The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram » Sports Tue, 28 Jun 2016 21:27:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Stanley Cup likely to visit Biddeford on Aug. 3 Tue, 28 Jun 2016 18:50:27 +0000 Details are far from set but it is very likely the Stanley Cup, hockey’s famous championship trophy, will be visiting Biddeford with Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman and Biddeford native Brian Dumoulin on Wednesday, Aug. 3.

“It’s August 3rd until we’re told it’s not August 3rd,” said Pete Dumoulin, Brian’s father.

The Penguins won the NHL championship by beating the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in Game 6 of the best-of-seven series. Dumoulin, an NHL rookie, played a key role in the playoffs, logging the second-most playing time on the team in the Stanley Cup finals and scoring the first goal in the series-clinching win.

It is tradition for each member of the winning organization to have a period of time to share the Stanley Cup with family and friends.

Pete Dumoulin said specific plans for when and where the Stanley Cup will be on public display have not been finalized.


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Serena Williams struggles, but still wins 1st-round match at Wimbledon Tue, 28 Jun 2016 16:24:20 +0000 LONDON – Leave all the chatter about Serena Williams’ pursuit of her 22nd major singles trophy to others.

Williams and her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, do not discuss that number.

“We don’t talk about it all. Zero,” Mouratoglou said Tuesday at Wimbledon after watching Williams win her first-round match.

Why is that?

“Because there is nothing to talk about. We have a Grand Slam (title) to win, and that’s what’s most important. We don’t talk about the reward,” he said. “We talk about the work we have to do.”

That is going to include some extra time spent fine-tuning the top-seeded Williams’ serve after she delivered five double-faults, including three in one game, and faced five break points during an uneven 6-2, 6-4 victory over Amra Sadikovic, a Swiss qualifier ranked 148th and making her Grand Slam debut.

“It’s very rare that everything works perfectly the first round. It’s one of the things that were not good today, so we’re going to work on it,” Mouratoglou said. “But it’s not a big deal. I don’t think it’s a big deal.”

Didn’t take long for the first rain of this year’s tournament, which cut short action in the early evening and limited play to the main stadium, the only venue with a roof at the All England Club. In all, 14 matches were suspended in progress and 17 were postponed altogether.

Of the matches that did conclude, zero seeded players lost.

Winners included No. 2 Andy Murray, the 2013 champion, in the first all-British men’s match at Wimbledon since 2001; No. 4 Stan Wawrinka, who eliminated 18-year-old American Taylor Fritz and now faces 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, participating in his first Grand Slam tournament in 21/2 years after three operations on his left wrist; No. 7 Richard Gasquet, No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No. 15 Nick Kyrgios.

Among the top women, No. 6 Roberta Vinci – who stunned Williams at the U.S. Open last year, ending the American’s bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam – beat Alison Riske of the U.S. 6-2, 5-7, 6-3; No. 13 Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated unseeded Caroline Wozniacki, a former No. 1 who hasn’t won a match at a major in 2016; and No. 27 CoCo Vandeweghe of the U.S. had little trouble getting past Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2, 7-6 (3) under the roof in the day’s last match.

Since earning her sixth Wimbledon championship and 21st Grand Slam title a year ago, Williams has gone 18-3 at majors, with the losses coming in the U.S. Open semifinals, the Australian Open final and the French Open final.

That led some to surmise that Williams has been beset by nerves as she seeks No. 22, which would equal Steffi Graf’s Open-era record (Margaret Court holds the all-time mark of 24).

Williams dismissed the notion of a mental stumbling block.

“I think more or less about winning Australia. I think about winning the French Open. Didn’t happen. I think about winning Wimbledon,” she said. “I don’t necessarily think about winning ’22.”‘

Then, in what sounded like a reference to various health issues that have put her in the hospital and kept her off the tour for months – blood clots on her lungs in 2010, for example – Williams continued: “Mentally I’ve been further down than anyone can be. Well, maybe not anyone, but I’ve been pretty low. There’s nothing … mentally too hard for me.”

With her mother sitting in Centre Court’s Royal Box, Williams trailed 15-40 in Tuesday’s opening game, then won 13 consecutive points and grabbed a 3-0 lead. In the second set, Williams made four unforced errors in one game to get broken and fall behind 2-1. But she broke right back.

When the players met at the net after Williams’ return winner ended the match, they embraced like old friends.

Turns out that was Sadikovic’s idea. She was a bit awe-struck by the occasion – and rightly so.

Sadikovic quit playing tennis two years ago, because she wasn’t enjoying life on tour and had financial problems. After more than a year off, giving tennis lessons, she returned. So while Sadikovic knew she’d have a better chance to win against pretty much any other opponent, she was thrilled to play Williams.

“I always looked up to Serena, because she’s like a beast, but in a positive way,” Sadikovic said. “I always asked myself the question: How does it feel … to play the best player in the world?”

Now she knows.

“I just wanted to hug her, to be honest,” Sadikovic said. “And I asked her. She was like, ‘Yeah, sure!’ “

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Buddy Ryan, NFL coach and defensive mastermind, dies at 82 Tue, 28 Jun 2016 13:27:53 +0000 Buddy Ryan took a back seat to no one. Neither did his fierce defenses that won two Super Bowls.

The pugnacious coach and defensive mastermind whose twin sons have been successful NFL coaches, died Tuesday. He was 82.

His death was confirmed by the Buffalo Bills, where Rex Ryan is the head coach and Rob Ryan an assistant. James Solano, Buddy Ryan’s agent, said he died in Kentucky but did not give a cause. Ryan lived on a ranch in Shelbyville.

“Buddy was a legend in our league in so many ways,” the Bills said in a statement. “His defenses were innovative and he was a master at putting his talented and tough players in a position to succeed. He was a real game changer, and much of his philosophies and defensive tactics are still utilized effectively by teams today.”

Ryan was a linebackers coach for the 1968 champion New York Jets and coordinated the ground-breaking 46 defense for the title-winning 1985 Chicago Bears, one of the NFL’s greatest defenses. He was a head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1986-90 and for the Arizona Cardinals in 1994-95, compiling a 55-55-1 overall record.

A few years ago, Ryan attended a Cowboys-Jets game, traveling to New Jersey despite cancer to see then-Jets head coach Rex go against then-Dallas defensive coordinator Rob.

James David Ryan was a Korean War veteran who went to Oklahoma State, then earned a master’s degree from Middle Tennessee State even while coaching. He got his first major job in the pros in New York, then of the AFL, in 1968. Ryan was the linebackers coach for the Joe Namath-led Jets, a boastful, confident team that fit his personality.

Those Jets led the AFL in defense in his first season on staff, then shocked the Colts in the Super Bowl, 16-7.

“That’s something my dad was very proud of,” Rex said. “When (former Jets coach Weeb) Ewbank hired him, he had to make a difference. If he felt he wasn’t making a difference, then his career as a professional coach would be short.”

Instead, it was very long.

Ryan’s first job as a defensive coordinator came in 1976 with the Vikings under Bud Grant, like Ewbank a Hall of Fame coach. He spent two years there, with the 1977 team losing to Oakland in the Super Bowl. He then moved to the rival Bears, where he concocted the 46 defense that overwhelmed the league with its aggressiveness and unpredictability.

Ryan’s defenders, featuring such Hall of Famers as linebacker Mike Singletary and ends Dan Hampton and Richard Dent, came from all angles and was nearly impossible to budge on the ground. Not that teams had more success in the air, either.

“Some say the 46 is just an eight-man front,” said Ryan, who named the scheme after safety Doug Plank, who wore that number. “That’s like saying Marilyn Monroe is just a girl.”

Ryan and head coach Mike Ditka often feuded during that 15-1 season and Super Bowl run. They nearly slugged it out at halftime of Chicago’s only defeat, at Miami on a Monday night in December. (Ryan would punch offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride on national TV on Jan. 2, 1994 when both were assistant coaches in Houston.)

His work in Chicago got Ryan the Eagles job.

At a meeting the night before the Bears beat New England in the 1986 Super Bowl, Dent said a teary Ryan informed his players that he was going to Philadelphia:

“You guys are going to be my champions. Let’s kick some tail,” Ryan said.

Hampton then kicked a film projector out of defensive line coach Dale Haupt’s hands, and defensive tackle Steve McMichael flung a chair across the room, its legs impaling a chalkboard.

Such was the devotion players felt for Ryan, who guided the Eagles to the playoffs in 1988, ’89 and ’90. But they lost all three playoff games, and he was fired after the 1990 season by Eagles owner Norman Braman despite a 43-35-1 record.

Earlier that season, Ryan bragged that his Eagles would so badly beat up the Redskins in a Monday night game “they’ll have to be carted off in body bags.” The Eagles’ defense scored three touchdowns in a 28-14 win and knocked nine Redskins out of the game, including two quarterbacks.

A year earlier, Philadelphia routed the Cowboys 27-0 on Thanksgiving Day with hardly any holiday feelings in the air. Cowboys kicker Luis Zendejas claimed Ryan put a $200 bounty on him, something Ryan laughed off as ridiculous.

After one season as an assistant at Houston, Arizona hired Ryan as head coach in 1994 and the Cardinals went 12-20 in his two years there. He never coached again, letting Rex and Rob carry on the family legacy.

“Buddy’s influence will be carried on by defensive coaches for generations to come, but none more so than by Rex and Rob,” the Bills said.

Ryan also is survived by another son, Jim, the Eagles said.

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Day, Lowry say Zika fears will keep them out of Rio Olympics Tue, 28 Jun 2016 12:56:46 +0000 AKRON, Ohio – Jason Day and Shane Lowry pulled out of the Olympics on Tuesday because of the Zika virus.

Golf lost its No. 1 player in Day as it returns from a century-long absence at the games.

The sport has lost three of its stars in the last week, adding to the perception that the Olympics are not a high priority. Rory McIlroy, a four-time major champion, also said Zika will keep from competing in Rio de Janeiro. Lowry finished second at the 2016 U.S. Open after leading for three rounds.

“The sole reason for my decision is my concerns about the possible transmission of the Zika virus and the potential risks that it may present to my wife’s future pregnancies and to future members of our family,” Day said in a statement. “I have always placed my family in front of everything else in my life.”

Day, a 28-year-old Australian, and his wife, Ellie, had their second child in November, and he has said they want more children.

Lowry said Tuesday he received medical advice that he should not travel to Rio de Janeiro. Lowry recently married and said he hopes to start a family soon.

Other golfers to specifically cite Zika for not going to Rio are McIlroy, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace and Marc Leishman, whose wife’s immune system has not fully recovered after she nearly died last year of toxic shock syndrome.

American cyclist Tejay van Garderen is among a handful of athletes outside of golf who also cited Zika as the reason behind not going to Rio. Basketball star Stephen Curry didn’t specifically cite Zika but noted that “other factors” played a role in his decision to skip the games.

Brazil has been the hardest hit of the approximately 60 countries that have reported an outbreak of Zika, the mosquito-borne virus linked to severe birth defects and possible neurological problems in adults.

Day first expressed concern a month ago at the Memorial and said he had been consulting doctors so he could make a smart choice.

“Medical experts have confirmed that while perhaps slight, a decision to compete in Rio absolutely comes with health risks to me and to my family,” Day said. “While it has always been a major goal to compete in the Olympics on behalf of my country, playing golf cannot take precedent over the safety of our family. I will not place them at risk. … I hope all golf and Olympics fans respect and understand my position.”

Australia has three players in the top 50 in the world, and all of them have withdrawn – Day, Adam Scott (No. 8) and Leishman (No. 39). Next in line would be Scott Hend (No. 75) and Marcus Fraser (No. 81).

Day had been among the strongest proponents of competing in the Olympics, as had McIlroy and other young stars. But as the July 11 deadline nears for qualifying for Rio, some top golfers have been wavering.

Among the stars who plan to play or have not decided are Jordan Spieth, U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Masters champion Danny Willett of England.

Golf already has lost three of the top 10 players in the world. Scott was the first to withdraw. He said Olympics were never his priority in a year in which the schedule is crammed with major championships with far more historical significant than an Olympic medal.

The sport has not been part of the Games since 1904 in St. Louis.

Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa cited scheduling concerns when he withdrew. Vijay Singh of Fiji briefly mentioned Zika but was more bothered by the schedule. Graeme McDowell, who was in line to replace McIlroy, withdrew late last week because his wife is due with their second child a few weeks after the Olympics and he did not want to be out of the country in the weeks leading to the birth.

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Pat Summitt, winningest coach in college basketball history, dies at 64 Tue, 28 Jun 2016 10:19:37 +0000 KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in Division I college basketball history who uplifted the women’s game from obscurity to national prominence during her 38-year career at Tennessee, has died. She was 64.

With an icy glare on the sidelines, Summitt led the Lady Vols to eight national championships and prominence on a campus steeped in the traditions of the football-rich south until she retired in 2012.

Her son, Tyler Summitt, issued a statement Tuesday morning saying his mother died peacefully at Sherrill Hill Senior Living in Knoxville surrounded by those who loved her most.

“Since 2011, my mother has battled her toughest opponent, early onset dementia, ‘Alzheimer’s Type,’ and she did so with bravely fierce determination just as she did with every opponent she ever faced,” Tyler Summitt said. “Even though it’s incredibly difficult to come to terms that she is no longer with us, we can all find peace in knowing she no longer carries the heavy burden of this disease.”

Summitt helped grow college women’s basketball as her Lady Vols dominated the sport in the late 1980s and 1990s, winning six titles in 12 years. Tennessee – the only school she coached – won NCAA titles in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996-98 and 2007-08. Summitt had a career record of 1,098-208 in 38 seasons, plus 18 NCAA Final Four appearances.

She announced in 2011 at age 59 that she’d been diagnosed with early onset dementia. She coached one more season before stepping down. At her retirement, Summitt’s eight national titles ranked behind the 10 won by former UCLA men’s coach John Wooden. UConn coach Geno Auriemma passed Summitt after she retired.

When she stepped down, Summitt called her coaching career a “great ride.”

Summitt was a tough taskmaster with a frosty glower that could strike the fear of failure in her players. She punished one team that stayed up partying before an early morning practice by running them until they vomited. She even placed garbage cans in the gym so they’d have somewhere to be sick.

Nevertheless, she enjoyed such an intimate relationship with her players that they called her “Pat.”

Known for her boundless energy, Summitt set her clocks ahead a few minutes to stay on schedule.

“The lady does not slow down, ever,” one of her players, Kellie Jolly, said in 1998. “If you can ever catch her sitting down doing nothing, you are one special person.”

Summitt never had a losing record and her teams made the NCAA Tournament every season. She began her coaching career at Tennessee in the 1974-75 season, when her team finished 16-8.

With a 75-54 victory against Purdue on March 22, 2005, she earned her 880th victory, moving her past North Carolina’s Dean Smith as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history. She earned her 1,000th career win with a 73-43 victory against Georgia on Feb. 5, 2009.

Summitt won 16 Southeastern Conference regular season titles, as well as 16 conference tournament titles. She was an eight-time SEC coach of the year and seven-time NCAA coach of the year. She also coached the U.S. women’s Olympic team to the 1984 gold medal.

Summitt’s greatest adversary on the court was Auriemma. The two teams played 22 times from 1995-2007. Summitt ended the series after the 2007 season.

“Pat’s vision for the game of women’s basketball and her relentless drive pushed the game to a new level and made it possible for the rest of us to accomplish what we did,” Auriemma said at the time of her retirement.

In 1999, Summitt was inducted as part of the inaugural class of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She made the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame a year later. In 2013, she also was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Summitt was such a competitor that she refused to let a pilot land in Virginia when she went into labor while on a recruiting trip in 1990. Virginia had beaten her Lady Vols a few months earrlier, preventing them from playing for a national title on their home floor.

But it was only in 2012 when being honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award that Summitt shared she had six miscarriages before giving birth to her son, Tyler.

She was born June 14, 1952, in Henrietta, Tennessee, and graduated from Cheatham County Central High School just west of Nashville. She played college basketball at the University of Tennessee at Martin where she received her bachelor’s degree in physical education. She was the co-captain of the 1976 U.S. Olympic team, which won the silver medal.

After playing at UT Martin, she was hired as a graduate assistant at Tennessee and took over when the previous head coach left.

She wrote a motivational book in 1998, “Reach for the Summitt.” Additionally, she worked with Sally Jenkins on “Raise the Roof,” a book about the 1997-98 championship season, and also detailed her battle with dementia in a memoir, “Sum It Up,” released in March 2013 and also co-written with Jenkins.

“It’s hard to pinpoint the exact day that I first noticed something wrong,” Summitt wrote. “Over the course of a year, from 2010 to 2011, I began to experience a troubling series of lapses. I had to ask people to remind me of the same things, over and over. I’d ask three times in the space of an hour, ‘What time is my meeting again?’ – and then be late.”

Summitt started a foundation in her name to fight Alzheimer’s in 2011 that has raised millions of dollars.

After she retired, Summitt was given the title head coach emeritus at Tennessee. She had been cutting back her public appearances over the past few years. She came to a handful of Tennessee games this past season and occasionally also traveled to watch her son Tyler coach at Louisiana Tech the last two years.

Earlier this year, Summitt moved out of her home into an upscale retirement resort when her regular home underwent renovations.

Summitt is the only person to have two courts used by NCAA Division I basketball teams named in her honor: “Pat Head Summitt Court” at the University of Tennessee-Martin, and “The Summitt” at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She also has two streets named after her: “Pat Summitt Street” on the University of Tennessee-Knoxville campus and “Pat Head Summitt Avenue” on the University of Tennessee-Martin campus.

She is survived by son Tyler Summitt.

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Red Sox Farm Report: Boston could use a commanding Owens, while Ball should be bound for Sea Dogs Tue, 28 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 One tall left-hander, Henry Owens, looked like he was getting back in control. But that was a tease.

Another lefty, Trey Ball, appears set to follow the recent pipeline from Salem to Portland.

Owens, 23, pitched a one-hit shutout in a seven-inning game last week for Triple-A Pawtucket. Owens had been struggling, but he said catcher Dan Butler offered advice on his delivery, which helped Owens’ command.

We wanted to believe that because a commanding Owens could play a factor in Boston’s fortunes.

But alas … Owens’ next start Sunday lasted two batters into the fifth inning – with Owens giving up his fifth walk and his sixth hit. His official line featured five earned runs in four innings.

Owens is 5-4 with a 3.69 ERA, with 64 strikeouts and 49 walks in 70 2/3 innings.

When Owens made his three major league starts early in the season, he showed potential, including a solid start against the Yankees (six innings, two earned runs). But he pitched a total of 6 1/3 innings in his other two starts. He was out of control for Boston, with 13 total walks.

Boston so desperately needs dependable starting pitchers, especially if it is to keep up with division-leading Baltimore. Owens could be in that mix. His two best starts last year were against the Orioles – both 7 2/3 scoreless innings (allowing a total of one walk).

The Red Sox need that Owens to show up again.

Ball, like Owens, is 6-foot-6. He also pitched Sunday, for advanced Class A Salem. Ball turned in a seven-inning scoreless performance, allowing two hits and two walks, striking out six.

