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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.

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.

‘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.

Chargers RB Justin Jackson says Colin Kaepernick should feel ‘vindicated’

Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson said Wednesday he thinks that Colin Kaepernick should feel “very vindicated” about kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 and that whether players kneel or don’t kneel before games in the 2020 season and beyond will be the context of a bigger national discussion.

That is, Jackson said, players might not kneel if they believe they are listened to when they speak about use of force by police and a variety of other social issues “in our communities.”

“But I think, I think what Colin did, as far as kneeling and everything — the point of the protest was to bring attention to the issue,” Jackson said. “Even though that obviously got skewed because of a multitude of factors, that was the reason, that was the motivation behind the protest.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“Now that that light has shined and that’s kind of really exposed … the way I’m thinking of it, the best methodology moving forward is to do everything we can with our platform to effect that positive change. I don’t know if [kneeling] will have the most net positive outcome because of the way it gets so, such a hyperpartisan issue, really because they don’t want to talk about the real issue. Nevertheless, I think if we just use our platforms like we are now to continue to expose and advocate for the change we want to see in society, that might be the best method going forward. But we’ll see.”

Jackson said he has participated in Black Lives Matter protests in the Los Angeles area in recent days and plans to participate in another one later this week. He added that he would support any player’s participation in a peaceful protest, including kneeling before an NFL game.8

“That is your First Amendment right,” Jackson said, adding that Kaepernick’s message about police brutality and social issues got “clouded” because it was framed as a protest of the flag or the nation’s military. Jackson said that nationally, the marches for change have put a spotlight on the issues Kaepernick was trying to draw attention to, and they have created a different kind of discussion locally and nationally.

“His message, 100 percent, got clouded, and it really got clouded for insidious reasons, right?” Jackson said. “The reason it got clouded is they wanted to make it about something that it wasn’t. They didn’t want to talk about the real issue he was bringing up, which now is at the forefront of our society — everyone is seeing exactly what is happening.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“It’s like a perfect storm. … I think people are finally starting to see, he was right … what he was talking about then. … He should feel very vindicated. … I’m glad that now it’s changed, the narrative has changed and the majority of people are seeing exactly what he was talking about, and what a lot of people have been talking about, screaming about, for a long time.”

The third-year running back said Chargers coach Anthony Lynn and general manager Tom Telesco have been supportive of players participating in protests, and players, as well as Lynn, have shared their experiences with one another during some of the team’s video conference calls.

Man City’s Sterling: Premier League, FA need more black representation at top level

Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has urged the Premier League and Football Association (FA) to address a lack of black representation in high positions.

Sterling has backed anti-racism protests in the UK after the death of George Floyd in the United States on May 25.

“This is a time to speak on these subjects, speak on injustice, especially in my field,” he told the BBC. “There’s something like 500 players in the Premier League and a third of them are black and we have no representation of us in the hierarchy, no representation of us in the coaching staffs. There’s not a lot of faces that we can relate to and have conversations with.cheap nike nfl jersey

“With these protests that are going on it’s all well and good just talking, but it’s time that we need to have conversations, to be able to spark debates.8

“There’s Steven Gerrard, your Frank Lampards, you have your Sol Campbells and you have your Ashley Coles. All had great careers, all played for England. At the same time, they’ve all respectfully done their coaching badges to coach at the highest level and the two that haven’t been given the right opportunities are the two black former players.

The English Football League (EFL) introduced its own version of the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” last year in order for clubs to interview at least one Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidate for any first-team managerial position.

However, there are only four BAME managers in English football, with Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo being the only black Premier League manager.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Troy Townsend, head of development for anti-racism group Kick It Out, has criticised the policy and said it is “not fit for purpose.”

“There is a loophole that allows clubs not to be judged on the mandatory code because it has to be an ‘open recruitment’ process,” he told the Telegraph.

“Clubs are not bending any rules of the Rooney Rule if they already have a manager in place. If you are not holding an open recruitment process, you are not under pressure by the code. So that itself tells you it is not fit for purpose.

“We didn’t receive data after the pilot series. I’ve always questioned the sharing of data in general, whether that is reporting of incidents or the number of coaches going through a process and what learning they have gone through.”

Zach LaVine disappointed Bulls aren’t part of NBA’s 22-team plan to finish season

Summer has officially begun for the Chicago Bulls and seven other NBA teams not invited to Orlando to finish out the rest of the 2019-20 regular season.

