Update on the latest sports
Raptors to call Tampa home for rest of season
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Toronto Raptors aren’t going back to Toronto this season.
The team said Thursday it will stay in its adopted home of Tampa because of ongoing challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic and how that affects the process of crossing the border between the U.S. and Canada.
Toronto made the move south last fall, knowing Thursday’s decision was a real possibility. The land border with Canada remains closed to nonessential travelers who are not Canadian citizens.
In other NBA news:
— NBA scoring leader Bradley Beal will be held out of a game to rest for the first time this season, sitting out Washington’s matchup with New York on Friday. Beal is averaging 32.8 points and 35.3 minutes per game for Washington.
Dodgers introduce Trevor Bauer with 3-year deal
UNDATED (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers have finalized contracts with two of their top starting pitchers.
Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer was introduced to the media on Thursday after he and the Dodgers finalized a three-year, $102 million package. The Southern California native was 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 11 starts for Cincinnati last year.
The defending World Series champs also avoided salary arbitration with right-hander Walker Buehler (BYOO’-lur) by hammering out a two-year contract. The two-year, $8 million deal would escalate to more than $12 million if he starts regularly this year and wins a Cy Young Award.
The 26-year-old Buehler was the Dodgers’ ace in helping them win their first World Series title since 1988.
In other MLB news:
— The Mets and infielder Jonathan Villar (vee-AHR’) and the New York Mets have finalized a one-year, $3.55 million contract. Villar batted .232 with two homers and 15 RBIs in 185 at-bats while playing for the Blue Jays and Marlins last season.
— Right-hander David Phelps and the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a $1.75 million, one-year contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. Phelps went 2-4 with a 6.53 ERA in 22 relief appearances with Milwaukee and Philadelphia last season.
—The Cubs have worked out a one-year, $1.5 million package with outfielder Jake Marisnick, a deal that is pending a physical. The contract includes a $4 million mutual option for 2022 with a $500,000 buyout. The 29-year-old Marisnick hit .333 with two homers and five RBIs in 16 games with the Mets last year, but he is known more for his defense in center field.
— The Pirates have signed veteran catcher Tony Wolters to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to spring training. The 28-year-old Wolters hit .238 with seven home runs and 123 RBIs in 391 games with the Rockies.
— The Indians are giving free agent Ben Gamel a shot to win one of their open outfield jobs after working out a minor league agreement with an invitation to big league spring training camp. The 27-year-old has played 442 major league games for the Yankees, Mariners and Brewers.
— Catcher Bryan Holaday has agreed to a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks and will report to major league spring training. The 33-year-old hit .161 with four RBIs in 31 at-bats over 20 games for the Orioles last year.
— Veteran outfielder Jon Jay has agreed to a minor league contract with the Angels and an invitation to major league spring training. The well-traveled Jay is joining his seventh major league organization after spending last season in his second stint with Arizona, batting .160 over 18 games.
— The major league season is scheduled to open April 1 with the Yankees hosting Toronto and Detroit hosting Cleveland to start a full schedule of 15 games. The schedule envisions every team playing its first game on the same day for the first time since 1968.
— Seven Negro Leagues have been recommended for major league status by a task force of the Society for American Baseball Research. The announcement followed Major League Baseball’s decision on Dec. 16 that it was reclassifying the Negro Leagues to majors. They had been excluded in 1969 when a baseball records committee identified six official major leagues dating to 1876. If accepted, the move can inflate stats for all players who played in the majors and Negro Leagues, including Willie Mays, Monte Irvin and Hank Aaron.
Edmonton player in COVID protocol
UNDATED (AP) — The opening faceoff for tonight’s game between the Montreal Canadiens and visiting Edmonton has been pushed back an hour.
The NHL says an Oilers player has gone into COVID protocol. The time change allowed for the completion of test results for other members of the Oilers.
The league’s seven teams in Canada had been without a virus-related disturbance until now. There have so far been 35 games postponed, all in the three U.S. divisions.
Meanwhile, The Associated Press has learned that the NHL is adding game-day rapid tests for players to its safety protocols in its latest bid to stem potential COVID-19 outbreaks. That’s according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.
Rapid tests provide results within a half-hour, and will augment daily PCR testing already in place.
In other NHL news:
—The Coyotes have fired assistant general manager Steve Sullivan without offering any details. Sullivan was hired by Arizona in 2014 under previous general manager John Chayka and was promoted to assistant GM three years later. He served as interim GM last year when Chayka left the team.
— Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy could be sidelined for two weeks with a right hip injury suffered in Tuesday’s win at Dallas. Andrew Shaw is facing an uncertain future after another head injury.
— The Blue Jackets have activated goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (murz-LEE’-kihnz) off injured reserve after he missed a week with an upper-body injury suffered in practice. He is 2-2-1 with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in six games this season.
— The Bruins will wait to retire pioneering Black hockey player Willie O’Ree’s number until next year so that they can raise his No. 22 banner to the rafters with fans in the building. The NHL said it asked the Bruins and O’Ree to postpone the ceremony until Jan. 18, 64 years to the day that he became the league’s first Black player. O’Ree became the first Black player in the NHL when he took the ice for Boston against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 18, 1958.
TOP-25 MEN’S BASKETBALL-SCHEDULE
No. 24 Purdue falls
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — No. 24 Purdue is still looking for its first winning streak since its four-game run was snapped on Jan. 22
Marcus Carr scored 19 points and Minnesota rallied late for a 71-68 victory against the visiting Boilermakers.
Gabe Kalscheur chipped in 16 points and Brandon Johnson added 15 for the Golden Gophers, who trailed by five with two minutes to play.
Trevion Williams led Purdue with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Serena back in action
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams begins her third round of the Australian Open with a day match at Rod Laver Arena against Anastasia Potapova (poh-tah-POH’-vah) before the action continues with a strong evening lineup on all three main arenas at Melbourne Park.
Opening the night session at Rod Laver Arena and second-seeded Simona Halep (HA’-lehp) versus Veronika Kudermetova, followed by defending champion Novak Djokovic (JOH’-koh-vihch) against Taylor Fritz.
PGA-PEBBLE BEACH PRO-AM
Cantlay leads following a 62
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Patrick Cantlay birdied seven of his first eight holes and closed with two straight birdies for a 10-under 62 at the PGA’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Cantlay tied the course record at Pebble Beach last matched 24 years ago by David Duval, and it gave him a two-shot lead through one round.
Henrik Norlander and 19-year-old Akshay Bhatia were at 8 under.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-COLLEGE SPORTS
More men’s basketball games postponed
UNDATED (AP) — College conferences are still planning to hold basketball tournaments where the winner earns the automatic bid to the NCAAs. But the leagues also have until Feb. 26 to notify the selection committee if there will be any changes in how their bids are awarded.
Some coaches are split on the feasibility of having the tournaments and pandemic concerns could still lead to changes.
The NCAA has mandated that teams must have seven straight days of negative tests prior to arriving in Indiana for the tournament. There must be an additional two negative PCR tests before teams start practice.
In other pandemic-related news:
— The ACC has announced that Louisville’s men’s basketball game at Virginia Tech scheduled for Saturday has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. The postponement is the fourth in a row for the Cardinals and head coach Chris Mack, who is among those who tested positive.
— Saturday’s men’s basketball game between Texas A&M and Florida has been postponed due to a combination of positive COVID-19 tests, contact tracing and quarantining of individuals within the Texas A&M program. It’s the third straight Florida men’s game affected by the coronavirus.
—The Ivy League will allow current senior athletes to play sports as full-time grad students at their current university next year in a break with longstanding policies. The change is a result of COVID-19, which canceled a full year of sports.