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Blue Jays officially sign right-handed pitcher Tanner Roark –



TORONTO — Tanner Roark wasn’t dissuaded by the small ballparks and big hitters of the American League East when he signed with the Blue Jays in free agency.

The veteran right-hander should be fine in Toronto, he said, as long as he can keep the ball out of the air.

“Pop-ups, they go out for home runs. It is what it is,” Roark said with a laugh Wednesday in his introductory conference call with Toronto media. “The Blue Jays were the ones who were most interested in me and I want to go to a team that wants me.

“With the young core group of guys coming up and what we have at the big league level, maybe (I can) give some knowledge, teach them some things, answer any questions they want to know. I’m here for them.

“As for the AL East part, just make your pitches. Don’t hang a pitch or else it’s going to go far. That goes for any league, any division.”

The Blue Jays officially announced Roark’s contract Wednesday — a two-year deal worth US$24 million. The move was first reported at last week’s MLB winter meetings.

Roark, who turned 33 in October, will be stepping into a leadership role by default with a Blue Jays team stocked to the brim with young talent.

That youthful core is part of what attracted Roark to Toronto in the first place.

“They’re up and coming and they’re really young. I’m 33 years old, I don’t think I’m that old, but I’m one of the oldest guys on the team,” Roark said. “I know what kind of future this team can hold and these guys can hold within themselves just going through their first year, getting a taste of what the big leagues are about, learning from last year … I’m intrigued to see what these guys are all about.”

Roark, who entered free agency for the first time in his career this off-season, was 10-10 with a 4.35 earned-run average in 31 starts through 2019 for Cincinnati and Oakland, which acquired him at the trade deadline.

He is 74-64 with a 3.71 ERA over seven seasons, spending the first six of those with Washington before being dealt to Cincinnati last December.

Roark said the Blue Jays were the first to initiate contact with him this off-season.

He signed with the team after having conversations with pitching coach Pete Walker and bullpen coach Matt Buschmann and said he was intrigued by the prospect of working with young Blue Jays catchers Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire.

“Tempo for me is key and last year both (Toronto’s) catchers were rated great defensively and they’re young guys which is great too. …. that drew a lot of interest for me.” Roark said. “Now we’ll get to work together in spring training and we’ll to talk (about) how I pitch to certain guys and once we get on that same page and the rhythm gets going there’s nothing better.”

Toronto was 67-95 last season, with starting pitching being a major weakness. The Blue Jays also acquired right-hander Chase Anderson from Milwaukee last month to beef up their rotation.

Roark, who has one career start at Rogers Centre — a forgettable four-inning performance that saw him allow four runs on eight hits in an 8-6 loss for Washington in 2018 — provides some stability to Toronto’s currently thin rotation.

He pitched over 200 innings in 2016, winning 16 games for Washington that year with a 2.83 ERA, and has pitched at least 165 innings in four other seasons.

“I think what keeps me on the field is I work hard,” Roark said. “It can be a long arduous season, repetitive travel-wise, the mental part of it can just crush you. But I think working hard and doing what you need to do to prepare yourself for every fifth day, that’s the biggest thing.

“The stuff in between the starts is the real work and the fifth day is enjoyment of it all. All the work you’ve put in for four days and then you’re rewarded with a start to go out there and hopefully kick some butt.”

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Mixed Martial Arts-Door is open for YouTube’s Paul brothers in MMA



Logan and Jake Paul would make great Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, Bellator president Scott Coker has said as he targets exhibition matches featuring the YouTube personalities such as the former’s boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather.

Logan Paul went the distance, surviving eight rounds against unbeaten (50-0) five-division world boxing champion Mayweather in an exhibition on Sunday at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium.

USA Today reported the fight brought in one million pay per view buys with $50 million generated from sales in the United States.

It was only the second fight of Paul’s career, while his brother Jake has fought in three professional boxing matches, beating former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April.

Critics have labelled the bouts a sideshow due to the lack of sporting credibility of the duo, who made their names as social media personalities and have millions of subscribers on YouTube.

However, Coker told Reuters the brothers have impressive physiques and the door is open for them to move into MMA.

“I met with Logan Paul about two years ago and I’ve spoken to Jake Paul’s manager and Jake on a zoom call recently… The one thing I said was hey, if you want to do MMA we would love to promote you guys,” the 58-year-old said in a Zoom interview.

“These guys are young, athletic, strong and you saw the fight on Sunday night these guys they came and did their work.

“Mayweather couldn’t finish him and I know he tried, I heard he wanted to knock this kid out so bad,” he added.

“When I heard both had high school wrestling backgrounds in Ohio, which is a prominent wrestling state in the U.S., it really made me interested in pursuing them in some super fights in Mixed Martial Arts – and that door is continually open.”


Bellator, owned by Viacom, is gearing up for a busy month of events, starting with Bellator 260 on Friday with the headline fight between reigning welterweight world champion Douglas Lima and the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.

However, super fights and exhibitions are where Coker is targeting a younger audience.

“My 14-year-old niece, I told her I was going to the Logan Paul fight and she thought that was the greatest thing,” he said.

“She asked me who he was fighting and I said Floyd Mayweather and she said ‘who’s that?’ – I thought wow, she doesn’t know boxing, she doesn’t know MMA, she’s just a 14-year-old girl on the internet doing what they do.”

As the sporting world gears up for the delayed Tokyo Olympics starting in July, Coker believes MMA will feature in future Games.

“When you think about mixed martial arts, what you’re talking about is boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, karate – those are all Olympic sports,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t mixed martial arts eventually get into the Olympics because six out of the seven disciplines MMA is known to use really is already there.

“There’d be a lot of details to work out but to me I think it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.”


(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships



Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships, the International Skating Union (ISU) said on Wednesday, after the 2020 event Canada was to host was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The championships will return to Montreal from March 18-24, marking the 11th time Canada has staged the event.

“Skate Canada has a proven track record of holding successful ISU events and we are looking forward to bringing the world’s best skaters to the fantastic Canadian city of Montreal,” said Debra Armstrong, CEO of Skate Canada, in a statement.


(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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Andreescu splits with coach Bruneau after French Open exit



World number seven Bianca Andreescu on Tuesday announced she has split with longtime coach Sylvain Bruneau, a week after falling in the first round of the French Open.

The pair had worked together for four years as Andreescu made her breakthrough with three titles in 2019, including the U.S. Open.

“It is with a heavy heart that I would like to inform my fans that my long time coach, mentor and friend, Sylvain and I, have mutually decided to end our incredible coaching relationship,” Canadian Andreescu wrote on Twitter

“Our friendship will live forever … I am very grateful for everything we accomplished together and all of our great memories.

“Sylvain was more than a coach… he is family.”

Andreescu, 20, returned to action at this year’s Australian Open, having missed 15 months due to a knee injury.

A positive COVID-19 test subsequently ruled Andreescu out of both Madrid and Rome before an abdominal injury forced her to pull out of Strasbourg at the quarter-final stage.

Her most recent appearance at Roland Garros ended with a 6-7(1) 7-6(2) 9-7 defeat by Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek.


(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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