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Baseball’s back: MLB sets 60-game schedule, opens July 23 or 24 – Sportsnet.ca

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NEW YORK — Major League Baseball issued a 60-game schedule Tuesday night that will start July 23 or 24 in empty ballparks as the sport tries to push ahead amid the coronavirus following months of acrimony.

A dramatically altered season with games full of new rules was the final result of failed financial negotiations. But for fans eager to see any baseball this year, at least now they can look forward to opening day.

The announcement by MLB came while more players continue to test positive for the virus — at least seven on the Philadelphia Phillies alone. And a stark realization remained, that if health situations deteriorated, all games could still be wiped out.

One day after the players’ association rejected an economic agreement and left open the possibility of a grievance seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, the bickering sides agreed on an operations manual. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred then unilaterally imposed the schedule, his right under a March agreement with the union.

In a twist, the sides expanded the designated hitter to games involving National League teams for the first time and instituted the radical innovation of starting extra innings with a runner on second base.

Playoff teams remain at 10 for now — there is still talk of a possible expansion. The rejected deal had called for 16 teams.

Players will start reporting for the resumption of training on July 1. It remains to be seen which players will report back to work — high-risk individuals are allowed to opt out and still receive salary and service time, but others who sit out get neither money nor the service credit needed for eligibility for free agency and salary arbitration.

Each team will play 10 games against each of its four division rivals and four games vs. each of the five clubs in the corresponding division in the other league, according to details obtained by The Associated Press.

A team is scheduled to make only one trip to each city it visits in MLB’s shortest season since 1878. a schedule of such brevity that some fans may question the legitimacy of records.

No matter what, the season will be among the most unusual ever for a sport that takes pride that the race for titles is a marathon and not a sprint: Washington started 19-31 and 27-33 last year but finished 93-69 to earn a wild card and won a seven-game World Series for its first title.

The trade deadline will be Aug. 31 and the deadline to be in an organization for post-season eligibility is Sept. 15. Teams can resume making trades Friday, when rosters will no longer be frozen.

Active rosters will be 30 during the first two weeks of the season, 28 during the second two weeks and 26 after that. They will not expand to 28 on Sept. 1, as originally intended this year.

With no minor leagues, teams would be allowed to retain 60 players each, including a taxi squad. Up to three players from the taxi squad can travel with a team to a game, and one of the three must be a catcher.

MLB is keeping the planned innovation that pitchers must face three batters or finish a half inning — players refused to agree a year ago but also waived their right to block.

The injured list minimum for pitchers at 10 days rather than revert to 15, as initially intended.

Public opinion shredded both sides as they locked in a ferocious financial battle during a pandemic that has led to more than 120,000 deaths and 2.3 million infections in the U.S. and led to a 14.7% unemployment rate, the highest since the Great Depression.

MLB originally hoped to be the first U.S. major league to return, with an 82-game schedule starting around the Fourth of July, but public sniping broke out between management and players who distrust teams’ claims of economic losses following years of franchise appreciation. MLB claimed that without gate-related revenue it would lose $640,000 for each additional regular-season game, a figure the union disputed.

MLB became exasperated with the union’s leadership team, headed by former All-Star first baseman Tony Clark and Bruce Meyer, a litigator hired in August 2018. Manfred and Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem were infuriated when Clark said he considered the result of a one-on-one meeting with Manfred last week a proposal rather than what MLB termed a framework for a deal.

Rather than play 162 games over 186 days, the season will be 60 games over 66 or 67 days, depending on whether there is a nationally televised Thursday night opener. It is scheduled to end Sept. 27, which leaves little margin to make up September rainouts.

Players are being given staggered reporting times over several days for intake screening. The time will be used for coronavirus testing ahead of the resumption of workouts, which were stopped March 12 due to the pandemic.

Because of an uptick of infections in Florida and Arizona’s summer heat, 28 teams currently are leaning toward training in their regular-season ballparks. Detroit remained partial to Lakeland, Florida, and Toronto was hoping to gain government permission to work out at Rogers Centre.

Under terms of the deal the sides reached on March 26, which was to have been opening day, players would receive prorated portions of their salaries if the 60-game schedule is not cut short by the virus. Salaries originally totalled $4 billion, and the prorated portion of about 37% reduces pay to $1.48 billion.

Salaries were to have ranged from $563,500 at the minimum to $36 million for Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole at the top, but the spread would now be from $208,704 to $13,333,333.

MLB initially had sought last month in its initial economic proposal to reduce pay to about $1 billion, and players vowed not to give up full prorated pay and proposed a 114-game schedule that amounted to $2.8 billion.

The relationship deteriorated back to the level of the labour wars that led to eight work stoppages from 1972-95, and the union has threatened a grievance claiming MLB didn’t fulfil the provision in the March deal requiring the longest season economically feasible, conditioned by several other provisions. MLB would claim the union bargained in bad faith, and the case would be argued before arbitrator Mark Irvings.

That would be a prelude to the expiration of the current labour contract on Dec. 1, 2021, which likely will be followed by a lockout.