“It sucks. You’ve got to understand it. It’s a weird time, especially with everything that’s going on right now, but it’s upsetting too,” Bulls star Zach LaVine said during Friday’s media availability. “We weren’t even good enough to get to the play-in game, so it’s upsetting and it just shows that we’ve got to do a lot of things differently to get ourselves that recognition to get to that spot.”

Chicago (22-43) was 11th in the Eastern Conference standings and on the verge of missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season when the coronavirus pandemic shut down the league on March 11. Since the Michael Jordan era ended in 1998, the Bulls have won fewer than 45% of their games, which ranks in the bottom third of the league (23rd), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, Golden State, Minnesota and New York were the others not included in the 22-team format to complete the season.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Games are set to resume July 31. But even if the Bulls were invited, forward Thaddeus Young admits there is concern among players about the new format.

“For me, it’s two-fold. Obviously, I wanted to play. I wanted to be a part of it,” Young said. “But another side of me was worried about being away from my family or if they were to even come down. Just me being around everybody in general, playing basketball and then going back to my family and not knowing if I contracted the virus. Or not knowing if my family contracted the virus.

“As I said before, I have two young kids and I have a wife and my major concern is their health. Me, personally, I think I can fight it off, but I don’t know if my kids would be able to do that. I don’t know if my wife would be able to do that. So I don’t want to put them in harm’s way.”8

The eight teams left out of this season’s resumption — fearing significant setbacks in the development of young players over months of inactivity — have proposed ideas for regional mini summer leagues, training camps and organized team activities, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday.

“Not playing for eight months puts us in a competitive disadvantage,” Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said Saturday. “… These eight teams, we’re getting now on calls and we have conversations of how we can develop our players and how we can have structure in place to get some practicing and possibly some scrimmaging in the offseason to catch up to the teams that are going to be playing. So, the work never stops and I informed players that we will inform them, depending on what the league will allow us to do this summer, and we’re going to go from there.”cheap nike nfl jersey

Young said the long hiatus has likely “added a couple more years onto my career,” while LaVine eyes the 2021-22 season as an opportunity for a strong comeback by the Bulls.

Chicago pulled the trigger to shake things up by hiring new general manager Marc Eversley and bringing in Karnisovas, but LaVine thinks a change starts with the players.

“We’re the ones on the court,” said LaVine, whose 25.5 points per game was the highest by a Bulls player since Jordan averaged 28.7 points in 1997-98. “Obviously, they’re going to go out there and do their job and do the best they can and will work their butt off, but we have to continue to go out there and grow as well.

“We can’t continue to make the same mistakes. We have to change our identity and how we’re looked at as a team to [having] a winning culture. We had high expectations for this year … and it wasn’t anything like that. I think we competed extremely well. I think we were one of the hardest-playing teams in the NBA, but you need that ‘W’ in your win column, so we’ve got to get better.”

Sources: NBA teams left out of Orlando mulling ways to keep players active amid hiatus

Fearful of significant setbacks in the development of young players over months of inactivity, several teams left out of this season’s regular-season resumption in Orlando, Florida, have proposed ideas for regional mini summer leagues, training camps and organized team activities, sources told ESPN.

As the rest of the NBA prepares to restart the 2019-20 season with training camps, regular-season games and playoffs beginning in July, teams left out of the 22-team format and facing a possible nine-month hiatus between games are seeking unprecedented offseason access to players, sources said.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Most of the eight teams whose seasons have ended — including Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota and New York — are pushing to engage in joint practices as ramp-ups for regional summer leagues in August, sources said. For example, the Pistons and Cavaliers have discussed the possibility of joint practices as a prelude to a mini-pod of games, sources said.

The Orlando non-participants are pushing the NBA for televised coverage of the proposed mini-summer-league event. Without participation in the Orlando resumption, part of the hope for coverage includes some teams’ belief that organizations are losing valuable opportunities in this trying time for team communities and the country, sources said.7

Owners, front-office executives and coaches are expressing concern that many young, developing players will increasingly struggle with the extended separation from their franchises and the professional and personal structure offered there.

“Nine months is too long without organized basketball,” Hawks owner Tony Ressler told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

“We just can’t risk that. I think the league has heard that loud and clear. We are pushing to remain competitive. That’s what our players want. We were desperate to have something that helps us to stay competitive.”cheap nike nfl jersey

“Not playing for eight months puts us in a competitive disadvantage, but again, I think there are creative ways to do so,” Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said Saturday. “Collectively, I think these eight teams we’re getting now on calls and we have conversations of how we can develop our players and how we can have structure in place to get some practicing and possibly some scrimmaging in the offseason to catch up to the teams that are going to be playing.”

