Rays’ Wander Franco one of many top prospects picked for 60-man player pools

Top prospect Wander Franco is part of the Tampa Bay Rays’ 60-man player pool, and the Detroit Tigers are including their most heralded young pitchers as baseball gears up for its abbreviated season.

Sunday was the deadline for teams to submit player pools, although additions can be made later. Many teams announced pools well below the 60-player limit.

Franco, a 19-year-old shortstop, is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline. He spent last season at Class A, so it would be quite a jump for him to contribute in the majors in the immediate future, but putting him in the player pool makes him an option for the Rays — and could help his development in a year when the coronavirus shut down the minor leagues.

Pitcher Brendan McKay and infielder Vidal Brujan, two other top Tampa Bay prospects, also made the pool.nfl nike jersey cheap

“They are some of our more advanced prospects,” Rays general manager Erik Neander said. “Certainly on the position player side that’s where things went and why Wander was a leading candidate for a spot.”8

The Tigers are rebuilding around pitching prospects — including Casey Mize, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft. He’s in their player pool, along with Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Alex Faedo and Franklin Perez.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

A majority of teams took at least five catchers, and the defending champion Washington Nationals included a whopping 36 pitchers in their pool. The Baltimore Orioles announced only 44 players total at this time — not counting outfielder Trey Mancini, who was listed on the 45-day injured list and is likely to miss the season following colon cancer surgery in March.

The Nationals included infielder Ryan Zimmerman in their pool, although he said recently he was still deciding whether he would play.

The New York Yankees listed Miguel Andujar and Tyler Wade as infielders/outfielders, a sign they could see more outfield time if Aaron Judge (broken rib), Giancarlo Stanton (strained right calf) and Aaron Hicks (Tommy John surgery) aren’t sufficiently healed. New York put right-hander Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery) on the 45-day IL, agreed to minor league contracts with infielder Matt Duffy and catcher Max McDowell and released right-hander Dan Otero, then re-signed him to a minor league contract.

The Pittsburgh Pirates’ player pool was without reliever Edgar Santana, who will miss all of the 2020 season after being suspended 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. MLB announced Sunday that Santana tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

The Pirates did not include right-hander Quinn Priester or shortstop Nick Gonzales, their top draft picks from 2019 and 2020.

Korea Baseball Organization prepping for fans in stands as soon as Friday

The Korea Baseball Organization is trading in its cardboard cutout fans for real ones.

South Korea announced Sunday it will begin reopening stadiums to spectators this week. A KBO official said the league is working to welcome fans back as soon as Friday.

“We haven’t yet established specific guidelines, and we have to monitor the situation with the virus, but we expect to have fans back in the stands by Friday at the earliest,” the league’s secretary general Ryu Dae-hwan told the Yonhap News Agency on Sunday. “We’ll make the health and safety of our fans the No. 1 priority.”7

The KBO aims to open stadiums at 30% capacity before working its way up to 50% in the coming weeks, according to the news agency.

The league had been playing in empty stadiums since the season began on May 5.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

The highest level of baseball in South Korea, the KBO was one of the first sports to return during the coronavirus pandemic. With games airing on ESPN throughout the summer, the league has become popular among baseball fans awaiting MLB’s return.

Kings’ Jabari Parker, Alex Len test positive for the coronavirus

Forward Jabari Parker and center Alex Len of the Sacramento Kings said Wednesday that they tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Several days ago I tested positive for COVID-19 and immediately self-isolated in Chicago which is where I remain,” Parker said in a statement released by the team. “I am progressing in my recovery and feeling well. I look forward to joining my teammates in Orlando as we return to the court for the resumption of the NBA season.”

In a story post on Instagram, Len said he was tested Tuesday in Sacramento, California.7

“I want to thank the Sacramento Kings for their great care and the NBA for putting the protocols in place to allow me to catch this early,” Len’s statement said. “I have immediately entered isolation and look forward to being cleared and rejoining my teammates for our playoff push.”nike nfl cheap jerseys

The Kings (28-36) are one of the 22 NBA teams scheduled to resume games on July 30 in Orlando, Florida.

