MLB team won't have best player for 4-8 weeks

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MLB team won't have best player for 4-8 weeks

From Comcast SportsNet
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Evan Longoria took a right turn out of the Tampa Bay clubhouse and walked a few feet before stepping in front of a group of reporters huddled around a lineup board that will not list his name for the next four to eight weeks. The three-time All-Star was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a partially torn left hamstring Tuesday. Replacing his bat and glove won't be easy. Yet the Rays are confident they'll be OK without their best player, who's hitting .329 with four homers and 19 RBIs. "I've been in similar situations before and it's just one of those things where I'll stay positive," the third baseman said. "It's going to be tough to watch, but I can't really worry about it right now. I've just got to worry about getting healthy." The Rays received the test results before Tuesday night's game against the Seattle Mariners. Longoria was injured Monday while running to second base on an attempted steal. He slid into the bag and remained on the ground for a moment before climbing to his feet and walking to the dugout without assistance. Elliot Johnson replaced him following the third inning and eventually delivered a game-winning RBI single in the 12th inning of a 3-2 victory. The Rays have a knack for finding someone to step up when star players are struggling or hurt. That's one of the reasons they are confident they can withstand Longoria's absence. "We're still a really good team. We're going to have to be that much better defensively, that much better with our execution on the basepaths," executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "Our pitching's going to be very good. We're going to score runs," he added. "So it's one of those things where it's definitely not ideal, but we do have a ton of talent around him that should still allow us to win a lot of games." The Rays have made the playoffs three of the past four seasons, including 2008 when they won the AL East and made an improbable run to the World Series. That year, nearly every starter spent time on the disabled list, including Longoria. Tampa Bay lost the slugger for 26 games early last year and recovered from a slow start to rally from a nine-game deficit in September to win the AL wild card on Longoria's game-ending homer on the final night of the regular season. "I don't have any doubts," that teammates will step up and help the Rays continue a strong start, Longoria said. "We've been down this road before," manager Joe Maddon said. "There's no crying in baseball. ... You just try to make the best decisions afterward and move forward. But you can't worry about it. You don't talk about it negatively because that can bring you down." The Rays purchased the contract of infielder Will Rhymes from Triple-A Durham. To make room on the 40-man roster for Rhymes, reliever Kyle Farnsworth was transferred from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. Johnson was in the lineup again Tuesday night. Another utility infielder, Jeff Keppinger, may also get some starts at third while Longoria is out. "It's not clear yet how much time he'll miss. It will be a minimum of four weeks. Somewhere in the four to eight (range), depending on how he responds and how treatment goes," Friedman said. "He's always been a pretty good healer. He's had some hamstring issues in the past and has come back from them pretty quickly, relatively speaking, so we're not going to put a firm timeline on it." Longoria was sidelined by a strained left oblique muscle most of the opening month a year ago. He had a strong second half, finishing with 31 homers and 99 RBIs. He helped the Rays to a 15-8 record in April -- the second-best opening month in franchise history -- and thought he had left his problems with injuries behind him. "It's just one of those things. Driving home last night, I was thinking I can look in the mirror and say I've done everything that I can do to try to prevent these kind of things," Longoria said. "My hamstring just doesn't cooperate with me sometimes."

Brandon Vincent plays 33 minutes in MLS All-Star Game

Brandon Vincent plays 33 minutes in MLS All-Star Game

Chicago Fire rookie Brandon Vincent played 33 minutes at the MLS All-Star Game on Thursday.

The All-Stars lost 2-1 to Arsenal. Costa Rican Joel Campbell gave Arsenal the lead in the 11th minute via a penalty kick. Didier Drogba, who used to play for Arsenal's London rival Chelsea, scored just before halftime to tie the match. Chuba Apkom scored the game-winner in the 87th minute.

Vincent subbed on for FC Dallas' Kellyn Acosta in the 57th minute. Vincent registered one shot, which was off target.

All 26 players for the MLS All-Stars played. For Arsenal, American Gedion Zelalem came off the bench and played 23 minutes.

Jimmy Walker shoots 65 to open PGA Championship

Jimmy Walker shoots 65 to open PGA Championship

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (AP) — A drab year for Jimmy Walker took a turn for the worse two weeks ago at the British Open, when he stayed in what was dubbed the "frat house" at Royal Troon with Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.

Walker was the only one to miss the cut.

He still stayed the weekend. He just stayed away from the golf course, and his clubs. How does one kill time in such a small Scottish town?

"When the first guy comes back and he's ready for a cocktail, you have one," Walker said.

Thursday in the PGA Championship, the drinks were on Walker.

In the final major of the year, Walker finally saw enough putts to fall at Baltusrol that he matched his low score in a major with a 5-under 65 and wound up leading a major for the first time in his career.

Just like that, a stale year came to life.

Walker had a one-shot lead over two-time major champion Martin Kaymer, Emiliano Grillo and Ross Fisher.

And for Henrik Stenson, a great year might get even better. Coming off his record performance at the British Open, the Swede had three birdies on the back nine as the sweltering heat gave way to dark clouds and 20 mph gusts. That gave him a 67, leaving him two shots behind. Stenson is trying to join Ben Hogan in 1953 as the only players to win back-to-back majors at age 40.

"It's going to be a great season for me," Stenson said. "But at the same time, I want to give myself a chance to try to make it the best season."

It wasn't the best of times for Dustin Johnson or Rory McIlroy.

Johnson, the U.S. Open champion with a chance to go to No. 1 in the world, was in the trees, in the water and couldn't get out of a bunker. He managed only one birdie in a round of 77 that wasn't enough to beat 15 of the club pros at Baltusrol.

