Update on the latest sports
MLB to reopen with limits in California
UNDATED (AP) — California officials are allowing people to attend Major League Baseball games and other sports in limited capacities starting April 1.
The rules announced Friday coincide with baseball’s opening day. The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics all have home games scheduled for April 1. California divides its counties into four color-coded tiers based on the spread of the coronavirus. Attendance limits are based on what tier a county is in.
Pro sports currently are limited to 100 people in areas where the spread of the virus is higher.
In other MLB news:
— The Houston Astros are minus eight pitchers because of COVID-19 protocols, but general manager James Click says there are no plans to pause activity at the team’s spring training camp. Manager Dusty Baker says pitchers Cristian Javier, Pedro Báez, Francis Martes, Enoli Paredes and Hector Velazquez were out Friday, a day after Baker said three other pitchers were sent home. It’s not known whether the eight pitchers tested positive for the virus or came in close contact with someone who had tested positive.
—New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he’s feeling better after getting a pacemaker and hopes to return to the team Saturday or Sunday. Boone said he would have been back with the Yankees on Friday if not for novel coronavirus protocols. He had the pacemaker inserted Wednesday and was discharged from St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday.
— Outfielder Jarrod Dyson returned to the Kansas City Royals, finalizing a $1.5 million, one-year contract on Friday. Dyson was a 50th-round pick by the Royals in the 2006 amateur draft and played for the Royals from 2010-16. He stole 176 bases, sixth in team history. Dyson helped the Royals win the 2014 AL pennant and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth and final game of the 2015 World Series at the New York Mets.
— Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams says the shoulder soreness that kept the 2020 NL Rookie of the Year from pitching in the playoffs shouldn’t affect his readiness for the start of the season. Williams also doesn’t expect it to hamper his comfort level in throwing the changeup that became one of baseball’s most unhittable pitches last season. The Brewers are being cautious with Williams as he works his way back.
AP source: Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons agree to buyout
UNDATED (AP) — Blake Griffin’s time in Detroit is over after he and the Pistons agreed to a contract buyout.
The Pistons announced last month that they would keep Griffin out of the lineup while resolving his future. His exit is another significant step in a rebuilding process that has Detroit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 10-26 record. Detroit traded Derrick Rose to the Knicks last month.
Griffin, who turns 32 later this month, joined the Pistons in a trade during the 2017-18 season. He had a terrific 2018-19 season, helping Detroit get to the playoffs. But his health has been a concern in Detroit, just as it had been when he was with the Los Angeles Clippers. Griffin has averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists in the 20 games he’s played this season.
Also in the NBA:
— Atlanta Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter has stepped up his rehabilitation from right knee surgery, but it will be another two weeks before the team knows how close he is to returning. The Hawks say Hunter has been cleared to do unrestricted weight room work and progressive on-court drills. His condition will be reviewed again on March 19. Hunter underwent surgery Feb. 8 and is among a rash of injuries that have stifled the Hawks’ progress and led to the firing Monday of coach Lloyd Pierce. He is third on the team with 17.2 points per game, adding important scoring balance behind Trae Young and John Collins.
Washington releases Alex Smith
UNDATED (AP) — Washington has released veteran quarterback Alex Smith.
The move clears just under $15 million in salary cap space for Washington, which is hoping to figure out its long-term QB situation and fill many holes in the aftermath of a 7-9 season. Coach Ron Rivera said he met with Smith this week, each side figured it was best to move on, and the organization granted Smith’s request to be released. The AP Comeback Player of the Year hopes to continue playing next season at age 37.
Smith made a triumphant return to NFL action last season, two years after breaking two bones in his right leg and requiring 17 surgeries to repair it. His battle against a life-threatening infection and long rehab process to get back on the field became a documentary and an inspirational tale.
In other NFL news:
— Prosecutors say Broncos linebacker Von Miller won’t face criminal charges following an investigation by police in a Denver suburb. The district attorney’s office says it determined no charges would be filed after reviewing the findings of a criminal case submitted by police in Parker. It said prosecutors can’t meet the minimum American Bar Association standard for prosecuting someone. That includes believing the charges are supported by probable cause and that there is enough evidence to win a conviction. Police confirmed the investigation in January but didn’t say what they were looking into.
— The Buffalo Bills have signed veteran safety Micah Hyde to a two-year contract extension. The Bills announced the signing and a person with direct knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press it averages out to close to $9.6 million a year. The 30-year-old Hyde had one season remaining on a five-year contract he signed upon joining the Bills in free agency in 2017 and is now locked up through 2023. He is entering his ninth NFL season after spending his first four with the Green Bay Packers.
— The NFL has hired Maia Chaka as the first Black female official in league history. She will work games during the 2021 season. Chaka enters the NFL after working in the Pac-12 and Conference USA. She was selected in 2014 for the NFL’s Officiating Development Program, which identifies college officiating talent with the goal of showing them some of the same experiences as NFL officials before determining if they have the ability to succeed as an NFL official. The NFL did not specify which officiating position she will work.
— The NFL is taking steps to learn more about different ways to help players manage pain. Last month, the NFL and NFL Players Association asked researchers with experience conducting controlled, experimental studies related to pain management to submit information that may be useful in treating players. The joint pain management committee comprised of medical experts appointed by the league and the union wants to know about alternatives to opioids, including CBD and other cannabis-derivative products, that may help players recover from sports-specific and musculoskeletal injuries.