Ball, who turned 22 on Monday, is 5-3 with a 2.29 ERA (38 strikeouts, 29 walks in 59 innings). He started the season late, recovering from a knee injury. In 11 starts, he has had only one clunker, when he exited in the first inning of a June 6 game after his pitch count reached 40.

This is Ball’s second year in Salem. He is one of Boston’s highest draft picks in history (seventh overall in 2013) and will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft after next season. It’s time for Ball to move along to Portland.

IN PAWTUCKET, Aaron Wilkerson keeps looking like a possible option for Boston’s rotation, with a 4-1 record and 2.20 ERA after Monday night’s 6-2 victory in Rochester. Wilkerson does not light up the radar gun (90-92 mph fastball), but he commands his four-pitch mix.

Reliever Pat Light has earned another call-up to Boston whenever the Red Sox see fit to add him and his 97 mph fastball to the bullpen. In Light’s last 10 appearances, he has allowed no runs, six hits and four walks over 12 innings, striking out 13.

Outfielder Henry Ramos continues to rake since his promotion from Portland, batting .323 with an .841 OPS and two home runs in 18 games.

IN PORTLAND, second baseman Yoan Moncada and shortstop Mauricio Dubon have arrived from Salem. Moncada gets all the hype, and he is 8 for 24 with a double and a home run. He also has no walks and eight strikeouts. A switch hitter, Moncada has batted right-handed four times – striking out every time.

Dubon has had a hot start in three games, going 5 for 11 with a double and triple.

The other touted prospect in Double-A, outfielder Andrew Benintendi, continues to emerge from his early slump. He was batting .205 on June 9. Since then Benintendi is hitting .350 (21 for 60) in 15 games, with six doubles and three home runs.

When reliever Austin Maddox was promoted to Portland, there was little fanfare. But his numbers are grabbing attention: seven appearances, 17 innings, 20 strikeouts, six walks, 0.53 ERA, 0.71 WHIP. Maddox combines a 94 mph fastball with an effective slider.

IN SALEM, third baseman Rafael Devers, 19, is batting .329 with a .761 OPS in June after early struggles. He could be in line for a Sea Dogs sighting in August.

Pitcher Michael Kopech was promoted to advanced Class A after his first start of the year, in Lowell. But Kopech was scratched Thursday from his scheduled start for Salem, reportedly because of a leg cramp.

IN GREENVILLE, outfielder Tate Matheny, 22, is having a nice rebound season, batting .319 with an .822 OPS. A fourth-round draft pick last year out of Missouri State, Matheny was assigned to Lowell and struggled (.181). Matheny is the son of St. Louis Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny.

Pitcher Anderson Espinoza, 18, is being managed carefully, throwing only 59 pitches in his last start (42/3 innings, three hits, one run). He has a 3.90 ERA with 59 strikeouts and 22 walks over 621/3 innings.

IN LOWELL, right-hander Gerson Bautista, 21, is in the bullpen after two years as a starter at lower levels. Good move, so far. He’s 3 of 3 in save opportunities with six strikeouts and no walks in 41/3 innings, allowing two hits and no runs.


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Maine Milestones Tue, 28 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Terry Nadeau used a pitching wedge to record a hole-in-one on the 11th hole at Martindale Country Club on June 15. Roland Legendre, Rich Charloff and Bob Brickel witnessed the 104-yard shot.

David Gross made his second career hole-in-one on the 13th hole at Fox Ridge Golf Club. Gross used a wedge for the 104-yard shot, which was witnessed by Larry Godin, Vance Pearson and Jace Pearson.

Jason Agren aced the ninth hole at Martindale Country Club on June 16. He used a hybrid club for the 232-yard shot. The feat was witnessed by Andy Bedard, Melinda Bedard and Felix Lincoln.

Daniel Reardon scored a hole-in-one on the seventh hole at South Portland Municipal Golf Course on June 18. Reardon used a 7-iron for the 135-yard shot, which was witnessed by Warren Litchfield.

David Stobo scored an ace on the sixth hole at Deep Brook Golf Course on June 22, using a pitching wedge for the 119-yard shot. His feat was witnessed by Walter Golojuch and Kelly Thibeault.

Cindy Maximic carded a hole-in-one on the fifth hole at The Woodlands on June 26. Dave Maximic, Pam Wichroski and Stephen Monn witnessed the 135-yard shot, which was made with a 5-iron.

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Major league Roundup: Bryant sets a record as Cubs beat Reds Tue, 28 Jun 2016 03:44:04 +0000 CINCINNATI — Kris Bryant became the first major leaguer to hit three homers and two doubles in a game, and Jake Arrieta added a solo shot in the ballpark where he threw a no-hitter in April, leading the Chicago Cubs to an 11-8 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.

The Cubs pulled out of their 1-6 slide behind a tandem that’s had some historic moments in Cincinnati.

Arrieta (12-2) threw his second career no-hitter on April 21 during a 16-0 win over the Reds. Bryant led the way with a pair of homers in that game, including a grand slam that gave him a career-high six RBI.

Arrieta struggled in his return to Cincinnati, giving up a season-high five runs in five innings, but Bryant drove in six runs again to help the right-hander pull through. Bryant’s 16 total bases was a Cubs record, and his five hits marked a career high.

Bryant doubled home a run in the first, hit a solo homer in the third and added a three-run shot deep into the upper deck in left field in the fourth off Dan Straily (4-5).

His solo shot in the eighth came off Ross Ohlendorf, who also gave up a homer to Anthony Rizzo.

DODGERS 5, PIRATES 4: A.J. Ellis hit a tiebreaking, two-out infield single that capped a four-run fifth inning, and Los Angeles rallied to win at Pittsburgh and salvage the finale of a four-game series.

Scott Kazmir (6-3), who entered with an 11.17 ERA at PNC Park, won despite allowing four runs, four hits and four walks in five innings. Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers’ sixth pitcher, got four outs for his 22nd save in 25 chances.

Francisco Liriano (4-8) led by four runs early, and took a two-hitter and a 4-1 lead into the fifth, when he was chased by Yasiel Puig’s two-run, bases-loaded single.

NATIONALS 11, METS 4: Washington dealt Noah Syndergaard his first loss in more than a month in the opener of a three-game series between the division rivals at Washington.

Nationals starter Joe Ross (7-4) gave up four early runs, then retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.

Washington increased its lead over idle Miami to 31/2 games in the NL East, while the Mets are four games back.

The Nationals stole six bases, matching their most since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005. Five steals came against Syndergaard (8-3), who had won six consecutive decisions and had not lost since May 6. He lasted only three innings, surrendering season highs in runs (5) and walks (3).


ROCKIES 9, BLUE JAYS 5: Carlos Gonzalez had two hits, including a three-run homer, as Colorado won at Denver.

INDIANS 8, BRAVES 3: Lonnie Chisenhall hit a three-run homer, and Trevor Bauer gave up two runs in six innings as Cleveland won at Atlanta for its 10th straight win.

Jason Kipnis added a homer in the ninth.

The AL Central-leading Indians extended the majors’ longest winning streak of the season.

It is Cleveland’s longest streak since closing the 2013 regular season with 10 straight wins.

ROYALS 6, CARDINALS 2: Danny Duffy matched a career best with eight sharp innings as host Kansas City won to open a four-game, two-city series.

Kendrys Morales went 4 for 4 and drove in two runs, and Eric Hosmer also had a pair of RBI as the Royals roughed up Adam Wainwright (6-5) to snap a four-game losing streak to their cross-state rival.

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Sports Digest: Sea Dogs fall to Thunder in rain-shortened game Tue, 28 Jun 2016 03:19:49 +0000 BASEBALL

The Trenton Thunder scored two unearned runs in the first and beat the Portland Sea Dogs 3-0 in a five-inning rain-shortened Eastern League game Monday night at Trenton, New Jersey.

Keith Couch (4-4) took the loss for the Sea Dogs, working into the fifth inning and giving up seven hits.

Sean Coyle had two hits for the Sea Dogs and Tim Roberson added a double.

AMERICAN LEGION: Alex Libby tossed a five-hitter as Coastal Landscape beat Libby-Mitchell 5-2 at Portland.

Libby also lined a two-run double as Coastal broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.

EMPIRE LEAGUE: Adrian Gonzalez led off the top of the 10th with a home run as the Sullivan Explorers beat the Old Orchard Beach Surge 6-5 at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach.

Sean Washington and Luc Pomales each had two hits for the Surge.

NECBL: The Upper Valley Nighthawks beat the Sanford Mainers 4-3 in a 13-inning game at Sanford.

Sanford had taken an early 3-0 lead on an RBI single by John Cresto, Daniel Wilson’s bases-load walk and a double by Cameron Krowski, but did not score after the second inning.


BASEBALL: John Flanders, a Salem State graduate, is the new coach at Southern Maine Community College. Flanders previously served as head coach at Dean College, where the Bulldogs posted an overall record of 86-82-2 during his five-year tenure.

Flanders also served as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Curry College, Stonehill College and Salem State.

nJC Cloney pitched a four-hitter and Ryan Aguilar drove in a pair of runs, leading Arizona to a 3-0 victory over Coastal Carolina in Game 1 of the College World Series finals.

The Wildcats (49-22) can wrap up their second national championship in five years with a win Tuesday.


BOYS’ BASKETBALL: Phil Conley has been hired as the new coach at Scarborough High School.

Conley, a graduate of New England College, served as coach of the South Portland boys’ basketball team for the past eight years.

During his career at South Portland, Conley had a record of 108-51 and won the Western Maine Class A title in 2013.

Conley has been named the SMAA Coach of the Year three times.


NFL: Johnny Manziel’s spokeswoman said attorney Bob Hinton, who accidently sent The Associated Press a text message with details related to the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback’s domestic violence case, has resigned from the defense team.

The AP reported last week that Hinton’s inadvertent text indicated he had doubts about Manziel’s ability to stay clean and that he was given a receipt that allegedly shows Manziel may have spent more than $1,000 at a drug paraphernalia store the day following a hit-and-run crash.


TOUR DE FRANCE: Thermal cameras will be used on the Tour de France to help eradicate the threat of so-called “mechanical doping,” junior minister for sports Thierry Braillard said.

Thermal cameras help to detect heat produced by a small hidden motor inside a bike.

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Another shaky start, another loss for slumping Red Sox Tue, 28 Jun 2016 02:54:25 +0000 ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Nick Franklin homered and drove in a career-high five runs to help Tampa Bay end an 11-game losing streak with a 13-7 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Monday night.

Franklin had his first three hits of the season, and Logan Forsythe and Desmond Jennings also homered in support of rookie left-hander Blake Snell (1-2), who allowed four runs and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings to get his first big league win.

Tampa Bay’s skid matched the longest in the majors this season. Snell, 23, became the first AL rookie starter to stop a losing streak of 11 or more games since 2009, when David Price also stopped an 11-game skid for the Rays.

Forsythe finished with three of Tampa Bay’s season-best 18 hits, including a two-run homer off Eduardo Rodriguez (1-3) that gave Snell a 9-0 lead in the third inning. Logan Morrison drove in two during a five-run first, and Jennings led off the third with a solo homer.

Rodriguez continued to struggle in his comeback from a stint of the disabled list (right patella subluxation), allowing nine runs and 11 hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Boston fans sprinkled throughout an announced crowd of 18,024 cheered sarcastically in the second, when the Red Sox finally had a reliever start warming in the bullpen after Franklin’s RBI single increased Tampa Bay’s lead to 7-0. Forsythe’s homer ended the Boston starter’s night, giving Snell a nine-run cushion — though not necessarily an easy path to victory.

Bryce Brentz had a two-run double for Boston in the fourth, and the Red Sox loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth. Snell walked David Ortiz, forcing in a run but escaped further damage by striking out Hanley Ramirez. The young lefty yielded another run in the sixth, exiting after throwing 103 pitches.

Ortiz moved ahead of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson into sole possession of 24th place on the career RBI list with 1,703. His 168 RBIs against the Rays are the most by any Tampa Bay opponent.

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Olympics notebook: U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky books her passage to Rio Tue, 28 Jun 2016 02:34:29 +0000 OMAHA, Neb. — Katie Ledecky has set the bar so high, it’s a disappointment when she doesn’t set a world record.

But she has no complaints. She’s returning to the Olympics.

Getting that formality out of the way in her first event of the U.S. swimming trials, Ledecky held off a persistent challenge from Leah Smith to win the 400-meter freestyle Monday night.

“The last 150, I just kept telling myself, ‘Rio! Rio! Rio!'” said Ledecky, who is also a big favorite in two other freestyle races to come. “I just tried to keep myself fired up and didn’t really care what the time was.”

Ledecky, 19, who surprisingly won her first Olympic gold at age 15 in London, is now recognized as one of the most dominant freestylers in history. She set a blistering pace over the first half of the race, putting her more than 2 seconds ahead of the time from her record-setting performance at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships in Australia.

But Ledecky tired over the final 200, another world mark slipping away when she touched in 3 minutes, 58.98 seconds. Smith pushed Ledecky all the way, also claiming an Olympic berth by finishing at 4:00.65.

The crowd of more than 14,000 groaned when they saw Ledecky’s time, but it was still the third-fastest in history.

“That’s fast,” Ledecky said. “That’s 3 seconds faster than anybody else in the world. I think we’re going to really represent the U.S. well in that event.”

Also, Dana Vollmer locked up another trip to the Olympics less than 16 months after giving birth to her first child.

She finished second in the 100 butterfly behind Olympic rookie Kelsi Worrell, one of several young swimmers already signaling a changing of the guard in the first two days of the meet.

Smith will head to her first Olympics. Ditto for the top two in the 100 breast stroke, won by Kevin Cordes ahead of Cody Miller.

That means seven Olympic first-timers have made the U.S. team. Chase Kalisz, Jay Litherland and Maya DiRado qualified on the first night of the trials.

“Watching the other first-time Olympians, I feel like not a lot of people see the background,” Smith said. “Maya DiRado and Kevin Cordes have been good since 2013 and missed out earlier. I was nowhere near making the team in 2012, it’s been steady progress.”

In the 100 fly, Vollmer, the defending Olympic champion, led at the turn, but the late-blooming Worrell rallied on the return lap to post the second-best time in the world this year at 56.48.Vollmer touched next in 57.21 for the second Olympic spot.

One night after stunningly missing out on an Olympic berth in the 400 individual medley, an ailing Ryan Lochte swam two more grueling races to qualify for Tuesday night’s final of the 200 freestyle.

RIO DE JANEIRO’S acting governor warned that the Olympic Games could be a “big failure,” because of budget shortfalls that threaten to compromise security and mobility during the games.

Francisco Dornelles said the state is still awaiting a $860 million payout from the federal government aimed at shoring up state coffers ahead of the Aug. 5-21 event. Dornelles warned that without them, police patrols may grind to a halt by the end of the week for lack of gas money.

“How are people going to feel protected in a city without security?” Dornelles said. “We can have a great Olympics but if some steps aren’t taken, it can be a big failure.”

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At Portland pub, fans from Iceland celebrate victory for the underdog Tue, 28 Jun 2016 02:23:48 +0000 If you were anywhere in the Old Port around quitting time Monday, surely you heard the roar that went up from the west side of Ri Ra, the waterfront watering hole where a crowd had gathered to watch a soccer match between underdog Iceland and mighty England.

The game, played on the French Riviera and televised by ESPN2, was a Round of 16 match in the European Championship tournament, more commonly known as Euro 2016, a quadrennial affair contested in the even years between World Cups.

Iceland came from behind to take a 2-1 lead over England at halftime, giving hope to many of the more than four dozen who had come to support the smallest country ever to field a team in a major international soccer tournament.

“We didn’t expect to get this far,” said Fridgeir Andri Sverrisson, 27, a graduate student from the University of Iceland who’s on a two-month stint at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service.

“Anything beyond this is a treat.”

This kind of thing is old hat for England but new and exciting for Iceland. At about 327,000 people, the population of Iceland exceeds that of Cumberland County, but not by much, and is less than Cumberland and Waldo counties combined.

At a latitude equal to that of Alaska, Iceland also enjoys only three to four months of outdoor soccer.

“About 15 years ago we started putting a lot more money into soccer development, building good facilities to train year-round,” said Sverrisson, interrupted by a cheer-turned-groan of patrons seeing a spectacular bicycle kick by Ragnar Sigurdsson denied a goal only because the ball struck the surprised English goalie squarely in the chest.

“Oh, that would have been a cool goal,” Sverrisson said as he watched the replay. “That was crazy.”

Besides public funding for seven indoor facilities with artificial turf, the country also built more than 150 outdoor fields with underground heating and developed more than 600 elite coaches.

Sverrisson said his generation just missed out on the indoor stadiums. But, Iceland being Iceland, he is familiar with the national roster. Aron Gunnarsson, the bearded captain, attended the same high school as Sverrisson’s fiancee, and only a year apart.

“And I used to share an office (at the Icelandic Educational Testing Institute) with the mother of the goalkeeper,” he said. “That’s Iceland for you.”

An expanded Euro field of 24 teams helped Iceland qualify for the first time.

In group play, defensive-minded Iceland trailed in possession time at least two to one against Portugal, Hungary and Austria, yet still managed a 1-1 tie against both Portugal and Hungary, and pulled out a 2-1 stunner over Austria on a last-minute goal made famous by the Icelandic announcer’s borderline-hysterical call.

On Monday, similar enthusiasm built at Ri Ra as Iceland continually turned aside English forays.

“England has always been known for having prima donnas, players who do amazing and glorious things in the British Premier League but then when they play on the national team, nobody’s rowing in the same direction,” said Thordis Arnadottir, 48, an Icelander now in her 12th year living in Portland. “Getting into the competition was a big thing (for Iceland). Winning is a humongous thing.”

As the final minutes ticked off and it seemed increasingly likely that the score would remain 2-1, Petur Petersen swayed nervously, chewed on cuticles and ran his fingers through his short-cropped hair.

He had been in France for the games against Portugal and Austria.

When the game reached extra time, someone gave a Brexit! cheer to echo Great Britain’s recent vote to pull out of the European Union.

“This is desperate stuff for a nation on the verge of humiliation,” intoned the sober television announcer.

After one last corner kick failed to produce the equalizer for England, the game was over. Iceland had won. Jubilation reigned on the Portland waterfront.

In a voice hoarse from “Afram Island!” (Go Iceland) chants and exhortations to his countrymen on the screen, Petersen, a warehouse manager for the steamship company Eimskip, said he could think of only one comparable feeling.

“The birth of my daughters is all I’ve got,” he said. “But in sports? For Iceland? This is the biggest thing that has ever happened to the country.”

Next up for Iceland is the host country of France in a quarterfinal match scheduled for Sunday in Saint-Denis, a Parisien suburb.

Justin Levesque, 30, a Portland photographer who has been documenting Eimskip and Iceland’s entry into the Maine waterfront and economy for an exhibition to be mounted in a shipping container temporarily placed in Congress Square Park in October, wore the No. 8 jersey of Birkir Bjarnason and took plenty of pictures.

“I’m not a huge sports fan at all,” Levesque said, “but this has gotten me. I’m into it now. I have very good karmic feelings about how far we’re going to progress.”


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Major league notebook: Yankees sit Rodriguez again Tue, 28 Jun 2016 02:12:49 +0000 NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez says he was “surprised” when he was held out of the lineup for the second day in a row.

