TORONTO – Shortly before 4 p.m. ET, George Springer wrapped up a series of baserunning drills and met Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo, head trainer Jose Ministral and head strength and conditioning coach Scott Weberg near the pitching mound.
They chatted briefly, smiled, exchanged fist bumps and then picked up GM Ross Atkins, seated inside the dugout, on their way to the clubhouse to finalize the decision: Springer’s sprained left knee was strong enough for the star outfielder to be activated from the injured list.
“I know my body. I know how to handle my body,” he said of the decision. “I don’t want to sit on the bench. I want to play. It felt good enough to go and I’m glad to be back out there.”
The tipping point on the club’s end came “when we were comfortable with the risk and what the medical assessment is and understanding from our doctors that he is not putting his knee at more risk from running and from moving forward with the next step,” Atkins, back in the dugout, said shortly afterwards. “More importantly, from his comments and his desire, which we have pushed him very hard on to make sure that he’s not masking anything or covering anything up.”
Hours later, Springer looked like his old self, sliding into second base on a double steal with lead runner Jarrod Dyson in the third inning, and later starting the decisive three-run rally with a leadoff single in the sixth inning of a 7-3 victory Monday over the Baltimore Orioles.
Springer scored on Bo Bichette’s game-tying RBI single, a hit that was followed by Teoscar Hernandez’s two-run double, and the star outfielder reached base a third time with a walk in the seventh to set up Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s second homer of the game, a three-run shot.
For a team that over the past two weeks has struggled badly putting up runs and hitting with runners in scoring position – 14-for-107, or .131 in the previous 12 games – it was the type of outburst long in the making.
“We’ve been grinding a little bit, haven’t gotten the results that we would want offensively. But that’s the game,” said Springer. “It was a good night after a weird travel day (the Blue Jays flew in Monday afternoon after being stuck in Detroit when their pilot got ill Sunday), but it’s good to see contributions up and down the lineup.”
By no means does beating up on the dreadful Orioles cure all that ails the Blue Jays, but any step toward reigniting their dormant offence is essential in fuelling their hopes of charging back into relevance in the chase for the post-season.
Springer, for the time being, will be limited to DH duties as he reacclimates to regular at-bats. The goal is to progressively build up his workload, reps and drills into the outfield eventually translating into defensive innings in the field but “it’s the point in the season where we’ll take the DH at bats,” said Atkins.
That will certainly help, especially if Springer continues to impact the games the way he did Monday.
Orioles starter Chris Ellis went through the first eight batters unscathed before Dyson worked a two-out walk in the third and stole second before Springer was hit by a pitch. They promptly pulled off a double steal but Marcus Semien lined out to deep centre to end the threat.
“I had just said I probably wasn’t going to go if he went, and I did (go) and I don’t really have an explanation for it,” Springer said of taking off for second. “I just ran and I’m glad I was safe. It wasn’t something that I planned to do. I just kind of did it.”
Said Montoyo: “We’re trying to tell him not to go, but he’s just he’s got that inside of him. And the good news is that he feels good doing it. Of course we’ve got to be careful with that. But he looked good.”
Guerrero’s solo shot in the fourth tied the game 1-1 and after the Orioles scratched out a run in the sixth on Ryan Mountcastle’s RBI single, Springer started the decisive rally in the bottom of the frame to light up a crowd of 14,406. Then in the seventh, Guerrero delivered his 38th homer to push the game out of reach.
“You knew that was coming,” Montoyo said of Guerrero’s big night.
The outburst ensured the latest Robbie Ray gem – seven innings, four hits, two runs, a walk and 10 strikeouts – didn’t go to waste. At 202 and counting, he cleared the 200-strikeout plateau for the fourth time in his career and 159.1 innings, his career best of 174.1, accomplished twice previously, is also within range.
“Just being able to go out and put up zeroes and give my team a chance to win,” Ray replied when asked what he was most proud of to this point of the season. “That’s the main goal. Everything else is just going to fall into place when I can go out and I can put up those zeroes and I can keep us in the game. The big bats came around tonight and that was really great to see. But I was able to keep us in the game where we were within one run the whole time.”
Ray’s efforts in concert with the offence gave the bullpen a rare night of low leverage, even after Trent Thornton couldn’t mop up the ninth, forcing Jordan Romano to extinguish a small fire.
Nate Pearson and Julian Merryweather may soon be ready to reinforce the relief corps, with Atkins calling their most recent outings over the weekend “really encouraging. Both are recovering well. Both are feeling strong. Their stuff is there. It’s just more about refining and command at this point.”
They’re due to pitch again at triple-A Buffalo on Tuesday and each is being assessed outing-to-outing at this point. The possibility of adding more leverage options and Springer delivering impact from the DH spot is one of the reasons Atkins feels the Blue Jays have “enough season left to really make a good run” at a post-season berth.
“We have yet to have a time where all things have been happening for this team,” Atkins added. “I’m very confident that it’s in our future and certainly hopeful that it starts sooner and quicker to increase those chances.”
NBA denies Canadian Andrew Wiggins of religious exemption to skip COVID-19 vaccine – CBC.ca
The NBA has denied Canadian Andrew Wiggins’s request for a vaccination exemption, leaving the Golden State Warriors swingman ineligible to play home games until he meets San Francisco’s vaccination requirement.
