INDIANA STATE BASKETBALL FINALS SATURDAY
Class A State Championship | 10 am ET
Kouts (29-2) vs. Barr-Reeve (28-2)
Class 2A State Championship | 1:30 pm ET
Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian (27-3) vs. Parke Heritage (27-3)
Class 3A State Championship | 5 pm ET
Leo (24-4) vs. Silver Creek (24-4)
Class 4A State Championship | 8:30 pm ET
Carmel (25-2) vs. Lawrence North (28-2)
MEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Houston 67 Oregon state 61
Baylor 81 Arkansas 72
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Connecticut 69 Baylor 67
Arizona 66 Indiana 53
Washington 132 Indiana 124
New Orleans 115 Boston 109
Brooklyn 112 Minnesota 107
Miami 98 New York 88
Detroit 118 Toronto 104
Memphis 120 Houston 110…..DESMOND BANE 17PTS, 4REB, 3ASST
Dallas 127 Oklahoma City 106
Sacramento 132 San Antonio 115
Utah 114 Cleveland 75
Golden State 116 Chicago 102
LA Clippers 129 Milwaukee 105
Philadelphia 4 Buffalo 3
Pittsburgh 2 NY Islanders 1
Edmonton 3 Toronto 2
Colorado 5 Anaheim 2
Vegas 4 Los Angeles 1
Winnipeg 5 Calgary 1
San Jose 4 Minnesota 3
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL – SPRING TRAINING
Kansas City 5 Cleveland 4
San Francisco 7 Oakland 2
Chicago Cubs 7 Arizona 1
Seattle 5 Cincinnati 5
Colorado 10 San Diego 2
Milwaukee 4 Texas 0
LA Dodgers 10 LA Angels 2
NY Mets 3 St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 8 Baltimore 3
Detroit 5 NY Yankees 2
Boston 4 Atlanta 0
Houston 2 Washington 2
Toronto 13 Philadelphia 7
Minnesota 5 Pittsburgh 3
Indiana Introduces Head Coach Mike Woodson
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Scott Dolson and head men’s basketball coach Mike Woodson met with the media on Monday for Woodson’s introductory press conference.
SCOTT DOLSON: First, I would like to thank everyone for being here today. It’s a great day for Indiana basketball. But first, I want to start by talking about women’s basketball because I want to wish Teri Moren and our women’s team all the best with the big game tonight. I’m leaving here early this afternoon to head down to San Antonio and couldn’t be more thrilled and more proud of our team. When we made the decision to make the change in men’s basketball, it was the same day as the women’s selection show and I went to visit the selection program with the team and I talked to Coach Moren, I apologized to her because I did not want the selection process to take anything away from the great things that are happening with women’s basketball. She’s just been fantastic, can’t thank her enough. We stay in close contact, she set up a Zoom call for me to talk to the team this past Friday night before the Sweet Sixteen game. I told Heidi, my wife, afterwards it was so incredible. Coach Moren thanked me but it was more meaningful I think to me than it was to the team. I know Hoosier Nation is down in San Antonio and we want our women’s team to know how much we’re behind them for the game tonight.
Before I start today with the great news about our men’s program, I do want to say some special thank-you’s. This is really, really important to me that I thank some special people, they are really invaluable in this process, President McRobbie who has just been an incredibly supportive. Just can’t thank him enough. I know he’s got a million things on his plate. He answered every call I had throughout these last two weeks and made me feel like he was — I was his number one priority and has always asked incredible questions, and just the collaborative process with him was terrific and just want to thank him so much for his support.
Thank the board of the trustees. I’m a better leader having the opportunity to work so closely with Quinn Buckner. Just want him to know how much I appreciate that.
I want to thank my wife, Heidi. Throughout this process, I holed myself up in the basement of our house and she brought meals down to me regularly, and would always say that “when this is over you don’t think this is going to continue. This is it. This is it for the wait service.”
But she was my rock and I appreciate that and just thank my kids, as well. We’ve got five kids and not one single — we have three birthdays during this process with five kids, they all go from 21 up to 28 and not one time did any of our kids ask me one question about any candidate or who is on the list. And even our youngest who is a junior here at IU; that just impressed me so much that they just get it and they just want to be supportive and they love IU like we do and just want to thank them.
There’s two members of our members senior administrative team — all of our senior administrative team in athletics have been huge but two members I would particularly single out, deputy AD Stephen Harper, and senior associate AD for sport administration, Becky Pany, who throughout this process has worked tirelessly the last two weeks, and actually before that.
And I hate to highlight them because I don’t want anybody to try to steal them from us but they have been fantastic and there’s others, but Mattie White our deputy AD down in San Antonio holding down the fort with women’s basketball. Lorian Price, our senior associate AD for academics who has been incredible in this transition process in leading the transition team.
And then finally we created a vision document, and this whole thing today is about the vision for IU Basketball, the future and after we made the change we created a document that really spelled out that vision and we had two staff members, Ali Ricker and John Decker, on vacation, worked tirelessly for two days to turn around a document that was a vision that we created that would have taken a month at least.
It’s all about team and that’s a theme you’re going to hear the more I talk today. I didn’t use a search committee as you know but I relied on just so many experts that I talked to, experts in the NBA from owners to general managers to scouts, experts in college, coaches, athletic directors, commissioners. They know who they are and there’s some names, and I’ll keep that confidential out of respect for them and the process, but they know who they are, and I just want them to know, I just can’t thank them enough for the time they took to really help me walk through this process and do the deep dive and due diligence I wanted to do.
There’s some names on there that would probably surprise people how much time they put in. The NBA trade deadline was going on during this process, and I had people that were so heavily involved in that that took literally large amounts of time through this process and give me great advice.
I want to mention Fred Glass and thank Fred, our former athletic director, one of my mentors told me from the start he did not want to know one candidate, that was our deal but he wanted to be there to support me and sent me message after message just of support always and having him as a rock means the world to me.
I want to thank our fans. Our fans are resilient, they are passionate, supportive and I want our fans to know we all want the same things and I hope they know how much we appreciate that. I want to thank our former players and managers. I cannot tell you the support, messages. I am so behind on text messages right now, it’s embarrassing. But I want them to know that from my deepest of my heart I appreciate their support and their love for this program.
And then finally and most importantly I want to thank our current players. Our current players as I said two weeks ago, change is hard and the fear of the unknown is hard. But our former players handled this — couldn’t have handled it any better.
And I’ll say this: They were resilient and they were so helpful. I’ve had two Zoom meetings in the last two weeks with the full team and several one-off conversations and really they helped me in this process and gave me ideas of characteristics that were important to them.
And I give Archie Miller a ton of credit in terms of the quality of young men we have, the character, and just who is in that locker room. I just want our current players to know how much I appreciate that.
So moving forward, the first thing I would do is welcome Thad Matta, Thad and Barbara and his girls to the program, and just quickly mention really the vision for that and really the partnership with Thad really came about after my first meeting with Coach Woodson.
Coach Woodson and I had an incredible first meeting and we talked about the vision to the program and how to bridge the past to the to the future, and one of the things he said to me that struck me is he’s a collaborator. One of the things that’s important to him is putting great people around him and he said, “Scott, you and I will be joined at the hip. If we do this, this is a partnership.”
And it actually was music to my ears because that’s what I was looking for, not for me to micromanage the program, but this needs to be a unified effort and it was really, really foreign to him.
As I moved forward in the process after several meetings, I realized that I’m joined at the hip with a lot of our coaches and for me to put all my resources although obviously basketball is so critical to us, that I needed some people and at the same time, Coach Woodson was asking me for resources around him.
So I actually came to him, went to Thad and thought there was a perfect maybe marriage there for Thad to help me on the need I had to make certain I had the resources with basketball.
Coach Woodson mentioned to me he had a partnership with Glen Grunwald with the Knicks as a head coach and it was incredible to have a resource to bounce things off of and I felt like this could be a perfect fit so it worked out great and the rest is history.
But I’ll say this: Mike Woodson is 100 percent the head coach. He reports to me. He’s the final decision-maker based on my final approval of basketball decisions.
Thad reports to me and is a key resource for me and for Mike and really can’t thank him enough for being part of our program.
Having said all will that I’m excited to get to the main agenda item right now is that I’m just so excited to make the introduction I’m getting ready to make. I said two weeks ago, that we were going to build on our foundation. It was really important that — we have a celebrated history, but the most important thing is we have a vision for the future and the plan was to focus on the vision for the future.
Ultimately there were three reasons — and I can summarize it in three things. The first thing is I feel that coach — why I ended up, which I feel to me was the perfect choice, and I can summarize it in three things.
The first thing is, is that I feel that Coach Woodson was a perfect fit as a person, and I’m talking — I’ve talked to the people — the people I talked to had no idea who I was leaning towards, who was in the mix, not — but I’m talking about people all across basketball, all across, to a person, they said there’s no better person than Mike Woodson as a person and had a meant a lot. I had someone I really, really respect in basketball say to me, we need someone that’s a normal person, we need him to fit in and collaborate and be part of a team. I can’t tell you how many people told me how many people told me about Mike and what Mike stood for. I knew Mike but not great just acquaintances from being around here.
The second thing is as I did my deep dive, Mike is known as a visionary. Mike is an X’s and O’s guy. Mike in the NBA and circles of people at the highest level that I talked to talked about his visionary pick-and-roll defense that I started in Atlanta that became the normal way for defenses to play moving forward; for his visionary offense, his one-in and four-out, and I’m talking about people not advocating for Mike and had no idea where I was in the search and who talked about there’s no better mind in the NBA than Mike Woodson and it hit me as we were looking for the future, that was very important.
The final piece, obviously the most important, I wanted a partner who shared the same vision and passion and plan moving forward, because I think it’s all about the plan. It was clear that Mike was the right choice. He checked those boxes among all others.
Baylor beats Arkansas 81-72 for first Final Four in 71 years
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Baylor had been on the cusp of the Final Four twice before under coach Scott Drew, falling to the eventual champion both times.
These Bears have a different kind of swagger to them, a confidence with the skill to back it up.
Now their long Final Four wait is over.
Baylor is headed there for the first time in 71 years, getting 22 points from MaCio Teague and a dominating defensive performance from Davion Mitchell to beat Arkansas 81-72 on Monday night.
“Just pure joy, excitement,” Drew said. “It was an emotional game, but seeing our guys have a chance to cut down the nets, it doesn’t get much better than that.”
The South Region final was a reunion of former Southwest Conference programs aiming to join another (Houston) in the Final Four.
The top-seeded Bears (26-2) appeared to be barreling toward ending their Final Four drought with a dominating start.
The Razorbacks (25-7), who know a bit about March comebacks, revved up the Mus Bus after some early sputtering, trimming an 18-point lead down to four.
Mitchell and Teague stiff-armed them from there.
Mitchell, back after early foul trouble, led the charge as Arkansas missed 12 straight shots. Teague hit the two biggest shots of the night, a pair of 3-pointers to put it out of reach.
Now it’s on to the Final Four on Saturday against the Cougars in an all-Texas side of the bracket.
“What we did is history,” Teague said. “I’m really happy for Coach Drew. He’s spent a lot of time, dedication, blood, sweat and tears into this program.”
Arkansas had rallied from double-digit deficits twice in the NCAA Tournament and appeared as if it would make it another after its early struggles.
The Razorbacks didn’t have enough left against the high-octane Bears, coming up one game short of their first Final Four in 26 years
JD Notae and Davonte Davis had 14 apiece for Arkansas.
“The effort when we got down, we could have hung our heads, but we played really hard,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “We played extremely hard, but lacked some scoring at times and defensively they hit some tough shots on us.”
The expected fast-twitch South Region final was going to be a drought-ender, just a matter of how long.
The Razorbacks had not clawed this far down the bracket since playing in the 1995 national title game. Musselman has put them in hyper drive during his two seasons, conjuring up the kind of excitement not seen in Fayetteville since the Nolan Richardson “40 Minutes of Hell” days.
Houston tops Oregon State, reaches 1st Final Four since ’84
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Kelvin Sampson stood atop a ladder and yanked loose the remnants of the net from the rim. He turned toward the red-clad Houston fans and started pumping his right fist, the net clutched in that hand the entire time.
Years of building a once-proud program back to prominence, of putting together a formula that was about way more than flashy offense – it all led to this breakthrough moment for Sampson and the Cougars.
Yes, Houston is going back to the Final Four for the first time since the famed “Phi Slama Jama” era after Monday night’s 67-61 win against Oregon State.
“I always thought we could,” Sampson said, “but we had to climb the ladder.”