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Tough day for MLB: Price out, Freeman positive, Tanaka hurt – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Steve Megargee, The Associated Press


Published Saturday, July 4, 2020 7:42PM EDT


Last Updated Saturday, July 4, 2020 8:17PM EDT

Freddie Freeman tests positive for COVID-19. Masahiro Tanaka gets hit in the head by a line drive. David Price announces he won’t play this season.

On this Fourth of July, even the return of baseball didn’t offer much cause for celebration.

As teams prepared to start their pandemic-shortened season, sobering examples of the game’s potential danger took place at camps across the country.

Major League Baseball is getting ready for a 60-game season that won’t include Price, a former Cy Young Award winner who was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February.

“After considerable thought and discussion with my family and the Dodgers, I have decided it is in the best interest of my health and my family’s health for me to not play this season,” the five-time All-Star tweeted Saturday.

“I will miss my teammates and will be cheering for them throughout the season and on to a World Series victory. I’m sorry I won’t be playing for you this year, but look forward to representing you next year,” Price said.

The 34-year-old Price said he was opting out about five hours after Atlanta manager Brian Snitker announced Freeman had tested positive along with Braves pitchers Will Smith and Touki Toussaint as well as infielder Pete Kozma. Snitker said Smith and Toussaint were asymptomatic and noted Kozma had a fever.

Freeman is “not feeling great,” Snitker said.

“It will be a while before we can get him back,” he said of the four-time All-Star first baseman.

It was uncertain whether Freeman would be ready for the start of the season, scheduled for July 23.

The New York Yankees said All-Star infielder DJ LeMahieu and pitcher Luis Cessa tested positive for COVID-19 before travelling to New York and were self-isolating at home. Manager Aaron Boone said LeMahieu was asymptomatic and Cessa had mild symptoms.

Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez and Twins first baseman Miguel Sano also tested positive.

Due to concerns about medical privacy laws, MLB isn’t making a practice of disclosing which players test positive. For example, Baltimore Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said the team doesn’t intend to reveal to the general public if anyone has tested positive. The Pittsburgh Pirates acknowledged there were positive tests within the organization but didn’t get into specifics.

In the Braves’ case, the four players who tested positive permitted Snitker to reveal their names. It’s a move he applauded.

“For me, I think it’s good in the industry and society, to know that this is a real deal,” Snitker said. “This virus is real. It’s nothing to mess with.”

Snitker said Braves first base coach Eric Young Sr. already has opted out due to COVID-19 concerns.

Houston’s Dusty Baker, who at 71 is the oldest MLB manager, added that “I admire Freddie Freeman and his group for coming out saying what the problem is. And hopefully this can get through to other people, other young people.”

Indeed, the news surrounding Freeman offered a reminder to players across the league that anyone is potentially susceptible. Freeman joins Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon as four-time All-Stars who have tested positive.

“It doesn’t matter – age, race, ethnicity, religion,” Milwaukee Brewers star Ryan Braun said. “Nobody is immune from this thing. I think there are constant reminders when you see the amount of athletes who have tested positive, the amount of big-name athletes who have tested positive and you hear some of their stories.”

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey says he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of sitting out this season, assuming the games are actually played. The six-time All-Star isn’t yet convinced there will even be a season.

“The way I would project it is I wouldn’t be surprised by anything at this point,” Posey said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we played 60 games with no hiccup and I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t play a game at all and I wouldn’t be surprised if we played half the games. That’s just the variability of this to me.”

“I just really think there’s no way we can give a hard line answer one way or another to what this is going to look like a week from now much less two months from now,” he said.

Posey’s comments came one day after three-time AL MVP Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels said he still doesn’t “feel that comfortable” about playing this season with his wife expecting their first child in August. Trout said he is planning to play at this point but that much would depend on how he feels the next couple of weeks.

Texas Rangers outfielder Nick Solak said that “after getting tested, just waiting for the results, there’s a level of anxiety.” He acknowledged that anxiety might subside as the season wears on and players get more accustomed to going through the tests.

The most frightening scene of the day didn’t involve the coronavirus at all.

During the Yankees’ first official summer camp workout, Tanaka got hit in the head by Giancarlo Stanton’s live drive. Tanaka immediately collapsed and stayed own for a few minutes before sitting up and eventually walking off.

The Yankees said in a statement that Tanaka was responsive and walking under his own power. He was sent to New York-Presbyterian Hospital for further evaluation.

That was the scariest moment of baseball’s bizarre and eerie return to the Bronx.

Before they even began their first official workout, Yankees players were startled mid-stretch around when someone set off a firework just outside the ballpark that echoed throughout the empty stadium. Similar bangs went off intermittently throughout the workout.

About 45 minutes after Tanaka was hit, a deafening siren went off in Yankee Stadium, drowning out music playing through the PA system for about 30 seconds. Emergency lights flashed around the stadium for about five minutes, as well.