Parker, 25, has appeared in one game with the Kings. He was traded to Sacramento in February after averaging 15 points in 32 games with the Atlanta Hawks this season.nike jerseys nfl cheap

Len, 27, also was part of that trade involving the Hawks and Kings. He has averaged 6.6 points in nine games with Sacramento.

Dak Prescott plans to sign franchise tag by Monday, source says

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott plans to sign his $31.4 million exclusive franchise tender by Monday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The two sides still have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. The Cowboys had placed the franchise tag on Prescott on March 18.

By signing his franchise tender, Prescott will be contractually obligated to report to training camp on time, whether or not he and the Cowboys can figure out a long-term deal.

Prescott’s decision to sign the franchise tender is not an indication that a long-term agreement is close, league sources told ESPN’s Ed Werder.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

The fact that Prescott will be one of the highest-paid players in the NFL — and the potential his franchise tag increases by a mandatory 20% next season to $37.7 million with a flat or lower cap in 2021 — is incentive for Dallas to secure a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline.8

Said one source of the pressure on the Cowboys: “Their problem is the second year, because this salary cap is going to crash unless there’s an intermediate deal. They would have to gut their team to keep him then. So there’s even more incentive for the Cowboys to do a long-term deal with Dak because of the coronavirus and where the cap might be next year.”

This offseason, the Cowboys made a long-term offer to Prescott that would put him among the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL, ESPN’s Todd Archer previously reported. Seattle’s Russell Wilson is the highest paid at $35 million per season, followed by Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger at $34 million.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones have repeatedly expressed their belief that Prescott is the team’s quarterback of the future and capable of leading the franchise back to a Super Bowl. Prescott, who turns 27 on July 29, has said on multiple occasions that he never wanted to leave the Cowboys.nfl cheap nike jerseys

The Cowboys had hoped to sign Prescott to an extension last offseason that would have guaranteed him nine figures, but the quarterback bet on himself, willing to play for $2.02 million in 2019.

Prescott completed 388 of 596 passes for 4,902 yards and 30 touchdown passes last season. Despite career highs in yardage and touchdowns, Prescott had his worst record as a starter (8-8) as the Cowboys missed the playoffs. His growth as a passer, however, was obvious as the Cowboys had two 1,000-yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

The Cowboys took Prescott with their second pick of the fourth round in the 2016 draft — a compensatory pick at No. 135 overall. When Tony Romo went down in the 2016 preseason with a back injury, the Cowboys were forced to turn to Prescott, and he has started each of Dallas’ 64 games since.

Patriots’ Devin and Jason McCourty cautious of NFL’s return

New England Patriots defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty described the possibility of returning to work as nerve-wracking and “scary” due to the coronavirus pandemic.cheap wholesale nike nfl jerseys

“I think everybody’s nervous, because the norm is that we just go to work — we put in a lot of work, we bond together, we lift, we’re in close quarters. It feels like that’s all being taken away from us, so I don’t know how to react. I don’t know what’s it’s going to be,” Devin McCourty said Sunday night on the “Double Coverage” podcast.

“I love how a lot of players’ attention has been on what’s going on outside of football, and I think we’ll continue to do that. But figuring out football, to me, seems to be the hardest thing right now. We hope, but I don’t know if we’ll figure it out, honestly.”

“For me, there would be no coming together to do any type of practice with teammates, because I just think we can’t dismiss with corona and everything going on,” Jason said on the podcast he shares with Devin. “I’ve been out here in Nashville, and I actually go run at the high school where I think a lot of the 49ers players were doing their team-practice ordeal. They just had a player or two test positive, [according to a NFL Network report].

“It’s kind of scary because something like that, I think it was probably just offense, so they probably had maybe 10 guys out there. When you think about the future, if it’s hard for 10 guys just to get together to do little passing drills or anything of that nature, to think about somewhere between 53 and 90 guys in a training camp, it’s going to be insane. So I don’t know how that’s going to turn out.”

One possibility would be to emulate plans by the NBA and MLS for a “bubble” format. In a CNN interview last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that is what the NFL would need to do to give itself the best chance to have a season.

