Update on the latest sports
Ankle sprain keeps Scherzer off the mound
UNDATED (AP) — The last spring training of Max Scherzer’s $210 million, seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals is not exactly beginning the way he or the team would prefer. The three-time Cy Young Award winner sprained his left ankle while running to get in shape for the season and so he is not throwing off a mound yet. That’s unlike teammates such as Stephen Strasburg who threw a session alongside other pitchers at Washington’s spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday.
The good news? Scherzer says his arm is just fine, and he doesn’t see the ankle as a long-term injury.
Manager Dave Martinez said it’s up to him and his coaching staff to make sure Scherzer goes at a pace that his ankle allows. Martinez says right now, Scherzer is “a little ornery,” because “he wants to be out there with his teammates and we’re not allowing him to do that.”
In other MLB news:
— Boston Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodríguez lost the entire 2020 season to COVID-19 after developing complications from the disease that inflamed his heart muscles. But he says he is 100% now that he’s reported to spring training. Manager Alex Cora says he’s counting on the 27-year-old lefty to once again carry a big load on the pitching staff. Rodríguez threw his first bullpen session on Wednesday and came out of it with no problems.
—The New York Mets have made a late addition to their starting rotation, reaching agreement with Taijuan Walker on a $20 million, two-year contract. The 28-year-old right-hander was 4-3 with a 2.70 ERA over 11 starts during the pandemic-shortened season for Seattle and Toronto. Walker joins a rotation headed by two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, one projected to include Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco and David Peterson.
—The Seattle Mariners have finalized a $7 million, two-year contract with reliever Ken Giles that includes a club option for the 2023 season. Seattle signed Giles knowing he won’t pitch for the Mariners this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Manager Scott Servais stressed that no matter how far along Giles gets in his recovery, he won’t pitch in the majors in 2021. Giles has been one of the top relievers in the American League when healthy. He appeared in just four games last season for Toronto and underwent surgery in the fall.
—The Detroit Tigers have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with right-hander Wily Peralta. The team said Peralta would receive an invite to major league spring training. The 31-year-old Peralta hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2019, when he was 2-4 with a 5.80 ERA in 42 relief appearances for Kansas City. He had 14 saves for the Royals the year before that.
—Infielder Todd Frazier has agreed to a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates that includes an invitation to big league spring training. If Frazier is added to the 40-man roster, he would get a one-year contract paying a $1.5 million salary while in the major leagues. The 35-year-old Frazier hit .236 with four homers last season.
—Right-hander Edward Cabrera, one of the Miami Marlins’ top prospects, will be sidelined indefinitely with an inflamed nerve in his right biceps. The team became aware of the injury earlier this winter. Cabrera is with the Marlins at their spring training complex but isn’t throwing. Manager Don Mattingly says the Marlins believe Cabrera will be able to pitch “at some point this year.” .
—Former All-Star baseball player Johnny Damon was arrested Friday in central Florida on a charge of resisting an officer after he was pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence, according to court and jail records. Damon, 47, was booked into the Orange County Jail early Friday after an incident in Windermere, Florida, a wealthy suburb of Orlando popular with professional athletes. He is charged with resisting an officer without violence, a first-degree misdemeanor.
—Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona recently underwent surgery for a staph infection in his toe and will be on crutches for several weeks in training camp. Francona spent 10 days in the Cleveland Clinic before returning to Arizona. The 61-year-old is still getting antibiotics through an IV in his arm. He said he’ll continue to need medication through the first week in March. Francona missed most of the COVID-19 shortened season for health reasons. He was hospitalized and underwent several procedures to treat a gastrointestinal issue.
—Lew Krausse, who pitched 12 years in the major leagues and started the first game in Milwaukee Brewers history, has died. He was 77. Chad Krausse, Lew’s youngest son, said his father died Tuesday of complications from cancer while in hospice care in Kansas City. Krausse posted a 68-91 record with a 4.00 ERA during a career that began in 1961 and ended in 1974. He pitched three innings and took the loss when the Brewers fell to the California Angels in their opening game on April 7, 1970.