It was never supposed to be easy to get the second-seeded Cougars (28-3) back into the Final Four for the first time in 37 years, Sampson said. And his team proved him right, blowing a 17-point lead before preventing the 12th-seeded Beavers from adding one more surprising result to a Midwest Region bracket beset by upsets.
Quentin Grimes hit a 3-pointer with 3:21 left to break a 55-all tie, a shot from near the top of the arc that finally steadied the Cougars. And Houston knocked down enough free throws late while holding Oregon State without a basket during a critical 3 1/2 minutes.
That sent the Cougars on to the national semifinals to face Baylor.
Houston shot 29% after halftime and 32% for the game. Yet the performance exemplified the program’s rugged defense-first identity, which had carried the Cougars as far as the Sweet 16 once before in Sampson’s first six seasons.
“This is one of the greatest accomplishments I’ve been around,” Sampson said. “And I have this group of players and this staff … to thank for it. I’m glad they let me go along on the ride with them. It’s been a fun ride with this group.”
Marcus Sasser scored 20 points to lead Houston while Grimes added 18. Fittingly, it was DeJon Jarreau – the American Athletic Conference’s defensive player of the year who led the effort that stymied Oregon State star Ethan Thompson – who was named the most outstanding player of the Midwest Region.
Jarreau finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists two days after flirting with another triple-double and shutting down Syracuse’s Buddy Boeheim in the Sweet 16.
Maurice Calloo scored 13 points to lead Oregon State (20-13), which was vying to become the worst-seeded team ever to make a Final Four – and to extend a remarkable postseason run for a team that was picked to finish last in the Pac-12. The Beavers dug a 34-17 hole at halftime, then climbed all the way back only to see Grimes put the Cougars back in front.
“It was right there within our grasp with the effort we showed in the second half,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. “Really proud of this group. We got every single ounce out of them.”
This will be Houston’s first Final Four since Hakeem Olajuwon and coach Guy Lewis led the Cougars to the 1984 title game, in which they lost to Patrick Ewing and Georgetown. When this one was over, Houston’s players sprinted to midcourt to celebrate, then migrated to the corner of the court near the Houston fan section and started jumping around – and on top of each other – in a celebratory mob.
Jarreau shared a long embrace with Sampson at midcourt.
“The story’s still being written,” Jarreau said. “And we’re in the Final Four now.”
UConn reaches 13th straight Final Four, beating Baylor 69-67
SAN ANTONIO (AP) It took a great game from phenomenal freshman Paige Bueckers and a last-second stop with a disputed non-foul call to keep UConn’s run of Final Four appearances going.
Bueckers scored 28 points and top seed UConn used a huge run spanning the final two quarters to beat No. 2 Baylor 69-67 on Monday night and reach a 13th consecutive Final Four in the women’s NCAA Tournament.
“Each year that we do it, I still can’t believe it,” said UConn coach Geno Auriemma, who was showered by his team with confetti after the game.
UConn has made the national semifinals every season since 2008 and won six titles during that span. The Huskies will face Arizona on Friday night. The Wildcats are playing in their first Final Four after beating Indiana.
Bueckers was 6 years old when UConn started its run of appearances in the national semifinals.
“To be part of that history is wild,” Bueckers said. “It’s why I came here. … Saw that as a young kid, wanted to be a part of that. It’s surreal.”
The Huskies (28-1) trailed 55-45 late in the third quarter before scoring 19 consecutive points, including 10 by Bueckers, who became the third first-year player to make first-team All-America.
“Paige got that look in her eye, started getting some buckets. And when Paige is scoring, the rest of the team really gains a lot of confidence,” Auriemma said. “Our defense got just really good at the end, and we got some great stops.”
Baylor (28-3) wouldn’t go away as Bueckers went cold in the final minutes. Trailing 64-55, NaLyssa Smith, an All-American herself, ended the Lady Bears’ drought with 6:47 left and sparked a 12-4 burst that got Baylor within one after DiJonai Carrington converted two free throws with 19.3 seconds left.
After a timeout, Baylor fouled Christyn Williams, who missed both free throws to give the Lady Bears one last chance.
Carrington, who finished with 22 points, drove the lane to the left and missed a contested jumper from the baseline where a foul could have been called, but wasn’t.
“I personally don’t see it as a controversial call. I’ve seen the replay, and one girl fouled me in my face and one girl fouled me in my arm,” Carrington said. “So, at that point you can’t do anything else. We drew up a play, (Smith) got fouled posting up and I got fouled driving. Nothing we could really do about that situation in particular. But, you know, turn the page.”
LeBron James even tweeted that a foul should have been called. Baylor coach Kim Mulkey agreed.
“I’ve got still shots and video from two angles. One kid hits her in the face and one kid hits her on the elbow,” Mulkey said.
Williams corralled the rebound and was fouled with 0.8 seconds left. She hit one of the free throws before Bueckers stole the inbounds pass at the buzzer.
No team has played UConn tougher over the last decade than Baylor, with each team winning four of the matchups. The Lady Bears (28-3) had won the previous two, including a 74-58 win at Connecticut in January of 2020.
They were supposed to meet this past January, but Mulkey came down with COVID-19 around Christmas and the game was canceled.
The game got off to a fast start for UConn, which jumped out to a 16-4 lead behind Bueckers. But Baylor was just getting going. The Lady Bears closed the action-packed first quarter with a 20-10 run and trailed 26-24 after one.
“It seemed like for long stretches there, I just thought we were being manhandled there. They’re bigger, quicker, faster, stronger,” Auriemma said. “But we got a couple of key stops when we had to.”
The offense slowed down in the second quarter. There were 11 blocks combined in the first half, including seven by Baylor, which led 39-37 at the break.
Carrington provided a huge spark off the bench, scoring 14 points to go along with two steals and a block in the opening 20 minutes.
Baylor went on a 10-2 run in the third quarter to push ahead 55-45. Then UConn took over, scoring the final eight points of the period after Lady Bears point guard DiDi Richards injured her hamstring when dribbling down the court and exited the game.
“We were up 10 at that point,” Mulkey said. “Had to be a hamstring. Swung the whole momentum.”
Williams and Bueckers highlighted an 8-0 spurt that made it a two-point game heading into the fourth quarter, when Richards returned only briefly.
Williams finished with 21 points and Evina Westbrook had 11, combining with fellow guard Bueckers for 60 of the Huskies’ points as the Lady Bears neutralized UConn’s front court.
McDonald powers Arizona past Indiana and into Final Four
SAN ANTONIO (AP) Arizona asks Aari McDonald to do just about everything for the Wildcats. And just about every game, she delivers all she’s got.
McDonald scored 33 points in a dizzying display of razzle-dazzle shot making and gutsy leadership in crunch time, carrying the No. 3 seed Wildcats to a 66-53 win over No. 4 seed Indiana on Monday night, sending Arizona to its first Final Four in women’s NCAA Tournament history.
“Just being a little player, I always play with a chip on my shoulder,” said McDonald, who stands just 5-foot-6 but used her small frame size to slip under and around Indiana defenders or shake them off the dribble.
“A lot of people say I’m too small. I’ll never do this, I’ll never do that. That drives me,” she said.
The Pac-12 player of the year controlled just about every Arizona possession, hitting the Hoosiers with slashing drives, timely rebounds and even a banked-in 3-pointer.
She briefly left the game with a twisted left ankle late in the fourth quarter, but had it taped up and limped back on the court to score six more points. Her three-point play with 34 seconds left put the exclamation point on the victory.
Arizona (20-5) advanced to Friday’s national semifinal against top-seeded UConn, which reached its 13th straight Final Four when it beat No. 2 seed Baylor earlier Monday.
Wildcats coach Adia Barnes, who led the Wildcats to the Sweet 16 as a point guard in 1998, is now the sixth coach to lead her alma mater to the women’s Final Four.
Barnes has said she took a risk when she returned to coach at Arizona five years ago, when it was one of the worst programs in the Pac-12. Then McDonald transferred from Washington and the two have been not-so-quietly building the program in the desert ever since.
“Aari, I asked her to do everything. She has done everything the whole time she’s been here,” Barnes. “And I’m proud of all of these young women around her. They fight and they play for her, and it’s just amazing.”
McDonald topped 30 points for the second straight tournament game. She scored 31 against Texas A&M two days earlier. Against the Hoosiers, she was 12-for-20 shooting and made 5 of 6 3-pointers.
“I always want to be better than I was the day before,” McDonald said.
History was going to be made whichever team won Monday night. The Hoosiers advanced past the Sweet 16 for the first time but their methodical, grinding game simply ran into a a player it couldn’t match for 40 minutes.
It worked for three quarters. After pulling back from an eight-point deficit in the third behind a workhorse night from Mackenzie Holmes in the post, the Hoosiers had tied it 48-48. But a scoring drought of more than three minutes kept them from making a charge in a game Indiana led only one minute of the second in the second quarter.
Holmes scored 20 and grabbed eight rebounds to lead Indiana (21-6), and the Hoosiers tried to use her presence in the post to control the game until the late scoring problems.
Arizona made consecutive 3-pointers in the middle of the fourth quarter, the latter from Helena Pueyo off a bullet pass from McDonald, for a 57-50 lead. Pueyo made two 3-pointers in the final quarter.
“I feel like we got some good looks, we couldn’t put an exclamation point on some of them,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “It was tough for us, but I feel like we gave it everything we got and we didn’t let up for one second. And that’s all I can ask for from my team.”
The tension of the biggest night in program history for both teams showed early in a timid, ragged start as the first 10 shots of the game misfired before McDonald finally got a short jumper to fall. Once McDonald started heating up, she scored 10 of Arizona’s first 14 points.
McDonald even grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds, including one she ripped from and Indiana player’s hands for a layup to close the third quarter.
“She’s an elite player and she stepped up big time,” Holmes said. “She got to the rim well, she can score on all three levels … We gave it our best shot, but she hit a lot of tough shots on us tonight.”
Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton agrees to extension
(AP) — Oklahoma State announced a seven-year contract extension with coach Mike Boynton on Monday, a deal that will increase his compensation to $3 million annually.
Boynton, 39, was set to make $1.85 million for this contract year, though he agreed to a 25% cut in September because the school was trying to trim costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new contract takes effect July 1.
Boynton has a 72-58 record in four years at Oklahoma State. This season, the Cowboys finished with a 21-9 record and won their first NCAA Tournament game since 2009. They ended the regular season with a final Associated Press ranking of No. 11 – the program’s best finish since 2005.
“This is a great day for Cowboy basketball,” athletic director Mike Holder said. “I’m reminded of Eddie Sutton’s first news conference in 1990 when he encouraged our fans to buy their tickets while they were still available. That was good advice in 1990 and it is good advice in 2021.”
Under Boynton’s guidance, point guard Cade Cunningham was named a first-team AP All-American, and he is projected to be a high NBA draft pick later this year. Though Cunningham is not expected to return next season, Boynton has pulled in strong recruiting classes the past two years that should keep the Cowboys competitive.
Westbrook records 16th triple-double, Wizards beat Pacers
WASHINGTON (AP) Russell Westbrook had 35 points, a season-high 21 assists and 14 rebounds for his NBA-leading 16th triple-double, helping the Washington Wizards to a 132-124 win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.
Westbrook also claimed the franchise career triple-double record in just his 38th game with the Wizards, this one coming while teammate and NBA leading scorer Bradley Beal sat out with a bruised hip. Darrell Walker had 15 triple-doubles in 283 games for Washington between 1987-1991.
“He does things that I’ve never seen,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Westbrook, whom he also previously coached in Oklahoma City. “He’s a winner, man. He fights. He’s not perfect, and a lot of times the geniuses want to look at the things that he doesn’t do well. But sometimes they forget about the other things that he does well.”
Rui Hachimura scored 26 points and Chandler Hutchison had 18 in his debut with the Wizards, who won their second straight after losing eight of nine.
“Russ had quite a (few) assists to me, so I’ve definitely got to get him some dinner or something,” Hutchison said of Westbrook.
Domantas Sabonis had 35 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who lost for the second time in six games.
Indiana entered in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, two games ahead of Chicago for the 10th and final play-in spot. The Pacers are now four games ahead of the Wizards, who began the day in 13th.
Malcolm Brogdon added 26 points for Indiana, which was outrebounded 55-37.
“Not good enough,” Brogdon said of the team performance. “They played harder. They made more shots and got more stops.”
Neither team led by more than six points until late in the final quarter.
Down six in the fourth, Westbrook and the Wizards outscored the Pacers 22-8 over the last 5:47, a stretch that began with a 13-0 run.
MLB to relax virus protocols when 85% on field vaccinated
NEW YORK (AP) Card games, car pools and eating at restaurants may be back in the major leagues later this season. Trips to church and sponsor events may return, too.
