Update on the latest sports
Blue Jays manager: Series at Phillies off because of virus
UNDATED (AP) — Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo says his team’s series at Philadelphia scheduled for this weekend has been postponed because of concerns about the coronavirus after two Phillies staffers tested positive.
It’s the latest in a series of scheduling changes as Major League Baseball attempts to play a 60-game season amid a pandemic that is surging in parts of the United States.
Earlier Thursday, word emerged that another player with the Miami Marlins — who recently played at Philadelphia — tested positive for COVID-19, bringing their total outbreak to 17 players, according to a person familiar with the situation. The Marlins remain quarantined in Philadelphia.
The Phillies said there were no positive results among players from Wednesday’s testing of their team. But there were two positives: One from a a member of the coaching staff and one from a member of the home clubhouse staff.
All activity at Citizens Bank Park was canceled Thursday until further notice.
In other MLB news:
— Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will be returning from a one-game suspension when the defending NL West champions visit Arizona for the Diamondbacks’ home opener Thursday night. Major League Baseball suspended Roberts one game and Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly eight games on Wednesday, the day after benches cleared in the sixth inning of Los Angeles’ 5-2 victory over the Houston Astros. Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined. Roberts served his penalty Wednesday night when the Dodgers beat Houston 4-2 in 13 innings. Kelly was punished for throwing a fastball near the head of Houston’s Alex Bregman and mockingly taunting Astros star Carlos Correa. He elected to appeal and can continue to play.
— Major League Baseball is debating whether to play shorter doubleheaders this season. The players’ association is surveying its members and deciding whether to propose two seven-inning games, or one nine-inning game followed by one seven-inning contest. MLB is expected to decide by Saturday whether to go with shorter doubleheaders. Philadelphia and Toronto are scheduled to play a doubleheader that day.
— Major league hitters have opened this 60-game sprint by stumbling out of the blocks. Coming off a condensed preseason camp for a season truncated by the coronavirus pandemic, hitters can’t seem to get in the swing of things. The league-wide batting average is .229, down from .252 last season — stunning, considering the National League has adopted the designated hitter for this season. The all-time low for batting average is .237, set in 1968, “the year of the pitcher.” Strikeouts are up for the 15th straight season, and the home run rate has dropped a year after extra-slick baseballs helped produce a record 6,776 big flies.
Season resumes with doubleheader
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — The NBA season resumes Thursday after a 20-week break because of the coronavirus pandemic. In a reopening night doubleheader inside the bubble at Walt Disney World, New Orleans will take on Utah before a matchup of the top two teams in the Western Conference — the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.
There won’t be any fans in attendance, and health and safety protocols are in place that don’t even allow teams to shower in the arena after games. With eight games remaining games before the playoffs, teams that have clinched berths are focused on securing the best possible playoff seed. For the hopefuls, it’s about finding a way to get into the field and stay at Disney at least a couple weeks longer.
Anthony Davis and Zion Williamson are ready for reopening night. Davis practiced Wednesday for the first time since getting poked in an eye during the Los Angeles Lakers’ scrimmage opener last week. He said the plan is for him to play tonight when the Lakers face the Clippers in the first seeding game for both teams.
The Pelicans said Williamson will be a game-time decision for New Orleans’ opener against Utah. Williamson missed nearly two weeks because he left for a family emergency and then had to quarantine for four days upon his return.
Knicks bring Tom Thibodeau back to New York as new coach
UNDATED (AP) — Tom Thibodeau (THIH’-buh-doh) is back in New York as the Knicks’ new coach.
The former NBA Coach of the Year was hired Thursday, returning to the team he helped lead to the NBA Finals as an assistant coach.
The 62-year-old Thibodeau is 352-246 in eight seasons coaching Chicago and Minnesota. He was the Coach of the Year in 2011 in his first season with the Bulls. He led Chicago to 50 wins in three of his five seasons.
Thibodeau was an assistant to Jeff Van Gundy when the Knicks reached the 1999 NBA Finals.
In other NBA news:
— Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer says guards Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton won’t play Friday against the Boston Celtics after both players arrived late to Florida because they had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Budenholzer hasn’t announced a timeline for when either player could appear in a game. He says getting them at least a couple of five-on-five practice sessions and some three-on-three work will be important for their conditioning and developing a rhythm. Budenholzer says it’s a big hurdle to overcome when everybody else has already put in 10 to 14 days of work.
Browns punter on reserve/COVID-19 list
UNDATED (AP) — Cleveland Browns punter Jamie Gillan has been placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list, which means he’s either tested positive for the virus or been in close contact with an infected person. Gillan is the third player placed on the list, joining running back Dontrell Hilliard and safety Jovante Moffatt. The Browns signed Gillan as an undrafted free agent before training camp last season and the 23-year-old became a fan favorite with his long air and thick Scottish accent. He wore a kilt to Cleveland’s final home game last season. Gillan set a club single-season record by averaging 41.6 net yards per kick in 2019 as a rookie. He also placed 28 punts inside the 20.