Rodriguez was on the bench Monday night when New York played Texas. Manager Joe Girardi says “this was not an overnight decision.”

Rodriguez, who turns 41 next month, is batting .223 with eight homers and 26 RBI in 44 games as a designated hitter.

“Not good, not great,” Rodriguez admitted.

Rodriguez has hit 695 homers in his 22-season career, including 33 last year.

Girardi said this wasn’t a permanent move and that Rodriguez would play Tuesday night against the AL West-leading Rangers.

CUBS: Chicago promoted right-hander Joel Peralta from the minors to help its bullpen for the start of a series at Cincinnati.

The Cubs signed the 40-year-old reliever this month after he was released by Seattle, where he was 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA. Chicago’s bullpen struggled during a 1-6 slump last week.

ANGELS: Third baseman Yunel Escobar has a bone bruise on his left knee, but Manager Mike Scioscia said it doesn’t appear as though he’s headed for a stint on the disabled list. He’s being held out until it heals.

BRAVES: Rookie right-hander John Gant left Monday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians with a left oblique strain.

After giving up a single to Chris Gimenez in the third inning, Gant grabbed his left side near his ribs after throwing a pitch to Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer.

DODGERS: Clayton Kershaw was treated for lower back stiffness Monday, but Manager Dave Roberts said his ace would make his start later this week.

Kershaw gave up four runs in six innings on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Kershaw has been dealing with a back issue for “the last few weeks,” Roberts said.

METS: Pitcher Steven Matz could miss his next start because of elbow discomfort.

The left-hander, who left his start Friday at Atlanta in the fifth inning, underwent an MRI exam Monday in New York. He is scheduled to start Wednesday at Washington.

NATIONALS: Washington is recalling top prospect Lucas Giolito to make his major league debut Tuesday against the New York Mets.

The No. 16 pick in the 2012 amateur draft, Giolito is 5-3 with a 3.17 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 71 innings at Double-A Harrisburg this season.

The 21-year-old right-hander is ranked the No. 1 prospect in the Nationals’ organization by Baseball America.

]]> 0 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 22:16:34 +0000
Tom Caron: Boston’s pitching problems continue to mount Tue, 28 Jun 2016 00:50:58 +0000 The Red Sox began the week four games out of first place. It’s the furthest back they’ve been since April 12, when they were 3-4 after seven games.

It has been an all-out June swoon for the Sox, who have lost six of their last eight games after Monday’s 13-7 loss at Tampa Bay. It easily could’ve been an eight-game losing streak, considering both wins were comebacks triggered by late-game offensive surges.

That offense, which has still scored more runs than any team in baseball, isn’t good enough to cover up the blemishes of the pitching staff. No offense is. Hitting is the only reason the Sox are in contention as we approach the midway point of the season.

It’s time now to address the pitching.

The starting rotation may have hit a low point over the weekend in Texas. On Friday, David Price gave up 12 hits in just 21/3 innings, a short start that was forgotten in the wake of the late-game comeback. On Saturday, Steven Wright didn’t make it through the fifth inning, giving up eight runs in a 10-3 loss. Only five of the runs were earned, so Wright’s ERA remained the lowest in the league at 2.18.

On Sunday, Clay Buchholz was asked to give the bullpen a rest with a deep start. After one inning, no one thought that was possible. Buchholz gave up three runs on five hits and two walks in the first, yet settled down to pitch deeper into the game than any other starter on the weekend.

Not that it was a good start. Buchholz gave up five runs in 51/3 innings. It was the fifth time in 12 starts this season he’s given up at least five runs. After this latest start, Manager John Farrell essentially admitted Buchholz will likely stay in the rotation, primarily because the team has so few options.

We are just over a month away from the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, but the pressure is mounting on Dave Dombrowski, the team’s president of baseball operations, to make a trade. Through April and May, Red Sox fans jumped aboard a bandwagon that was pretty empty after back-to-back last-place seasons. The team is in danger of losing all that goodwill, as ugly pitching performances lead to ugly losses.

It seemed a three-game series with the Rays is just what the doctor ordered. But Tampa Bay ended an 11-game losing streak on Monday night, roughing up Eduardo Rodriguez for five runs in the first inning and nine runs in a 22/3 innings.

And Kevin Cash’s team is 10 games under .500.

Weak opponents won’t be enough to cure what ails the starting rotation. Reinforcements are needed. It seems clear that internal options like Henry Owens and Roenis Elias won’t get it done. And now the entire rotation is struggling – through the Texas series, Sox starters had given up at least four runs in each of the last five starts.

We’ve been talking about the need for pitching help all year. Now, the call for support is reaching a crescendo.

We’ll have to wait to see if other GMs are willing to listen to Dombrowski’s offers as we roll into July.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.

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U.S. Olympic basketball team named Tue, 28 Jun 2016 00:40:06 +0000 NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving took one last shot on the flight home from the NBA Finals, hoping LeBron James would play in the Olympics.

James isn’t going to Rio, and neither are many more of basketball’s best players.

The Americans think they’ll be just fine with who they have.

“We should be heavily favored,” Klay Thompson of Golden State said. “I mean, 12 NBA stars, very unselfish guys, very versatile team, we definitely should be favored. It’s a disappointment if we don’t win gold.”

The U.S. selected the roster Monday. Led by Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony, it hopes it can win gold for the third straight time.

Durant and Anthony are the only players with Olympic experience after a number of stars, including James, decided to skip Rio.

Also chosen were Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes of Golden State; Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan of Toronto; Paul George of Indiana; Jimmy Butler of Chicago; DeMarcus Cousins of Sacramento; and DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers.

Irving was the MVP of the 2014 Basketball World Cup on a U.S. team that included Thompson, Cousins and DeRozan, and easily won gold.

The Americans should roll into Rio as the favorites. Yet they won’t look as imposing as expected after the withdrawals of Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and James Harden.

“As far as the talent goes and the level of play, I’m pretty sure that that’s still going to be the same,” Anthony said. “We don’t have as many of the big-name guys that we’ve had before, but I think so far this is a great group of guys and they’re hungry. They want to play.”

The USA Basketball chairman, Jerry Colangelo, said having a national team pool, which he began in 2005, always has the Americans ready for player losses. There were 31 players in this year’s and he had to go deep into it – and eventually even beyond it – to find 12. The usual factors that can knock players out were joined by the Zika virus and other concerns in Brazil.

Anthony said he talked to doctors and people who have been to Brazil about the risks of the mosquito-borne virus.

“In the past we dealt with things like free agency, injuries, personal issues that might prevent someone from moving forward. This year it was exacerbated by circumstances beyond anyone’s control, and that was the reality, the speculation and the circumstance in Rio,” Colangelo said. “So somewhat more challenging, but at the end of the day – and this is important – this is not about who isn’t here, this is about who is here.”

Anthony becomes the first U.S. men’s basketball player to appear in four Olympics. Durant set a U.S. record by averaging 19.5 points in London and also was the MVP when the U.S. won the 2010 world championship.

“Shoot, when you’re playing with the best players in the world, it makes it easy,” Durant said. “I’m just going out there and playing my game. They take all the pressure off of me.”

Mike Krzyzewski of Duke will coach the Americans for the third and final time, tying Henry Iba’s team record. He will lead a team with strong NBA credentials – nine were All-Stars this season – but a little short on international experience.

James would have joined Anthony with a fourth selection. He pulled out last week after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA championship.

Irving said winning a gold medal would be even sweeter and he attempted to convince James to chase it with him.

“Hey, I tried,” Irving said. “I tried to get him to come and after we won the championship … I was kind of nudging him on the plane, I was like, ‘So are you going to play USA?’ He just didn’t know at the time and I gave him a lot of space because, I mean, he’s been playing basketball every single year for a long length of time.”

The heaviest losses came at point guard, where Curry passed on making his Olympic debut after knee and ankle injuries in the playoffs. Paul and Westbrook, who are former Olympians, also pulled out and what was a position of strength became so depleted that Lowry was added last week even though he wasn’t even a member of the pool.

But Colangelo focused on the strength of the team that was selected, adding that he and Krzyzewski are excited about working with new faces.

“Their credentials speak for themselves and now it’s just a matter of Coach having some time with the group, because there’s so many new people, just getting everyone to blend in,” Colangelo said.

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Hockey Notebook: Lindros, Quinn among 2016 class for Hockey Hall of Fame Mon, 27 Jun 2016 21:07:19 +0000 Eric Lindros is finally a Hockey Hall of Famer.

Lindros was elected Monday as part of the 2016 class that also features Soviet star Sergei Makarov, goaltender Rogie Vachon and the late coach and executive Pat Quinn, a former Maine Mariners coach.

Because concussions and other injuries cut his career short, Lindros was passed over for the Hall of Fame six times. But his Hart Trophy season as NHL MVP with the Flyers in 1995 and his 865 points in 760 games ended up too much to keep him out.

“I haven’t stopped smiling since (Hall of Fame chairman Lanny McDonald) gave me the phone call to let me know that things are the way they are,” Lindros said.

Quinn, who died in November 2014, led Lindros and Canada to the gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and coached the 1979-80 Flyers team that went a record 35 consecutive games without a loss. He also won a Calder Cup as coach of the Maine Mariners in 1978-79.

Friction with teammates and management dotted Lindros’ career, and he never won the Stanley Cup. But Lindros won two world junior gold medals and Olympic gold in 2002 representing Canada.

Makarov was more than a point-a-game scorer for the Soviet national team as part of the famed KLM line with Vladimir Krutov and 2008 Hall of Fame inductee Igor Larionov. He won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year with Calgary in 1991 and put up 384 points in 424 games with the Flames, San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars, once Russians were able to play in the NHL.

Vachon won the Vezina Trophy with the Canadiens in 1967-68 and was part of three Cup-champion teams in Montreal. He went on to play with the Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins, and finished with 355 victories.

Because he has been eligible for three decades, Vachon, 70, said he had stopped waiting for the call from the Hall of Fame.

COYOTES: Arizona signed goalie Louis Domingue, a former member of the Portland Pirates, to a two-year contract.

RED WINGS: Forward Drew Miller was re-signed to a one-year deal.

SHARKS: San Jose issued a qualifying offer to pending restricted free-agent forward Tomas Hertl and three others: restricted free-agent forwards Matt Nieto and Ryan Carpenter, and defenseman Dylan DeMelo.

]]> 0 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 22:06:57 +0000
Unknown tennis teacher reaches second round at Wimbledon Mon, 27 Jun 2016 18:30:17 +0000 LONDON — Marcus Willis originally was scheduled to spend Monday teaching tennis to a group of 5- to 10-year-old kids, among others, at Warwick Boat Club in central England.

Instead, Willis wound up with grander, and more lucrative, plans: playing – and winning! – a match at Wimbledon.

And on Wednesday, Willis’ students will need to find a substitute yet again, because he will be busy at the All England Club, standing across the net from none other than Roger Federer in the second round.

Now there’s something to brag about to friends: “The guy who coaches me is playing Federer at Wimbledon.”

Quite surreal, to choose the pitch-perfect word Willis used more than once to describe the series of events that brought him to this point. He is, after all, a 25-year-old with admittedly something of a beer gut who resides with his parents – “Living the dream,” Willis joked – makes about $40 an hour giving tennis lessons when he’s not competing at local club tournaments, is ranked 772nd and never had played a tour-level match until Monday.

His 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over 54th-ranked Ricardo Berankis before a wildly supportive and singing crowd of fellow Brits at tiny Court 17 was by far the most intriguing development on Day 1 of the grass-court Grand Slam tournament. There were ho-hum straight-set victories for past champions Federer, Novak Djokovic and Venus Williams, for example, and a half-dozen exits by lower-seeded players.

Willis truly made news, becoming the worst-ranked qualifier to reach the second round at any major since No. 923 Jared Palmer at the 1988 U.S. Open.

“One of the best stories in a long time in our sport,” said Federer, who beat Guido Pella 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-3 in his return to Grand Slam tennis after missing the French Open with a bad back.

Willis’ take on his surprising success: “This doesn’t happen, really.”

So how DID it happen?

As a teenager, Willis appeared to be an up-and-coming junior, reaching the third round of the Wimbledon boys’ tournament in 2007 and 2008, but injuries and what he describes as a lack of dedication derailed his career.

“Tore my hamstring twice. Hurt my knee earlier this year. Had a bit of a rough phase. I was down, struggling to get out of bed in the morning,” Willis said.

“I was a bit of a loser. I was overweight,” he said. “I just looked myself in the mirror (and) said, ‘You’re better than this.”‘

He says he was close to abandoning hope of a pro career, considering a move to Philadelphia to teach tennis, when his new girlfriend told him to keep trying to play.

“I met the girl. She told me not to (quit), so I didn’t,” Willis said with a smile. “Do what I’m told.”

Fast-forward to this month, when he was the last man invited to participate in a playoff for British players to earn a wild card into Wimbledon qualifying. Willis won three matches there, then another three in qualifying to get into the main draw.

And then the left-handed serve-and-volleyer defeated Berankis by saving 19 of 20 break points and hitting 14 aces while using what he describes as an “unorthodox” mix of spins. Afterward, Willis raced to the stands to kiss his girlfriend before being swallowed by a group hug from a bunch of longtime friends.

By getting to the second round, Willis is guaranteed about $65,000. Not bad for someone whose prize money in 2016 had been about $350 – and that figure includes singles and doubles.

His career earnings when he arrived at Wimbledon were under $100,000.

“I’ve got to understand it’s not going to be like this every week. The reality of the tour – it’s brutal. It’s cutthroat,” Willis said. “I want to be a top-100 tennis player. I want this, week-in and week-out. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, and I’ve got a lot of improving to do as well.”

Next up is Federer, whose record 17 Grand Slam titles include a record-tying seven at the All England Club.

“I’m not sure he can play on grass,” Willis said with a perfect deadpan delivery.

Then he continued: “I get to play on a stadium court. This is what I dreamed of when I was younger. I’m going to go out there and try to win the tennis match. I probably won’t. I might not.”

Sure. But given all that’s gone on for Willis lately, who’s to say?

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Euro 2016: Iceland stuns England, Italy ends Spain’s reign Mon, 27 Jun 2016 18:21:01 +0000 NICE, France — After voting to leave the European Union last week, the English left the soccer European Championship in similarly surprising fashion Monday in what will go down as their most embarrassing loss in a generation.

Iceland, whose population of 330,000 makes it the smallest nation ever to compete at the tournament, pulled off one of the biggest shocks in European Championship history by beating England 2-1 in the Round of 16.

“This is probably going to be a day that we will talk about for the rest of our lives,” said Iceland joint-coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, who is a practicing dentist but taking time off for the tournament.

Iceland’s players danced and sang in front of their joyous fans after earning the biggest victory in their small nation’s history. Next up is an even bigger challenge – host nation France on Sunday – but nothing may top beating England, a team Iceland always used to support in major tournaments.

As for England, the defeat meant more humiliation on the big stage and surely another inquest into why a team of supposedly talented players failed again.

England Coach Roy Hodgson immediately resigned after overseeing yet another humiliating campaign in a major tournament.

“Now is the time for someone else to oversee the progress of this young, hungry and extremely talented group of players,” Hodgson said. “They have been fantastic.”

ITALY 2, SPAIN 0: Spain’s era of dominance came to an end when Italy beat the two-time defending champion in the Round of 16 at Saint-Denis, France.

Italy deserved its victory and was impressive from the start, stifling Spain’s attacking intent and creating several opportunities with its slick interplay.

The victory meant Italy avoided a third consecutive elimination at the European Championship to Spain, and secured a quarterfinal against another old foe, Germany. That side of the draw also includes France and Iceland.

“It was definitely a great performance,” Italy Coach Antonio Conte said. “They did something fantastic tonight. They are great men and wonderful footballers.”

“We have to accept the loss and move forward. It wasn’t meant to be,” Spain Coach Vicente Del Bosque said.

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Chile repeats as Copa America champion Mon, 27 Jun 2016 03:47:02 +0000 EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Lionel Messi still awaits his first title with Argentina’s national team.

Messi put his penalty kick over the crossbar, and Francisco Silva converted Chile’s final shot to give his team its second straight Copa America championship by beating Argentina 4-2 on penalty kicks following a 0-0 tie Sunday night.

Playing two days after his 29th birthday, Messi lost a final for the third year in a row following an extra-time defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup and a loss on penalty kicks to host Chile in last year’s Copa America.

The five-time FIFA Player of the Year has won four Champions League titles and eight La Liga crowns with Barcelona, but has never taken a trophy with Argentina’s senior team.

For its 100th anniversary, South America’s championship was expanded to 16 nations and was played in the United States, and Argentina was hoping to win its first major title since 1993.

In an ill-tempered match that included an ejection on each side and eight yellow cards, the match was scoreless through regulation and 30 minutes of extra time, with Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain missing a clear scoring opportunity for the third straight final.

Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved the opening penalty kick by Arturo Vidal, and up stepped Messi, the best player of his generation and considered alongside Brazil’s Pele and Argentina’s Diego Maradona as the sport’s greatest ever. But in the minds of many, he needs a title with his nation to solidify that claim.

Messi sent his shot over Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo – his Barcelona teammate – and into the stands. Messi turned, bowed his head and clenched both fists in frustration.

Nicolas Castillo and Charles Aranguiz converted their kicks for Chile, and Javier Mascherano and Sergio Aguero made theirs, leaving the teams tied 2-2 after three rounds.

Jean Beausejour put Chile ahead, and Bravo dived to his right to save Lucas Biglia’s shot, bringing up Silva, a 30-year-old midfielder. Messi briefly pulled his jersey over his face, as if not wanting to watch.

Romero dived to his left and the shot went in to his right, giving Chile another title.

Messi crouched over, as if in pain, then got up, took off his captain’s armband and walked to the bench, where he was consoled by Angel Di Maria. After Messi came back onto the field, Aguero put a hand on one of Messi’s shoulders.

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Major league roundup: Orioles slam Rays Mon, 27 Jun 2016 03:35:10 +0000 BALTIMORE — Chris Davis hit his seventh career grand slam, and the Baltimore Orioles completed a sweep of Tampa Bay with a 12-5 victory Sunday that extended the Rays’ losing streak to 11 games.

Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo also homered for the AL East leaders, whose 31-13 home record is the best in the majors. Baltimore has won five straight to climb a season-high 15 games over .500 (45-30).

Davis hit an opposite-field drive to left after the Orioles used a walk and two singles to load the bases with no outs in the first inning against Drew Smyly (2-8).

INDIANS 9, TIGERS 3: Lonnie Chisenhall had four hits, including one of Cleveland’s four homers off Justin Verlander in the fifth inning, and the streaking Indians won their ninth straight by beating host Detroit.

Mike Tomlin (9-1) beat Verlander for the third time this year.

TWINS 7, YANKEES 1: Tyler Duffey set down the first 17 batters and wound up pitching two-hit ball for eight innings, while Minnesota backed him with six homers to win on the road.

Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe and Max Kepler hit consecutive homers in the sixth to help the Twins end a three-game skid.

WHITE SOX 5, BLUE JAYS 2: Chris Sale pitched eight innings of two-run ball to become the first 13-game winner in the majors, leading host Chicago over Toronto.

Tim Anderson and J.B. Shuck homered to help the White Sox take two of three from the slumping Blue Jays.