Both McCourtys expressed doubt on how that would work.7

“I think it’s very different for football. You think about training camp, there’s 90 guys on the team. Not only are there 90 guys, but there’s a coaching staff usually made up of maybe 15 to 20 … and there are so many other football-essential personnel that are in the building. You’re talking about 32 teams with over 100 members that you have to house; I don’t know if it’s really fathomable for the NFL to be able to go in a bubble,” Jason said.

“Beyond that, I don’t really know — me, personally, I don’t want to ever say never, but I can’t anticipate me being away from the family for that long throughout the entirety of the season. That would be insane. It would feel like forever.”cheap nfl jerseys nike china

Added Devin: “I just can’t see me stepping away from my family for that amount of time. When you sign up for different jobs, you kind of discuss it as a family, the hardship of that. For us as players, we never had to think about that. We have training camp kind of in a month and a half, so we haven’t heard until now. The days start counting down. You might be telling your wife with a week’s notice that you’re gone for six months. To me, that would be very tough. If that is on the table, I think that needs to be discussed sooner than later for guys to be able to make that decision.”

At one point in the podcast, Jason was asked the biggest obstacle the Patriots face in 2020, and he said any specific X’s and O’s are overshadowed by the bigger picture.

“[Similar] to every other team in the league, is figuring out how to get into the building. I know that’s kind of the cliché answer right now, but everything that’s gone on with COVID, I think it’s hard at this point to even think about the individual team obstacles that you’re going to have go through because there’s so much going on out of our control right now,” Jason said.

Liverpool stumble on Premier League title march with draw at Everton

Liverpool’s march to the Premier League title took a slight wobble as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Everton in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side went into the game, their first competitive match in 103 days, knowing a victory would allow them to secure their first league title in 30 years on Wednesday with a win at home to Crystal Palace.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Both teams showed rust in a lacklustre first half that saw James Milner make way for Joe Gomez just before the break as the teams headed to the dressing room goalless after the opening 45 minutes.

It was more of the same in the second half, with Liverpool dominating possession and going close on several occasions but continuing to lack a cutting edge on their finishing.8

“It was very intense,” said Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk. “Both sides created small opportunities, they had the big one against the post. Everyone is just happy to be back, we didn’t lose and it is another point towards our goal.”

With 10 minutes remaining Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s clever flick from a low Gylfi Sigurdsson cross was pushed out by Liverpool keeper Allison and Tom Davies’ follow-up shot hit the post.

Liverpool, who left Mohamed Salah on the bench, lacked their usual potency in attack with their best opening coming in the 35th minute when Roberto Firmino screwed a shot wide from a promising position while Fabinho went close late on with a curling free kick.

Both Klopp and his Everton counterpart Carlo Ancelotti handed players first league starts with Japan’s Takumi Minamino in the Liverpool attack and 19-year-old Anthony Gordon up-front for the home side — although neither were able to make much impact.

“We didn’t have enough chances. Most of the time we were dominant but they had the biggest chance,” said Klopp. “I liked a lot of things about our game but we didn’t have those moments in attack, we didn’t have the rhythm.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

“Everton defended really well and we were not smart enough to use the space. That is normal when you start to play again.

“It was a real fight. Both teams showed they understand it is a derby. Intense, physical, all players were all in.

“The point is one we deserve. When I think of all the derbies here, they looked pretty similar. Everton were well organised so we had to run a lot but we looked fit and ready.”

Liverpool host Crystal Palace on June 24 at Anfield and can seal a first Premier League title in 30 years with a win if Manchester City lose or draw with Burnley on Monday.

Christian Pulisic goal for Chelsea ‘inspiration’ in fightback win – Frank Lampard

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard praised Christian Pulisic, as the American forward scored an equaliser five minutes after coming off the bench to help his team earn a 2-1 comeback win at Aston Villa in the Premier League on Sunday.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Pulisic levelled on the hour after Kortney Hause had given Villa a 43rd minute lead, and Frenchman Olivier Giroud netted the winner two minutes later, tightening Chelsea’s grip on fourth place.