He wasn't alone in his misery. McIlroy took 35 putts and didn't make a single birdie in his round of 74 that left him so frustrated that he returned to Baltusrol late in the day with only his putter.

Walker's year has been so mediocre that he has finished within five shots of the winner only once this year, at Torrey Pines. He is on the verge of falling out of the top 50 in the world ranking and hasn't given as much thought to Ryder Cup with qualifying a month away from ending.

"I feel like all year it's just been real stale and stagnant," Walker said. "It's just ebbs and flows of golf. Just haven't been scoring. ... It's frustrating. I would have loved to have had a better year than I've had so far to this point, but I know there's always time to play well at the end of the year."

Kaymer had the best score in the afternoon, when the blend of poa annua and bent grass on the Baltusrol greens became a little more difficult to navigate.

Baltusrol still allowed for good scoring. Twenty players were at 68 or better, a list that included defending champion Jason Day.

Day played in the morning group with McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, and he was the only player without much stress. Mickelson, just 11 days after that magnificent duel with Stenson at Royal Troon, was 4 over through 11 holes when he rallied with a trio of birdies late in his round to salvage a 71.

"It's not the start I wanted. It's not indicative of how I'm playing," he said. "But I'm back to where tomorrow, if I play the way I've been playing, I should be OK."

Jordan Spieth only regretted one hole, the par-4 seventh, when he lost his ball so far to the right he had to chip back into thick rough and wound up three-putting for a double bogey. That was his lone mistake. He rolled in big putts on the 15th for par, 16th for birdie and closed with a two-putt birdie to get back to even-par 70.

Grillo had a chance to at least join Walker in the lead when he was at 4 under with the final two holes par 5s. He made par on both. Fisher made birdie on the two closing par 5s for his 66. Kaymer started his afternoon round on the back nine and kept it together with two pars, including a 35-yard bunker shot on No. 8 to within 3 feet.

"There's nothing easy on the golf course today," Kaymer said. "I just didn't miss many fairways and therefore, you can create some birdie chances. But at the end of the day you still need to make the putts."

Walker kept the ball in play off the tee until late in his round, and he was particularly sharp with his scrambling out by getting up-and-down six times.

"I'm a good putter," Walker said. "Like good shooters, just keep shooting. I'm just going to keep putting, and they're going to start going in."

 

Cubs preparing to hire new translator after Aroldis Chapman’s rocky start in Chicago

Cubs preparing to hire new translator after Aroldis Chapman’s rocky start in Chicago

The Cubs are in the process of hiring a new translator for Aroldis Chapman, sources said, trying to smooth things over after a rocky introduction to Chicago that left the superstar closer feeling frustrated by his portrayal in the media.

Chapman told Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s Siera Santos that he requested a new translator on Thursday, while a Cubs official said the team had made the offer earlier this week, responding to all the negative coverage from a press conference that made a bad first impression and national headlines for the wrong reasons.

The Cubs understood trading for Chapman – who began this season serving a 30-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy – would immediately spark controversy.

But the Cubs still didn’t seem completely prepared for the moment, or quite as thorough as advertised, watching Chapman look disengaged on Tuesday, not remembering anything specific about what chairman Tom Ricketts had told him over the phone about off-the-field conduct – a precondition that president of baseball operations Theo Epstein sold as an essential part of the deal with the New York Yankees.

With a large group of reporters gathered before a Cubs-White Sox game, Chapman sat in U.S. Cellular Field’s visiting dugout next to Henry Blanco, the quality-assurance coach and former big-league catcher who’s approved under the new joint program between MLB and the players’ union that requires every team to have a full-time, Spanish-speaking translator this year.

Blanco has built-in credibility and communication skills after playing for 11 different teams across 16 big-league seasons, but he found himself in a difficult position, given the sensitive nature of the questions and what’s at stake for a World Series favorite and an image-conscious organization.

Chapman later did a one-on-one interview in Spanish with ESPN’s Pedro Gomez. The team’s public-relations department circulated that transcript, with Epstein saying Chapman had been nervous and something got lost in translation.

But the damage had been done, with a visibly upset Chapman initially refusing to speak to the media on Wednesday night after making a spectacular debut in a Cubs uniform, unleashing 13 pitches from his left arm that registered at least 100 mph on the big Wrigley Field video board.

It became an awkward scene after what was supposed to be a feel-good 8-1 victory over the White Sox, creating a new tension in a laid-back clubhouse. Chapman showered, listened to his associates and ultimately agreed to two minutes of questions, with catcher Miguel Montero becoming his translator.

“What I’m trying to do right now is to really build a relationship with this guy so he starts trusting me,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I believe once that occurs, I’m really going to be able to understand exactly what he’s about and what he’s thinking.

“I know there’s been some reticence or pushback regarding him to this point. However, understand where he’s coming from right now. We don’t know him. He doesn’t know us. And he really doesn’t even know the language.”

Chapman – who grew up in Cuba and is now in his seventh season in the big leagues – should be motivated to acclimate given the possibility of a World Series ring and a big free-agent contract this winter.

“I’ve spoken to him only once, at length, just trying to get him to relax,” Maddon said, “(and) have him understand me and what we’re all about here.

“As we all develop better relationships with him, the conversation’s going to flow a lot more easily and you’re going to maybe get the kind of information you’re looking for. But to put myself in his shoes, coming into a new venue, a new city, new everything, it’s a pretty heavy moment to immediately be scrutinized that way. I can almost understand why it’s been difficult for him.”