Mask use would be dropped from dugouts and bullpens, and electronic tracing devices would be eliminated when 85% of major league players and primary field staff are vaccinated. Communal clubhouse video would return before and after games. Pool tables would be restored, along with team saunas.
A three-page memorandum from Major League Baseball and the players’ association sent to players and staff on Monday and obtained by The Associated Press also stated “all players and staff are strongly encouraged to receive one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines when eligible.”
“For purposes of this memo, individuals are considered `fully vaccinated’ two weeks after receiving their second dose of a two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) or two weeks after their first dose of a single dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson),” the memo stated.
Not many players have been vaccinated, according to MLB, but it expects the pace to increase after teams return to their home cities from spring training. Opening day is Thursday.
MLB’s Tier 1 restrictions in place since last summer cover players, managers, coaches, bullpen catchers, team physicians, athletic trainers, physical therapists, and strength and conditioning coaches.
While clubhouse video rules would loosen before and after games, in-game use will remain covered by rules restricting in-game use to MLB-issued iPads with catcher’s signals blocked, regulations put in place in response to the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.
Once the 85% threshold is reached, fully vaccinated players and staff would be able to eat and drink on flights. They would be able to gather in indoor spaces such as hotels without masks or social distancing as long as non-vaccinated people aren’t present, and they would be able to carpool or use Uber or Lyft. The relaxation would not apply to gatherings in group facilities at ballparks, such as clubhouses.
Fully vaccinated people who have close contact with someone with COVID-19 would not have to quarantine unless they exhibit systems.
Vaccinated players and staff would have the option to reduce PCR saliva testing to twice weekly, similar to Tier 2 staff, such as front office and clubhouse employees, owners and groundskeepers.
Family members who are fully vaccinated and minor children who are not vaccinated would be able to stay with players and staff in hotel rooms during road trips, though MLB and the union cautioned that the Centers for Disease Control advised not to use commercial travel and to stay home unless necessary. Families also would be able to sit anywhere in ballparks and not be restricted to pods, subject to local laws and policies.
Players and staff would be able to meet outdoors with anyone on road trips, eliminating the restriction limiting them to household and family. They also would no longer be required to let club compliance officers know when they are leaving team hotels, and they would be allowed to stay at personal homes on road trips without a need for family quarantines or testing.
While attending religious services would be allowed, attending outdoor services would be encouraged.
Indians manager Terry Francona, who recently received his second vaccine, was pleased there weren’t many issues associated with the coronavirus during camp.
No Odor on Rangers in ’21; team moving on from longtime 2B
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Rougned Odor, the Texas Rangers’ starting second baseman the past seven seasons, has been told he won’t be on the opening day roster after switching to third base this spring, the team said Monday.
President of baseball operations Jon Daniels said the Rangers don’t have an everyday role for Odor. The 27-year-old infielder has two more seasons and $24.6 million left on his six-year contract, and a $3 million buyout for a $13.5 million team option in 2023.
“I think really what it came down to was we’ve made a decision, obviously a pretty clear direction looking towards the future. And playing him every day was not in our plans this year,” Daniels said. “As we look forward, we think we’re going to have some younger players coming up. And we didn’t think it was in his best interest or our best interest to kind of force the issue into a bench role.”
The Rangers didn’t immediately designate Odor for assignment, with the team exploring a possible trade before having to officially submit its roster prior to Thursday’s season opener. Daniels said he wasn’t necessarily expecting to find a fit for a trade, and that the team didn’t ask Odor about going to the minor leagues.
Daniels said veteran infielders Brock Holt, who grew up a Rangers fan, and Charlie Culberson would both make the team after coming to camp as non-roster invitees. Nick Solak will be the starting second baseman.
Odor led Texas with 30 RBIs in 38 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and matched Joey Gallo with a team-best 10 homers. But Odor hit only .167, with seven of his 11 hits in September being homers, while striking out 47 times in 138 at-bats. He hit .205 in a full 2019 season. In 858 games for the Rangers since his debut in 2014, he hit .237 with 146 homers and 458 RBIs.
Ex-Browns coach Hue Jackson says team lied about rebuild
CLEVELAND (AP) Former Browns coach Hue Jackson said owner Jimmy Haslam gave him a contract extension midway through a winless 2017 season and that he was lied to from the start about the team’s rebuilding plans.
During a wide-ranging radio interview Monday with ESPN 850, Jackson said the Browns’ efforts to improve while he was with them were flawed by philosophical differences.
Jackson said he was never told by either Haslam or then-general manager Sashi Brown that the Browns were in a roster teardown or else he wouldn’t have accepted the job. He was Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator before being hired in Cleveland, where he went 0-16 in his second season and 3-36-1 over two-plus seasons before being fired.
“There is no doubt I was lied to by ownership and the executive team,” Jackson said, adding there was a divide between the coaching staff and management.
“They were going to be football plus analytics, but they intentionally made it football versus analytics,” he said. “They were going to take two years and they were going to find a way to use us as an experiment to make sure that they got the data that they needed for it to get better – at the expense of whoever – and that’s not right.
“That’s not the way it should be.”
A team spokesman said the Browns would not comment on Jackson’s claims.
Jackson said he signed a contract extension midway through the 2017 season – he was 1-23 at the time with Cleveland – and wanted to make it public, but the team refused.
“I think we can all understand and think why it was not made public,” he said. “Because it would’ve really set the tempo for what exactly was going on there.”
The 55-year-old said he’s writing a book about his time with the Browns. The team went 1-15 in Jackson’s first season, winless the second – joining the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go 0-16 – and he was dismissed after a 2-5-1 start in 2018.
But, as far as he’s concerned, there’s plenty of blame to share.
“I want to make sure everybody knows and understands exactly what went on in Cleveland,” Jackson said. “The truth needs to come out. I am tired of being the brunt of jokes and memes and things that people say when they don’t know.”
Jackson, who is currently out of the NFL, said his chances to win in Cleveland were undermined by the team’s overreliance on statistical data and dismal drafting. He said the team “also lied to try and paint the picture that I was against analytics.”
“People need to go back and look at those drafts and see where those players are today,” he said. “That should tell you all you need to know. They’re not on this team. They haven’t been. Some of them aren’t even in the league, but we were were expected to win.
“You can’t win that way.”
Jackson understands that the team’s win-loss record goes next to his name in the record books. But he feels others, including Paul DePodesta, the Browns’ chief strategy officer, and current GM Andrew Berry, who was in player personnel with the club when he was there, also are culpable.
“I’ll take responsibility for my role in it, but why isn’t everybody else taking their responsibility for it?” he said. “There’s people that are leading the organization today in Cleveland that was just as big a part of that as I was. And those guys are getting paid for doing that. So obviously they were paid for losing. Is that what we’re saying?
“I’m vilified about losing. This is a joke to me.”
Chiefs bolster pass rush with deal for tackle Jarran Reed
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs and defensive tackle Jarran Reed agreed to a $5 million, one-year contract that could be worth up to $7 million and gives the AFC champions another interior pass rusher to play alongside Chris Jones.
The deal was reached late Sunday and represents another big step toward improving the Chiefs’ meager pass rush.
The 28-year-old Reed was a second-round pick by the Seahawks in the 2016 draft. He’s spent his entire career in Seattle, where he had a reputation as a run-stuffer but showed he could get to the quarterback. Reed had 10 1/2 sacks in 2018 and and 6 1/2 sacks last season.
He also was suspended the first six games of the 2019 season in connection with an alleged domestic disturbance.
The NBA will hold the 2021 draft on July 29, the league announced Monday.
The draft lottery has been penciled in for June 22, with the annual combine set for June 21-27.
A July 29 draft represents a slight return to the league’s traditional calendar. The event is usually held in late June, but last year’s selection was ultimately postponed five months to Nov. 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also held virtually from ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Connecticut, as opposed to Brooklyn’s Barclays Arena, which housed the draft in front of a packed crowd from 2013-19.
It’s unclear where the NBA intends to stage the 2021 draft. It also isn’t clear if the league intends to revert to a conventional in-person combine after the pandemic forced a virtual experience in 2020.
The Minnesota Timberwolves won last year’s draft lottery after finishing the year with the third-worst record and eventually selected Georgia standout Anthony Edwards first overall. They shared the best odds at landing the No. 1 pick (14%) with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.
Minnesota is again in the mix for the top pick, owning the worst record in the league so far in 2020-21. The Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons would also each have a 14% chance at landing the No. 1 pick if the current standings held for the rest of the season.
Griffin amused by gripes over Nets signings: ‘All I’ve heard is how bad I am’
Blake Griffin feels both he and the Brooklyn Nets have been the subject of some inconsistent criticism.
After Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge signed minimum deals with Brooklyn following individual buyouts with their former teams, some have raised concerns that the Nets – who already had three MVP-caliber stars in James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant – benefitted unfairly from an inexpensive buyout market.
But Griffin said he’s now being appreciated by the same people who recently ripped his game.
“It’s kind of funny to me because for the last couple years, all I’ve heard is how bad I am,” the 32-year-old said Monday, according to the New York Post’s Brian Lewis. “You sign with this team, and everybody’s like, ‘That’s not fair!’ People say whatever they want. I don’t put a whole lot of value in other people’s opinions.
“I trust the people I trust. If I don’t go to you for advice, then I’m probably not going to take your criticism. … I just think it’s funny. I guess you could say it’s amusing. I can’t speak for LaMarcus; I don’t know what people have been saying about him. That’s how I felt when I came here. I was hearing how bad I was, and now people care for some reason.”
Griffin averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists while hitting just 31.5% of his threes in 20 games with the Pistons this season – a steep decline from the 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 36.2% 3-point percentage he posted during his first full year with Detroit in 2018-19.
But some NBA executives have apparently taken issue with contenders like the Nets and Los Angeles Lakers being in favorable positions to sign significant players for small sums on the buyout market; the Lakers were able to add Andre Drummond after the Cleveland Cavaliers bought out the center, giving them a frontcourt stopgap with Anthony Davis and LeBron James injured.
Shanahan: Garoppolo ‘wasn’t totally excited’ about trade for No. 3 pick
Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t thrilled when the San Francisco 49ers informed him they were trading up for the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, likely to select another quarterback.
“Obviously, no one wants to hear that,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said Monday, according to Cam Inman of the Mercury News. “He wasn’t totally excited about it, as you’d expect. This doesn’t change any of our circumstances right now. We’ve got a real good team.”
The 49ers pulled the trigger on a pre-draft blockbuster last week, sending four picks – including this year’s No. 12 pick and a pair of future first-rounders – to the Miami Dolphins for the third overall selection.
“We felt very strongly we’d get left at the altar at 12,” Shanahan said in reference to the top quarterback prospects, according to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner.
Concerns about Garoppolo’s ceiling and durability seemingly led 49ers general manager John Lynch to make his most significant trade since he acquired Garoppolo from the New England Patriots in 2017.
Lynch confirmed reports that the team doesn’t intend to trade Garoppolo, saying the 29-year-old passer “very much is still part of our plans.” Garoppolo led the 49ers to an appearance in Super Bowl LIV and owns a 22-8 record as San Francisco’s starter.
The No. 3 pick should give the 49ers their choice of Ohio State’s Justin Fields, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, and Alabama’s Mac Jones. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are expected to go first and second overall, respectively.
Lynch and Shanahan are scheduled to attend Alabama’s pro day Tuesday instead of Ohio State’s, but they said they’ll schedule another pro day with Fields before the draft.
Meyer: Drafting Lawrence at No. 1 ‘the direction we’re headed’
The NFL generally likes to maintain the mystery surrounding the No. 1 pick in the draft, but Urban Meyer isn’t pretending the Jacksonville Jaguars’ sights aren’t firmly set on Trevor Lawrence.
“I’d have to say that’s the direction we’re going,” the head coach told Peter King of NBS Sports. “I’ll leave that up to the owner when we make that decision official. But I’m certainly not stepping out of line that that’s certainly the direction we’re headed.”
Lawrence has been pegged as the top selection ever since he led Clemson to a national title in spectacular fashion during the 2018 season. With the Jaguars in dire need of a franchise quarterback, most believe the team will draft the former Tigers standout over the likes of Zach Wilson and Justin Fields.
“Trevor checks all the boxes, you know,” Meyer said. “The No. 1 common quality of every great player, not just quarterback, is competitive maniac. He’s 34-2; won a national title as a true freshman; is a winner. I’ve seen him up close and in person compete.