ANGELS 7, ATHLETICS 6: Jefry Marte drove in Mike Trout with a game-ending sacrifice fly, and host Los Angeles stopped a six-game losing streak.

ROYALS 6, ASTROS 1: Ian Kennedy struck out 11 over seven innings and host Kansas City snapped Houston’s seven-game winning streak.


MARLINS 6, CUBS 1: Jose Fernandez delivered another gem at Marlins Park, striking out 13 and allowing one run in seven innings to help Miami beat slumping Chicago.

NATIONALS 3, BREWERS 2: Tanner Roark pitched seven shutout innings in place of injured ace Stephen Strasburg, and Washington ended a seven-game losing streak by winning at Milwaukee.

ROCKIES 9, DIAMONDBACKS 7: Mark Reynolds hit a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to lift Colorado at home.

GIANTS 8, PHILLIES 7: Conor Gillaspie hit a game-ending double with one out in the ninth inning to lift host San Francisco over Philadelphia, giving Manager Bruce Bochy his 800th win with the Giants.

BRAVES 5, METS 2: Freddie Freeman and Adonis Garcia homered, and Bud Norris threw seven scoreless innings to send host Atlanta past New York.

PIRATES 4, DODGERS 3: Chad Kuhl, won his major league debut, ending Clayton Kershaw’s nine-game winning streak, and David Freese hit a three-run double that sent host Pittsburgh past Los Angeles.

REDS 3, PADRES 0: Anthony DeSclafani pitched eight innings and singled with the bases loaded, carrying host Cincinnati past San Diego in the finale of the Reds’ weekend dedicated to Pete Rose.


CARDINALS 11, MARINERS 6: Matt Carpenter and Tommy Pham each homered twice as St. Louis went deep six times at Seattle.

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Euro 2016: France, Germany and Belgium advance to quarterfinals Mon, 27 Jun 2016 03:17:07 +0000 PARIS — France, Germany and Belgium sealed their places in the quarterfinals of the European Championships on Sunday as three of the tournament favorites lived up to their promise.

There was a scare for the host nation after Ireland scored a second minute penalty, but Antoine Griezmann struck twice after the break to give France a deserved 2-1 victory in Lyon.

While France was made to work hard to advance, Germany had no such difficulties in a polished 3-0 victory over Slovakia, and Eden Hazard inspired Belgium to what ended up as a crushing 4-0 win over Hungary.

The goals and the quality of the football over the three games were a marked improvement on the dire performances witnessed Saturday when Poland, Wales and Portugal advanced.

The relief was palpable at the Stade de Lyon after France finally overwhelmed an Ireland side that had led through Robbie Brady’s spot-kick, after France midfielder Paul Pogba bundled Shane Long to the ground.

Ireland chased for every ball and worked tirelessly to defend its slender lead. But Griezmann’s two goals in the space of three minutes in the second half saw the natural order restored, and a red card for Shane Duffy in the 66th minute all but ended the contest.

France’s reward is a quarterfinal next Sunday at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis against either England or Iceland, who play Monday.

Germany scored early and never looked back against a Slovakia side that had surprisingly beaten Joachim Loew’s world champions in a friendly last month. Jerome Boateng broke the deadlock after just eight minutes, and Mario Gomez scored just before the break as Germany advance to a matchup against Spain or Italy.

In Toulouse, Toby Alderweireld headed Belgium into a 10th-minute lead, and Hazard sparked a late surge with an assist and a goal as Belgium lined up a quarterfinal against Wales.

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Golf Roundup: Hurley wins Quicken Loans Mon, 27 Jun 2016 02:48:08 +0000 BETHESDA, Md. — Billy Hurley III held the club in his left hand and fist pumped with his right. Not far from his Annapolis home and the Naval Academy he graduated from 12 years ago, he became a champion.

Hurley shot a 2-under 69 on Sunday to win his hometown Quicken Loans National at Congressional for his first PGA Tour victory. He finished at 17 under in Tiger Woods’ annual tournament, three strokes ahead of three-time major champion Vijay Singh.

To beat Singh, Ernie Els and 21-year-old Jon Rahm, Hurley showed the poise he developed at the Naval Academy and during his five years of service. Mental toughness and focus he said help with adversity on the course, and that showed through in his 104th PGA Tour start.

With the 53-year-old Singh closing on him, Hurley was at his best. He holed out from 35 yards on the fairway for birdie on the 15th, a shot Woods himself called “impressive, really impressive.”

As if that wasn’t enough, Hurley made a 27-foot putt on the 16th to seal the tournament and wrap up the $1,242,000 first-place prize and a spot in the British Open. He had never finished higher than a tie for fourth in a PGA Tour event.

On Saturday the 34-year-old said there’s no better tournament to earn his first win, based on its proximity to home and its connections to the military.

“I’m just thrilled to have gotten it done today,” Hurley said.

Singh closed with a 65. Rahm, the former Arizona State star from Spain, wrapped up his pro debut with a 70 to tie for third with Bill Haas (68) at 13 under. .

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Kirk Triplett rallied to win the inaugural American Family Insurance Championship in Madison, Wisconsin, for his fifth PGA Tour Champions title, making four straight birdies in front of another large crowd at University Ridge.

The 54-year-old Triplett shot a 7-under 65 to finish at 17-under 199, two strokes ahead of Bart Bryant and Mike Goodes.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Henrik Stenson overcame four bogeys in the final round to earn his 10th European Tour title with a three-shot victory at the BMW International Open in Pulheim, Germany.

Stenson ended with 17 under to take his second title at the event after 2006, having finished as runner-up for the past two seasons. All the leaders had to play 36 holes on Sunday after rain washed out play the day before.

LPGA: Top-ranked Lydia Ko won the NW Arkansas Championship in Rogers, Arkansas, for her third LPGA Tour victory of the year, closing with a 3-under 68 for a tournament-record 17-under total and a three-stroke victory.

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Olympics roundup: Lochte misses U.S. team in 400 IM Mon, 27 Jun 2016 02:47:47 +0000 OMAHA, Neb. — The first event of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials produced a huge stunner: Ryan Lochte failed to qualify for the team Sunday night in an event he won at the 2012 London Games.

Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, raced out to a big lead on the first two legs of the 400-meter individual medley but had nothing left for the breaststroke and freestyle.

After the race, Lochte revealed that he pulled a groin muscle during the morning preliminaries, saying it left him with no choice other than to try to build a commanding lead in the butterfly and backstroke and hope it would hold up.

It didn’t. Not even close.

Chase Kalisz won in 4 minutes, 9.541 seconds, while Jay Litherland rallied to take the second spot for Rio in 4:11.021.

Lochte, his legs totally gone, labored home in third at 4:12.021.

“I had to go out faster than usual because I couldn’t use my legs in the breaststroke,” said the 31-year-old Lochte, who still has several other events to claim a spot on his fourth Olympic team – assuming he can overcome his injury. “I did everything I could in that race, it just wasn’t enough. Just got to forget about that and move forward.”

While college teammates Kalisz and Litherland celebrated, Lochte hung on a lane rope, exhausted. He finally made it over to the side of the pool, struggling just to climb out of the water. He said he’ll get a cortisone shot to help deal with the pain.

“I’m going to keep working on it day in and day out, and hopefully it gets better,” Lochte said. “I thought about it this morning, about scratching, but I mean, it’s the Olympic trials. If I had a broken leg, I’d still go out there and swim.”

Two other finals were held at the sold-out CenturyLink Center, which is hosting the Olympic trials for the third straight time in a temporary pool.

Maya DiRado qualified for her first Olympic team in the women’s 400 IM, knocking off 2012 silver medalist Elizabeth Beisel.

DiRado touched in 4:33.73, finishing a couple body lengths ahead of Beisel, who earned a spot on her third Olympic team.

In the men’s 400 freestyle, Connor Jaeger and Conor Dwyer are heading back to the Olympics for the second time after finishing 1-2.

Michael Phelps is dropping the 200 freestyle at the trials, leaving the 18-time Olympic gold medalist with four events.

Phelps’ first event will be the 200 butterfly on Tuesday. Phelps earned silver in the event four years ago in London.

His other events are the 100 fly, 100 freestyle and 200 individual medley.

GYMNASTICS: Sam Mikulak, Jake Dalton and John Orozco are heading back to the Olympics. So are Alex Naddour and Chris Brooks. And this time, they won’t be watching from the stands.

Naddour and Brooks, alternates in 2012, will join Mikulak, Dalton and Orozco in Rio de Janeiro after earning a spots on the U.S. team Saturday night.

The Americans are still smarting from an ugly fifth-place finish in London four years ago, imploding in the final after easily topping qualifying. USA Gymnastics officials blamed part of the problem on fatigue and moved trials up two weeks from 2012 to give the team a bit of a breather before final preparations before Rio begin.

ROWING: U.S. Olympic rowers will be given a new, high-tech training suit with anti-microbial features designed to protect them against water pollution in Rio de Janeiro.

Athletics apparel maker Boathouse Sports says the new, seamless one-piece suit is knitted with an anti-microbial finish. It also has water-repellant features to keep the rowers cool and dry.

Testing last year by The Associated Press found that the lagoon where the Olympic rowing and canoeing events will be held next month was heavily contaminated.

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Wimbledon: Reigning champs favored again Mon, 27 Jun 2016 02:47:00 +0000 LONDON — Top-ranked Serena Williams hasn’t won a Grand Slam since Wimbledon a year ago, but the 21-time major champion appeared confident about her chances of retaining the title on the eve of the tournament.

“Honestly, I don’t feel any pressure,” said Williams, keeping her answers short at a news conference Sunday. “I feel good and confident.”

Williams surprised many by failing to win any of the last three Grand Slam tournaments.

She fell to Roberta Vinci of Italy in the 2015 U.S. Open semifinals, Angelique Kerber of Germany in the Australian Open final in January, and Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the French Open final earlier this month.

Instead of bemoaning those losses, however, Williams prefers to focus on coming back stronger.

“I think it’s important to learn from every loss that you have,” she said. “I think, in particular, throughout my whole career (I) have been able to learn a lot to come back a much better player.”

Williams enters Wimbledon at the top of the world rankings for the 300th week of her career. Only Steffi Graf (377 weeks) and Martina Navratilova (332) have held the No. 1 ranking more often.

Nevertheless, Muguruza, Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska and Simona Halep are have a chance to oust Williams from the top spot by the end of Wimbledon.

Williams will play 148th-ranked qualifier Amra Sadikovic of Switzerland, a player she admits knowing nothing about, in the first round on Tuesday.

“It doesn’t matter who I play,” she said. “It doesn’t matter to me.”

When she captured her sixth Wimbledon trophy last year, it was the second time in her career she held all four Grand Slam titles. She first achieved that distinction in 2002-03.

“It was a great accomplishment to win four Grand Slams in a row twice in my career,” Williams said. “It’s pretty cool. It’s really awesome.”

Like Williams, two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic arrived at Wimbledon without having played a grass court tune-up tournament.

Where the two don’t agree is in their attitude: Williams insists she feels no pressure to perform this fortnight, while Djokovic believes it’s impossible to escape those expectations.

“It’s always present. Pressure is part of what we do,” he said. “It’s inevitable to face this kind of sensation as a top player, being expected to do well and to go as far as last four at least in the tournament, or finals.”

Djokovic starts his campaign for a fourth Wimbledon trophy by taking on British wild-card entrant James Ward in a first meeting between the two.

As tradition dictates, Djokovic, as the men’s defending champion, will open the Centre Court competition.

“It’s going to be the first match on the untouched grass,” Djokovic said. “That’s probably one of the most special tennis matches that you get to experience as a professional tennis player.”

Djokovic understands the emotions behind simultaneously holding all four Grand Slam titles, which he achieved by winning his first career French Open title earlier this month.

Last year, Williams had a chance to win a calendar Grand Slam, but came up short at the U.S. Open.

This year, Djokovic remains in contention to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to achieve a calendar Grand Slam, having already won the Australian and French Opens.

Williams, for one, says Djokovic could be the player to get the deed done.

“He has every opportunity to do it,” she said. “I think he’ll get it easy. So he should be fine.”

That said, Williams is most interested in matches finally getting under way at this year’s edition of the tournament.

“I’m definitely ready to start playing at this point,” Williams said. “I’m kind of over practicing every day for two hours, then going to the gym for some time.”

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Pete Rose gala gives Reds fans a rare reason to cheer Mon, 27 Jun 2016 02:46:38 +0000 CINCINNATI — The Reds formally retired Pete Rose’s No. 14 on Sunday, capping a big weekend for baseball’s hits king that was a success for the franchise in every way except on the field.

Big crowds filled Great American Ball Park for the three days of celebration, which had to be approved by Major League Baseball because of Rose’s lifetime ban for betting on his team. The last-place Reds have played in front of small crowds for much of the season.

They stretched the celebration into an entire weekend, honoring their 1976 World Series championship team on Friday night and adding him to their Hall of Fame on Saturday. They saved the number retirement for the final day of a series against the San Diego Padres.

“It solidifies what I’ve been saying for many, many, many years and will continue to say it: Cincinnati is the baseball capital of the world,” Rose told the crowd,

The Reds added Rose’s No. 14 to their display of retired numbers behind home plate.

The only glaring absence was Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan, who couldn’t attend the celebration because of health problems. Although Morgan has kept his condition private, Rose said on a Fox broadcast that Morgan is awaiting a bone marrow transplant. He told reporters that he talks to Morgan often.

“He’s doing good,” Rose said. “He sounded real strong. I hate to talk to him now because when he starts talking for a couple minutes, he starts crying, ‘I want to be there.'”

Rose was the 20th Reds player to wear No. 14, getting it as a rookie in 1963.

The only other Red to since wear No. 14 was Rose’s son, Pete Jr., who was called up in 1997 to spark interest at the end of an 86-loss season. The father-son team is practically a set of bookmarks on the all-time hits list – Rose at the top with 4,256, and Pete Jr. with two hits in 11 games.

Pete Jr. threw a ceremonial pitch to his father, who urged fans to keep supporting the last-place team..

“And who knows? It won’t be long before (owner Bob Castellini) is here again recognizing a guy who’s in the dugout for tonight’s game.”

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NHL notebook: Bruins among teams interested in Stamkos Mon, 27 Jun 2016 02:07:09 +0000 BUFFALO, N.Y. — As team executives began gathering on the arena floor an hour before the start of the NHL draft’s second round Saturday morning, a video highlighting former No. 1 selections began playing on the big-screen video boards.

The first player featured just happened to be Steven Stamkos, the top pick in 2008.

At a time when Arizona-born center Auston Matthews was selected first by Toronto, and on the heels of the buzz the league’s expansion into Las Vegas created, the Tampa Bay Lightning captain’s presence during the two-day draft in Buffalo was hard to overlook.

Stamkos is set to be, as Sabres General Manager Tim Murray put it, the potential “big fish” in the league’s free-agency period, which opens Friday.

Buffalo, Boston and Vancouver are among the teams to have already expressed interest in Stamkos.

And others, as in the case of Toronto and Detroit, have freed up more than $10 million in salary cap space with an expectation they will jump into the bidding for the four-time, 40-goal scorer.

Meantime, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said, “I haven’t ruled out anything just yet. The process hasn’t changed.”

Stamkos heads a list of pending free agents that includes St. Louis center David Backes, New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo and Los Angeles forward Milan Lucic. Other players could be available by trade, including Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler

HALL OF FAME: The weakest first-time eligible group in decades has left the doors open to the Hockey Hall of Fame for several players who have been awaiting the call.

Eric Lindros has been waiting six years, Mark Recchi three, Dave Andreychuk eight and Sergei Makarov 16. This could finally be the year, as the Hall of Fame selection committee determines the class of 2016 on Monday.

Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, defenseman Roman Hamrlik and forwards Milan Hejduk and Vinny Prospal headline the first-year eligible players.

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On Baseball: Red Sox bring another ‘character’ to Portland Mon, 27 Jun 2016 02:00:00 +0000 He could have a future in show business after his baseball career.

But don’t tell Cody Decker that.

“I have no idea,” he said.

“All I have in front of me is today’s game. I just want to play baseball and don’t want to stop playing baseball.

“I had to stop playing baseball for one month and I hated every second of it.”

Decker, 29, a versatile veteran, joined the Portland Sea Dogs 12 days ago, following a month of uncertainty at his home in Los Angeles.

After playing in his first major league games last September for San Diego, Decker bounced around – signing as a free agent with Kansas City, then getting traded to Colorado – and was suddenly unemployed after the Rockies cut him on May 15.

“I felt kind of blindsided by it. I had never been released before,” Decker said. “I went home and I figured I would have job offers immediately because I had offers from a lot of teams in the offseason.

“But no one had jobs available. The (open) spots had been taken … so I’m just waiting for someone to give me a call.”

The Red Sox placed a call, but the offer was for Double-A, a level at which Decker had not played regularly in since 2011.

“Double-A is a much higher level than my couch,” he said. “I needed to play baseball.

“Plus, Portland is a cool town. And Nate Freiman’s in Portland. I’ll go play with Nate. That sounded good.”

Freiman, 29, another minor league free agent who signed in May, was Decker’s teammate in the Padres’ system. Freiman had significant time with the Oakland A’s before also finding himself needing a job. Now the Sea Dogs have Decker alongside him.

“He gives a veteran presence,” Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said. “He and Nate provide that. They’ve been in the major leagues. They have that perspective.”

Both Decker and Freiman are considered “character” guys, players who add not only experience but a positive persona in the clubhouse.

In Decker’s case, he is a character in the complete sense of the word.

“That would be an accurate statement,” Freiman said. “He’s a lot of fun. Really good team guy.

“Engages his teammates. Includes everybody. Positive influence on people around him. Plays the game hard.”

Decker enjoys Freiman as well.

“I love Nate. We make a good power-hitting Jewish combo,” Decker said.

Decker is quick with a quip, or a one-liner or a prank.

Decker has a theater and film background – he performed in shows at Santa Monica High, minored in film at UCLA, and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Decker used his know-how in filming a hilarious prank on Jeff Francoeur, a veteran major league outfielder who was a teammate of Decker’s in Triple-A El Paso in 2014.

With assistance from his teammates and coaching staff, including manager Pat Murphy and pitching coach Mike Cather (who once was in Portland), Decker convinced Francoeur than El Paso pitcher Jorge Reyes was deaf. Decker filmed a seven-minute documentary, with interviews of teammates, including Francoeur

Decker showed the team the film as Francoeur realized he was being pranked.

“He was amazing about it,” Decker said. “He thought it was the best prank ever, and later bought us all steaks.”

The film went viral, getting over 1 million hits on YouTube.

Decker, by the way, works fundraising events that assist the deaf. He was so active in El Paso charities and was such a popular player with the Chihuahuas that the team gave away Cody Decker bobblehead dolls this year on June 15. Decker could not be there. That was the day he reported to the Sea Dogs.

Besides making films, Decker can act. In high school, he had the lead role as Professor Harold Hill in “The Music Man”. He reinterpreted the role, interacting with the audience (“like Ferris Bueller”).

Decker did little acting or film work at UCLA – “you cannot do full-time baseball and full-time film in college” – but got a brief part in the NBC show “State of Affairs” in 2015. The show’s executive producer, Joe Carnahan, is a friend of Decker’s and asked him to try out for a small bit, playing a security guard.