In other NFL news:
— The NFL’s chief medical officer says it’s not surprising there have been positive tests for COVID-19 among players reporting to training camp. Dr. Allen Sills notes that the disease is cutting across football just as it has through societies around the world. Speaking on a conference call on Thursday, Sills said the league wanted to examine the results of recent COVID-19 tests before releasing the number of positives. Players currently have to pass COVID-19 testing before they are allowed into training camp. Sills said the screening is continuing and going well.
— The Carolina Panthers have decided to keep Joey Slye as their kicker and release veteran Graham Gano (guh-NOH’), who missed all of last season with a knee injury. Gano took over as the team’s kicker in 2012 and spent seven seasons handling field goals and kickoffs for the Panthers.
— Titans general manager Jon Robinson says he has been in touch with Vic Beasley and that the linebacker knows his absence from training camp is unexcused. Robinson said in a statement Thursday that Beasley told him he will be reporting to camp in the “near future.” The GM says their focus is making sure the Titans in camp get acclimated to the coronavirus protocols and the redesigned building. Beasley was the Titans’ big free agent signee in March. The Titans hope coach Mike Vrabel can help Beasley play like the NFL sacks leader he was in 2016.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL-IOWA-RACIAL BIAS
Inquiry finds racial bias, bullying in Iowa football program
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An investigative report has found that the Iowa football program has suffered from racial bias against Black players and bullying by a small number of current and former coaches.
University of Iowa President Bruce Harreld says the report from an outside law firm shows that the “climate and culture must and will change within our football program.”
Coach Kirk Ferentz, the longest-tenured head coach in college football, is expected to keep his job. The report found that many players believe he has already made several positive changes.
NCAA extends size of football sideline area
UNDATED (AP) — The NCAA playing rules oversight committee has announced alterations in football and other sports to accommodate for COVID-19 concerns this coming season.
The sideline area college football teams use to congregate will be extended by 20 yards. The team sideline area currently extends from one 25-yard line to another. Those areas will now span from 15 to 15. Currently, as many as four team captains can participate in the coin toss. That has been reduced to one and only two officials will be allowed to participate.
In soccer, the penalty for spitting at an opponent has been increased from an ejection and one-game suspension to an ejection and two-game suspension. In volleyball, teams will not switch benches during a match.
In other news related to the coronavirus pandemic:
— A total of 457 Division I football games have been canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. According to Associated Press research, 134 Football Bowl Subdivision games are off. That number is 383 for the Football Championship Subdivision. Included in those numbers are 60 matchups between FBS and FCS teams. A total of 454 Division II games are off. The number is 1,013 in Division III.
— Georgia Tech has moved this season’s home game against Notre Dame to its campus stadium, citing uncertainty over scheduling because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Atlantic Coast Conference announced a new 11-game scheduling format that includes 10 conference games, with Notre Dame joining as a full-time member for the 2020 season. Georgia Tech was set to play Notre Dame at Atlanta’s 75,000-seat Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Nov. 14. Uncertainty over the playing date prompted the school to move the contest to its regular home venue, 55,000-seat Bobby Dodd Stadium.
— Top-ranked Ash Barty has withdrawn from the U.S. Open because she’s not comfortable with traveling during the coronavirus pandemic. The 24-year-old Australian is the highest-profile player so far to pull out of the Grand Slam tournament in New York because of the global health crisis. The U.S. Open is set to start Aug. 31. Barty won the French Open champion in 2019. She hasn’t yet decided if she’ll defend that title. The clay-court major was postponed earlier in the year and rescheduled to start in late September.
— Formula One driver Sergio Perez is out of Sunday’s British Grand Prix after testing positive for the coronavirus. The Racing Point driver, who is Mexican, will now go into isolation. The race on Sunday will be the fourth in the pandemic-affected season that should have begun in March.
— Fans will attend soccer in Britain on Friday for the first time since the country’s coronavirus lockdown four months ago. In a pilot event for the planned widespread return of supporters, 500 will be allowed into the Irish Cup final at 18,500-capacity Windsor Park in Belfast. Northern Ireland is ahead of the rest of the U.K. In London on Saturday, England’s FA Cup final will be played without any spectators at Wembley, just like the Premier League concluded in empty stadiums following a 100-day shutdown.
Criminal case opened against FIFA president Gianni Infantino
GENEVA (AP) — A criminal case against FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been opened by a Swiss special prosecutor. The case is connected to a meeting Infantino had with the Swiss attorney general.
Special prosecutor Stefan Keller believes there is enough evidence to take the case to court after investigating the circumstances of a meeting Infantino had with Swiss attorney general Michael Lauber, who offered his resignation last week.
Keller has uncovered “elements that make up reprehensible behavior,” according to a statement from the Swiss authority overseeing the federal prosecutors office. Keller opened a criminal case against Infantino as well as Valais prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold and has sought authorization to open a legal case against Lauber.