“And then character. I see him and I witness with my players, when the guys get drafted high, a lot of people get … They have influences in their life. Like, whether it be social media, whether it be other things that really don’t pertain to winning. What I’m really pleased with, and I don’t want to say surprised, but him, his agent, his family, they’re focused on one thing. He wants to become the best version of himself for the National Football League, which is, well, it is somewhat refreshing.”
Lawrence reportedly declined the NFL’s invitation to attend the draft in Cleveland on April 29, instead opting to watch the event with family and friends in Clemson, South Carolina.
The 21-year-old is currently rehabbing from left shoulder surgery he underwent Feb. 16. He is set to begin throwing again sometime in April and is expected to be ready for the start of offseason workouts.
Lawrence completed 69.2% of his passes for 3,153 yards and 24 touchdowns against five interceptions in his final season at Clemson.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL SEASON PREVIEWS:
National League East Preview Capsules
2020: 35-25, first place, lost to Dodgers in NL Championship Series.
Manager: Brian Snitker (sixth season).
He’s Here: RHP Charlie Morton, LHP Drew Smyly, RHP Carl Edwards Jr., SS Ehire Adrianza, 3B Jake Lamb, 2B Jason Kipnis, OF Guillermo Heredia, OF Phillip Ervin.
He’s Outta Here: OF Nick Markakis, OF Adam Duvall, INF Charlie Culberson, RHP Mike Foltynewicz, RHP Mark Melancon, C Tyler Flowers, RHP Shane Greene, RHP Darren O’Day, RHP Jhoulys Chacin, INF Adeiny Hechavarria, LHP Cole Hamels.
Projected Lineup: CF Ronald Acuña Jr. (.250, 14 HRs, 29 RBIs, 8 SBs), 2B Ozzie Albies (.271, 6, 19), 1B Freddie Freeman (.341, 13, 53, .462 OBP, NL MVP), LF Marcell Ozuna (.338, 18, 56, .431 OBP), C Travis d’Arnaud (.321, 9, 34), 3B Austin Riley (.239, 8, 27), SS Dansby Swanson (.274, 10, 35), CF Cristian Pache (.278, 11, 53 with Double-A Mississippi in 2019).
Rotation: LH Max Fried (7-0, 2.25 ERA), RH Charlie Morton (2-2, 4.74 with Rays; 3-1, 2.70 in postseason), RH Ian Anderson (3-2, 1.95), LH Drew Smyly (0-1, 3.42 with Giants), RH Kyle Wright (2-4, 5.21), RH Mike Soroka (0-1, 3.95, likely to begin season on injured list completing recovery from torn Achilles).
Key Relievers: LH Will Smith (2-2, 4.50, 7 HRs in 16 IP), RH Chris Martin (1-1, 1.00, 1 save), LH Tyler Matzek (4-3, 2.79, 43 Ks in 29 IP), LH A.J. Minter (1-1, 0.83), RH Luke Jackson (2-0, 6.84), RH Jacob Webb (0 ERs in 10 IP), RH Bryse Wilson (1-0, 4.02, 1 save).
Outlook: Even though the rest of the NL East bulked up, the Braves show no signs of slipping after winning three straight division titles. They finally won a postseason series — two of them, in fact — to break a drought going back to 2001. Then, the Braves came within one win of the World Series, taking a 3-1 lead in the NL Championship Series before the Dodgers rallied to win the last three games. That bitter disappointment only strengthened the Braves’ resolve; this season, it’s World Series or bust. Atlanta moved aggressively to bolster its thin rotation by signing veterans Morton and Smyly to one-year contracts. When Soroka (a 13-game winner and All-Star in 2019) is fully recovered, the rotation could be one of baseball’s best. Fried was fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting, while Anderson also has the makings of a future ace after a stellar rookie campaign. The hitters are a dynamic group, as well, with MVP Freeman and Ozuna providing a powerful 1-2 punch in the middle of the lineup. If Acuña recaptures the form he showed in 2019, when he had 41 homers and 37 stolen bases, the Braves will have three of the game’s most feared offensive players. The only major question mark is the bullpen, where the Braves must find a replacement for Melancon’s 11 saves. No one in the current bullpen had more than one save in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, though Smith is a former closer for the Giants.
2020: 31-29, second place.
Manager: Don Mattingly (sixth season).
They’re Here: GM Kim Ng, OF Adam Duvall, RHP Anthony Bass, LHP Gio Gónzalez, RHP John Curtiss, RHP Adam Cimber, LHP Ross Detwiler, C Sandy Leon.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Jose Urena, RHP Brandon Kintzler, LF Matt Joyce, RHP Drew Steckenrider, C Francisco Cervelli, RHP Brad Boxberger, LHP Stephen Tarpley, RHP Robert Dugger, RHP Ryne Stanek, RHP Nick Vincent, RHP Jordan Yamamoto, RHP Johan Quezada.
Projected Lineup: CF Starling Marté (.281, 6 HRs, 27 RBIs with Diamondbacks and Marlins), LF Corey Dickerson (.258, 7, 17), 1B Jesús Aguilar (.277, 8, 34), RF Adam Duvall (.237, 16, 33, .833 OPS with Braves), 3B Brian Anderson (.255, 11, 38), 2B Jazz Chisholm (.161, 2, 6) or Isan Díaz (.182, 0, 1 in 7 games), C Jorge Alfaro (.226, 3, 16), SS Miguel Rojas (.304, 4, 20, .888 OPS).
Rotation: RH Sandy Alcantara (3-2, 3.00 ERA), RH Pablo López (6-4, 3.61, 59 Ks), RH Elieser Hernández (1-0, 3.16 in 6 starts), RH Sixto Sánchez (3-2, 3.46), LH Trevor Rogers (1-2, 6.11 in 7 starts).
Key Relievers: RH Anthony Bass (2-3, 3.51, 7 saves for Blue Jays), RH Yimi García (3-0, 0.60, 1 save), RH Dylan Floro (3-0, 2.59), RH James Hoyt (2-0, 1.23), LH Ross Detwiler (1-1, 3.20 with White Sox), RH John Curtiss (3-0, 1.80, 2 saves with Rays), RH Adam Cimber (0-1, 3.97 with Indians), LH Richard Bleier (1-1, 2.16 with Orioles and Marlins).
Outlook: After a surprising run to their first playoff berth in 17 years, the Marlins are widely projected to backslide and finish below .500 this season. They could exceed expectations if one or more of their hitting prospects breaks out. Pitching is the team’s strength, thanks to a group of eight starters all 26 or younger. Sánchez and Edward Cabrera are considered potential future aces, and 2020 first-round draft pick Max Meyer could crack the rotation later this year. Small crowds will be back at Marlins Park, with attendance initially limited to about 25% capacity, or around 9,300 spectators.
2020: 28-32, third place.
Manager: Joe Girardi (second season).
He’s Here: RHP Archie Bradley, RHP Chase Anderson, LHP Matt Moore, LHP Jose Alvarado, RHP Sam Coonrod, INF C.J. Chatham, RHP Brandon Kintzler, OF Matt Joyce, LHP Tony Watson.
He’s Outta Here: OF Jay Bruce, RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Brandon Workman, INF Phil Gosselin, RHP Heath Hembree, RHP David Phelps, RHP Blake Parker, LHP Adam Morgan, LHP Cole Irvin, OF Kyle Garlick, RHP Victor Arano.
Projected Lineup: LF Andrew McCutchen (.253, 10 HRs, 34 RBIs), 1B Rhys Hoskins (.245, 10, 26), RF Bryce Harper (.268, 13, 33, .420 OBP), C J.T. Realmuto (.266, 11, 32), SS Didi Gregorius (.284, 10, 40), 3B Alec Bohm (.338, 4, 23), SS Jean Segura (.266, 7, 25), CF Odubel Herrera (.222, 1, 16 in 2019) or Scott Kingery (.159, 3, 6).
Rotation: RH Aaron Nola (5-5, 3.28 ERA, 96 Ks in 71 1/3 IP), RH Zack Wheeler (4-2, 2.92), RH Zach Eflin (4-2, 3.97), RH Chase Anderson (1-2, 7.22 for Toronto), LH Matt Moore (6-3, 2.65 in Japan).
Key Relievers: RH Archie Bradley (2-0, 2.95, 6/7 saves for Arizona and Cincinnati), RH Hector Neris (2-2, 4.57, 5/8 saves), LH Jose Alvarado (0-0, 6.00), RH Brandon Kintzler (2-3, 2.22, 12/14 saves for Miami), LH Tony Watson (1-0, 2.50, 2 saves), RH Connor Brogdon (1-0, 3.97).
Outlook: Seeking their first winning season since 2011, the Phillies are determined to end a nine-year postseason drought. They have a strong offense that tied for fifth in scoring last season and returns everyone in the starting lineup. Harper, Realmuto and Gregorius anchor the middle of a deep batting order. Nola and Wheeler are a formidable 1-2 punch atop the rotation and Eflin is solid in the No. 3 spot. Anderson and Moore strengthen the back end with top prospect Spencer Howard providing depth. A dismal bullpen that had a 7.06 ERA is much improved with the additions of Bradley, Alvarado, Kintzler and Watson. Girardi hasn’t named a closer but has several options. If key players stay healthy, the offense lives up to expectations and the pitchers perform well, a return to October baseball is a realistic possibility. The Phillies will allow up to 8,800 fans to attend games at the start of the season.
New York Mets
2020: 26-34, tied for fourth place.
Manager: Luis Rojas (second season).
He’s Here: SS Francisco Lindor, RHP Carlos Carrasco, C James McCann, RHP Marcus Stroman, RHP Taijuan Walker, RHP Trevor May, LHP Aaron Loup, LHP Joey Lucchesi, OF Kevin Pillar, INF Jonathan Villar, OF Albert Almora Jr., RHP Jordan Yamamoto, OF/1B José Martínez, RHP Jacob Barnes, LHP Stephen Tarpley, LHP Mike Montgomery, RHP Tommy Hunter, RHP Sean Reid-Foley, RHP Yennsy Díaz, RHP Sam McWilliams, OF Khalil Lee, RHP Arodys Vizcaíno, LHP Jerry Blevins, INF/OF José Peraza, OF Mallex Smith, RHP Jerad Eickhoff, INF/OF Brandon Drury, SS Wilfredo Tovar, owner Steve Cohen, president Sandy Alderson, acting GM Zack Scott.
He’s Outta Here: GM Brodie Van Wagenen, 2B Robinson Canó, C Wilson Ramos, SS Amed Rosario, INF Andrés Giménez, RHP Rick Porcello, RHP Michael Wacha, LHP Justin Wilson, LHP Steven Matz, LHP Chasen Shreve, OF Jake Marisnick, RHP Brad Brach, 3B Todd Frazier, OF Yoenis Céspedes, C Robinson Chirinos, OF Guillermo Heredia, RHP Jared Hughes, INF Eduardo Núñez, C René Rivera, RHP Erasmo Ramírez, RHP Paul Sewald, RHP Hunter Strickland, RHP Ariel Jurado, C Ali Sánchez, OF Ryan Cordell, INF Jed Lowrie.
Projected Lineup: CF Brandon Nimmo (.280, 8 HRs, 18 RBIs, .404 OBP, .888 OPS), SS Francisco Lindor (.258, 8, 27, .750 OPS with Cleveland), RF Michael Conforto (.322, 9, 31, .927), 1B Pete Alonso (.231, 16, 35, .817 OPS), LF Dominic Smith (.316, 10, 42, .993 OPS), 2B Jeff McNeil (.311, 4, 23, .836 OPS), 3B J.D. Davis (.247, 6, 19, .761 OPS), C James McCann (.289, 7, 15, .896 OPS with White Sox).
Rotation: RH Jacob deGrom (4-2, 2.38 ERA, NL-high 104 Ks, 18 BBs, 68 IP), RH Marcus Stroman (did not pitch last season; 10-13, 3.22, 184 1/3 IP with Blue Jays and Mets in 2019), RH Carlos Carrasco (3-4, 2.91, 82 Ks, 68 IP for Cleveland; will miss start of season with injury), RH Taijuan Walker (4-3, 2.70 with Seattle and Toronto), LH David Peterson (6-2, 3.44 as rookie) or LH Joey Lucchesi (0-1, 7.94, 5 2/3 IP with Padres) or RH Jordan Yamamoto (0-1, 18.26, 8 HRs, 11 1/3 IP with Miami).