Decker got the part. In the episode, Decker is blown up.

“I got killed off. What a shame. Such a pivotal role,” Decker said.

As much as Decker loves acting, his passion is baseball, a fact emphasized by his agonizing month away from the game. During that time, Decker worked out, took batting practice and caught bullpen sessions. One of the pitchers he caught was Casey Janssen, who was being looked at by the Red Sox. When Boston watched Janssen throw a bullpen session, Decker was the catcher. Soon, the Red Sox signed both to minor league contracts.

Decker has a career .264 average with an .867 OPS in the minors. He hit 21 home runs last year in Triple-A, and 27 the year before that. He can catch, and play first base, third base and left field.

Last year, Decker got a taste of the major leagues in an eight-game call-up with the Padres. His goal is obviously to get back to the bigs.

Any acting parts coming up?

“I can’t tell you that,” Decker said. “It’s not on my docket right now. Only thing on my docket is baseball.”


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Pat Summitt’s health reportedly failing Mon, 27 Jun 2016 00:46:33 +0000 Pat Summitt’s family asks for prayers and privacy as Alzheimer’s weakens the former Tennessee coach.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pat Summitt’s family said Sunday that the last few days have been difficult for the former Tennessee women’s basketball coach as her Alzheimer’s disease progresses.

Amid reports of Summitt’s failing health, her family issued a statement asking for prayers and saying that the 64-year-old Summitt is surrounded by the people who mean the most to her. It also asked for privacy.

The statement was posted on the Pat Summitt Foundation’s website and was issued by Erin Freeman, a spokeswoman for the Summitt family.

Former Tennessee player Tamika Catchings was flying to Knoxville to visit the coach instead of returning to Indiana with the WNBA’s Fever. Other former players were issuing support on Twitter through the “PrayForPat” hashtag. Phoenix Mercury center and Tennessee alum Isabelle Harrison said former Volunteers players were keeping up with Summitt’s situation in a group text-message chain.

“There are like 30 of us in a group chat right now talking, and people are flying into Knoxville and trying to see her,” Harrison said Sunday after the Mercury’s victory over the New York Liberty. “You just didn’t expect any of this to happen. Everyone’s trying to fill each other in with any information they have.”

Harrison said she often went to Summitt’s home and rehabbed with her last year while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament that ended the post player’s senior season at Tennessee prematurely. They also occasionally went to practice together.

“I was at practice one day watching some of the girls, (and a) freshman took a fast shot,” Harrison said. “(Summitt) looked at me and was like, ‘What was wrong was that?’ I was like, ‘She shot too quick.’ (She said), ‘Yeah, that’s right.’ (Summitt) still had it.”

The update about Summitt’s condition brought a flood of support from throughout the sports world.

An outpouring of concern on social media came from rival coaches such as South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and Vanderbilt’s Stephanie White. Other sympathetic tweets came from sports figures as varied as Billie Jean King and Steve Spurrier.

Summitt stepped down as Tennessee’s coach in 2012, one year after announcing her diagnosis of early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. She went 1,098-208 with eight national titles. She has the most career wins of any Division I men’s or women’s basketball coach.

Since her diagnosis, Summitt has played a leading role in the fight against Alzheimer’s. She launched the Pat Summitt Foundation, which is dedicated to researching and educating people about the disease while also providing services to patients and caregivers. The Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic is scheduled to open at the University of Tennessee medical center in December.

“When she fights this disease, what she has taught all of us is how to do it with courage,” former Tennessee women’s Athletic Director Joan Cronan said at a 2015 charity event honoring Summitt.

“She’s done that from Day 1. It’s been about (how) we can find a cure for this disease, and she has done it facing it straight-on and she’s done it giving back as she always has.”

Summitt continues to hold a position as head coach emeritus of the Tennessee women’s basketball team. She has cut back on public appearances in recent years.

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U.S. soccer coach sees progress, but breakthrough still needed Sun, 26 Jun 2016 23:36:28 +0000 GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jurgen Klinsmann thinks a fourth-place finish in the Copa America was a step in the right direction. U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati will speak to his coach and assess.

After opening with a 2-0 loss to third-ranked Colombia, the United States beat Costa Rica, Paraguay and 13th-ranked Ecuador to advance to a semifinal against No. 1 Argentina. Lionel Messi and his teammates routed the U.S. 4-0, and the 31st-ranked Americans closed with a 1-0 loss to Colombia in Saturday’s third-place game.

“It’s a tough tournament,” Gulati said. “We didn’t lose to anybody in the tournament that’s ranked outside the top five in the world, but we need to win some of those games, obviously.”

The U.S. has qualified for seven straight World Cups and beat Guatemala in a key home game in March to put itself in place to advance to the final round of qualifying for the 2018 tournament. Yet, ever since last year’s surprise loss to Jamaica in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Klinsmann’s results have been questioned by some.

“I’ve never said he wasn’t on solid ground or was on solid ground or anything else,” Gulati said. “A lot of stuff gets written. As we do in every tournament – I’ve said this a thousand times – next we’ll sit down and talk to Jurgen, talk internally and assess everything.”

Klinsmann, the former German star and coach who took over in 2011, has set a goal of advancing to the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup – the U.S. last reached the final four at the first tournament in 1930. The Americans were eliminated by Belgium in the round of 16 two years ago.

“This senior team, we’ve done well,” Klinsmann said. “I think there’ve been some challenges in this tournament. Colombia was a good measuring stick because we played them twice. The first game we didn’t get up against them enough, but tonight we could have won the game, so a good performance.”

Geoff Cameron and John Brooks established themselves as the first-choice starting central defenders, and right back DeAndre Yedlin, midfielder Gyasi Zardes and forward Bobby Wood solidified positions as regular starters – with Wood moving ahead of perpetually injured Jozy Altidore.

Darlington Nagbe and 17-year-old Christian Pulisic were regulars off the bench and could be the next to break through as Klinsmann tries to lower his lineup’s age heading toward the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

“We can take the positives out of this,” Cameron said “We got out of the group and made it to the semifinals and lost to a good side. At the same time, we’ve got to keep it going. We’ve got qualifiers coming up, and I think we can go in there with our chest out a little bit more and be confident and be eager to show our true ability.”

Brad Guzan started in goal ahead of 37-year-old Tim Howard, the No. 1 choice at the last two World Cups. Ethan Horvath, just 21, replaced Nick Rimando as the No. 3 goalkeeper and moved himself to the top of the next generation’s pecking order.

The Americans realize how much they need to improve to compete with the world’s best.

“We look at some of these teams and they’re a shining example of what a good team is. They’re tough, they’re hard to beat, they’re resilient,” Howard said.

The national team next plays Sept. 2, when it likely can clinch a berth in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying by winning at St. Vincent and The Grenadines. They host Trinidad and Tobago four days later at Jacksonville, Florida.

Klinsmann believes Copa America provided good lessons against top teams played in extremely competitive situations.

“They need to see that level and feel it and face these guys eye to eye and understand,” he said.

Yedlin and Wood are 23, and Brooks turns 23 next month. They have broken through while others have stalled, such as Julian Green, Mix Diskerud, Aron Johannsson and Emerson Hyndman. Players such as Matt Miazga, Ventura Alvardo, Jordan Morris and Kellyn Acosta hope to be in the next wave to make the roster regularly.

“You see players who start to bloom. … They’re becoming stronger,” Klinsmann said. “It’s (also) fun to watch some older ones, like Clint (Dempsey) and Jermaine Jones, battling there and having a real impact on this team still.”

]]> 0 Sun, 26 Jun 2016 19:46:23 +0000
Sprint Cup: Stewart ends 3-year drought Sun, 26 Jun 2016 23:15:16 +0000 SONOMA, Calif. — For at least one weekend, Smoke was back.

Tony Stewart returned to Victory Lane for the first time in three years in vintage fashion – refusing to let Denny Hamlin steal a win at Sonoma Raceway on the final lap Sunday.

Now he’ll probably get a chance to run for a fourth NASCAR championship in his final season before retirement.

Stewart, mired in an 84-race losing streak dating to 2013, finally won to stop a slide of poor performances, injuries and personal turmoil that has tarnished the end of his career. He missed the first eight races of this season, his last as a NASCAR driver, because of a back injury suffered in an off-road vehicle accident one week before the season opened.

That absence meant Stewart would have to win a race and crack the top 30 in points to have one last shot at glory before he stepped out of the No. 14 Chevrolet for good. It was a longshot considering the way he has run the last three years, but those who know Stewart knew not to count him out.

And anyone who has followed his career knew that’s Stewart is best when he’s in a bad mood, and he was ornery all weekend in the picturesque wine country.

He complained about young drivers, snarked that NASCAR will be without any tough guys once he retires, and grumbled he has no fun driving a Cup car anymore.

Well, he sure had fun on Sunday.

The 45-year-old took the lead on fuel strategy during a caution with 24 laps to go and had to hold on after another yellow flag stalled the race. The final restart came with 14 laps remaining, and he held off a trio of Toyota drivers for his third career victory at Sonoma.

Hamlin made it interesting by pouncing on a Stewart mistake to snatch the lead away in the seventh turn of the final lap. Stewart grabbed it back in tricky Turn 11, where he dove to the inside of Hamlin and pushed Hamlin toward the wall as the two raced side-by-side.

Stewart got past Hamlin and charged to the checkered flag with the entire side of his car crumpled and his tires slightly smoking from the contact with Hamlin.

Dozens of drivers then pumped their fists out their window to salute Stewart on his victory lap. Crew members lined the wall to slap his hand, and teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch were among the drivers to rush to speak to Stewart while he was still inside his car.

So did Hamlin, a former teammate of Stewart’s who has become somewhat of a protector to his one-time mentor. As leader of the Driver Council, Hamlin got the council to split the cost of a $35,000 fine Stewart received this year for criticizing NASCAR.

“He just told me he was proud of me, he knows what it means. We were teammates a long time,” an exhausted and emotional Stewart said in Victory Lane. After chugging a Coca-Cola, he slumped to the ground and sat alongside his car.

Hamlin, meanwhile, didn’t indicate he gave the win to Stewart but chalked it up to his own mistake to allow Stewart to snatch the lead away from him.

“Looking in the rearview more than looking out front,” Hamlin said. “I just slid up a little bit in the middle and allowed him to get inside me. I knew he was going to put me in the wall. All is fair in love and war.”

NOTES: NASCAR is unlikely to add a road course to the Chase for the championship schedule because it would be hard to get one moved into the Sprint Cup schedule.

NASCAR Chairman Brian France also dismissed the idea of holding races on weeknights but didn’t rule out moving the annual All-Star race from Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“There’s a lot of interest in that very interesting event, and Charlotte has been good to us for a lot of reasons, but we’ll always keep that open,” France said.

]]> 0, 26 Jun 2016 19:44:44 +0000
Rangers get early jump on Buchholz, Red Sox Sun, 26 Jun 2016 22:49:14 +0000 ARLINGTON, Texas — Clay Buchholz allowed the first six Texas batters to reach in his second start since a brief demotion to the bullpen, and walked a season-high five.

The right-hander and Boston Manager John Farrell still saw some positives in a 6-2 loss to the Rangers on Sunday.

The Rangers scored three runs after four straight singles to start the game, and Prince Fielder homered not long before Buchholz’s exit in the sixth. In between, the two-time All-Star didn’t allow a runner to reach second base and faced the minimum in a four-inning stretch.

“In the first inning, it wasn’t really a whole lot of balls that were hit hard, they were just hit where we weren’t,” Buchholz said. “That was basically the difference.”

Texas left-hander Martin Perez won his sixth straight decision with six solid innings and helped the Rangers to yet another series victory despite a bout with control issues that had his manager questioning his body language on the mound.

“The thing that I like is that he continues to search and find ways to get himself out of the inning,” Jeff Banister said. “He seemed to throw just enough strikes to get them into swing mode. There’s still a learning process, but it’s getting better.”

Prince Fielder hit a two-run homer for the Rangers, who are 11-0-1 in series since getting swept at Oakland in mid-May. Texas improved to 8-1 in deciding games this season.

Perez (7-4) was working on a shutout before Bryce Brentz hit a solo drive with two out in the sixth for his first major league homer. Perez matched the longest winning streak of his career, from 2013, despite throwing more balls than strikes into the fifth inning.

Shin-Soo Choo, Ian Desmond, Nomar Mazara and Adrian Beltre opened Texas’ three-run first with four straight singles. The last two drove in a run apiece, and Rougned Odor drove in another run with bloop single to left.

Choo had three hits and scored twice, the second time on another RBI single from Beltre.

Buchholz (3-8) walked two in the first inning and allowed seven hits and five runs — four earned — in 5 1/3 innings, falling to 1-6 against Texas.

“There was a stretch where we’ve seen in a number of his starts where he was very good, but there’s an inning inside of it that’s the one you can point to,” Farrell said.

The Rangers, who have the best record in the American League at 49-27, won a three-game series for the seventh time after dropping the opener.

David Ortiz pinch-hit with two runners on in the eighth inning of the retiring slugger’s final regular-season game in Texas. That prompted a standing ovation from the crowd, including plenty of Rangers fans.

Ortiz pulled a run-scoring single through the shift in right before Travis Shaw flied out. Former closer Shawn Tolleson pitched a scoreless ninth for a Texas bullpen that surrendered four runs with two outs in the ninth of an 8-7 loss in the opener.


RED SOX: Utility player Brock Holt is getting close to a return after missing 34 games because a concussion, but the plan is for a cautious approach when he does get back. “To say that once he comes back, he’s good to go five to six times a week, I think that might be a little aggressive right now,” Manager John Farrell said.

RANGERS: Right-hander Yu Darvish (right shoulder discomfort) threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session.


RED SOX: Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (1-2, 6.41 ERA) gets the opener of a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Monday night. He is winless in four starts since beating Baltimore 6-2 in his 2016 debut.

RANGERS: Right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is set for his first appearance of the season in the opener of a four-game series at the Yankees on Monday night. He was 3-5 with a 4.03 ERA in 10 starts as a rookie last year.

]]> 1, 26 Jun 2016 20:26:11 +0000
Freiman home run gives Sea Dogs 9-8 win Sun, 26 Jun 2016 20:47:58 +0000 On a beautiful, 77-degree cloudless afternoon at Hadlock Park, the Reading Fightin Phils and Portland Sea Dogs ensured that fans would make the most of it, playing a marathon game – three hours, 31 minutes.

Nate Freiman made sure the home crowd went home happy. Freiman swatted a three-run homer in the eighth inning to give the Sea Dogs a 9-8 win Sunday before 6,631 at Hadlock.

The game was a slugfest for four innings, with Reading taking an 8-6 lead off Sea Dogs starter Kevin McAvoy, led by home runs from Harold Martinez and Jorge Alfaro.

Portland relievers Nik Turley and Austin Maddox (2-0) kept the Phils scoreless for the final five innings, with Turley striking out eight.

“They were huge,” Sea Dogs Manager Carlos Febles said. “They came in and put zeroes on the board and gave us a chance.”

That chance came in the eighth. With one out, Andrew Benintendi singled off lefty reliever Hoby Milner (4-1). Cody Decker followed with a double, and then Freiman swatted a fastball over the left-field wall.

“That guy is a good pitcher,” Freiman said of Milner, who has a 2.05 ERA. “I’ve faced him before. I just got a good pitch to hit.”

The Sea Dogs had 13 hits, led by Benintendi (3 for 4 with a walk). Yoan Moncada, Mauricio Dubon, Cole Sturgeon and Freiman all had two hits. Benintendi and Sturgeon both had two RBI.

Reading had 11 hits, but only three after the fourth inning. Turley, a lefty in his first year in the Red Sox organization, retired nine of 11 batters.

Maddox, a third-round draft pick in 2012, was making his seventh appearance for Portland. He continues to be dominant, with a 0.53 ERA.

After a 1-2-3 eighth, Maddox escaped a first-and-third, two-out jam in the ninth by getting Jake Fox to pop up on an outside fastball.

NOTES: Portland (27-47) stopped a four-game losing streak, going 2-6 on the homestand. Sea Dogs starting pitcher had an 11.63 ERA during the homestand. … Reading (53-23) still leads the Eastern League’s East Division by six games. … Dubon is having a nice start to his Double-A career. In three games, he’s 5 for 11 (.455). … Freiman leads the team with five home runs. Benintendi and Sturgeon both have three. … The Sea Dogs left after the game for a three-game series starting Monday in Trenton, New Jersey. The team returns Thursday for a five-game series against the Hartford Yard Goats at Hadlock Field. That series will include a doubleheader Friday and fireworks Sunday night.

]]> 0, 26 Jun 2016 19:49:48 +0000
Sebago Lake Land Reserve open for business Sun, 26 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 STANDISH — A dozen years ago, Madeline McLucas and Sue Crockett didn’t have many options for riding their horses in woods near their homes in Gorham. Today, the women have made the Sebago Lake Land Reserve their go-to place to ride.

They’re not the only ones. Since the land reserve has been open to the public, the number of hikers, dog-walkers, runners, mountain bikers and equestrians using the trails has mushroomed.

In 2005, the Portland Water District opened 1,700 acres near Sebago Lake that had been closed to the public for decades. The theory behind the change in approach was simple: Allow the public to recreate and they’ll watch for trouble and help protect it.

In the past decade, violations on the open land fell from a high of 37 per 1,000 visitors in 2005 to just five violations per every 1,000 visitors in 2015, said Ron Beaulieu, head of the water district’s security force.

Meanwhile, visitor numbers have increased from 5,000 in 2005 to 25,000 last year, according to the water district. Use this year is up 1,500 from where it was this time last year, Beaulieu said.

He calls the Sebago Lake Land Reserve an overwhelming success.

sebago trails map_Page_2

Image from Portland Water District

“When I got here (in 2005), it had an unsafe feel to it. There were remnants of fires, garbage, vandalism, beer cans. The first thing we did was clean the place up,” said Beaulieu, a retired police officer. “We’ve noticed a change in culture. We are not here 24/7, so we reached out to the land users. They report any suspicious activity. And we fix it when we find it.”

Beaulieu’s staff the past 10 years has grown to nine part-time seasonal trail stewards who help police the trails and educate visitors on leave-no-trace principles and, most importantly, the rules regarding the lake.

There still is no trespassing near the portion of the lake that provides drinking water for roughly 200,000 people in greater Portland. That intake area is just beyond the intersection of Routes 35 and 237. Violators who go near it will be fined up to $2,500.

“There is safe drinking water and there is quality drinking water. This water is very pristine,” Beaulieu said. “We don’t want to screw it up. We want to keep the quality where it is.”

Elsewhere on the Portland Water District property, a recreational playground has taken shape.

More than 13 miles of trails have been built around Otter, Snake and Half Moon ponds. Two years ago, benches were built at scenic overlooks on the rolling forestland. An amphitheater was built in a small ravine, providing a stage for musicians who play at concerts the Water District hosts. A hitching post near the Route 237 parking lot was put in for horses brought to the trails.

“They’ve been very good to us. (They) trim the branches so they don’t hit our head,” Crockett said of the land stewards.