The ruling was announced Friday, hours after the New York Knicks said their entire roster is vaccinated, making all their players eligible to play in their home games.
Because of local coronavirus regulations in New York and San Francisco, the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Warriors are required to be vaccinated to play in their home arenas unless exemptions for medical or religious reasons apply.
Wiggins, from Vaughan, Ont., sought an exemption from the league for religious reasons.
“The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins’s request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events,” the league said in a statement.
“Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors home games until he fulfils the city’s vaccination requirements.”
NBA says unvaccinated players can play
Unvaccinated players are allowed to play this season, though the NBA has said that they will have to be tested daily on practice and travel days, and at least once — possibly more — on game days. Fully vaccinated players will not be subject to daily testing.
However, the Knicks, Nets and Warriors face stricter rules because of their local regulations, which the NBA has told teams do not apply to visiting clubs.
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The Knicks are the first of those teams to say they have met the mandate.
Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks said earlier this week that a couple players wouldn’t yet be eligible, but he was confident everyone would be able to participate by the time the regular season begins on Oct. 19.
Local mandate not yet in effect
Wiggins still has time, as San Francisco’s mandate doesn’t take effect until the middle of next month. Training camps open Tuesday.
The NBA has struck agreements this off-season to have virtually all parties involved in games — referees, coaches, stat-crew workers and anyone else who will be in close proximity to players on or off the court in NBA arenas — vaccinated in order to participate.
The one exception: The players themselves, with the National Basketball Players Association rebuking all efforts from the NBA to mandate that they be vaccinated. About 85 per cent of players were vaccinated at the end of last season. The league-wide figure is believed to have increased since.
2020 Ryder Cup pairings: U.S. runs it back, Rory McIlroy out for Saturday foursomes – Golf Channel
After his team dug itself a 6-2 hole on Friday at the Ryder Cup, European captain Padraig Harrington had some decisions to make when deciding on his pairings for Saturday morning’s foursomes session.
One pressing question was whether he’d sit Rory McIlroy for the first time in McIlroy’s cup career. McIlroy had played in every session since making his debut in 2010 (26 for 26), but he’d dropped both his team-play matches on Friday at Whistling Straits while failing to reach the 16th hole in either one.
Ultimately, Harrington decided that his visiting side’s best chance at a comeback was to sit McIlroy on Saturday morning.
“We have plenty of options on our team,” Harrington said. “Spoiled for choice in many ways, and yeah … I’m very comfortable again with the team I’ve put out tomorrow. Wait and see in each of those matches whether they can create their own momentum and then bring that to the team.”
McIlroy and Poulter, who lost in foursomes on Friday morning, will both be benched, while Harrington will mix things up slightly elsewhere, splitting Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland, and pairing them with Tyrrell Hatton and Bernd Wiesberger, respectively. Two of Europe’s foursomes pairings are intact: Jon Rahm and Sergio Garcia, and Lee Westwood and Matt Fitzpatrick.
Meanwhile, on the American side, captain Steve Stricker is going back to the well, keeping all four of his previous foursomes teams. All but Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth won on Friday morning, though Thomas helped lead a four-ball rally alongside Patrick Cantlay on Friday afternoon as the U.S. duo tied Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood.
Cantlay reunites with Xander Schauffele, who is 2-0. Dustin Johnson, also 2-0, reunites with Collin Morikawa.
“We had one other group that we were thinking about putting out, but it went so well this morning that I figured why mess things up and change things up at all,” Stricker said. “We changed the order a little bit is all, but we kept the same pairings.”
The U.S. leads by four points, its largest advantage after Day 1 since 1975. History is on the Americans’ side, too, as just once in five previous instances since 1979 (the year that the Great Britain and Ireland side was expanded to include continental Europe) has a team coughed up a lead of more than three points after the opening day.
Here are the matchups and starting times for Saturday morning’s foursomes session:
8:05 a.m. ET: Koepka/Berger vs. Rahm/Garcia
8:21 a.m.: Johnson/Morikawa vs. Casey/Hatton
8:37 a.m.: Thomas/Spieth vs. Hovland/Wiesberger
8:53 a.m.: Schauffele/Cantlay vs. Westwood/Fitzpatrick
Lululemon named official Canadian outfitter for next four Olympics | Offside – Daily Hive
Lululemon will be officially heading to the Olympics.
The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees announced Thursday a partnership with the Canadian clothing brand Lululemon, making it the country’s official outfitter of Team Canada for the next four Olympics.
“As a Canadian and lifelong fan of the Games, I could not be prouder for Lululemon to partner with the Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee,” said Calvin McDonald, the CEO of Lululemon in a release. “Supporting these incredible athletes as they prepare to compete on the world’s largest sporting stage is a privilege. Through this partnership, all of us at Lululemon are honoured to play our part to inspire, unite and transform the world through sport and share in this excitement alongside all of Canada.”
A small selection of Lululemon Olympic apparel is available online and in-store already, with more to be revealed next month.
The partnership will start at the Beijing 2022 Games, continuing through 2024 in Paris, 2026 in Milan, and 2028 in Los Angeles.
This replaces the Hudson’s Bay partnership that first began in Torino 2006 and expired after Tokyo 2020.
While it’s Lululemon’s first official Olympic partnership, they actually launched a collection that appeared to be heavily inspired by Vancouver 2010.
— Zarah Al-Kudcy (@zalkudcy) July 28, 2016
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