Lampard also singled out midfielder Ross Barkley and right-back Cesar Azpilicueta, who set up both Chelsea goals — one with a superb cross from his flank, and the other with a sublime pass to Giroud from the opposite side.7

“The individuals who make the difference should always take all the credit, so with Christian and Ross Barkley, who came on at the same time, they’re both players who have trained well and had cases to start this game,” said Lampard.

“We knew that fitness would play a part, so the idea of bringing on Christian and Ross early in the second half was always something that was in my mind.

“The way it was going, we needed a bit of inspiration, and Christian gave it with his goal. I thought Ross did really well, too. I keep saying to the players how important subs could be in this period, and they showed that.”nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“I thought Azpi was really good in the game. Obviously, he delivers the ball for Christian’s goal and got really high up in areas.”

The result left Chelsea on course for a Champions League berth next season, five points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United and sixth-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers, with Lampard praising his team’s character.

“We showed great character and quality in the second half to win the game, so I’m pleased. I thought we moved the ball pretty well for most of the game and dominated possession clearly.”

‘I don’t feel cheated one bit’: Pitchers who gave up home runs to both McGwire and Sosa in ’98 tell their tales

Rick Reed, a righty for the New York Mets, allowed McGwire’s 13th and 51st homers in 1998. “He was just big. I was like, ‘My god, can we just get this at-bat over with?'” Reed said. “Every time he came up, my thinking was, ‘Please, God, just don’t let him hit the ball back up the middle. Let him hit it anywhere he wants to but not back up the middle.’ When I was in the minor leagues, Randy Velarde hit a ball back up the middle, and I kid you not, that hit the button on the top of my hat. If McGwire had hit one back up the middle, I could only imagine what it would’ve looked like — or sounded like. Because I wouldn’t have seen it.”

Jim Parque was a rookie for the Chicago White Sox in 1998, and the first two home runs he allowed in his big league career were to Sosa on June 5, and McGwire on June 10. He laughed with empathy when he heard how Reed had feared a ball being hit up the middle by McGwire. “Oh, yeah. You’ve got a gorilla up there in McGwire. Those two guys, they were just epic — muscle tone, power guys. The way their bats cut the plane, and how it got through the plane, it almost looked like every pitch was going to come back through the middle. … With Sosa and McGwire, it was basically like they had a tee there and the barrel was there the whole time. As a pitcher, you’re thinking, ‘How the hell do I pitch around this?’ That’s what we do as pitchers — pitch around the barrel.”cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Jason Bere allowed McGwire’s 29th home run that season while with the White Sox and Sosa’s 56th after being released and signed by the Cincinnati Reds. “It was almost like the whole game was about their at-bats,” he said.8

“I didn’t appreciate back then what those guys were able to do. Those guys had it all,” he said. “They might not have defined it in [modern] terminology, but they knew back then exactly what they were trying to accomplish. Plate coverage — get the barrel in the zone as quickly as you can and keep it there as long as you can. They had really big flat spots in their swings, rather than coming down and trying to create backspin. They worked on meeting the ball squarely — maybe not matching pitch plane, but the flatter the barrel is through the zone, the more opportunity you will meet the pitch plane. They were masters at it, and that’s why they did so well.”

Andy Benes, who played for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 1998 and surrendered McGwire’s 31st and Sosa’s 43rd, said of McGwire: “I don’t think people realize that he was a really good hitter. … He didn’t swing at a lot of bad pitches, and when you made a mistake, he had a pretty good opportunity to put the barrel on it. So he wasn’t just purely a power hitter. I remember him as being a better low-ball guy — he’d drop the barrel on the ball, and that’s not as common for right-handed hitters.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“He would never take practice swings when he was in the on-deck circle. He would visualize, and he knew what every pitcher could do. He took good, quality at-bats. He was a patient hitter, but when he got a pitch to swing at, he cut it loose.”

Reed on McGwire: “He was just so strong. You could make him look like a fool with an off-speed pitch, so that he was out on his front foot, and he’d still hit the ball 450 feet. You just hoped he didn’t come up to the plate with the bases loaded, or a couple of guys on.”