“We’re finding when we come riding here, people with dogs step off the trail. They’re very courteous. And we haven’t had a problem with cyclists or baby carriages. We step off the trail for them. That’s not the case in other places. They’ve made this very nice for us.”

In the past few weeks, a free mobile app was introduced by the Water District to guide users along the trails.

The original concept has worked, Beaulieu said. The locals who use this land have a sense of ownership and take care of the land.

When McLucas was hiking the trails one day, she found the fender of a car that someone had driven down the trail. So she took it to Beaulieu.

Afterward, Beaulieu blocked all openings with large rocks or granite slabs to stop similar incidents from happening in the future.

“I call it boulder diplomacy,” he said.

Recently, a host of new visitors have come to use the trails.

“I was riding my mountain bike here last January and went by a snowshoer and then a cross-country skier, and then a fat bike came flying through the trees,” said water district land steward John Sargent. “When we say it’s multiple-use, it really is now.”

Beaulieu estimates 50 equestrians regularly come to ride their horses on the trails, and there are more all the time.

“A week ago I saw six or seven riders in the parking lot. I asked them if they’d been here before, and for all of them it was the first time,” Beaulieu said. “There is a lot of word-of-mouth here. We don’t advertise it. But we welcome people.”

Unlike state parks, there is no fee. Visitors are asked to sign a permit form at the kiosks at one of the five parking areas. Half the form goes on the visitors’ dashboard, the other half is put in a box to help Beaulieu track use.

“These recreational users help to protect the water. They report when they see something. Having them protect the lake is good for everyone,” said Michelle Clement, the water district’s public relations manager.


]]> 0, 28 Jun 2016 14:02:48 +0000
Maine native, wife sharing Olympic dream Sun, 26 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 HANOVER, N.H. — The folks in the neighborhood must wonder about the young couple with the dog who loves to dig.

“We’re the ones who don’t do lawn care and who never seem to work,” said Sarah True, who added in her best geezer voice: ” ‘They exercise an awful lot!’ ”

“Always running at random times of the day,” added Ben True. “And the dog’s always outside, finding different bushes or holes.”

Neighbors make a point of stopping at the end of the driveway, peering in with a Where’s Waldo curiosity to find Otzi’s latest hideout. Few of them realize the dog – “a tame tan wolf,” as Ben describes him – has his own endorsement deal, with Nulo dog food.

By the end of the summer, millions more may know all about the Trues. The couple could be competing on the same day – Aug. 20 – at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Ben is the North Yarmouth native and Greely High graduate who went on to star in both Nordic skiing and distance running at Dartmouth College before deciding on distance running as his career. A case of Lyme disease derailed his 2012 Olympic bid, but now, at age 30, he is primed to make the Olympic team and possibly contend for a medal in Rio. Last year he set an American 5K road record and made his first world championships team, finishing sixth in Beijing in the 5,000 meters.

Sarah, 34, placed fourth and was the top American in the triathlon at the 2012 London Games. She qualified for Rio last summer.

In early July, Ben will have two chances to earn an Olympic berth. He’ll compete in the 10,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, on Friday night. The top three finishers will head to Rio. True has the fourth-fastest qualifying time.

In the 5,000 meters, True has the second-best time entering the trials. His first heat is July 4 with the finals scheduled for July 9. Again, the top three qualify.

“Ideally, I would run the 5K (in Rio),” True said. “But if I qualify for the 10K and don’t qualify for the 5K, it’s not like I’m going to pass up running the (Olympic) 10K. I just think my chances in Rio are better in the 5K. I haven’t run many 10Ks on the track, ever, so it’s more of an unknown for me.”

In anticipation of an interesting Olympic love story, NBC sent a television crew to Hanover last fall to film an up-close-and-personal piece on the couple.

They met back in 2010, when she was Sarah Groff. She was born in Hanover, grew up in Cooperstown, New York, and became an All-American swimmer at Middlebury College. Her brother, Adam, is a physician with an MBA. Her sister, Lauren, is a fiction writer whose most recent book – “Fates and Furies” – was named by President Obama as his favorite book of 2015, a year after Ben and Sarah were married.

Both Adam and Ben are Dartmouth graduates who decided to set down roots in this town on the Vermont border. Sarah was living with her brother’s family and using Hanover as a training base when she met True, who had broken his toe and taken up cycling in order to stay in shape.

“My broken toe led to me not being able to run, which led to me cross training, which led to us riding bikes together, which probably would not have happened had I not broke my toe,” he said, speaking between bites of lunch at a local bakery/sandwich shop.

“Yeah, but we might have had dog-park dates,” Sarah said. “We would have met.”

“She stole her brother’s dog,” said Ben, who had gotten Otzi as a puppy a few years earlier.

“Borrowed,” she said with a mischievous smile. “I borrowed (my brother’s) dog. That works, too.”

On this particular Monday, Sarah got up at 7 a.m. and swam for 90 minutes at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center in nearby White River Junction, Vermont. On her way home she shopped for groceries, while Ben visited a chiropractor in nearby Woodstock, Vermont. Sarah still had biking and running on her agenda, and Ben, who awoke at 9:30, planned an evening run.

“Monday’s a one-run day,” he said. “With most of the upcoming races being night races, I’ve switched to doing the majority of my running in the evening to get the body used to that. Normally I would do my longer run in the morning and shorter run in the afternoon, but recently I switched that to try to get the body used to racing at night.”

“A good part of our job,” Sarah said, “is staying healthy. There’s the official training and then there’s the body maintenance. Sleep is part of the job, too. After this (lunch), I’ll probably have to take a nap. This is a lot of excitement for me.”

The previous Friday night, Sarah enjoyed the rare treat of watching her husband compete, at the Adidas Boost Boston track meet in Somerville, Massachusetts. Against an international field that included Olympic silver medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand, True placed third in the 1,500 meters – a much shorter race than he usually runs – in 3 minutes, 36.05 seconds. Not only was it a personal best for True, who had never officially broken 3:40, it marked the fastest time this year for a U.S. runner at that distance.

“I think it just means that the training is where it should be,” said True, who moved up from 11th at the halfway point in a field of 18. “I was a little surprised. I think I actually even had a shot at winning if I knew how to run a 1,500 and moved up a little bit earlier.”

The time surprised True’s coach, Tim Broe, a 2004 U.S. Olympian who said he anticipated a time of about 3:39 and quickly scrapped a planned postrace workout.

“He ran extraordinarily well here, especially with how little track work we’ve been able to get done,” Broe said. “To run 3:36 … and have run 100 miles a week for 12 out of the last 16-17 weeks tells me he is prepared to do really well (at the Olympic trials). As long as we get there healthy, he is going to be tough to beat.”

The race was only the third of the year for Ben, who was runner-up to Dejen Gebremeskel at the B.A.A. 5K the day before the Boston Marathon and 11th (second American) in the Prefontaine Classic 5,000 in Eugene. A hip injury interrupted his training and caused him to pull out of a planned half marathon in New York City. It also aggravated his Achilles tendon.

“I’m not exactly sure what happened this winter,” he said, “but the whole left leg chain got upset, which caused me not to be able to run for a couple weeks. It’s something that I have to manage the rest of the year, probably. I can do everything I need to do training-wise, but I just have to stay on top of it or it will flare up.”

Ben and Sarah spent the winter in Athens, Georgia, the latest attempt in their continuing quest to find an offseason training site that fulfills certain criteria. It has to be warm enough for Sarah to cycle outside, within driving distance so they can bring the dog, and ideally, have a vibrant cultural scene.

Long a fan of NASCAR, Ben became friends with Landon Cassill, who drives the No. 38 car and invited True to sit in his pit box at races last year in Loudon, New Hampshire, and at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. Because Cassill also dabbles in triathlons, a connection had been made through an acquaintance of Sarah. Ben gave Cassill running advice and Sarah drove the pace car at Loudon.

“Ben was very jealous,” said Sarah, who with Cassill’s help set up go-kart driving lessons for Ben at Atlanta Motor Speedway to celebrate his 30th birthday.

“It was funny because the other guys had done a lot of it,” she said. “So when they asked (Ben) how much experience he had racing, he was like, ‘No experience racing cars, but I know how to race!’ ”

While Ben has been outside New England for only one race so far this year, Sarah has competed in South Africa, Australia, England and the United Arab Emirates. In a few days she will head to Sweden, where she is the two-time defending champion of the international triathlon in Stockholm, before flying to Oregon to support Ben at the trials. They don’t use a big whiteboard for their comings and goings, but they are reliant on Google Calendar.

Travel “energizes me but it just wears him out,” Sarah said. “If he could get away with only racing in New England, he would.”

Travel to Brazil, of course, poses its own challenges. Two of the most common concerns are the mosquito-borne Zika virus and pollution in the waters of the host city. Although the swim portion of the Olympic triathlon will be held in the open ocean off Copacabana Beach instead of the filthier Guanabara Bay (home to sailing and rowing), an Associated Press investigation revealed distressing levels of viruses from human waste “up to 1.7 million times what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach.”

Sarah said she knows of no athlete who became ill after last August’s test event, and that some gastrointestinal distress may result from her 1,500 swim, but what bothers her more is the erosion of the Olympic legacy.

“When they put forth a proposal to host,” she said, “the idea is to improve the host city, and one of the things they’re supposed to improve is water quality.”

As for the Zika virus, which can cause a serious birth defect called microcephaly, “as a young married couple it’s something you have to consider,” Sarah said. “Ultimately it’s a much bigger concern for the people who actually live there. We’re going down in (South American) winter, a down period of time. I won’t be pregnant while I’m there. We don’t have plans immediately to start a family. It doesn’t change the way we approach the Olympics, but it would be naive not to have it be something that you think about and become informed about.”

As for Otzi, who landed his dog-food deal earlier this year through Sarah’s IMG agency, he’ll stay in New Hampshire. Like his buddy from Maine, he’s a homebody, too.

“He’s very low maintenance,” Ben said of his 8-year-old canine companion. “He kind of takes care of himself.”

]]> 4, 25 Jun 2016 19:22:19 +0000
Outdoors Calendar Sun, 26 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 THURSDAY

Maine Adventure Race, all day in Jefferson

The first Maine Summer Adventure Race will offer a full day or half-day of exploring the woods and lakes around Hidden Valley Nature Center. The race will involve teams of two, three or four competing in trail running, road and mountain biking, flat-water paddling and orienteering. Go to or call 522-5630 for more information.


Whitewater Nationals Regatta, July 6-10 in Old Town

The Penobscot River Whitewater Nationals Regatta, hosted by the Penobscot Indian Nation, returns to Old Town, Bradley, Orono, Veazie and Eddington on the Penobscot River. The regatta features canoe and kayak racing. Four race courses will offer Class I, II, and III rapids with plenty of places to see the races from the shore. Sign up at For more information, call 852-0680.


Volunteers needed, in Scarborough

At the Scarborough Marsh Nature Center, volunteers can help with bird monitoring in July and August, help with canoe rentals and lead nature tours. In addition, the Scarborough Marsh Audubon Center needs volunteers for special events such as Snowy Egret Day. No experience is necessary. Training will be provided. Email or call 883-5100 to learn more.

Send event listings to

]]> 0 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 10:56:05 +0000
What’s Up in July: It’s a good month for viewing the planets, especially Jupiter Sun, 26 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 The month of July is named for Julius Caesar. On this first full month of summer, the days are still long and the nights are still short, but it is a great time to get outside under our warm skies to see and appreciate just a few of its myriad wonders.

All eight of the planets in our solar system will be visible at some time this month in our evening sky. We are standing on one of them. Our home planet will reach aphelion, or its greatest distance from the sun, on Monday, July 4. We will be 94,512,904 miles away for the sun, or only about 3 percent farther than we are at perihelion in early January. There will also be a new moon a few hours earlier on that same day.

Jupiter is still in the eastern part of Leo, moving in its normal, eastward direction along the ecliptic. The king of the planets is slowly fading as we pull farther ahead in our faster orbit around the sun, but it is still brighter than anything except Venus, the moon and the sun. By the end of the month, Jupiter will set less than two hours after sunset. Back on March 8, when it was at opposition, Jupiter was rising just as the sun was setting.

A spacecraft named Juno will arrive at Jupiter on July 4. Launched on Aug. 5, 2011, by a powerful Atlas 5 rocket, Juno is one of the 10 missions that have studied Jupiter at close range. Juno is the first spacecraft sent to the outer solar system that is not powered by the radioactive decay of plutonium. Instead, Juno has three huge solar-cell panels, each of which is nearly 30 feet long. They only generate 400 watts of power, as Jupiter is about five times farther away at 500 million miles, or about 45 minutes at the speed of light.

The other nine spacecraft have taught us many important things about this great planet, but we have only scratched the surface of what this planet can tell us. Juno will drop into a sequence of 14-day-long orbits by October, which will carry it to 2,600 miles above its cloud tops as it plunges in over the North Pole and exits again over the South Pole and then out to 1.6 million miles away. This avoids most of the trapped charged particles that could easily destroy this spacecraft.

Juno will be racing along at 37 miles per second, or twice as fast as we are always orbiting the sun. Just picture this amazing little spacecraft with its triangle of giant solar panels and nine incredible scientific instruments slowly rotating in a cartwheel every 30 seconds while it is gathering valuable data about our largest planet. Juno will be racing through incredibly strong magnetic fields and millions of amps of electric current. It is expected to make about 35 such dramatic and dangerous orbits, but it could last much longer.

We don’t even know if Jupiter has a solid core of metal, rock and ice, or essentially no core at all beyond its metallic hydrogen. The pressures at the center of Jupiter are 50 million times greater than what we experience on the surface of the earth. When NASA dropped the Galileo probe down to 100 miles below Jupiter’s cloud tops 21 years ago, it found the expected ammonia layers but not the water layer. So Jupiter may have far less water than expected, which would have major implications for how it was formed and for how most other Jupiter-sized planets in other solar systems have formed.

Jupiter has very intense northern and southern lights around its poles, generated by its powerful dynamo of rapidly spinning metallic hydrogen. Jupiter is 10 times larger than the earth and 318 times heavier, but it rotates one full turn every 10 hours. This huge magnetosphere extends about 3 million miles into space toward the sun, but its giant geomagnetic tail extends all the way past Saturn, half a billion miles away, on the other side of the sun. Our earth also has a magnetosphere, stretching roughly to the moon on the side away from the sun, but it is more than 1,000 times smaller.

Each of Jupiter’s four large Galilean moons, visible with a good pair of binoculars, leaves a bright knot of light as a footprint in these polar auroras. The one left by Io, the most volcanic place in our solar system, is especially interesting because about a ton of sulfur dioxide escapes from its thin atmosphere every second, forming a huge doughnut-shaped torus of plasma that interacts with Jupiter’s magnetic fields, generating three distinctly audible radio sounds.

Look for a slender waxing crescent moon passing just below Regulus in Leo and then Jupiter about one hour after sunset on the 7th and 8th – just a few days after Juno will get to Jupiter.

Then keep watching as the moon gets about seven percent larger and travels 12 degrees farther east each night. The waxing gibbous moon will be right above Mars on the 14th, then right above Saturn the next evening. Both brilliant orange Mars and golden Saturn are now slowly fading like giant cooling embers, but they are still brighter and closer than usual. Also look for the orange giant star named Antares in Scorpius below this ever-changing trio of bright celestial objects. At 700 times the size of our sun, Antares is one of the largest stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

Both Venus and Mercury reappear during the final week of July, about five degrees apart and very low in the western sky, setting about 45 minutes after sunset. Look for them near Regulus in Leo, not far from Jupiter. Neptune is now in Aquarius, and Uranus is in the next constellation to the east, Pisces, rising in the late evening.

Pluto is at opposition on July 7 and will spend the whole season in the Teaspoon asterism. Pluto takes 248 years to orbit the sun, so it will not appear to move much in our sky.

Several meteor showers will happen later this month after a long lull in activity. These include the Delta Aquarids, the Piscis Austrinids and the Alpha Capricornids. You will also see some early Perseids meteors, which will peak by Aug. 12.


July 4: Earth is at aphelion, or farthest from the sun. Juno will arrive at Jupiter. The Crab nebula in Taurus was first seen in 1054 by many cultures around the earth. This supernova is about 6,500 light years away, which means that this giant star actually exploded about 7,500 years ago, but its light just reached us about 1,000 years ago. New moon is at 7:01 a.m.

July 5: In 1687, Isaac Newton published his Principia, explaining his Laws of Universal Gravitation and many other principles of math and physics.

July 8: The moon is near Jupiter this evening.

July 11: First-quarter moon is at 8:52 p.m.

July 15: The waxing gibbous moon, Saturn and Antares form a nearly vertical line in the south about one hour after sunset.

July 16: In 1994, the first of 21 fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter. Another piece hit the planet about every six hours.

July 19: Full moon is at 6:56 p.m. This is also called the Hay or Thunder Moon.

July 20: In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon. Only 10 more humans have walked on the moon, none since December 1972.

July 26: Last-quarter moon is at 7 p.m.

July 29: The moon will occult Aldebaran in Taurus just after sunrise.

Bernie Reim of Wells is co-director of the Astronomical Society of Northern New England

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On Baseball: International gambles can be costly for Red Sox Sun, 26 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Read the words from Boston’s general manager after the Red Sox signed a Cuban sensation:

“This is an exciting player. He’s got a great combination of skills, defensive ability, speed, solid power. He’s got a really strong track record in Cuba. We’re excited to add him to the organization and we feel he can be part of winning Red Sox teams here for a long time.”

The player receiving all the praise was not Yoan Moncada, but Rusney Castillo.

Before the Red Sox landed Moncada in March 2015, Boston GM Ben Cherington signed Castillo in August 2014 – at the urging of team ownership.

Castillo was dropped from Boston’s 40-man roster last week, but the Red Sox are on the hook for the remainder of his $72.5 million contract that runs through 2020. Over parts of three seasons, he has played 99 games in the majors, batting .262 with seven home runs.

Interestingly, Moncada was promoted to Double-A Portland at about the same time the Red Sox were apparently giving up on Castillo, though he remains in the organization at Triple-A Pawtucket.

It’s a continuous cycle with international free agents: spend, spend, spend – and hope.

In some cases, it appears a team is looking for the best talent. In others, the spending in itself appears to be a competition. A team owner loses out on one free agent, so he spends more on the next available one.

Baseball’s free-agent market for established players has its gambles, with mega millions spent on veterans based on past performance. Boston has had success (Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, among others) and disasters (Carl Crawford and, so far, Pablo Sandoval).

But there is even more uncertainty when it comes to spending on international free agents. Teams often are bidding on teenagers. Even older players who have proven themselves in international leagues may not adjust well to the U.S.

Todd Claus, a former Sea Dogs manager, is the Red Sox Latin America scouting coordinator. Latin American free agents, mostly from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, can be signed when they are 16. The scouting starts years earlier.

“We’re looking at 14-year-olds and trying to say whether they’re going to be big leaguers,” Claus said during a recent visit to Portland. “It’s the most difficult thing I’ve done in the game.”

Claus first saw Moncada as a 15-year-old playing in an international tournament in Mexico. He quickly notified the Red Sox that Moncada was a player “to keep an eye on.”

When Moncada left Cuba and filed for free agency, Boston won the bidding, offering a $31.5 million signing bonus. Moncada was just 19 years old.