Rockets-Pacers game postponed because of Texas storm
HOUSTON (AP) — The game between the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night was postponed because of continued utility shortages in the area from this week’s winter storm.
It’s the second straight home postponement for the Rockets. Friday’s game against Dallas was called off on Thursday. The team said the decision was made after discussions with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and the NBA. No makeup date for either game has been set.
AP source: Panthers cut Boston, 2 others to save cap space
UNDATED (AP) — A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press that the Carolina Panthers are releasing veteran safety Tre Boston, defensive end Stephen Weatherly and punter Michael Palardy in cost-cutting moves. The team will save about $11 million in cap space.
The Panthers are in the market for a quarterback and want to either re-sign or use the franchise tag on offensive tackle Taylor Moton.
The decision to release Boston comes after he signed a three-year, $18 million contract last offseason that included $8 million in guaranteed money. He started all 16 games last season for the Panthers and had 95 tackles, two fumble recoveries, one interception and one sack.
In other NFL news:
—Bills starting linebacker Matt Milano will explore free agency next month because of Buffalo’s salary-cap constraints, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. Milano is projected to be among the top linebackers available on the market, and the Bills are currently estimated to have only $3 million available under a salary cap that is dropping due to revenue losses incurred during the coronavirus pandemic. Milano has been a starter since his rookie season in 2017, and his decision is based on the Bills not being in position to match the offers he is expecting to receive once the NFL’s signing period opens on March 17.
Fans allowed for all rounds of men’s NCAA tournament
UNDATED (AP) — A limited number of fans will be allowed to attend all rounds of next month’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament in Indiana.
The governing body said Friday venue capacity will be capped at 25% to allow for social distancing. That figure will include all participants, essential staff and family of team members. All must be masked.
The NCAA says the decision came in conjunction with state and local health officials to follow COVID-19 safety protocols.
The NCAA earlier announced the entire tournament will be played in Indiana because of the pandemic, with the majority of the 67 games taking place in Indianapolis. The Final Four already had been set for Indianapolis.
The semifinals are April 3 and the national championship game two days later.
In other NCAA news:
— The NCAA has granted Louisville’s request for its infractions case to be resolved through the Independent Accountability Resolution Process. That’s a process that was created in the aftermath of a federal corruption investigation of college basketball. College sports’ governing body announced the referral to the IARP on its website. It comes after the NCAA stood by its allegations against the program, including a failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance by former Cardinals coach Rick Pitino. The process reviews select complex infractions cases and its decision is final. Louisville said in a statement that it “looks forward to the fair resolution of this matter.”
NHL down to 11 players on COVID-19 list
UNDATED (AP) — The NHL is down to 11 players on its COVID-19 list, the lowest number since the season began Jan. 13.
No new players were added, while Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard and goalie Hunter Miska were removed from the list on Friday.
The previous low of players listed was 12 on Jan. 17. The number of players affected continued to drop since an NHL-high 59 were listed on Feb. 12.
The Philadelphia Flyers have a league-high six players still affected, including captain Claude Giroux, who has been on the list for 11 consecutive days.
OLYMPICS-RUSSIAN IDENTITY BAN
Russia’s new team name, flag agreed on for next 2 Olympic Games
GENEVA (AP) — With Russia’s name banned from the next two Olympics, the country’s team and athletes will be officially branded as “ROC,” an acronym for Russian Olympic Committee.
The International Olympic Committee said Friday that the name has been agreed on by the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency, which has accused the country of running a state-backed doping program.
Russia’s team name, flag and national anthem were banned from this year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The CAS ruling imposed two years of sanctions on Russian sports for tampering with a testing database in Moscow while the laboratory was under state control.
The Russian team flag in Tokyo and Beijing will be the ROC symbol — an Olympic flame in the white, blue and red stripes of the national flag above the five Olympic rings. A piece of music to replace the Russian national anthem at medal ceremonies has not yet been agreed on.