Key Relievers: RH Edwin Díaz (2-1, 1.75, 6/10 saves, 50 Ks, 25 2/3 IP), RH Trevor May (1-0, 3.86, 2 saves, 38 Ks, 7 BBs, 5 HRs, 23 1/3 IP with Minnesota), RH Seth Lugo (3-4, 5.15, 3 saves, 47 Ks, 10 BBs, 8 HRs, 36 2/3 IP in 16 games, 7 starts), RH Jeurys Familia (2-0, 3.71, 19 BBs, 26 2/3 IP), RH Miguel Castro (2-2, 4.01, 1 save, 38 Ks, 24 2/3 IP with Orioles and Mets), RH Dellin Betances (0-1, 7.71, 12 BBs, 11 2/3 IP), LH Aaron Loup (3-2, 2.52, 22 Ks, 4 BBs, 25 IP with Rays).
Outlook: A whirlwind offseason began with Cohen buying the franchise from the Wilpon and Katz families for $2.42 billion in November. Cohen brought back Alderson, the Mets’ general manager from 2010-18, as team president and he immediately fired Van Wagenen and several top aides. Canó was then suspended for 162 games by Major League Baseball after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug for the second time in his career. He’ll sit out the entire season. Following a flurry of moves, the Mets have 18 newcomers on the 40-man roster. They focused on building depth and landed a big star in Lindor as the centerpiece of a blockbuster trade with Cleveland that netted Carrasco as well. The addition of McCann also makes a dangerous lineup even longer, but the Mets need to deliver in the clutch. They ranked second in the majors in on-base percentage last year and third in OPS, yet finished 13th in runs. The defense is shaky at several spots, and questions remain in middle relief. The rotation is led by deGrom, a two-time Cy Young Award winner and one of baseball’s most dominant arms. Stroman accepted an $18.9 million qualifying offer to return for one year after missing the start of last season with a calf injury and then opting out because of coronavirus concerns. The team hopes to get starter Noah Syndergaard back from Tommy John surgery in June, but the Mets’ new depth will be tested early. Carrasco will be sidelined for a while after tearing his right hamstring in spring training — he had already been slowed in camp by elbow soreness. That could open opportunities for Lucchesi and maybe even Yamamoto. Lugo is likely out until at least May following surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow. Martínez, a new bench bat, is expected to miss about four months with a knee injury. New York looks talented enough to end a four-year playoff drought, but it won’t be easy in a tough division ruled by three-time defending champion Atlanta. Expectations are high and there is pressure to win now. Lindor, Conforto, Syndergaard and Stroman can all become free agents after the season. Meanwhile, deGrom turns 33 in June and can opt out of his contract after 2022. The team is in talks with Lindor about a long-term deal, but he says he won’t negotiate during the season. Conforto could be on deck. Citi Field will welcome back fans at 20% capacity (capped at 8,492 seats) early in the season.
2020: 26-34, tied for fourth place.
Manager: Dave Martinez (fourth season).
He’s Here: 1B Josh Bell, LF Kyle Schwarber, LHP Brad Hand, LHP Jon Lester, C Alex Avila, C Welington Castillo, OF Gerardo Parra, LHP Sam Clay, 1B Ryan Zimmerman, RHP Joe Ross.
He’s Outta Here: INF Howie Kendrick, RF Adam Eaton, RHP Aníbal Sánchez, LHP Sean Doolittle, C Kurt Suzuki, CF Michael A. Taylor, 1B Eric Thames, INF Wilmer Difo, RHP Wil Crowe, RHP James Bourque, LHP Roenis Elías.
Projected Lineup: CF Victor Robles (.220, 3 HRs, 15 RBIs), RF Juan Soto (.351, 13, 37, 1.185 OPS), SS Trea Turner (.335, 12, 41, 12 SBs), 1B Josh Bell (.226, 8, 22 with Pirates), LF Kyle Schwarber (.188, 11, 24 with Cubs), 2B Starlin Castro (.267, 2, 4 in 16 games), C Yan Gomes (.284, 4, 13), 3B Carter Kieboom (.202, 0, 9).
Rotation: RH Max Scherzer (5-4, 3.74 ERA, 92 Ks, 67 1/3 innings), LH Patrick Corbin (2-7, 4.66), RH Stephen Strasburg (season-ending surgery after 5 innings in 2020; 18-6, 3.32 in 2019), LH Jon Lester (3-3, 5.16 with Cubs), RH Joe Ross (opted out in 2020; 4-4, 5.48 in 2019).
Key Relievers: LH Brad Hand (2-1, 2.05, AL-leading 16/16 saves with Indians), RH Daniel Hudson (3-2, 6.10, 10/15 saves), RH Will Harris (0-1, 3.06, 1 save), RH Tanner Rainey (1-1, 2.66), RH Wander Suero (2-0, 3.80).
Outlook: After a big step back from World Series champions in 2019 to tied for last place in the NL East in pandemic-shortened 2020, a lot of familiar faces are gone, and the Nationals are counting on their potentially best-in-baseball starting staff — if healthy — and a beefed up batting order to get them back to the postseason. The offense revolves around reigning NL batting champ Soto and Turner, both of whom Washington would love to sign to long-term deals, and the hope is the additions of — and bounce-backs by — Bell (via trade) and Schwarber (free agency) will offer help to the two holdover stars. Scherzer is entering the final season of his seven-year, $210 million deal and turns 37 in July, but still seems capable of the sort of form that earned three Cy Young Awards. Strasburg, the 2019 World Series MVP, will try to rebound after right wrist surgery; Lester is hoping the removal of a parathyroid gland in March will alleviate the sluggishness he felt in his last season with the Cubs. Hand helps the back end of a bullpen that already included a trio of potential closers in Hudson, Harris and Rainey. A big question mark is Kieboom, a first-round draft pick who has struggled at the plate in limited opportunities in the majors. Another is whether Robles can get on base enough to bat leadoff. Zimmerman, who transitions to a bench player and pinch hitter at age 36, and likely fifth starter Ross return after opting out of 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns. The D.C. city government cleared the way for 5,000 fans per game at Nationals Park; the team is hoping that number can increase at some point.
National League West Preview Capsules
Los Angeles Dodgers
2020: 43-17, first place, World Series champions.
Manager: Dave Roberts (sixth season).
He’s Here: RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Tommy Kahnle, LHP Garrett Cleavinger, RHP Corey Knebel, 3B Sheldon Neuse, RHP Gus Varland.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Pedro Báez, INF/OF Enrique Hernández, LF Joc Pederson, RHP Dylan Floro, LHP Adam Kolarek, LHP Jake McGee, RHP Josh Sborz, LHP Alex Wood, OF Terrance Gore.
Projected Lineup: RF Mookie Betts (.292, 16 HRs, 39 RBIs), SS Corey Seager (.307, 15, 41), 3B Justin Turner (.307, 4, 23), CF Cody Bellinger (.239, 12, 30), C Will Smith (.289, 8, 25), 1B Max Muncy (.192, 12, 27) or Edwin Ríos (.250, 8, 17), LF A.J. Pollock (.276, 16, 34) or Chris Taylor (.270, 8, 32), 2B Gavin Lux (.175, 3, 8) or Taylor.
Rotation: RH Trevor Bauer (5-4, 1.73 ERA, 100 Ks, 2 shutouts, NL Cy Young Award with Reds), RH Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.44), LH Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.16), LH David Price (opted out in 2020; 7-5, 4.28 in 2019 with Red Sox), LH Julio Urías (3-0, 3.27) or RH Dustin May (3-1, 2.57) or RH Tony Gonsolin (2-2, 2.31).
Key Relievers: RH Kenley Jansen (3-1, 3.33, 11/13 saves, 33 Ks in 24 1/3 IP), RH Brusdar Graterol (1-2, 3.09), RH Blake Treinen (3-3, 3.86), LH Víctor González (3-0, 1.33), RH Joe Kelly (0-0, 1.80), RH Tommy Kahnle (underwent Tommy John surgery with Yankees), RH Corey Knebel (0-0, 6.08 with Brewers).
Outlook: The roster boasts an enviable three MVPs and three Cy Young Award winners, making the Dodgers favorites to win a ninth straight NL West title, which would extend their franchise record. They open the season April 1 at Colorado, which starts a seven-game trip. They’ll celebrate their first World Series championship since 1988 in their home opener April 9 against Washington. It’s likely the team will be able to allow 25% capacity, or 11,000 fans, in attendance after local restrictions are eased. Price pitches for the Dodgers for the first time after opting out last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The club signed Bauer just before spring training, giving Los Angeles perhaps the best rotation in baseball and bulking up the staff for a full 162-game season after last year’s abbreviated 60-game campaign. Buehler, Kershaw and Bauer appear to be locks, with left-handers Price and Urías likely to fill out the rotation. However, Price has indicated he’s willing to do whatever is needed, including working out of the bullpen. He’s made 10 relief appearances in his career. The Dodgers shed some roster stalwarts in free agency, including Hernández, Pederson and Báez, and they re-signed Turner. The core offensive group returns, including Betts, Bellinger, Muncy and Seager, who was the NLCS and World Series MVP.
San Diego Padres
2020: 37-23, second place, lost to Dodgers in Division Series.
Manager: Jayce Tingler (second season).
He’s Here: RHP Yu Darvish, LHP Blake Snell, RHP Joe Musgrove, RHP Mark Melancon, 2B Kim Ha-seong, C Victor Caratini, RHP Keone Kela, INF/OF Brian O’Grady.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Kirby Yates, INF Greg Garcia, C Jason Castro, RHP Garrett Richards, 1B Mitch Moreland, RHP Luis Perdomo.
Projected Lineup: CF Trent Grisham (.251, 10 HRs, 26 RBIs), SS Fernando Tatis Jr. (.277, 17, 45), 3B Manny Machado (.304, 16, 47), 1B Eric Hosmer (.287, 9, 36), LF Tommy Pham (.211, 3, 12 in 31 games), RF Wil Myers (.288, 15, 40), 2B Jake Cronenworth (.285, 4, 20), C Austin Nola (.273, 7, 28 with Seattle and San Diego) or Victor Caratini (.241, 1, 16 with Cubs).
Rotation: RH Yu Darvish (8-3, 2.01 ERA with Cubs), LH Blake Snell (4-2, 3.24 with Rays), RH Joe Musgrove (1-5, 3.86 with Pirates), RH Chris Paddack (4-5, 4.73), LH Adrian Morejon (2-2, 4.66).
Key Relievers: LH Drew Pomeranz (1-0, 1.45, 4 saves) RH Emilio Pagán (0-1, 4.50, 2 saves), RH Mark Melancon (2-1, 2.78, 11 saves with Atlanta), RH Keone Kela (0-0, 4.50 in 3 games with Pittsburgh), RH Pierce Johnson (3-1, 2.70), RH Dan Altavilla (2-3, 5.75, 1 save with Seattle and San Diego), RH Craig Stammen (4-2, 5.63), RH Tim Hill (3-0, 4.50), RH Austin Adams (0-0, 4.50 in 3 games).
Outlook: This will be one of the most-anticipated seasons in San Diego history. Anchored by a star-studded infield featuring Tatis and Machado, the Padres ended a 13-year playoff drought and won a first-round series against St. Louis last season before being swept out of the Division Series by the rival Dodgers, who went on to win the World Series. The electrifying Tatis signed the longest contract in MLB history during spring training, a 14-year, $340 million deal. Tatis has hit full-blown superstar status on and off the field, including being selected as the cover athlete for the video game MLB The Show 21. The cover shows Tatis doing a bat flip after one of his two homers in Game 2 against the Cardinals. At 22, he’s the youngest player chosen for the cover. After running out of starting pitching in the playoffs and then losing Mike Clevinger to Tommy John surgery, general manager A.J. Preller quickly rebuilt the rotation with a flurry of blockbuster trades after Christmas that landed Darvish, Snell and local product Musgrove. It doesn’t appear Dinelson Lamet, who missed the playoffs with an arm injury, will be ready for the start of the season. He finished fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting. Last year’s opening day starter, Paddack, is looking for a bounce-back season. Fans will be eager to see how Kim, a slugger from South Korea, fits into the mix at second base, where Cronenworth played well enough to tie for second in NL Rookie of the Year balloting. The Padres hadn’t settled on a closer yet. Among the candidates were Pomeranz, Pagán, Melancon and Kela. Pham was stabbed during an altercation in a strip club parking lot in mid-October and required 200 stitches. San Diego re-signed Jurickson Profar, who played five positions last season.
San Francisco Giants
2020: 29-31, third place.
Manager: Gabe Kapler (second season).
He’s Here: C Buster Posey, LHP Alex Wood, RHP Anthony DeSclafani, RHP Aaron Sanchez, 2B Tommy La Stella, OF LaMonte Wade, LHP Jose Alvarez, RHP Dedniel Nunez, LHP Scott Kazmir, C Curt Casali.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Trevor Cahill, LHP Drew Smyly, LHP Tony Watson, RHP Sam Coonrod, LHP Andrew Suarez, RHP Shaun Anderson.
