Update on the latest sports


Nationals player tests positive

UNDATED (AP) — A player for the Washington Nationals has tested positive for COVID-19, and four teammates and a staff member have been quarantined on the eve of the start of the regular season after contact tracing.

General manager Mike Rizzo said Wednesday that the result came from a test conducted Monday, while the Nationals were still in Florida for spring training. They then traveled to Washington, where the club is scheduled to host the New York Mets on Thursday night.

The Nationals planned to have a workout at their stadium on Wednesday, but it was rained out.

In other baseball news:

— Spectators will be allowed in Major League ballparks when the baseball season opens Thursday. Attendance will be limited, but it’s a welcome change for fans who were barred during last year’s pandemic-shortened season. All 30 teams are scheduled to play Thursday, with Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis (tah-TEES’) Jr. and Mike Trout among the stars in action. The first game of the season is at Yankee Stadium, where Gerrit Cole is set to face the Toronto Blue Jays. Weather could be a factor in some spots. Rain is in the forecast on the East Coast and temperatures might in the 30s at Wrigley Field.

— Often-injured Kansas City Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi will begin the season on the injured list with a right oblique strain. That leaves the Royals without one of their most exciting players when they open the season against the Texas Rangers on Thursday. Mondesi was put on the injured list Wednesday retroactive to the previous day. Nicky Lopez was recalled from the club’s alternate training site in Arkansas after he was sent there following a poor spring training at the plate.

— The Chicago Cubs have agreed to a one-year deal with catcher Tony Wolters and designated right-hander James Norwood for assignment. Wolters figures to back up Willson Contreras. He signed a minor league deal with Pittsburgh last month and was released on March 29. Wolters is a career .238 hitter with seven home runs and 123 RBIs over five seasons with the Colorado Rockies. Norwood was 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA over 23 relief appearances for Chicago from 2018 to 2020. The Cubs open at home against Pittsburgh on Thursday.

— The Cleveland Indians will open the season without a definitive closer. Manager Terry Francona says he could use a rotation of relievers to close games in the first few weeks. Veteran Nick Wittgren will likely be the first to get a chance to close with James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase also in the mix. Cleveland had a luxury the past two seasons with All-Star Brad Hand, but the team decided not to pick up his option and he signed with Washington as a free agent. The Indians have several other interesting arms in their bullpen for Francona to choose from.

— Indians fans won’t be allowed inside Progressive Field wearing Native American headdresses or face paint this season. The team said fans will either be ejected or denied admission for behavior that includes wearing headdresses or “face paint styled in a way that references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions.” The Indians said earlier this year that they are changing their name, joining a nationwide movement to ban racist symbols and slogans. The name change will not take effect until the 2022 season at the earliest.

— Mike Trout, the consensus best player in baseball, ranked just 10th on the list of top-selling jerseys released by Major League Baseball. That’s behind even Boston Red Sox utility player Kiké Hernández. Trout had the league’s fourth best-selling uniform two years ago, but the three-time MVP has slipped behind players that have recently starred in the postseason or changed teams. Trout’s Los Angeles Angels haven’t made the playoffs since 2014. The 29-year-old signed a $426.5 million, 12-year deal to remain with the Angels before the 2019 season. Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts retained the top spot. Teammate Cody Bellinger was second and San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. ranked third.

— Marlins Park will be renamed loanDepot park in a multiyear naming rights agreement announced Wednesday by the Miami Marlins. The deal provides additional revenue for the Marlins, who have operated with budget constraints and a small payroll for most of their history. They have not previously had a naming rights agreement for their ballpark, which opened in 2012. The Marlins also recently signed a new local TV contract that more than doubles their previous agreement, which was $20 million a year. Marlins CEO Derek Jeter says the team will be in a position to spend more on players in the future.

— A bat Lou Gehrig used late in his career and the original home plate from Yankee Stadium when it opened in 1923 are among the items up for bidding in an online auction this week. SCP Auctions said the Gehrig bat dates to 1938, his next-to-last season in the majors. It came from the collection of Yankees Hall of Fame teammate Earle Combs’ family. The home plate is from the original Yankee Stadium and the year the team won its first World Series championship. The Yankees previously played at the Polo Grounds, the home of the New York Giants.


AP Source: Seahawks, Lockett reach 4-year contract extension

UNDATED (AP) — The Seattle Seahawks and veteran wide receiver Tyler Lockett have agreed to a four-year contract extension that includes $37 million guaranteed.

The deal was confirmed by a person who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because the extension had not been announced by the team.

The deal locks up Russell Wilson’s favorite target for the foreseeable future and will likely help Seattle in its attempts to ease a salary cap crunch for the 2021 season. Lockett’s current contract was set to expire after this season and carried a salary cap charge of just under $15 million.

In other NFL news:

— The NFL has plans to eliminate some restrictions from its current COVID-19 protocols for vaccinated players, coaches and personnel. In a memo sent to the 32 teams and obtained by The Associated Press, the league detailed potential amendments to the protocols used throughout the 2020 season and current offseason. Among the elements that could be eliminated are the need to participate in daily testing; quarantine periods due to close contact with an infected individual; and/or refraining from social gatherings among other vaccinated individuals.


