. The person was tested after experiencing symptoms Monday and is under the care of the team’s medical staff and in isolation. Entering Thursday, the NBA had seven players known to have tested positive for COVID-19. The total included four from the Brooklyn Nets, two from the Utah Jazz and one from the Detroit Pistons.
— The NBA has told its teams to close their training and practice facilities to all players and staff starting Friday in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The league says the shuttering will last indefinitely. As recently as Monday, the NBA was telling teams that individual workouts could take place using what the league called the “one player, one coach, one basket” rule. Now, that’s not even permitted.
— The American East Conference announced that two people on the floor during recent tournament games have tested positive for the coronavirus. The games involved teams in the America East, Horizon League and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference during play from March 7-11. The teams involved were Maine at Vermont (Burlington, Vermont); UIC vs. Wright State; (Indianapolis); Manhattan vs. Fairfield and Manhattan vs. Siena (Atlantic City, New Jersey).
— The Seattle Mariners have shut down their spring training facility in Arizona because of the virus outbreak and told their players to view the coming weeks as though they’re in offseason mode. The Mariners had initially planned to keep the facility open and work with players in small, staggered groups of 10 after Major League Baseball announced it was delaying the start of the season. But, only a few players were showing up for those workouts and most of the 40-man roster had gone home.
— Minor league players shut out of spring training camps will receive allowances from teams through April 8, and a plan is underway to compensate those players during the postponed portion of the regular season. Minor leaguers will receive allowances of $400 per week from teams in a lump sum. That’s a significant bump from their usual spring per diems of $100-200 per week. Teams hope that will allow players to cover housing, food and other expenses through the previously scheduled end of spring training. The minor league season was supposed to open April 9. MLB said it is working with teams to develop an industry-wide plan to compensate players for missed games.
— The Cleveland Indians are continuing to pay minor league players their weekly stipends to help offset any “hardship” during the coronavirus shutdown. The team also is closing its year-round facility in Arizona although the team is not aware of any players or staff members testing positive for COVID-19. The team’s complex in Goodyear, Arizona, will close Friday.
— The iconic Monaco Grand Prix has been canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak and two other Formula One races were postponed. F1’s showcase race was scheduled for May 24 in the tiny principality on the Mediterranean coast between France and Italy. Hours after being postponed along with races in the Netherlands and Spain, it was scrapped for 2020 having held a race every year since 1955. The Dutch GP was set to return to host an F1 race on May 3. Spain was set to follow on May 10. It is not known when the season will start.
— Roger Penske (PEN’-skee) tells The Associated Press no decision has been made yet regarding the Indianapolis 500 in May — a race that draws more than 300,000 spectators annually. Penske bought Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar Series in January and has been preparing to host his first Indy 500 on May 24. The Indy 500 has been held every year since 1946, with postponements only because of weather. Previously, world wars stopped the race.
— Horse racing at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York has been suspended indefinitely after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. The New York Racing Association says there will be no live racing until further notice after a backstretch worker who works and lives at Belmont Park tested positive. Belmont Park remains open only for the training and care of horses.
— The first player under the PGA Tour umbrella has tested positive for the new coronavirus. The tour says Victor Lange of South Africa was diagnosed with COVID-19 upon returning home to Johannesburg on March 9 from playing a PGA Tour Latinoamerica event in Mazatlan, Mexico. He was tested as a precaution while going to a non-virus-related doctor’s appointment with a friend. Lange received the diagnosis on Tuesday. The tour says Lange has no symptoms and is expected to make a full recovery while under quarantine at home in South Africa. The PGA Tour Latinoamerica is one of six circuits the tour runs.
— USA Cycling is tweaking its selection timeline for the Tokyo Olympics after the UCI, the sport’s global governing body, instituted a freeze on points accumulation and results due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. The first deadline for the American team is May 1 for track cyclists. The BMX freestyle team will be May 15, followed by the mountain bike and road racing teams on June 1. The BMX racing team will be June 3. USA Cycling says it will adjust its schedule if the International Olympic Committee alters the date of the Tokyo Games.
— Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff and left tackle Andrew Whitworth have donated $250,000 apiece to pay for 2 million meals with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. The Rams announced the charitable donation as the first gift heading into a virtual telethon in conjunction with KABC-TV, to be held next Tuesday. The money raised will benefit the food bank and United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ Pandemic Relief Fund. The 38-year-old Whitworth agreed to a three-year contract Wednesday to stay with the Rams.
— Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and his wife, Emily, are donating $50,000 toward food during the coronavirus outbreak. The Mayfields announced on Instagram that they’re making their donation to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, an organization they’ve worked with in the past. They asked others to donate and pledged to match those contributions.
— Two senior Italian sports executives have issued emotional appeals to the International Olympic Committee to revise its stance over the Tokyo Games. The calls come as the death toll in Italy from the coronavirus overtakes China’s. Former Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Petrucci tells The Associated Press that “saying that the Olympics will still go on is a big mistake in communication.” Italian and European swimming federation president Paolo Barelli adds that “if this situation continues like this into April talking about the Olympics is ridiculous.”
— An Italian company that makes cycling apparel for some of the world’s best teams along with jerseys for the world championships will shift production to masks to help the nation confront the coronavirus crisis. Santini said Thursday it would work with a local textile company to begin making masks next week. It hopes to provide up to 10,000 per day.Cycling is one of the most popular sports in Italy. The country has been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus.
Predators sign forward Cole Smith to 1-year deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Nashville Predators have signed forward Cole Smith to a one-year, two-way deal for the 2020-21 season.
Smith just finished his senior season at North Dakota, where he scored a career-high 11 goals and had 18 points in 34 games. The 6-foot-3, 197-pound forward played on both the power play and penalty kill as a senior and helped North Dakota win its conference’s regular-season title.
He finished with 51 points in 137 games over four years at North Dakota.