Projected Lineup: 3B Tommy La Stella (.281, 5 HRs, 25 RBIs with Angels and Athletics), RF Mike Yastrzemski (.297, 10, 35), 2B Donovan Solano (.326, 3, 29), LF Alex Dickerson (.298, 10, 27), C Buster Posey (sat out last season; .257, 7, 38 in 2019), 1B Brandon Belt (.309, 9, 30), SS Brandon Crawford (.256, 8, 28), CF Mauricio Dubon (.274, 4, 19).
Rotation: RH Kevin Gausman (3-3, 2.62 ERA), RH Johnny Cueto (2-3, 5.40), RH Anthony DeSclafani (1-2, 7.22 for Reds), RH Aaron Sanchez (5-14, 5.89 in 2019 for Blue Jays and Astros), LH Alex Wood (0-1, 6.39 for Dodgers).
Key Relievers: LH Jake McGee (3-1, 2.66), RH Matt Wisler (0-1, 1.07, 1 save), LH Jarlin Garcia (2-1, 0.49), LH Jose Alvarez (0-0, 1.42), RH Tyler Rogers (3-3, 4.50, 3 saves), RH Reyes Moronta (3-7, 2.86 in 2019), RH Dedniel Nunez (5-4, 4.39 at Class A in 2019 for Mets organization).
Outlook: The Giants finished one game out of a spot in the expanded playoffs during Kapler’s first season after replacing Bruce Bochy, who retired. The offense took a major step forward by scoring 4.98 runs per game, most for the Giants since Barry Bonds’ final MVP season in 2004. Alterations to their stadium led to a big scoring spree, with the Giants increasing their output by 2.1 runs per game at home. San Francisco didn’t make any major moves this offseason but will get Posey back behind the plate after he opted out of the 2020 season. The Giants hope the time off has helped Posey heal from injuries and regain the power stroke that was missing from 2018-19. San Francisco re-signed Gausman after a solid 2020 season and added Wood, DeSclafani and Sanchez to bolster the rotation. La Stella provides an upgrade as a utility player who should get time at third and second base. But the Giants have a lot of work ahead to catch the Padres and Dodgers in the NL West. The Giants were still waiting for approval from the city for fans but hope to be able to begin the season with 20% capacity.
2020: 26-34, fourth place.
Manager: Bud Black (fifth season).
Here’s Here: LHP Austin Gomber, RHP Robert Stephenson, 1B C.J. Cron, 1B Greg Bird.
He’s Outta Here: 3B Nolan Arenado, OF David Dahl, INF Daniel Murphy, OF Kevin Pillar, DH/OF Matt Kemp, RHP Jeff Hoffman, C Tony Wolters, OF Ian Desmond (opted out).
Projected Lineup: LF Raimel Tapia (.321, 1 HR, 17 RBIs), 2B Brendan Rodgers (.095, 0, 2 in 21 plate appearances) or Garrett Hampson (.234, 5, 11), RF Charlie Blackmon (.303, 6, 42, 21 multi-hit games), SS Trevor Story (.289, 11, 28, 15 SBs), 3B Ryan McMahon (.215, 9, 26), 1B Josh Fuentes (.306, 2, 17) or C.J. Cron (.190, 4, 8 with Detroit) or Bird (did not play last season), CF Sam Hilliard (.210, 6, 10), C Elias Diaz (.235, 2, 9).
Rotation: RH Germán Márquez (4-6, 3.75 ERA, 81 2/3 IP), LH Kyle Freeland (2-3, 4.33), RH Jon Gray (2-4, 6.69 in 8 starts), LH Austin Gomber (1-1, 1.86 in 14 games for St. Louis), RH Antonio Senzatela (5-3, 3.44 in 73 1/3 IP).
Key Relievers: RH Daniel Bard (4-2, 3.65, 6/6 saves), RH Scott Oberg (missed 2020 with blood clot in pitching arm), RH Mychal Givens (1-1, 3.63 with Baltimore and Colorado), RH Carlos Estévez (1-3, 7.50 in 26 games), RH Jairo Díaz (1-2, 7.65), RH Yency Almonte (3-0, 2.93), RH Robert Stephenson (0-0, 9.90 in 10 games for Cincinnati).
Outlook: The Rockies angered their fan base by trading Arenado to St. Louis. The eight-time Gold Glove winner and five-time All-Star forced his way out of the Mile High City by sticking to his request to be dealt. He was sent to the Cardinals for Gomber and four minor leaguers in a deal that may have an impact on keeping Story in town. The two-time All-Star can become a free agent after this season. Colorado also had Desmond opt out for a second consecutive season due to coronavirus concerns. A strength of the Rockies may not be their bats, but their arms, with a rotation of Márquez, Senzatela, Gray, Freeland and Gomber. The Rockies made the playoffs in 2017 and ’18, but slid back in ’19 with a 91-loss campaign and missed the postseason again in ’20. They open the season by hosting the World Series champion Dodgers on April 1. The state recently approved Coors Field for a 42.6% capacity variance starting opening day, which means roughly 21,363 fans.
2020: 25-35, fifth place.
Manager: Torey Lovullo (fifth season).
He’s Here: RHP Joakim Soria, RHP Chris Devenski, INF Asdrubal Cabrera, RHP Tyler Clippard.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Junior Guerra, RHP Hector Rondon, OF Jon Jay, RHP Mike Leake.
Projected Lineup: RF Kole Calhoun (.226, 16 HRs, 40 RBIs), CF Ketel Marte (.287, 2, 17), 3B Eduardo Escobar (.212, 4, 20), 1B Christian Walker (.271, 7, 34, 18 doubles), LF David Peralta (.300, 5, 34), 2B Asdrubal Cabrera (.242, 8, 31 with Nationals), C Carson Kelly (.221, 5, 19), SS Nick Ahmed (.266, 5, 29).
Rotation: RH Zac Gallen (3-2, 2.75 ERA), LH Madison Bumgarner (1-4, 6.48), RH Merrill Kelly (3-2, 2.59), RH Luke Weaver (1-9, 6.58), LH Caleb Smith (0-0, 2.57 with Marlins and Diamondbacks).
Key Relievers: RH Joakim Soria (2-2, 2.82, 2 saves with Athletics), RH Tyler Clippard (2-1, 2.77 with Twins), RH Stefan Crichton (2-2, 2.42), RH Taylor Widener (0-1, 4.50), RH Chris Devenski (0-1, 14.73 with Astros).
Outlook: The Diamondbacks decided to keep their roster largely intact despite a disappointing 2020. Arizona is hoping for several bounce-back seasons at the plate from guys like Escobar, Marte and Kelly. The D-backs are also optimistic that Bumgarner and Weaver will be better in the starting rotation after both had an ERA over 6.00 last year. Calhoun will likely miss the first few weeks of the season while recovering from knee surgery, opening the door for younger players like Tim Locastro or Pavin Smith to solidify a role in the outfield rotation. The addition of Cabrera gives Arizona added flexibility in the infield since he can play third, second or first. Gallen pitched like an ace for much of last season and finished ninth in NL Cy Young Award voting. The Diamondbacks hope veteran additions to the bullpen such as Soria, Clippard and Devenski can provide guidance for what otherwise will likely be a young group.
National League Central Preview Capsules
2020: 34-26, first place, lost to Marlins in first round of playoffs.
Manager: David Ross (second season).
He’s Here: OF Joc Pederson, RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP Zach Davies, RHP Trevor Williams, RHP Brandon Workman, INF Eric Sogard, RHP Kohl Stewart, C Austin Romine, OF Jake Marisnick, RHP Jonathan Holder, RHP Shelby Miller, RHP Robert Stock, INF Sergio Alcántara.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Yu Darvish, OF Kyle Schwarber, LHP Jon Lester, LHP José Quintana, OF Albert Almora, Jr., C Victor Caratini, 2B Jason Kipnis, RHP Tyler Chatwood, RHP Jeremy Jeffress, OF Billy Hamilton, OF José Martínez.
Projected Lineup: CF Ian Happ (.258, 12 HRs, 28 RBIs, .866 OPS), 1B Anthony Rizzo (.222, 11, 24, .755 OPS), 3B Kris Bryant (.206, 4, 11), C Willson Contreras (.243, 7, 26, 37 runs), SS Javier Báez (.203, 8, 24), LF Joc Pederson (.190, 7, 16 with Dodgers), RF Jason Heyward (.265, 6, 22, .848 OPS), 2B Nico Hoerner (.222, 0, 13) or David Bote (.200, 7, 29).
Rotation: RH Kyle Hendricks (6-5, 2.88 ERA), RH Zach Davies (7-4, 2.73 for Padres), RH Jake Arrieta (4-4, 5.08 for Phillies), RH Alec Mills (5-5, 4.48), RH Trevor Williams (2-8, 6.18 for Pirates) or RH Adbert Alzolay (1-1, 2.95).
Key Relievers: RH Craig Kimbrel (0-1, 5.28, 2 saves), RH Brandon Workman (1-4, 5.95, 9/12 saves for Red Sox and Phillies), RH Ryan Tepera (0-1, 3.92), RH Dan Winkler (0-0, 2.95), LH Andrew Chafin (1-2, 6.52 for Diamondbacks and Cubs), RH Rowan Wick (0-1, 3.12, 4 saves), LH Kyle Ryan (1-0, 5.17, 1 save), RH Shelby Miller (1-3, 8.59 for Rangers in 2019).
Outlook: Rizzo, Bryant and Báez are coming off down years, and they are eligible for free agency after this season. The rotation took a hit when Darvish was traded to San Diego. It remains to be seen if Kimbrel can carry over his strong finish in 2020 into this season. But the rest of the NL Central isn’t exactly imposing, so it’s not hard to imagine the Cubs contending for another playoff appearance. Rizzo, Bryant and Báez struggled with the unusual circumstances surrounding last year’s pandemic-shortened season, and Bryant was hampered by injuries. A return to form for any one of them would help the Cubs improve on their .220 team batting average from a year ago. While the loss of Darvish is a big blow, Davies is coming off a strong season in San Diego. Arrieta is looking to regain the form he showed during his first stint in Chicago, and Williams was a 14-game winner with Pittsburgh in 2018. The Cubs also are hoping Kimbrel has solved the issues he had at the beginning of last season. The closer had a 1.29 ERA over his last 15 games last year, including 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his only playoff appearance.
St. Louis Cardinals
2020: 30-28, second place, lost to Padres in first round of playoffs.
Manager: Mike Shildt (third season).
He’s Here: 3B Nolan Arenado, 3B Jose Rondon.
He’s Outta Here: 2B Kolten Wong, OF Dexter Fowler, LHP Austin Gomber, RHP John Brebbia, C Matt Wieters, 1B Rangel Ravelo.
Projected Lineup: 2B Tommy Edman (.250, 5 HRs, 26 RBIs), SS Paul DeJong (.250, 3, 25), 1B Paul Goldschmidt (.304, 6, 21), 3B Nolen Arenado (.253, 8, 26 with Rockies), RF Dylan Carlson (.200, 3, 16), C Yadier Molina (.262, 4, 16), LF Tyler O’Neill (.173, 7, 19), CF Harrison Bader (.226, 4, 11).
Rotation: RH Jack Flaherty (4-3, 4.91 ERA), LH Kwang Hyun Kim (3-0, 1.62), RH Adam Wainwright (5-3, 3.15), RH Carlos Martinez (0-3, 9.90), RH Miles Mikolas (did not pitch in 2020).
Key Relievers: RH Alex Reyes (2-1, 3.20), RH Giovanny Gallegos (2-2, 3.60), LH Andrew Miller (1-1, 2.77), RHP Jordan Hicks (did not pitch in 2020), RH Ryan Helsley (1-1, 5.25), RH John Gant (0-3, 2.40), LH Tyler Webb (1-1, 2.08), RH Kodi Whitley (0-0, 1.93), RH Daniel Ponce de Leon (1-3, 4.96).
Outlook: The Cardinals thought they were missing one big piece last season and they landed it when they made a stunning late-offseason trade for Arenado to play third base. He provides protection in the order for Goldschmidt while also adding another Gold Glove winner to what could be the best defense in the National League. The rotation returns intact from last season with the exception of RHP Dakota Hudson, who had Tommy John surgery in September, and the bullpen is deep. Wainwright and Molina are back as one of the longest-tenured batterymates in baseball history, providing plenty of experience for a team that will have a relatively young outfield. Put it all together and the Cardinals believe they can make another postseason run this year.
2020: 31-29, third place, wild card, lost to Braves in first round of playoffs.
Manager: David Bell (third season).