The NBA would need to negotiate these activities and camps with the National Basketball Players Association, because they fall outside of the collective bargaining agreement. The NBA and NBPA have a significant negotiating process awaiting them on a number of financial and competitive issues in the wake of the coronavirus shutdown.

The league office has told these teams that they plan to make addressing the offseason needs of those teams a priority and plan to work with them on reaching solutions to their concerns, sources said.

Mesut Ozil’s Adidas split not due to public image concerns – agent

Mesut Ozil’s agent insists the Arsenal midfielder remains one of the most marketable sportspeople in the world and wants to focus on building his own brand once his boot deal expires at the end of this month.

Reports in Germany on Wednesday morning claimed the 31-year-old had been “dumped” by Adidas amid concerns over his public image and the financial impact of the coronavirus on the German sportswear company.nfl cheap jerseys nike

But Ozil’s camp have confirmed both parties have known for some time the seven-and-a-half-year contract would end this summer and is not a reflection of any controversy attracted through speaking out against China’s reported mistreatment of Uighur Muslims, or his relationship with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“He could sign another deal tomorrow,” Ozil’s agent Dr. Erkut Sogut told ESPN. “Nobody has the reach he has in the Premier League so you can imagine what attraction he has for many boots brands.

“Adidas knew he was pushing his own thing. He has been doing it on Twitter lately so it is now time to build his own brand while he is still actively playing.8

“That is unique in football. Some players reach the end of their career and then try to build a brand but we think that is too late.

“For example, years ago, we tested caps, t-shirts and other lines at a very small level which all sold out in an hour.

“They were just test versions because we weren’t allowed to do more due to the agreement with Adidas. But we know the interest is there.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“You can either work with these brands for life like David Beckham or Zinedine Zidane or you build your own brand, using the time when you are still actively playing to promote things.”

Ozil’s own lifestyle and sportswear brand is called M10. He recently launched his own online shop and has plans to expand his portfolio in the coming months.

Although Ozil’s meetings with Erdogan caused consternation in some parts of the German press, Adidas maintained their support, adding that he was “amazing to work with” during an association which has seen him win the 2014 World Cup with Germany and amass one of the biggest followings of any footballer on social media.

“The [original story] is giving the impression that one side doesn’t want the other side anymore,” he said. “That isn’t true. Mesut wants to promote his own brand.

“Now, when the contract runs out, everything is in place to do that or even build M10 with other brands as well if he wants to.”

Vikings’ Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr denounce NFL statement, ask for help

A week after George Floyd died while in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department, an incident that sparked mass protests in the Twin Cities and across the nation, two Minnesota Vikings linebackers are speaking out in response to a statement issued by the NFL on Saturday.

The league’s statement expressed condolences to the Floyd family; Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by Louisville Metro Police Department officers in March; and Ahmaud Arbery, whose February death is being investigated as a federal hate crime.

In the statement, the NFL addressed its commitment to using its platform “in communities and as part of the fabric of American society” and added “we embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners.”nfl jerseys wholesale

Vikings linebackers Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr, who are on the team’s social justice committee, issued identical tweets denouncing the league’s stance.8

“Your statement said nothing,” both tweets read. “Your league is built on black athletes. Vague answers do nothing. Let the players know what you’re ACTUALLY doing. And we know what silence means.”

“You can’t bring in people to teach us how we should interact with police but not work towards changing the behavior of the police themselves. Silence will not make this go away.”

The Vikings are discussing methods for how to best support the Twin Cities with cleanup efforts and other charitable causes. Tight end Kyle Rudolph and a handful of other players are organizing a food drive that will take place in the Minneapolis area on Friday.

Rudolph has also been an active member of the Vikings’ social justice committee, which was formed two years ago and aims to provide school supplies and scholarships in low-income communities, work with community organizations and juvenile detention centers, provide legal aid and improve relations between law enforcement officers and the areas they serve.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer issued a statement on Floyd’s death Tuesday.nfl jerseys from china

“Peaceful protests can help bring change, and we definitely need change so we can all live in harmony,” he said as part of his statement. “Everyone needs to respect each other’s ideas and work together to strengthen, not weaken, our community. I believe our football team is an example of how people from all different backgrounds and experiences can come together for a common goal.”