Update on the latest sports


Goodell: Many lessons learned in 2020 will carry forward

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL will carry forward the lessons learned from 2020.

In his annual state of the league news conference Thursday, Goodell said topics for future discussion range from battling the pandemic to minority coaching hires to scheduling to the NFL’s working relationship with the players’ union. As for what changes from the pandemic season are worth keeping in a post-COVID-19 world, Goodell said virtual sessions “are going to be a part of our life for a long time” because coaches and players were able to remotely work through the playbooks in 2020.

Goodell said he feels strongly about the value of training camp and preseason games. NFL Players Association President J.C. Tretter of the Cleveland Browns is advocating getting rid of the offseason and OTAs permanently. Goodell said the league will look into tweaking the rules for teams that hire new coaches as a way to ensure more diversity in the coaching ranks.


NHL revises virus protocols with 40 players on COVID-19 list

UNDATED (AP) — With COVID-19 problems cropping up and four teams currently idled, the NHL has revised its virus protocols in a bid to keep the shortened season on track.

Glass panels have been removed from behind benches for better air flow, players and coaches are not allowed at the arena until 1 hour and 45 minutes before the game unless they’re getting treatment for injuries and all meetings must be virtual. The 31 teams were also told to space out locker rooms more to provide 6 feet between people. Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the updates Thursday in an email to The Associated Press.

The moves were made as the NHL sees some concerning trends, including 40 players on the COVID-19 unavailable list. In the first three weeks of the season, about 90 players have appeared on the list, which can include a positive test result unconfirmed or confirmed, symptomatic isolation, high risk close contact or quarantine for travel purposes.

In other virus-related sports news:

—The Cleveland Cavaliers have been given the OK to increase attendance at home games. The team received a letter from the state of Ohio, which granted a second variance and will allow the Cavs to have 2,720 fans inside 19,000-seat Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The change takes effect immediately.Cleveland is one of eight NBA franchises currently allowing fans.

—The Australian Open tournament director expects the year’s first tennis major to start as scheduled next week despite 160 players being among the 507 people forced back into isolation after a hotel quarantine worker tested positive for COVID-19. Craig Tiley told reporters. Melbourne Park was almost empty as Tiley spoke to media Thursday. All matches in all six warmup events were postponed after the state government announced the latest coronavirus case.

—Wimbledon organizers are planning for a reduced-capacity crowd at this year’s Grand Slam tournament, though other options remain. The All England Club has previously announced that the tournament would go ahead with or without fans. It was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The three options this year are full capacity, reduced capacity or no fans. Wimbledon was called off last year for the first time since 1945. It is scheduled to run from June 28-July 11.

—Thursday’s women’s basketball game between No. 17 Indiana and Rutgers has been postponed because of COVID-19 healthy and safety issues within the Scarlet Knights’ program. The schools issued a statement saying they had mutually agreed to scrub the game after consulting with university medical officials and Big Ten representatives.

—The Canisius (kuh-NEE’-shuhs) College athletic department announced Thursday that the Golden Griffin women’s basketball program will not complete the remainder of the season due to health and safety concerns. The school is a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

— The NCAA is moving Division I women’s championship events in volleyball, ice hockey and bowling to single sites. The changes to the format are in response to directives to have as few preliminary-round sites as possible. All 48 teams in the volleyball tournament will play at the CHI Health Center Arena and Convention Center in Omaha, Nebraska, beginning April 13. The 16-team National Collegiate Bowling Championship will be held at AMF Pro Bowl Lanes in Kansas City, Missouri, from April 7-10. The eight-team hockey tournament will be held at the Erie (Pennsylvania) Insurance Arena beginning March 15.


La Stella, Giants reach $18.75M, 3-year deal

UNDATED (AP) — Versatile infielder Tommy La Stella has completed an $18.75 million, three-year contract with the San Francisco Giants, giving the club a reliable left-handed hitter with a track record of getting on base.

The 32-year-old was a key contributor down the stretch for the Athletics across the bay in Oakland last season after the 2019 All-Star got traded by the Los Angeles Angels in late August.

In other MLB news:

—Garrett Richards and the Boston Red Sox have finalized a one-year, $10 million contract. Richards went 47-41 with a 3.62 ERA in 10 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres. He had Tommy John surgery in the middle of 2018 and came back for just three games at the end of the 2019 season, then went 2-2 with a 4.03 ERA last year.

—Free agent outfielder Eddie Rosario has joined the Cleveland Indians, adding a quality player who has haunted their pitchers in recent years. Rosario passed his physical on Thursday and finalized the $8 million, one-year contract he agreed to late last week.

—Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said the team was unaware of former pitching coach Mickey Callaway’s inappropriate behavior toward women while he was with the club. Antonetti said he became “distraught and disturbed” in learning about Callaway’s actions, which were reported by The Athletic on Monday night. Callaway has said any relationship was consensual. Antonetti said he didn’t know anything about Callaway’s behavior until the report came out.

—First baseman Ji-Man Choi and the Tampa Bay Rays have argued their salary arbitration case. The 29-year-old asked for a raise to $2.45 million, and the Rays argued for $1.85 million. A decision is expected Friday. Choi hit .230 with three homers and 16 RBIs last year, then batted .240 with two homers and four RBIs as the Rays advanced to the World Series and lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

—Veteran reliever Nick Vincent has agreed to a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers that includes an invitation to big league spring training. The 34-year-old right-hander went 1-2 with three saves and a 4.43 ERA in 21 appearances for the Miami Marlins last season. Vincent is 22-23 with a 3.38 ERA in 405 big league games with five teams the past nine seasons.


Chiefs under pressure to ditch the tomahawk chop celebration

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Pressure is mounting for the Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs to end the popular tradition of fans breaking into a “war chant” while making a chopping hand motion designed to mimic the Native American tomahawk.

A coalition of Native American groups has put up billboards in Kansas City to protest the Tomahawk Chop and Chiefs’ name. It’s also planning a protest outside Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, site of Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Chiefs made some changes in the fall, barring headdresses and war paint and making a subtle change to the chop. But those changes aren’t nearly enough for the St. Petersburg-based Florida Indigenous Rights and Environmental Equality, which plans to protest near the stadium Sunday ahead of the kickoff, singing and holding signs. Group co-founder Alicia Norris described the chop as “extremely disrespectful” and “conjures up images of Native Americans, indigenous people as savages.”


Tony Trabert, 5-time major singles champion, dies at 90

Tennis Hall of Famer Tony Trabert has died. His death Wednesday night at his home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, was confirmed by his daughter. Trabert was a five-time Grand Slam singles champion and former No. 1 player who went on to successful careers as a Davis Cup captain, broadcaster and executive. Trabert won three of the four major singles titles in 1955, including Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals. The Cincinnati native was ranked No. 1 in singles in 1953 and 1955. Trabert also won five Grand Slam titles in men’s doubles. Hall of Fame President Stan Smith called him a “terrific ambassador for tennis.” Tony Trabert was 90 years old.