Flames fire coach Geoff Ward, replace him with Darryl Sutter
UNDATED (AP) — The Calgary Flames have fired coach Geoff Ward and replaced him with Darryl Sutter, who will lead the team for the second time.
The team announced the moves shortly after Ward coached the Flames to a 7-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Thursday night. The Flames went 11-11-2 under Ward this season.
Ward became the interim coach when Bill Peters resigned in November 2019 following an investigation by the team into allegations of racism and assault by Peters. He was formally named the coach in September 2020. Ward went 35-26-5 in 66 games with the Flames.
In other NHL news:
— The New York Rangers listed goaltender Igor Shesterkin as day to day with a mild groin strain, a seemingly positive development after it looked as if the injury was more serious. Shesterkin left a 6-1 victory at the New Jersey Devils with six minutes left when he stretched to make a save on a 2-on-1 break. The young Russian went down without contact and had to helped off the ice, dragging his right leg. Coach David Quinn said Friday that Shesterkin was seeing doctors and was optimistic the injury was not a long-term problem.
— Longtime Chicago Blackhawks defenseman and three-time Stanley Cup winner Brent Seabrook says he’s unable to continue playing because of injury. The team doctor says among Seabrook’s many recent injuries, a lingering issue with the 35-year-old’s right hip is preventing him from playing hockey again. Seabrook will likely remain on long-term injured reserve for the foreseeable future because he has three years remaining on his contract. Seabrook helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He also won a gold medal playing for Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
— Buffalo Sabres coach Ralph Krueger’s status has been placed into question after first-year general manager Kevyn Adams called his underperforming team’s play “flat-out not good enough” during a wide-ranging conference call on Friday. Adams was short on specifics when it came to Krueger, saying “everything is under evaluation” and adding he has full authority from owners Terry and Kim Pegula to make hockey decisions. As for his players, Adams questioned his team’s lack of competitiveness and passion. He said he is considering shaking up his roster through trades but ruled out a “full-fledged” rebuild.
— A member of the “Miracle on Ice” Olympic hockey team has died at a treatment center for mental illness. Officials in Anoka County, Minnesota, confirmed Friday that 63-year-old Mark Pavelich died at the Eagle’s Healing Nest in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, on Thursday morning. The cause and manner of death are still pending. Pavelich was undergoing treatment at the home as part of a civil commitment for assaulting his neighbor in Cook County, Minnesota, in August 2019, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Pavelich thought the man had spiked his beer.
T25 MEN’S BASKETBALL-SCHEDULE
No. 20 Loyola cruises to 73-49 win over Southern Illinois
ST. LOUIS (AP) — No. 20 Loyola earned a 73-49 win over Southern Illinois on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. Freshman Jacob Hutson had 13 points and Lucas Williamson and Braden Norris each added 11.
Loyola opened the game on a 10-0 run before Anthony D’Avanzo scored the Salukis’ first basket 5:23 into the game. The Ramblers have won three straight games against Southern Illinois after sweeping a two-game set in Chicago to close out the regular season. The Salukis were playing without guard Lance Jones, who was injured in the first half of Thursday night’s game against Bradley.
D’Vanzo led Southern Illinois with 18 points and freshman Dalton Banks, making his first career start in place of Jones, added 12 points.
Affidavit: Man found Tiger Woods unconscious after SUV crash
ROLLING HILLS ESTATES, Calif. (AP) — A court document says a man found Tiger Woods unconscious after his SUV crashed in Southern California.
The document obtained Friday was written by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy seeking a search warrant to obtain data from the SUV’s event recorder. The man lives nearby, heard the crash last week and walked to the SUV. He told deputies Woods would not respond to questions. The first deputy on the scene has said Woods was able to talk to him and answer basic questions. Authorities have said Woods later told deputies he didn’t remember driving or how the crash occurred.
PGA-ARNOLD PALMER INVITATIONAL
Conners on top at Palmer Invitational
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Corey Conners is the leader through two rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Conners surged into the lead with a 25-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th hole — his second eagle on that hole in two days — for a 3-under 69 and a one-shot advantage over former Bay Hill winner Martin Laird.
Rory McIlroy was poised to at least join Conners in the afternoon until he hit a couple of loose drives that cost him one shot when he could only pitch back to the fairway, leading to bogeys. He closed with five straight pars for a 71 that he figures could have been worse.
McIlroy was two shots behind, along with Viktor Hovland and Lanto Griffin, who each had a 68.
LPGA-DRIVE ON CHAMPIONSHIP
Kupcho, Ernst share lead through 36
OCALA, Fla. (AP) — Jennifer Kupcho and Austin Ernst each shot their second straight 5-under 67 to share the second-round lead in the LPGA Tour’s Drive On Championship.
A day after playing most of the back nine with a migraine that blurs her vision, Kupcho had six birdies and a bogey at Golden Ocala. The former Wake Forest star from Colorado is seeking her first LPGA Tour victory.
Ernst had a bogey-free round as she eyes her third LPGA Tour victory.
Carlota Ciganda of Spain had the best round of the day, a bogey-free 65 to get to 8 under.