He’s Here: INF Dee Strange-Gordon, INF Kyle Holder, OF Scott Heineman, OF Tyler Naquin, RHP Noé Ramirez.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Raisel Iglesias, RHP Anthony DeSclafani, SS Freddy Galvis, C Curt Casali.
Projected Lineup: LF Jesse Winker (.255, 12 HRs, 23 RBIs), RF Nick Castellanos (.225, 14, 34), 1B Joey Votto (.226, 11, 22), 3B Eugenio Suarez (.202, 15, 38), 2B Mike Moustakas, (230, 8, 27), CF Shogo Akiyama (.245, 0, 9) or Nick Senzel (.186. 2, 8), SS Kyle Farmer (.266, 0, 4), C Tucker Barnhart (.205, 5, 13).
Rotation: RH Luis Castillo (4-6, 3.21 ERA, 89 Ks), RH Sonny Gray (5-3, 3.70, 72 Ks), RH Tyler Mahle (2-2, 3.59, 60 Ks), LH Wade Miley (0-3, 5.65), RH Michael Lorenzen (3-1, 4.28).
Key Relievers: RH Tejay Antone (0-3, 2.80, 45 Ks), RHP Lucas Sims (3-0, 2.45), LH Amir Garrett (1-0, 2.45, 1 save), LH Sean Doolittle (0-2, 5.87 in 7 2/3 IP for Washington).
Outlook: Despite more offseason subtractions than additions, confidence is high in Reds camp. Bell believes the team was just hitting its stride last September when it won 11 of the last 14 regular-season games to make the playoffs for the first time in seven years. There are questions about pitching without Bauer, the NL Cy Young Award winner who signed a free-agent contract with the Dodgers, and Iglesias, the veteran closer who was traded to the Angels. But the Reds feel they have a solid staff. Galvis left to sign with Baltimore, leaving Farmer, Strange-Gordon and others to compete for the shortstop job. Cincinnati hit a major league-worst .212 during the 60-game 2020 season and will need better performances out of veterans like Votto, Suarez, Castellanos and Moustakas to make another run in what shapes up as a soft NL Central. Around 12,000 fans will be allowed to attend games at Great American Ball Park to begin the season.
2020: 29-31, fourth place, wild card, lost to Dodgers in first round of playoffs.
Manager: Craig Counsell (seventh season).
He’s Here: 2B Kolten Wong, CF Jackie Bradley Jr., 3B Travis Shaw, C Luke Maile, INF Daniel Robertson, RHP Jordan Zimmermann.
He’s Outta Here: OF Ryan Braun, LHP Álex Claudio, OF Ben Gamel, 1B/3B Jedd Gyorko, RHP Corey Knebel, INF Eric Sogard.
Projected Lineup: 2B Kolten Wong (.265, 1 HR, 16 RBIs, .350 OBP with Cardinals), LF Christian Yelich (.205, 12, 22, .356 OBP), 1B Keston Hiura (.212, 13, 32, NL-high 85 strikeouts), CF Lorenzo Cain (.333, 0, 2, opted out after 5 games) or Jackie Bradley Jr. (.283, 7, 22 with Red Sox), RF Avisaíl García (.238, 2, 15) or Bradley, 3B Travis Shaw (.239, 6, 17 with Blue Jays), SS Orlando Arcia (.260, 5, 20) or Luis Urías (.239, 0, 11), C Omar Narváez (.176, 2, 10).
Rotation: RH Brandon Woodruff (3-5, 3.05 ERA, 91 Ks in 73 2/3 innings, NL-leading 13 starts), RH Corbin Burnes (4-1, 2.11, 88 Ks in 59 2/3 IP), LH Brett Anderson (4-4, 4.21), RH Adrian Houser (1-6, 5.30), RH Josh Lindblom (2-4, 5.16) or LH Eric Lauer (0-2, 13.09) or RH Freddy Peralta (3-1, 3.99, 47 Ks in 29 1/3 IP) or RH Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, 7.94 with Tigers).
Key Relievers: LH Josh Hader (1-2, 3.79, 13/15 saves, 31 Ks in 19 IP), RH Devin Williams (4-1, 0.33, 53 Ks, 8 hits allowed in 27 IP, NL Rookie of the Year), RH Eric Yardley (2-0, 1.54), LH Brent Suter (2-0, 3.13), RH Brad Boxberger (1-0, 3.00 with Marlins), RH Drew Rasmussen (1-0, 5.87, 21 Ks in 15 1/3 IP), RH Justin Topa (0-1, 2.35, 12 Ks in 7 2/3 IP).
Outlook: The Brewers’ chances of reaching the playoffs for a fourth straight season depend on whether they can get more offense after hitters up and down their lineup failed to meet expectations last season. The Brewers are counting on Yelich, the 2018 NL MVP, to regain his All-Star form. Hiura, García and Narváez also must bounce back from disappointing seasons. Milwaukee should benefit from having Cain for a full season after he sat out most of the 2020 campaign. The additions of Bradley and Wong – both left-handed hitters and Gold Glove winners – should balance the lineup and help out the pitching staff. Woodruff and Burnes provide a solid 1-2 punch, but the Brewers must get more consistency from the rest of their rotation. Milwaukee probably won’t blow many leads with Williams and Hader anchoring the bullpen. City health officials are permitting spectators to fill 25% of American Family Field’s seating capacity at the start of the season.
2020: 19-41, fifth place.
Manager: Derek Shelton (second season).
He’s Here: INF Todd Frazier, RHP Trevor Cahill, RHP David Bednar, RHP Wil Crowe, RHP Sean Poppen, RHP Miguel Yajure, C Michael Perez, INF Wilmer Difo, LHP Chasen Shreve, C Tony Wolters, OF Brian Goodwin, OF Dustin Fowler.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Jameson Taillon, RHP Joe Musgrove, RHP Trevor Williams, 1B Josh Bell, RHP Keone Kela, INF/OF Jose Osuna, LHP Derek Holland, LHP Nik Turley, RHP Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP Nick Burdi.
Projected Lineup: 2B Adam Frazier (.230, 7 HRs, 23 RBIs), LF Bryan Reynolds (.189, 7, 19, 5 OF assists), 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes (.376, 5, 11 in 24 games), 1B Colin Moran (.247, 10, 23, 10 2Bs), RF Gregory Polanco (.153, 7, 22), C Jacob Stallings (.248, 3, 18), SS Kevin Newman (.224, 1, 10) or Erik Gonzalez (.227, 3, 20) or Cole Tucker (.220, 1, 8), CF Brian Goodwin (.215, 6, 22 with Reds and Angels) or Dustin Fowler (.224, 6, 23 with Oakland in 2018).
Rotation: RH Mitch Keller (1-1, 2.91 ERA in 5 starts), LH Steven Brault (1-3, 3.38), RH Chad Kuhl (2-3, 4.27), LH Tyler Anderson (4-3, 4.37 with Giants), JT Brubaker (1-3, 4.94) or Wil Crowe (0-1, 1.35 in 3 games with Washington).
Key Relievers: RH Richard Rodriguez (3-2, 2.70, 4/5 saves), RH Kyle Crick (0-1, 1.59), RH Michael Feliz (0-0, 32.40 in 3 games), LH Sam Howard (2-3, 3.86), RH Chris Stratton (2-1, 3.90), RH Duane Underwood (1-0, 7.36 with Cubs), RH Cody Ponce (1-1, 3.18), LH Chasen Shreve (1-0, 3.96 with Mets), RH Trevor Cahill (1-2, 3.24 with Giants).
Outlook: The Pirates are in the midst of a massive reset as general manager Ben Cherington enters his second season on the job. Gone are familiar faces like Taillon and Bell, among others, their departures via trade part of a plan dedicated to stockpiling prospects in the hope that enough pan out down the road to return Pittsburgh to contention. While the future looks (sorta) bright, the present figures to be bumpy. The Pirates finished with the worst record in the majors in 2020 and head into 2021 with a roster that has even less major league experience. Hayes was even better than advertised during his September call-up and finished sixth in NL Rookie of the Year voting. He and Keller are the linchpins whose individual development this season could be far more important than anything that happens in the win/loss column. Bounce-back seasons from Reynolds and Polanco (likely in his final months with the team) would help the offense, but even in a division that might be the worst in the NL if not the majors, expectations are really, really low. Fans will be allowed back at PNC Park this spring, but given the lack of buzz in general the Pirates may be hard-pressed to even fill those seats after the initial “we’re glad baseball is back” crowd gets its fix.
American League Central Preview Capsules
2020: 36-24, first place, lost to Astros in first round of playoffs.
Manager: Rocco Baldelli (third season).
He’s Here: SS Andrelton Simmons, RHP Alex Colomé, LHP J.A. Happ, RHP Matt Shoemaker, RHP Hansel Robles, RHP Shaun Anderson, OF Kyle Garlick, OF Keon Broxton.
He’s Outta Here: LF Eddie Rosario, RHP Sergio Romo, RHP Trevor May, RHP Jake Odorizzi, INF/OF Marwin Gonzalez, LHP Rich Hill, RHP Tyler Clippard, RHP Matt Wisler, INF Ehire Adrianza, C Alex Avila.
Projected Lineup: RF Max Kepler (.228, 9 HRs, 23 RBIs), 2B Jorge Polanco (.258, 4, 19), 3B Josh Donaldson (.222, 6, 11 in 28 games), DH Nelson Cruz (.303, 16, 33, 33 runs, .992 OPS), 1B Miguel Sanó (.204, 13, 25, 90 strikeouts), LF Alex Kirilloff (rookie) or Brent Rooker (.316, 1, 5 in 7 games), CF Byron Buxton (.254, 13, 27 in 39 games), C Mitch Garver (.167, 2, 5 in 23 games), SS Andrelton Simmons (.297, 0, 10 in 30 games with Angels).
Rotation: RH Kenta Maeda (6-1, 2.70 ERA), RH José Berríos (5-4, 4.00), RH Michael Pineda (2-0, 3.38 in 5 starts), LH J.A. Happ (2-2, 3.47 for Yankees), RH Matt Shoemaker (0-1, 4.71 in 6 starts for Blue Jays).
Key Relievers: RH Alex Colomé (2-0, 0.81, 12/13 saves for White Sox), LH Taylor Rogers (2-4, 4.05, 9/11 saves), RH Tyler Duffey (1-1, 1.88, 24 strikeouts in 31 innings), RH Hansel Robles (0-2, 10.26 in 16 2/3 innings for Angels), RH Jorge Alcalá (2-1, 2.63).
Outlook: The Twins have returned largely the same team that won the last two AL Central titles, aiming to end their major league-record 18-game postseason losing streak. The pitching staff was superb during the pandemic-shortened 2020 schedule, and Happ and Shoemaker have added value and experience to the rotation with Randy Dobnak moving to a long-relief role after making 10 starts last year. Maeda and Berríos make for a solid one-two punch, but whether the pitching is deep enough for a postseason run remains to be seen. Signing away Colomé from their primary division competitor ought to pay off over the long haul, but to stay ahead of the White Sox, the offense will have to produce more like 2019 than 2020. Kirilloff made his major league debut in the playoffs after tearing up the team’s alternate training site with an otherworldly hitting display. The Twins could keep him in Triple-A to start and let Rooker, another of the organization’s top prospects, show off his bat. Garlick or Broxton could stick around for depth in the meantime. Keeping Buxton and Donaldson healthy figures to be the biggest key to success for the lineup, after a balky calf kept Donaldson from doing much in his debut with the Twins last year. The arrival of Simmons has given the infield defense a big boost and allowed the offense-oriented Polanco to move to a position that’s a more natural fit. There should be a winning team waiting for Twins fans who file back into Target Field, starting at about 25% capacity. What ultimately matters, though, after the summer fun is whether this talented club can finally win a game in the fall.
2020: 35-25, second place, lost to Yankees in first round of playoffs.
Manager: Terry Francona (ninth season).
He’s Here: OF Eddie Rosario, INF Andrés Giménez, INF Amed Rosario, RHP Bryan Shaw, OF Harold Ramirez.
He’s Outta Here: SS Francisco Lindor, RHP Carlos Carrasco, 1B Carlos Santana, LHP Brad Hand, OF Tyler Naquin, LHP Oliver Pérez, RHP Adam Cimber, OF Delino DeShields Jr., INF Mike Freeman.