UConn’s Paige Bueckers is AP women’s player of the year

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — UConn star Paige Bueckers is the first freshman ever to win The Associated Press women’s basketball player of the year.

Bueckers was informed she won the award by coach Geno Auriemma during a team video session and broke down as she accepted it in front of her teammates.

Bueckers received 21 votes from the 30-member national media panel that chooses the weekly AP Top 25. Dana Evans of Louisville was second with four votes. The AP started the award in 1995. Bueckers is the 12th UConn player to win it.

Maryland coach Brenda Frese is The Associated Press women’s basketball coach of the year for the second time in her career.

Maryland lost five starters from last year’s Big Ten championship, but didn’t miss a beat. It won the conference for the sixth time in seven years. The Terrapins lost in the Sweet 16 to Texas.

Frese received eight votes from the 30-member national media panel that votes on the weekly Top 25. Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer and North Carolina State coach Wes Moore each received seven votes. Frese also won in 2002 when she was coaching Minnesota.


UConn’s Bouknight says he’ll enter the NBA draft

UNDATED (AP) — UConn sophomore James Bouknight has announced his intention to enter the NBA draft.

The 6-foot-5 guard made his decision public Wednesday on social media, writing that being in a position to be part of the league is “a dream come true.”

Bouknight averaged 18.7 points per game this season, but played in just 15 contests, missing eight games after undergoing elbow surgery in early January. He struggled in his final three games and made just 6 of 16 shots in the Huskies’ loss to Maryland in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

In other college basketball news:

— Florida’s rebuilding project continues to grow. Forward Omar Payne entered the transfer portal Tuesday and became the fifth player to leave coach Mike White’s program since the end of the season. Payne joined shooting guard Noah Locke, backup point guard Ques Glover and reserve forward Osayi Osifo in looking to play elsewhere next season. Star point guard and leading scorer Tre Mann entered the NBA draft with plans of hiring an agent. That means Mann has no intention of returning to school for his junior season.


High court takes up NCAA restrictions

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a dispute over NCAA rules limiting education-related compensation for college athletes.

Under current rules, students cannot be paid, and the scholarship money colleges can offer is capped at the cost of attending the school. The NCAA defends its rules as necessary to preserve the amateur nature of college sports. But the former athletes who brought the case, including former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston, say the NCAA’s rules are unfair and violate federal antitrust law designed to promote competition.

The outcome will help determine how college athletes are compensated and whether schools can offer tens of thousands of dollars in education benefits for things such as postgraduate scholarships, tutoring, study abroad opportunities and vocational school payments.

During an hour and a half of arguments conducted by phone because of the coronavirus pandemic, both liberal and conservative justices sounded sympathetic to students.

A ruling for the former players would not necessarily mean an immediate infusion of cash to current college athletes. It would mean that the NCAA could not bar schools from sweetening their offers to Division I basketball and football athletes with additional education-related benefits. Individual athletic conferences could still set limits.


Detectives find cause of Tiger Woods crash but won’t reveal

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles County sheriff says detectives have determined what caused Tiger Woods to crash his SUV last month in Southern California but would not release details, citing unspecified privacy concerns for the golf star.

Woods suffered serious injuries in the Feb. 23 crash just outside Los Angeles. He is in Florida recovering from multiple surgeries.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Wednesday said detectives have determined what caused the collision but claimed investigators need permission from Woods to release information about the crash.

Detectives obtained a search warrant for the data recorder of the 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV, known as a black box. Villanueva would not say Wednesday what data had been found in the black box.


23-match win streak ends for Osaka

MIAMI (AP) — Naomi Osaka’s 23-match winning streak has ended. No. 2 Osaka lost to Maria Sakkari of Greece Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open, 6-0, 6-4.

The defeat was Osaka’s first since February 2020 and ended any chance of reclaiming the No. 1 ranking this week from Ash Barty, who is in the semifinals.

Osaka won her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last month, but in five Miami appearances she has never advanced beyond the quarterfinals. Against the No. 23-seeded Sakkari, Osaka lost 15 consecutive points on her serve and blew a 4-1 lead in the second set.


9 horses added as late nominations to Triple Crown series

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Nine horses have been made eligible to compete in this year’s Triple Crown series with a $6,000 late payment.

Tampa Bay Derby winner Helium and Gotham Stakes winner Weyburn were among the additions when payments were due Monday.

Other late nominees are: UAE Derby runner-up Panadol; Hockey Dad; Turf Paradise Derby winner It’s My House; Maythehorsebwithu; Tiz Mandate; Carrothers, and Back Ring Luck.

There are now 335 horses eligible to compete in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

Any horse not nominated during the early or late phases can become eligible through a supplemental payment due at the time of entry for each Triple Crown race. The Kentucky Derby fee is $200,000, the Preakness fee is $100,000, and the Belmont costs $50,000.