To control outrageous spending by big-market clubs, Major League Baseball started establishing limits on signing bonuses for international free agents. Heavy fines would be imposed for violators. Boston owner John Henry shrugged and wrote a check for an additional $31.5 million to cover the fine. That makes $63 million for one prospect.

“Let’s hope he works out,” Claus said with a smile. Claus does not doubt Moncada’s ability. But no one can guarantee success in the major leagues.

Henry became the Red Sox owner before the 2002 season, when the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was considerably one-sided in New York’s favor. By the end of the year, the Red Sox were locked in a battle for Cuban free-agent pitcher Jose Contreras, considered a sure-bet star.

While Contreras worked out in Nicaragua, the Red Sox recruited him heavily and thought they had a deal. But the Yankees swooped in with a four-year contract worth $32 million – $10 million more than Boston offered. The Contreras deal prompted the Red Sox president, Larry Lucchino, to issue his now-famous statement: “The Evil Empire extends its tentacles even into Latin America.”

The Yankees won the bidding, but did they really win? Contreras was mediocre in New York. And when his ERA ballooned to 5.64 in 2004, he was sent to the White Sox at the trade deadline.

But Henry seemed determined to outbid the Yankees. He got his chance four years later when Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka became available.

Under rules at the time, MLB teams submitted secret bids for the right to negotiate with Japanese League players. In 2000, the Seattle Mariners made a then-record bid of $13 million to negotiate with Ichiro Suzuki.

The bid for Matsuzaka figured to be higher. The Yankees reportedly bid $32 million.

Henry wanted to win this one and he made sure of it with a $51 million bid. The Red Sox then signed Matsuzaka to a six-year deal worth $52 million – making the total $103 million.

What did the Red Sox get? Two good years. He helped Boston win the American League East in 2007 (by two games over the Yankees) with a 15-12 record and 4.40 ERA. In the playoffs that season, Matsuzaka went 2-1, but with a 5.02 ERA in four starts as the Red Sox won the World Series.

Matsuzaka shined in 2008 (18-3, 2.90) although his postseason ERA was 4.50.

Over those two seasons, Matsuzaka pitched 3721/3 innings. In the four seasons after, he threw only 296 innings, going 17-22 with a 5.53 ERA. He underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2011.

Interestingly, after the Yankees lost out on Matsuzaka, they signed Japanese left-hander Kei Igawa before the 2007 season. New York won the bid to negotiate with Igawa for $26 million, then gave him a $20 million deal over five years.

For their $46 million, the Yankees got 13 starts from Igawa (2-4, 6.66 ERA). He spent the final three years of his contract in the minors.

That did not keep the Yankees from going after Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. The rules for Japanese free agents changed. Any team could negotiate with the player and then pay a posting fee (a maximum of $20 million) to his Japanese team. New York signed Tanaka for seven years and $155 million, plus the $20 million posting fee, before the 2014 season.

Tanaka has been a positive addition. Overall, he’s 29-14 with a 3.10 ERA. This season, he’s 4-2 with a 2.91 ERA.

In 2010, seven Cubans were on major league rosters on Opening Day. Six years later, the figure has more than tripled to 23. The Dominican Republic (82) and Venezuela (63) have the most major leaguers born outside the U.S.

Boston has signed Cubans before, including shortstop Jose Iglesias, who began his pro career with the Sea Dogs in 2010. He eased his way into the big leagues in 2011 and established himself in 2013, when the Red Sox traded him to Detroit and obtained Jake Peavy from the White Sox in a three-way deal.

Other Cubans – Yoenis Cespedes with the A’s in 2012 and Yasiel Puig with the Dodgers in 2013 – made immediate impacts.

When Cuban slugger Jose Abreu became an international free agent after the 2013 season, the Red Sox were interested. But in a secret bidding process, Boston came up $5 million short to the White Sox’s $68 million, six-year offer.

Abreu was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2014, batting .317 with 36 home runs.

Henry and the Red Sox would not lose out again, and signed Castillo in the summer of 2014. Castillo was called up that September and batted .333 with two home runs in 10 games.

His $72 million contract looked like a good deal and may have encouraged Boston to go all out on Moncada the next spring. The Yankees offered Moncada $25 million – $6.5 million less than Boston.

The Dodgers also have been signing Cubans and other international players, and likely will be paying a fine this year – reportedly up to $46 million.

While Puig has been an All-Star, the Dodgers have gambled unsuccessfully with other Cuban talent.

In the previous three years, they blew a total of $81 million on three players:

Infielder/left fielder Alex Guerrero signed with the Dodgers in 2013 but was released this month.

Third baseman/left fielder Hector Olivera signed in May 2015 but was traded to the Braves just two months later. Atlanta assumed his contract, but the Dodgers were out the $28 million signing bonus.

Shortstop Erisbel Arruebarrena signed in 2014 but was designated for assignment at the end of the season. He is in the Dodgers’ minor league system but was suspended in May for the rest of the season for “repeated failure to comply with the terms of his contract,” according to the team.

Boston has not had those kinds of problems. The problem with Castillo, 28, is that he hasn’t been able to hit. Now off the 40-man roster and back in Pawtucket, Castillo is trying to revive his career.

Meanwhile, one level lower at Portland, the latest Cuban sensation is showing off his tools with the Sea Dogs.

Will Yoan Moncada eventually make an impact with Red Sox?

That’s the $63 million question, isn’t it?


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Birding: Rails are heard but seldom seen Sun, 26 Jun 2016 08:00:00 +0000 Inspired by the recent sighting of at least two king rails in Wells, I am devoting this column to one of the least appreciated groups of birds in Maine, the rails. Our rails are marsh birds, infrequently seen but often heard.

Rails belong to the avian family rallidae, a group that also includes the coots. Coots are duck-like in their behavior and by no means secretive. I’ll stick to the rails in this column.

Rails have short, rounded wings. Despite the meager surface area of their wings, many rails are migratory. Lots of oceanic islands have been colonized by these unlikely migrants. Once on an island, rails speciate to form an endemic species. Alas, most of these endemic island rails are extinct, primarily due to direct or indirect effects of humans.

Rails are predators, preying on insects, spiders, crayfish, snails, other invertebrates, small fish and even seeds. Bill length varies quite a bit between species but always serves as an effective forceps to grab single prey items. Rails have long toes, allowing the birds to walk through muddy areas without sinking into the mire.

Rails are laterally compressed. Imagine putting your hands on either side of a balloon and pressing in. The balloon becomes thin and tall. This body shape in rails certainly helps them move through the dense vegetation of a cattail marsh or a salt marsh.

My wife and I had an argument about the derivation of the term “thin as a rail.” My claim was the phrase refers to the thin width of one of these marsh birds. My wife claimed the reference is to the split logs used to make fences. We decided to enlist the aid of a Colby reference library that disabused me of my interpretation. Nevertheless, thin as a rail fits for these birds.

We have five types of rails in the state. Two of them, the Virginia rail and the sora, are common in the summer throughout Maine. Clapper rails, king rails and yellow rails are rare birds for the state.

The Virginia rail is a handsome bird, 9 to 10 inches long. A rusty breast, olive-brown dorsal surface, flanks striped with black and white, a gray cheek patch and a long, red bill make these birds sharp dressers.

Alas, their secretive nature means a fleeting glimpse is all you can expect. Their presence in a marsh is usually given away by their insistent clicking vocalizations, as well as pig-like grunting.

Our other regular rail is the sora. A bit smaller than a Virginia rail, a sora has a gray neck and breast, a black face and a short, bright yellow bill. The common name comes from a rendering of one of its vocalizations, a two-note whistle. It also gives a downward spiraling whinny. The twilight hours are best for hearing these remarkable calls.

On May 10, Bri Benvenuti photographed a king rail along Eldridge Road in Wells. Other birders learned of this rail on June 7, and birders have been flocking to Wells to see this local rarity. We know there are at least two present. This sighting represents the seventh record of the species in Maine and the first in 20 years.

As the name suggests, king rails are large, about 15 inches long. Their mostly cinnamon feathering camouflages them well. Fortunately they like to forage along the water’s edge, so they are often seen along the marsh edge.

Clapper rails are very similar to king rails. Identification requires a good look at the edges of the contour feathers (buff in king rail, gray in clapper). That’s a tough task in such secretive birds.

We have six records from Maine, the latest being from 1973 in Wells and last September in Scarborough.

Finally, the small yellow rail is probably more common than we know. They seem to migrate through Maine from mid-September through mid-November.

Herb Wilson teaches ornithology and other biology courses at Colby College. He welcomes reader comments and questions at:

]]> 1 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 10:56:02 +0000
Rangers beat up on Wright, Red Sox Sun, 26 Jun 2016 05:02:17 +0000 ARLINGTON, Texas — Elvis Andrus had a bases-loaded triple, Ian Desmond homered again and the Texas Rangers beat the Boston Red Sox 10-3 late Saturday night.

Desmond’s 13th homer, his sixth in June, tied the game leading off the fourth. Mitch Moreland had a tiebreaking two-run single later in the inning to put the Rangers ahead to stay.

Andrus cleared the bases with his triple to the wall in left-center that chased knuckleballer Steven Wright (8-5) in the fifth. Andrus scored on a wild pitch by Robbie Ross Jr., capping a five-run inning in which all the runs were unearned after two errors and a passed ball.

Cesar Ramos (2-3), the third Texas pitcher, pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings. The lefty struck out consecutive batters after taking over with runners at second and third and one out in the sixth.

The scheduled 8:20 p.m. CDT first pitch was the latest ever for a Rangers home game. They opted against a day game, and that was the earliest they could play at night after Fox’s national exclusive TV window and still broadcast their game regionally. The game ended at 1 a.m. ET.

Wright allowed a career-high eight runs, but since five of those were unearned, his AL-best ERA rose only from 2.01 to 2.18. The right-hander struck out four and walked two in 4 2/3 innings.

Hanley Ramirez homered for the Red Sox, who are 12-16 over the past month.

The Rangers have the American League’s best record at 48-27.

Mookie Betts had an RBI single in the fifth to pull Boston to 3-2, and the bases were loaded when Dustin Pedroia grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Jackie Bradley Jr. had an RBI double in the sixth before Ramos took over.


The Rangers, who lost the series opener 8-7, haven’t had consecutive losses since being swept May 16-18 in three games at Oakland. … Wright has allowed only 17 extra-base hits in 15 starts this season. … Texas is 11-1 in Saturday games, winning nine in a row.


A.J. Griffin came off the 15-day disabled list (right shoulder stiffness) to make his first start for Texas since May 7. The right-hander struck out the first three batters he faced, and finished with six strikeouts and one walk in 4 1/3 innings. He allowed two runs and four hits.


RED SOX: Catcher Ryan Hanigan (neck strain) is scheduled to catch nine innings in consecutive games Tuesday and Wednesday for Triple-A Pawtucket in his rehab. … Utility player Brock Holt (33 games missed after a concussion) will get re-evaluated after playing Sunday at Pawtucket, and could rejoin the Red Sox next week in Tampa Bay.

RANGERS: Yu Darvish (right shoulder discomfort) and Keone Kela (right elbow impingement), a pair of right-handers on the disabled list, are both scheduled to throw bullpen sessions Sunday. … Right-hander Colby Lewis was placed on the 15-day DL to make room for Griffin on the roster. He won’t be able to throw for at least four weeks because of a strained lat muscle.


RED SOX: Clay Buchholz is 1-5 with a 4.10 ERA in seven career starts against the Rangers. The Texas native makes his second consecutive start after his five previous appearances were out of the bullpen.

RANGERS: Left-hander Martin Perez, who is 5-0 his last six starts, makes his Texas-high 16th start. He had a career-best six-game winning streak in 2013.



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Major league roundup: Blue Jays allow seven home runs in victory Sun, 26 Jun 2016 02:52:10 +0000 CHICAGO — The White Sox tied a team record with seven home runs, but it wasn’t enough as Edwin Encarnacion drove in four runs, Devon Travis homered and the Toronto Blue Jays held on to beat Chicago 10-8 on Saturday.

All seven homers were solo shots. Brett Lawrie became the first White Sox player since Ron Santo in 1974 to hit inside-the-park and over-the-wall homers in the same game, and Chicago hit three straight home runs in the second inning.

Dioner Navarro, J.B. Shuck, Tim Anderson, Alex Avila and Adam Eaton all went deep for the White Sox, who matched the club record set at the Kansas City Athletics on April 23, 1955.

ORIOLES SWEEP RAYS: Matt Wieters hit two homers, and Baltimore rallied from a four-run deficit to beat Tampa Bay 8-6 for a doubleheader sweep at home that extended the Rays’ losing streak to 10 games.

Adam Jones and Chris Davis also homered for the AL East-leading Orioles, who trailed 4-0 in the third inning and 6-3 in the fifth.

In the opener, Kevin Gausman allowed four hits in 72/3 innings to earn his first win of the season and help Baltimore to a 5-0 victory.

YANKEES 2, TWINS 1: Starlin Castro drove home the tiebreaking run in the eighth with a sharp one-hopper and scored an error on shortstop Eduardo Escobar as New York edged the visiting Twins with more dominant pitching from the back end of its bullpen.

Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller (5-0) and Aroldis Chapman combined to throw three scoreless innings for the third straight game.

INDIANS 6, TIGERS 0: Francisco Lindor homered twice and Carlos Carrasco pitched a four-hitter to lead the Indians past host Detroit for their eighth consecutive win.

Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes also went deep for Cleveland, which improved to 8-0 against the Tigers this year.


MARLINS 9, CUBS 6: Justin Bour and Giancarlo Stanton each drove in three runs, Paul Clemens got his first big league win in more than three years and Miami erased an early deficit to win at home.

Bour hit his 14th home run for the Marlins, who got to 40 wins in 75 games – or 20 games faster than they did a year ago.

PIRATES 6, DODGERS 1: Andrew McCutchen homered twice, Jeff Locke took a perfect game into the sixth and Pittsburgh won at home.

Locke (7-5) retired his first 15 batters before consecutive doubles by Scott Van Slyke and A.J. Ellis to start the sixth inning. Locke allowed one run and five hits in seven innings.

BREWERS 6, NATIONALS 5: Chris Carter hit a three-run homer, Matt Garza pitched six innings for this first win of the season and host Milwaukee beat Washington.

Carter connected for his 19th homer with two outs in the first. Jonathan Villar had three hits for Milwaukee.

PADRES 3, REDS 0: Drew Pomeranz drove in a pair of runs and pitched seven inning, leading San Diego to a win at Cincinnati in a game delayed a few minutes by the Reds’ tribute to Pete Rose, who was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.

METS 1, BRAVES 0: Pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson lined a leadoff home run in the 11th inning and New York outlasted the Braves at Atlanta.

ROCKIES 11, DIAMONDBACKS 6: Tony Wolters hit his first major league home run and drove in four runs for host Colorado.

]]> 0, 25 Jun 2016 22:59:48 +0000
Copa America: U.S. loses, finishes fourth Sun, 26 Jun 2016 02:46:41 +0000 GLENDALE, Ariz. — Carlos Bacca beat goalkeeper Tim Howard by sliding to poke in a headed cross in the 31st minute Saturday night, and the United States finished fourth in the Copa America with a 1-0 loss to Colombia.

After losing to Argentina 4-0 in the semifinals, the 31st-ranked U.S. was beaten by No. 3 Colombia for the second time in the 16-nation tournament.

Bobby Wood came closest to scoring for the U.S. when he hit a post in the 62nd, one minute after Juan Cuadrado of Colombia hit the underside of the crossbar.

The U.S. matched its previous best finish in the tournament, fourth in 1995 in Uruguay.

Argentina will take on Chile for the championship Sunday night in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

After the Americans lost to Jamaica in the semifinals of last year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and struggled in the semifinal round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, U.S. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann was hoping his team would rebound in the Copa, when right back DeAndre Yedlin, central defender John Brooks, midfielder Gyasi Zardes and forward Bobby Wood solidified their positions as regular starters.

Darlington Nagbe and 17-year-old Christian Pulisic again entered as second-half subs, two more players who could break through and replace veterans during the remaining 16 months of World Cup qualifying.

Colombia, which never has won the Copa America, finished third for the fourth time but first since 1995.

Both teams finished a man short after American defender Michael Orozco and Colombian defender Santiago Arias were ejected for a confrontation in the third minute of second-half stoppage time.

Orozco is suspended for the U.S.’s World Cup qualifier at St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2, and Arias will miss Colombia’s next qualifier against Venezuela.

Klinsmann inserted the 37-year-old Howard into his lineup in place of Brad Guzan, who had started the previous nine games.

Colombia scored after Juan Cuadrado, from along a flank, cut the ball back to James Rodriguez just outside the penalty area.

Arias made a run to get by Alejandro Bedoya, and Rodriguez lofted a pass to Arias, who jumped at the edge of the 6-yard box and headed the ball across Howard’s goal to Bacca.

]]> 0, 25 Jun 2016 23:01:11 +0000
Sports Digest: Irving, Barnes fill out U.S. basketball roster Sun, 26 Jun 2016 02:32:34 +0000 OLYMPICS

Irving, Barnes fill out U.S. basketball roster

The U.S. basketball team has its roster for Rio.

Kyrie Irving and Harrison Barnes accepted spots on the team to fill out the Americans’ 12-player Olympic squad, a person with knowledge of the details said Saturday.

The decisions came two days before the Americans plan to announce the team in New York. They were confirmed to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because roster details were to remain private.

The Americans had received 10 confirmations by Thursday and were holding spots for Irving and LeBron James, who wanted more time to decide after winning the NBA championship. James opted not to play, but Irving should be an important player after several top point guards, including Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul, withdrew from consideration.

Once James passed on what would have been a fourth Olympics, the Americans settled on Barnes, who becomes the third Golden State player on the team. The swingman shot poorly in the NBA finals as the Warriors lost to Cleveland in seven games.

The Russian sports minister says “up to 67 athletes” have applied to track and field’s world governing body to be exempted from the ban on the Russian team at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The IAAF last week upheld its overall ban on the Russian team but allowed an exemption for athletes who can show they have been subject to reliable drug-testing outside their home country.

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the 67 athletes would submit individual applications to the IAAF but were also prepared to file lawsuits at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The IAAF is unlikely to approve most of the 67 athletes, since it has previously indicated the exemption is aimed at a small minority of athletes based abroad.


NECBL: Braxton Wilks held Sanford to four hits and one run in six innings to lead the North Adams SteepleCats (9-6) to 6-1 win over the Sanford Mainers (7-7) at North Adams, Massachusetts.

Wilks struck out seven. Kyle Mora, Andrew Camiolo and Jared Habershaw combined to shut out Sanford on one hit over the final three innings.

Zach Jancarski singled and eventually scored on Nelson Mompierre’s sacrifice fly for Sanford’s run in the third.


NOTTINGHAM OPEN: Steve Johnson of the United States won his first ATP title with a 7-6 (5), 7-5 victory over Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay in the final of the grass-court event in central England.

EASTBOURNE INTERNATIONAL: Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia won her second title of the year when she defeated Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-3 in the final.


SPRINT CUP: Carl Edwards won the pole for Sunday’s road course race at Sonoma Raceway in California.

Edwards ran a lap at 95.777 mph around the 10-turn, 1.99-mile track in qualifying to put his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the top starting spot.