Benes on Sosa: “He could really cover the plate. He could hit a lot of balls the opposite way. Tremendous power, bat speed. He was more of an up hitter. In those years, in the mid-to-late ’90s, he was a really hard out. … When he was dialed in, he was one of the best hitters in the game because he could take the ball the other way. … Mike Piazza was like that. … You had to work on keeping the ball down and make [Sosa] aware you might come inside.”

Reed: “Those guys just had a magical year that we will never see again. We may see one guy — Pete Alonso, he may hit like 2,000 home runs — but I don’t think we’ll see multiple guys hitting 60, 70 home runs. No way. I don’t think so.”

KBO’s Sung-Bum Na wants a big league career twist: ‘Watching MLB on TV made me have bigger dreams’

On May 5, one year after he went into surgery for a gruesome knee injury that nearly put an end to his Major League Baseball dreams, KBO star Sung-Bum Na stepped to the plate and gathered his thoughts.

Those thoughts initially had little to do with the opposing pitcher. Na realized the day marked the one-year anniversary of his career-saving surgery. He recalled being placed on a stretcher and eventually driven off the field in an ambulance, wondering if he would ever play baseball again.

“My injury was really serious, so coming back on the field felt kind of weird. I was thinking about all of last year, all the hard work I had done in rehab to get to that point,” Na said during a phone interview with ESPN. “I thought of everything that happened, but I wasn’t nervous. It was fun to be back. Opening Day was exactly one year from my knee surgery. May 5, 2019, was the day of my surgery. And I thought about that, and about how much fun it was to be finally back on the field.”
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On Tuesday, May 5, the KBO became one of the world’s first professional sports leagues to start its 2020 season, after a five-week delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.7

The Opening Day slate of games in South Korea included a matchup between the NC Dinos and Samsung Lions. Batting third for the Dinos, Na opened up scoring in the fourth inning with a colossal home run off lefty Jung-Hyun Baek. Na, batting as a left-handed designated hitter, pulled the shot over the right-field foul pole.

Na ended up going 2-for-3 in the Dinos’ 4-0 win, showing why he was super-agent Scott Boras’ only KBO signing at the end of the 2019 season.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Because of the knee injury, a shift to playing baseball in the U.S. had to wait. Na, however, isn’t willing to give up on his MLB dreams.

“After the injury, my perspective has not been different. It really didn’t change anything in terms of the mental aspect of the game,” Na explained. “I know I’m always going to work hard. I’m always going to play baseball as hard as I can on the field, with a lot of passion. And while my body may still not at be at 100% when compared to before the injury, I will get there. My mind and focus will never change. I will always believe in myself.”

Na, a 30-year-old outfielder and DH, hopes to follow in the footsteps of his role model, Shin-Soo Choo. Choo left South Korea at 18, joining the Seattle Mariners organization in 2001. Choo became the first Korean-born position player to make an MLB All-Star team, and he is in the last season of a seven-year, $130 million deal with the Texas Rangers.

Ja Morant asks judge to have Confederate monument removed from Murray

Former Murray State star Ja Morant is asking a Kentucky judge to remove a Confederate monument in downtown Murray.

Morant, who was drafted with the second pick in the 2019 NBA draft by the Memphis Grizzlies, led Murray State to a conference championship in 2019.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“Murray felt like a second home from the minute I stepped on campus and became a part of the Murray state community,” Morant said in a letter to the Calloway County judge dated Thursday.8

“As a young Black man, I cannot stress enough how disturbing and oppressive it is to know the city still honors a Confederate war general defending white supremacy and hatred.”

The monument, which features a statue of Robert E. Lee, was erected in 1917 to honor Confederate soldiers from Calloway County. It sits outside the Calloway County Courthouse.

A number of Confederate statues and monuments have been removed around the country in the wake of protests following the death of George Floyd last month.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“Given recent events and the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s necessary to act now,” Morant wrote. “We can’t change the culture of racism unless we change the celebration of racism.”