AP sports writers Dave Ginsburg, Will Graves, Stephen Hawkins, Janie McCauley, Charles Odum, Kristie Rieken, Jake Seiner and Steven Wine contributed to this report.

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Yankees' Tanaka released from hospital after line drive to head – CANOE

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New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of teammate Giancarlo Stanton on Saturday, has been released from hospital, the Major League Baseball team said on Saturday.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Tanaka had concussion-like symptoms before leaving for the hospital but they have since dissipated and a CT scan returned negative. Tanaka will have to go through concussion protocol before returning to the field, Boone said.

The incident happened the same day the Yankees announced that infielder DJ LeMahieu and right-hander Luis Cessa have tested positive for COVID-19 and are away from the team.

According to Boone, both players tested positive before arriving to New York and are self-isolating at their homes, outside the state. He said LeMahieu was asymptomatic while Cessa has mild symptoms.

“We are hopeful (their absence) will be a short time but they are not here at this point, so we’ll see how that continues to unfold over the next several days,” Boone said during a virtual news conference with reporters following workouts.

In a terrifying scene during his team’s first official workout since returning from the COVID-19 layoff, the right-handed Japanese pitcher immediately dropped to the ground where he remained for several minutes.

Trainers and teammates rushed to the mound where Tanaka, 31, was tended to. He was then helped to his feet and walked off the field with the assistance of trainers.

“Anytime you see that on a baseball field and then add a layer, that it’s a teammate, I mean that stops you in your tracks and you hope for the best,” said Boone.

Tanaka, who was facing his third batter of the day in the simulated game, was responsive after the incident but was sent to hospital for further evaluation and testing.

After the incident a protective screen was placed in front of the mound before Jordan Montgomery took over pitching duties.

“I was a little timid after seeing that, a little squirrelly,” said Montgomery.

“That’s kind of a freak accident, a one-in-a-million chance of happening. And then it does, it’s terrifying. Especially as a teammate and friend, you don’t want to see anybody hurting.”

Tanaka became the fifth-highest paid MLB pitcher when the prized free agent signed with New York in 2014 following a dominant career with Japan’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

In 2019, Tanaka finished the season with a record of 11-9 in 31 starts with an earned-run average of 4.45.

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The long and the short of Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau – TSN

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They are arguably the two hottest golfers in the game, two players who’ve been fixtures at the top of the leaderboard since the PGA Tour restarted play.

Yet the styles of play of Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau couldn’t be more different. As they head into the weekend at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, they find themselves separated by just a shot at the top of the leaderboard.

In the three and a half tournaments since the tour returned to action, Simpson has a missed cut and a win, the latter coming at the RBC Heritage. He leads the FedEx Cup standings and sits sixth on the Official World Golf Ranking. He also has the lowest scoring average on the PGA Tour at 68.662.

A win or runner-up finish this week would make Simpson the top-ranked American golfer.

His game has been a model of consistency for some time, mind you. The missed cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge was just his second in his last 38 starts.

Last week, he skipped the Travelers Championship after his daughter tested positive for COVID-19, a test that Simpson said later showed to be a false positive. Still, the week at home was a good rest and allowed him to keep his well-tuned swing in shape.

“Coming off Hilton Head feeling like everything in the golf swing was simplified, I felt like there was not a whole lot to work on or improve upon, so it was more just kind of like maintenance work,” he said.

“I’ve tried to become more well-rounded through the bag and I’m seeing results. I’m having fun out there.”

DeChambeau has finished tied for third, tied for eighth and tied for sixth in three tournaments so far. He’s had a legitimate chance to win all of them. His play puts him 12th on the FedEx Cup points list and 10th in the world ranking. He has the third-best scoring average on tour with a mark of 68.822.

Despite the great numbers and results, DeChambeau is far from satisfied with his bulked-up body and how it’s translated into his overall game

“Playing the golf that I want to play, if I was to give myself a grade, and I know people are going to say things about this and people are going to chirp and chime in on what they think, ‘oh, he’s playing unbelievable golf,’ I’d really say it’s B game right now,” stated DeChambeau. “It’s not 100 per cent, but it’s not bad, either. I’m still able to get it in, I’m able to score, which is great, but I still have to refine some things.”

One of those is his wedge play, which lags behind the rest of his game. He sits 104th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green and is 194th in Scrambling from outside 30 yards.

But the big difference in the games of the two players comes at the start and finish of every hole.

DeChambeau and his newfound muscle feature a game built to overpower the golf course, while Simpson’s relies on accuracy and touch.

This week, DeChambeau sits unsurprisingly in top spot in Driving Distance with his longest whallop travelling 377 yards. Simpson is at the opposite end of that statistic, sitting in 89th spot with an average of 293.6.

But in accuracy off the tee, the numbers flip around. Simpson is tied for fourth while DeChambeau is well back in a tie for 93rd. Simpson also has a healthy lead in hitting greens, reaching 32 of 36 so far. DeChambeau has only found 27.

It proves once again that in golf, it doesn’t matter how you do it, just how many strokes it takes to get it done.

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