AJ Allmendinger qualified second with a lap at 95.676 mph for JTG Daugherty.

Martin Truex Jr. was third for Furniture Row Racing, and Kurt Busch was fourth for Stewart-Haas Racing.

INDYCAR: Will Power earned the pole for Sunday’s race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, with a speed of 141.379 mph.

Scott Dixon qualified second for the 202-mile Kohler Grand Prix at 141.150 mph. Tony Kanaan will start third on the 4-plus mile road course.

– From staff and news services

]]> 0 Sat, 25 Jun 2016 22:37:56 +0000
Soccer roundup: Wales advances to European quarterfinals Sun, 26 Jun 2016 01:32:23 +0000 PARIS — Gareth Bale was the creator of the only goal – an own-goal – to put Wales into the European Championship quarterfinals Saturday with a 1-0 victory against Northern Ireland.

Bale’s cross was aimed at teammate Hal Robson-Kanu but was inadvertently tipped into the net by Northern Ireland defender Gareth McAuley in the 75th minute.

The only goal threat by the Welsh before the slightly fortuitous breakthrough came from a free kick from Bale, the tournament’s co-leading scorer with three goals.

“We had the one moment of quality and forced them into a mistake, and that won us the game,” Bale said.

In a drab United Kingdom showdown, it was the Northern Irish looking more dangerous in front of goal in the first half of their first major tournament since the 1986 World Cup.

But Wales was more dangerous after the break and will next play Hungary or Belgium in the quarterfinals Friday in Lille, France. It will be the first time Wales will contest a quarterfinal since the 1958 World Cup, its last appearance at a major tournament.

POLAND 1, SWITZERLAND 1 (5-4 PKs): Poland became the first team to advance to the quarterfinals by converting all its penalties in a shootout at Saint-Etienne, France.

Following a 1-1 draw, Grzegorz Krychowiak stepped up to score the winning penalty. Poland converted all five of its spot kicks. The only person to miss was Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka, who fired his kick wide of the left-hand post.

Poland will meet Portugal at 3 p.m. Thursday in Marseille, France.

PORTUGAL 1, CROATIA 0: Cristiano Ronaldo helped create a rare chance and substitute Ricardo Quaresma finished it at Lens, France, helping Portugal advance to the quarterfinals.

Portugal settled a poor game in the 117th minute with its only serious offense, when Ronaldo’s one shot all match was parried by goalkeeper Danijel Subasic across the goalmouth in the second half of extra time. Quaresma stooped to head the ball in from close range.


D.C. UNITED 2, REVOLUTION 0: Lamar Neagle had a goal and an assist to give D.C. United an early lead that stood up at Washington.

D.C. (5-6-5) leapfrogged the Revolution (4-5-7) into fifth in the Eastern Conference.

]]> 0, 25 Jun 2016 21:37:59 +0000
Golf roundup: Hurley leads by two in PGA event Sun, 26 Jun 2016 01:05:20 +0000 BETHESDA, Md. — Billy Hurley III relied on his experience as a Naval officer to stay focused during a bogey-free round in the Quicken Loans National. Only a few times did his mind slip away.

Hurley couldn’t help but drift away from golf when he made the turn and looked at the police officers following his group. Not used to that attention, Hurley thought about his father, who died 10 months ago of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

“It dawned on me: This is what my dad did. He walked inside the ropes and did this at Presidents Cups and stuff,” Hurley said. “Obviously I think about my dad a lot.”

With his dad on his mind, Hurley shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday to take a two-stroke lead over Ernie Els into the final round of Tiger Woods’ annual tournament. The 607th-ranked player in the world was 15 under and in position for his first PGA Tour victory.

“I can’t think of a better one for me to win,’ said Hurley, a graduate of the Naval Academy and a resident of Annapolis, Maryland.

To win, Hurley will have to again tame the Blue Course at Congressional, as he has through three rounds, and fend off Els and the rest of the pack chasing him. Jon Rahm (70) was three strokes back, and Bill Haas and Webb Simpson (68) were five back.

LPGA: Top-ranked Lydia Ko eagled the par-5 18th to tie the course record at 9-under 62 and take a share of the second-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship at Rogers, Arkansas.

Ko matched Morgan Pressel at 15-under 128, tying the tournament 36-hole record set by Veronica Felibert in 2012.

Pressel, winless since 2008, had a 63.

CHAMPIONS TOUR: Jean-Francois Remesy had two eagles and finished with an 8-under 64 to take the second-round lead in the inaugural American Family Insurance Championship at Madison, Wisconsin.

Gene Sauers and Bart Bryant were a stroke back. Sauers, tied for the first-round lead with Estaban Toledo after an opening 63, had a 69. The 53-year-old Sauers is in contention two weeks after withdrawing from the Constellation Senior Players Championship because of a bulging disk. Bryant birdied the final hole for a 66.

EUROPEAN TOUR: Heavy rain washed out the third round of the BMW International Open at Pulheim, Germany.

Henrik Stenson, Raphael Jacquelin and Kiradech Aphibarnrat are at 11 under and will play 36 holes Sunday. Thorbjoern Olesen is one shot back.


THE PGA‘s Greenbrier Classic, scheduled for July 7-10, was canceled because of the devastating flooding in West Virginia.

The course was inundated with floodwaters after heavy storms rolled into the state Thursday. The Old White TPC, the host course, suffered extensive damage.

]]> 0, 25 Jun 2016 21:13:05 +0000
College World Series: Red Sox draftee pitches Arizona to finals Sun, 26 Jun 2016 01:04:53 +0000 OMAHA, Neb. — Bobby Dalbec pitched seven innings of four-hit ball, Zach Gibbons drove in three runs and Arizona beat Oklahoma State 5-1 on Saturday to advance to the College World Series finals.

Dalbec (11-5), drafted as a third baseman by the Boston Red Sox in the fourth round of this year’s draft, was pitching against the Cowboys (43-22) for the second time in five days. He lost 1-0 on Monday despite allowing only one run in eight innings. This time he allowed only two baserunners over his last four innings. He struck out six and is leading the NCAA tournament with 33 strikeouts in his five appearances.

Arizona (48-22) will face Coastal Carolina (53-17) in the best-of three finals that will begin Monday. Coastal Carolina advanced with a 7-5 win over Texas Christian.

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Saturday’s local baseball: Staples Crossing sweeps Massabesic Sun, 26 Jun 2016 01:03:47 +0000 SOUTH BERWICK — Holden Jackman drove in two runs to lead Staples Crossing to a 3-1 win over Massabesic in the first game of an American Legion baseball doubleheader Saturday.

Zach Hodges sparked a three-run fifth inning with a two-run double in Game 2, leading Staples (5-3) to a 6-3 victory.

Nick Landis picked up the win in the first game, allowing one run in four innings. Weston Bergeron pitched a complete game for Massabesic.

Cole McDaniel and Keith Dorr had two hits apiece for Staples in the second game.

COASTAL LANDSCAPE 8, SUMMIT GAS 0: James Sinclair struck out 11 while pitching a three-hitter for Coastal Landscape during a victory against Summit Gas (0-6) in Yarmouth.

Sinclair also hit a home run, and Jared Brooks had three doubles, two runs scored and two RBI.

LIBBY-MITCHELL 2, COASTAL LANDSCAPE 0: Bayley Welsh singled home Nick Lorello in the first inning, and Zach LaQuattro scored on Cam Smith’s sixth-inning fielder’s choice as Libby-Mitchell (4-1) won in Yarmouth.

Sam Warren struck out six while pitching the first six innings for Libby-Mitchell. Smith added two strikeouts in the seventh, including one with the bases loaded to end the game.

LIBBY-MITCHELL 10, SUMMIT GAS 8: Bayley Welsh’s two-run double capped a seventh-inning rally during which Libby-Mitchell scored four times to pull away from a 6-6 tie with Summit Gas (0-7) in Yarmouth.

Jonathan Snyder lined an RBI double as Summit Gas countered with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

NOBLE, SACO AND BIDDEFORD SAVINGS SPLIT: Duncan McGilvery had two hits and an RBI to help lead Noble to a 10-0 win in six innings over Saco and Biddeford Savings (6-2) in the first game of a doubleheader in Biddeford.

Jacob Lacroix pitched a two-hitter, striking out seven.

Saco and Biddeford Savings took the second game, 9-6. Casey Twomey went 2 for 3 with three runs scored, while Curtis Petit added three hits.


BRUNO’S 12, CAPE ELIZABETH 0: Donnie Tocci went 3 for 4 with two RBI to lead Bruno’s (4-3) to a win at Cape Elizabeth (2-5).

Garrett Tracy picked up the win, allowing five hits in 52/3 innings.

WESTBROOK SWEEPS BIDDEFORD: Westbrook (7-0) pounded out a total of 22 hits in two victories at Biddeford (1-6).

Dylan Francoeur had three hits and Kyle Hebert struck out nine in Westbrook’s 8-1 win in Game 1. Carter Edgerton had two hits for Biddeford.

Westbrook won the second game 13-0 in five innings. Francoeur had two hits, including a triple, and Hebert and winning pitcher Michael Young also contributed a pair of hits.

CUMBERLAND 2, MESSALONSKEE 1: Nathan Cyr singled home AJ Eisenhart in the bottom of the eighth to give Cumberland a win at home.

Eisenhart had two hits and picked up the win on the mound, pitching three innings of scoreless relief. Wade Sansone added two hits for Cumberland.

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Reading dominates at Hadlock again Sun, 26 Jun 2016 01:00:59 +0000 The Reading Fightin Phils got the hits when they counted the most Saturday night to roll to an 8-4 victory against the Portland Sea Dogs in an Eastern League baseball game before 7,152 at Hadlock Field.

It was the Phils’ fifth consecutive win over the Sea Dogs at Hadlock. Reading has won 10 of the 15 games between the teams this season.

“They have a pretty good club,” Portland Manager Carlos Febles said. “They make you pay for every mistake.”

The Phils are 53-22 and their winning percentage of .704 leads all of major and minor league baseball. At 26-47, the Sea Dogs have the worst record in the Eastern League.

Each team had 10 hits but Portland was unable to come up with key hits, stranding seven.

“We haven’t been able to put big innings together,” Febles said.

“We had some opportunities but we just didn’t come up with the big hits.”

Portland starter Eddie Stankiewicz (2-7) lasted just two-thirds of an inning. Following a leadoff walk, Andrew Pullin pulled a fastball 401 feet to right for his 15th home run of the season to stake the Phils to a 2-0 lead. Singles by Jorge Alfaro, Dylan Cozens and Jake Fox made it 3-0, and Stankiewicz was gone.

“We had kind of a rocky start, giving up three runs,” Febles said, “The guys competed great, but when you’re far behind early, like we’ve been doing lately, it’s tough to come back every day and win games.”

Tzu-Wei Lin led off the bottom of the first with his first home run, a 395-foot shot to right.

Reading took a 5-1 lead in the fourth on Aaron Brown’s two-run single to end pitcher Ben Taylor’s string of 51/3 scoreless relief innings since joining Portland on Tuesday.

“He just got tired,” Febles said. “We asked him to do something he normally doesn’t do, go more than two innings, and he kind of got tired.”

Portland scored two runs in the fifth. Tom Roberson led off with his second double of the game. After Cole Sturgeon walked, Lin and Mauricio Dubon came through with two-out singles to make it 5-3.

The Phils added three runs in the seventh. A leadoff single by Jesmuel Valentin, and doubles by Alfaro, Rhys Hoskins and Fox made it 8-3.

In the bottom of the seventh, Portland loaded the bases with two outs after Jake Romanski scored from second on Dubon’s infield hit to make it 8-4, but reliever Alexis Rivero induced Cody Decker to fly to right to end the threat.

NOTES: Yoan Moncada, who hit safely in four of his first five games with the Sea Dogs, wasn’t in the starting lineup. “We just gave him an off day,” Febles said. “He’ll get one off day a week.” The Cuban native is ranked by Baseball America as the top prospect in the Red Sox system and the third-best prospect in all of minor league baseball. … Lin is now hitting a team-high .360 with runners in scoring position. … Roberson has 10 doubles to share the team lead with Sturgeon and Romanski. … In its last seven games, Portland has hit .310 (78 for 252).

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Major league notebook: Mets offering Reyes a second chance Sat, 25 Jun 2016 23:29:51 +0000 ATLANTA — The New York Mets signed shortstop Jose Reyes to a minor league contract on Saturday, creating a reunion with the team’s former star who now must overcome a suspension for domestic violence as he attempts to revive his career.

In a move that General Manager Sandy Alderson said was unrelated, slumping outfielder Michael Conforto was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas and outfielder Brandon Nimmo was called up to be with the team for Saturday night’s game at Atlanta.

Reyes, 33, played primarily at shortstop for the Mets from 2003-11 but may be used in a utility role in his return. Alderson said Reyes will play third base in his first minor league game with the Class A Brooklyn Cyclones on Sunday.

Alderson said Reyes also will work in the outfield.

Reyes has a .290 career batting average and had four straight seasons with 50 or more steals with the Mets.

He was released by Colorado after he served a 59-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

NATIONALS: Washington ace Stephen Strasburg has been scratched from his scheduled start Sunday at Milwaukee.

Manager Dusty Baker said Strasburg felt pain in his back while throwing before Saturday’s 6-5 loss to the Brewers. Strasburg also missed his last scheduled start because of an upper back strain.

Right-hander Tanner Roark will start in Strasburg’s place, pitching on regular rest.

YANKEES: First baseman Mark Teixeira was activated from the 15-day disabled list and batted sixth against the Minnesota Twins, his first major league game since June 3. Teixeira had been sidelined with torn cartilage in his right knee.

To open a roster spot, the Yankees designated first baseman Ike Davis for assignment.

BRAVES: Atlanta optioned rookie right-hander Aaron Blair to Triple-A Gwinnett and recalled left-hander Matt Marksberry.

DODGERS: Los Angeles recalled shortstop Chris Taylor from Triple-A Oklahoma City and designated right-hander Nick Tepesch for assignment.

Taylor, who will be used in a utility role, was acquired last Sunday from the Seattle Mariners in a trade for right-hander Zach Lee.

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NHL draft: Sabres trade for Kulikov on busy second day Sat, 25 Jun 2016 23:19:11 +0000 BUFFALO, N.Y. — The host Sabres made the biggest splash early in the second round of the NHL draft, addressing a key need by acquiring veteran defenseman Dmitri Kulikov in a trade with the Florida Panthers.

Besides swapping second-round picks that moved Buffalo to No. 33 from No. 38, the Panthers got defenseman Mark Pysyk and the Sabres’ third-round pick, 89th overall.

“We have a need for a left-shot D. He had an outstanding playoff for them,” Sabres General Manager Tim Murray said of the Russian-born player.

Murray also addressed another topic that loomed over the draft by confirming his interest in making an offer to sign Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, should he enter the free agent market on July 1.

“I’m going to ask if he would be interested in Buffalo,” Murray said. “I have to ask that question, or I wouldn’t be doing my job.”

The interest in Stamkos ramped up Saturday – the first day all NHL teams were allowed to contact pending free agents.

Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman said his approach hasn’t changed. He still isn’t ruling out re-signing Stamkos, and added he has no control over what other teams might do.

The Lightning made the second trade of the day, by sending prospect defenseman Anthony DeAngelo to Arizona for the 37th pick. Tampa Bay used the pick to select Czech defenseman Libor Hajek.

The New Jersey Devils traded the 77th pick to Pittsburgh to acquire right wing Beau Bennett.

In a swap of prospects, the Los Angeles Kings traded defenseman Nick Ebert to Dallas for goalie Jack Campbell.

The Philadelphia Flyers were the first to draft a goalie, selecting Canadian junior netminder Carter Hart at No. 48. It marked the latest the first goalie has been drafted since 1986, when Washington selected Shawn Simpson 60th.

FORMER BRUINS star Ray Bourque was arrested on a drunken driving charge after he was involved in a two-vehicle crash in Andover, Massachusetts, late Friday night. No injuries were reported.

CANUCKS: The NHL is reviewing whether to penalize Vancouver for tampering after General Manager Jim Benning expressed interest in acquiring players under contract, including Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos.

BLUE JACKETS-MAPLE LEAFS: Columbus acquired defenseman Scott Harrington and a conditional 2017 draft pick from Toronto for left wing Kerby Rychel – a first-round draft choice in 2013.

SABRES: A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Buffalo police are investigating an allegation that Sabres forward Evander Kane physically harassed two women at a downtown bar early Friday.

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Ainge: Celtics picks physically ready Sat, 25 Jun 2016 22:26:35 +0000 WALTHAM, Mass. — After taking eight players in the NBA draft Thursday, Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ president of basketball operations, saw physical readiness in his largest-ever draft class.

There was Frenchman Guerschon Yabusele, a 265-pound athlete who can fly around the rim and shoot 3-pointers, and Ante Zizic, a 6-foot-10, 19-year-old Croatian accustomed to dishing out more than he absorbs in the Adriatic League. There was Jaylen Brown, the 6-foot-7 forward from the University of California and third overall pick who said he wants to rip someone’s head off.

“If you look down this row right here, (Zizic) is playing in a man’s league, (Yabusele) is a man, look at every one of these guys, (they) are grown men that can play physically in the NBA,” said Ainge. “I think instead of having to get their bodies ready, (we have to) get them emotionally and mentally prepared and learning to live life, and show up on time and get a driver’s license and buy groceries. These things sound simple and silly, but all these guys right here are capable.”

Coach Brad Stevens added that readiness played an important part in the selection of each player, including second-round picks Ben Bentil, Abdel Nader and Demetrius Jackson, who was unable to attend the press conference.

“That’s going to play a role in deciding on anybody, and it’s a hard league to play in from a physical standpoint,” said Stevens. “There’s different attributes we throw out to people and different buzz words that we give people, but there’s a minimum level of athletic ability you have to have to be able to function at this level. That’s a big deal. Strength is never a negative. You have a ton of guys sitting in front of you who are strong guys. There’s a good group in front of you, and they’ll continue to work hard on their bodies.

“That’s something Jaylen clearly does. He works hard on his body. When he came through here, even noticing his nutrition choices, what he would eat post-workout, you know he puts a lot of time and thought into taking care of himself.”

Zizic led the Adriatic League in rebounding with 12 per game, a high number for a 19-year-old in a physical league.

“One thing that stood out, and I didn’t have a chance to see Ante work out, I saw him on tape, is that he has a huge motor and he’s very physical,” said Stevens. “He’s a great rebounder. His rebounding numbers are fantastic. He scores the ball mostly in the paint, but will just continue to improve and improve. Another person who comes exceptionally highly regarded from the standpoint of work ethic, desire and teamness.”

Talks are ongoing with Zizic’s and Yabusele’s European teams. It’s unclear whether they’ll remain overseas for another season as a stash pick.

Two selling points for Yabusele are his shooting range and defense.

“He shot the ball well in our workout and he shot the ball well all year,” said Stevens. “That will continue to get better and better, but what put me over the top on him was his ability to move laterally. For a guy that size, the ability to move laterally is pretty unique. With all of the agility stuff we do and measure, it was pretty impressive what he was able to do. That stood out. And what we saw on film is that he’ll be able to guard a few different spots. That’s pretty unique.”

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