Projected Lineup: 2B César Hernández (.283, 3 HRs, 20 RBIs, 35 runs), CF Óscar Mercado (.128, 1, 6 in 36 games), LF Eddie Rosario (.257, 13, 42 with Minnesota), 3B José Ramírez (292, 17, 46, 45 runs, 10 steals, .993 OPS), DH Franmil Reyes (.275, 9, 35, 69 Ks), Jake Bauers (spent 2020 season at alternate training site) or 1B Bobby Bradley (spent 2020 at alternate training site), RF Josh Naylor (.247, 1, 6 in 40 games for Padres and Indians) or Jordan Luplow (.192, 2, 8 in 29 games), C Roberto Pérez (.165 1, 5 in 32 games, won Gold Glove), SS Andrés Giménez (.263, 3, 12 in 49 games for Mets).
Rotation: RH Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.63 ERA, 122 Ks, led majors in all three categories), RH Zach Plesac (4-2, 2.28, 57 Ks in 55 1/3 innings), RH Aaron Civale (4-6, 4.74), RH Triston McKenzie (2-1, 3.24), RH Cal Quantrill (2-0, 2.28 in 18 games for Padres and Indians) or LH Logan Allen (3.38, 3 games).
Key Relievers: RH James Karinchak (1-2, 2.67, 53 Ks in 27 innings), RH Emmanuel Clase (2-3, 2.31 in 2019 for Rangers, suspended in 2020 for PEDs), RH Nick Wittgren (2-0, 3.43 in 20 games), RH Phil Maton (3-3, 4.47 in 23 games), LH Oliver Pérez (1-1, 2.00 in 21 games, .185 vs. lefties), RH Adam Plutko (2-2, 4.88), RH Bryan Shaw (1-0, 18.00 in 6 innings for Mariners).
Outlook: Expectations have fallen following Lindor’s trade this winter, but the Indians believe they have enough talent to compete for the AL Central title. They certainly have the pitching. At just 25, Bieber has become one of baseball’s best starters, and the right-hander anchors a staff with big arms but limited experience. Karinchak is the new closer following Hand’s departure, and Clase, with his 100 mph fastball, gives Francona another back-end weapon. Ramírez was more consistent than Lindor last season, and he’ll need to carry an even heavier offensive load. Eddie Rosario’s signing to a one-year contract — he pounded Cleveland pitching with Minnesota — should offset some of the power lost with Lindor and Santana leaving, and he brings needed quality to an unsettled outfield. Francona’s return after missing most of last season due to health issues is another positive for the Indians, who will probably be known by another name in 2022. Cleveland will host fans in April at 30% capacity at 34,788-seat Progressive Field.
Chicago White Sox
2020: 35-25, third place, wild card, lost to Oakland in first round of playoffs.
Manager: Tony La Russa (first season of second stint with team).
He’s Here: Manager Tony La Russa, RHP Liam Hendriks, RHP Lance Lynn, OF Adam Eaton, C Jonathan Lucroy.
He’s Outta Here: Manager Rick Renteria, DH Edwin Encarnación, C James McCann, RHP Alex Colomé, 2B Yolmer Sanchez, LHP Gio Gonzalez, CF Jarrod Dyson, RHP Dane Dunning, RF Nomar Mazara.
Projected Lineup: SS Tim Anderson (.322, 10 HRs, 21 RBIs), CF Luis Robert (.233, 11, 31), 1B José Abreu (.317, 19, 60, AL MVP), 3B Yoán Moncada (.225, 6, 24), LF Eloy Jiménez (.296, 14, 41), C Yasmani Grandal (.230, 8, 27), DH Andrew Vaughn (.278, 6, 36 at Arizona Rookie League and Class A Kannapolis and Winston-Salem in 2019), RF Adam Eaton (.226, 4, 17 with Washington), 2B Nick Madrigal (.340, 0, 11).
Rotation: RH Lucas Giolito (4-3, 3.48 ERA, 97 Ks, 28 BBs), LH Dallas Keuchel (6-2, 1.99), RH Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32, 84 IP with Texas), RH Dylan Cease (5-4, 4.01, 44 Ks, 34 BBs), LH Carlos Rodon (0-2, 8.22) or RH Reynaldo López (1-3, 6.49).
Key Relievers: RH Liam Hendriks (3-1, 1.78, 14/15 saves, 37 Ks, 3 BBs in 25 1/3 IP with Oakland), LH Garrett Crochet (0-0, 0.00, 8 Ks, 0 BBs in 5 appearances), RH Michael Kopech (1-1, 5.02 in 4 starts in 2018), LH Aaron Bummer (1-0, 0.96), RH Evan Marshall (2-1, 2.38), RH Matt Foster (6-1, 2.20), RH Codi Heuer (3-0, 1.52).
Outlook: The White Sox made the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and ended a run of seven losing seasons last year. Now, they’re aiming for the biggest prize of all. Chicago loaded up in the offseason while other teams were cutting expenses, hoping to bring home its first World Series championship since 2005 and only the second since 1917. The club made an eye-opening change in the dugout when it brought back Hall of Famer and three-time champion La Russa to take over for Renteria. The move came 34 years after the White Sox fired La Russa, who went on to win a title with Oakland and two more with St. Louis. But he hasn’t filled out a lineup card since the Cardinals won the World Series in 2011. Something else to watch: How will he relate to a vibrant, fun-loving team? That wasn’t the only big move the White Sox made. They added arguably the game’s best closer when they signed Hendriks to a $54 million, three-year deal. The Australian was on the mound when Oakland knocked off Chicago in their wild-card series. The White Sox also acquired Lynn from Texas, adding a workhorse starter to go with Giolito and Keuchel. The hard-throwing Kopech is back following Tommy John surgery in 2018 that sidelined him for the following season and a decision to opt out in 2020. The lineup — anchored by AL MVP Abreu and 2019 major league batting champion Anderson — is deep. And fans will get a chance to see them in person, at least on a limited basis. The White Sox and crosstown Cubs got the green light from the city to allow spectators with capacity capped at 20% — 8,122 at Guaranteed Rate Field and 8,274 at Wrigley Field.
Kansas City Royals
2020: 26-34, fourth place.
Manager: Mike Matheny (second season).
He’s Here: LHP Mike Minor, 1B/DH Carlos Santana, OF Andrew Benintendi, RHP Wade Davis, RHP Ervin Santana, CF Michael A. Taylor, RHP Carlos Sanabria, 2B Hanser Alberto.
He’s Outta Here: LF Alex Gordon, OF Franchy Cordero, RHP Ian Kennedy, 3B Maikel Franco, RHP Glenn Sparkman, RHP Matt Harvey.
Projected Lineup: RF Whit Merrifield (.282, 9 HRs, 30 RBIs, 12 SBs), SS Adalberto Mondesi (.256, 6, 22, 24 SBs), C Salvador Perez (.333, 11, 32), DH Jorge Soler (.228, 8, 24), 1B Carlos Santana (.199, 8, 30, 47 BBs with Indians), 3B Hunter Dozier (.228, 6, 12), LF Andrew Benintendi (.103, 0, 1 in 14 games with Red Sox), CF Michael Taylor (.196, 5, 16 with Washington), 2B Nicky Lopez (.201, 1, 13).
Rotation: RH Brad Keller (5-3, 2.47 ERA), LH Danny Duffy (4-4, 4.95), LH Mike Minor (1-6, 5.56 with Rangers and Athletics), RH Brady Singer (4-5, 4.06), LH Kris Bubic (1-6, 4.32).
Key Relievers: RH Josh Staumont (2-1, 2.45), RH Scott Barlow (2-1, 4.20), RH Tyler Zuber (1-2, 4.09), LH Jakob Junis (0-2, 6.39), RH Greg Holland (3-0, 1.91, 6 saves), RH Kyle Zimmer (1-0, 1.57), RH Wade Davis (0-1, 20.77 with Rockies).
Outlook: The first wave of college arms that the Royals drafted a few years ago started to arrive last season with Singer and Bubic showing promise in the rotation. They could soon be joined by LHP Asa Lacy, the No. 4 overall pick last summer, and fellow first-rounders LHP Daniel Lynch and RHP Jackson Kowar. If all those youngsters are able to show progress on the mound, the Royals could return to .500 and perhaps compete for a playoff spot given the investment GM Dayton Moore made in the rest of the roster. He signed Santana, a longtime AL Central nemesis, to handle first base, and swung a three-team trade for Benintendi. Throw in the signings of veteran pitchers Minor and Davis, and the Royals are deeper and more talented than they have been at any point since going to back-to-back World Series in 2014 and ’15 and beating the New York Mets in 2015 to win their second championship.
2020: 23-35, fifth place.
Manager: AJ Hinch (first season).
He’s Here: Manager AJ Hinch, C Wilson Ramos, OF Nomar Mazara, OF Robbie Grossman, INF Renato Nunez, RHP Jose Urena, RHP Julio Teheran, LHP Derek Holland, RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Drew Hutchison, LHP Robbie Ross Jr., LHP Miguel Del Pozo, C Dustin Garneau, RHP Erasmo Ramirez, INF Greg Garcia.
He’s Outta Here: Manager Ron Gardenhire, C Austin Romine, RHP Ivan Nova, RHP Jordan Zimmermann, 1B C.J. Cron, 1B Brandon Dixon, RHP Anthony Castro.
Projected Lineup: LF Robbie Grossman (.241, 8 HRs, 23 RBIs with Athletics), 3B Jeimer Candelario (.297, 7, 29), 2B Jonathan Schoop (.278, 8, 23), DH Miguel Cabrera (.250, 10, 35), SS Willi Castro (.349, 6, 24), 1B Renato Nunez (.256, 12, 31 with Orioles), RF Nomar Mazara (.228, 1, 15 with White Sox) or Victor Reyes (.277, 4, 14), C Wilson Ramos (.239, 5, 15 with Mets), CF JaCoby Jones (.268, 5, 14).
Rotation; LH Matthew Boyd (3-7, 6.71 ERA), RH Spencer Turnbull (4-4, 3.97), RH Casey Mize (0-3, 6.99), LH Tarik Skubal (1-4, 5.63), RH Jose Urena (0-3, 5.40 with Marlins) or RH Michael Fulmer (0-2, 8.78).
Key Relievers: RH Bryan Garcia (2-1, 1.66, 4/6 saves), LH Gregory Soto (0-1, 4.30, 2 saves), RH Joe Jimenez (1-3, 7.15, 5/6 saves), RH Jose Cisnero (3-3, 3.03), RH Buck Farmer (1-0, 3.80).
Outlook: After missing last season while suspended in the aftermath of the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, Hinch gets his opportunity to manage again with the rebuilding Tigers. He takes over a team that averaged 103 losses from 2017-19 and then finished last in the shortened 2020 season. Detroit does have a handful of highly touted prospects, including Mize and Skubal, who both pitched a bit at the big league level last year. Outfielder Riley Greene, infielder Spencer Torkelson and right-hander Matt Manning are also prospects to watch, although none of them have reached the majors yet. Cabrera is on the downside of his career, but he has a chance to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs this season. The Tigers have said they’ll consider a six-man rotation, and the lineup could change quite a bit over the course of the season. Isaac Paredes is a candidate to play third base, for example, after making his big league debut last year. A state pandemic order amended in early February said outdoor entertainment and recreational facilities could have no more than 1,000 customers gathered, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office said the state health department has had talks with the Tigers about expanding capacity limits at the ballpark.
American League West Preview Capsules
2020: 36-24, first place, lost to Astros in Division Series.
Manager: Bob Melvin (11th season).
He’s Here: RHP Trevor Rosenthal, SS Elvis Andrus, 1B Mitch Moreland, LHP Adam Kolarek, RHP Sergio Romo, C Aramis Garcia, INF Jed Lowrie, LHP Cole Irvin.
He’s Outta Here: SS Marcus Semien, RHP Liam Hendriks, OF Khris Davis, 2B Tommy La Stella, OF Robbie Grossman, RHP Joakim Soria, LHP T.J. McFarland, 3B Jake Lamb, LHP Mike Minor, OF Dustin Fowler.
Projected Lineup: CF Ramon Laureano (.213, 6 HRs, 25 RBIs), LF Mark Canha (.246, 5, 33), 3B Matt Chapman (.232, 10, 25), 1B Matt Olson (.195, 14, 42), C Sean Murphy (.233, 7, 14), DH Mitch Moreland (.265, 10, 29 for Red Sox and Padres), RF Stephen Piscotty (.226, 5, 29), SS Elvis Andrus (.194, 3, 7 for Rangers), 2B Tony Kemp (.247, 0, 4).
Rotation: RH Chris Bassitt (5-2, 2.29 ERA), LH Jesús Luzardo (3-2, 4.12), RH Frankie Montas (3-5, 5.60), LH Sean Manaea (4-3, 4.50), RH Mike Fiers (6-3, 4.58) or LHP A.J. Puk (2-0, 3.18 in 10 games in 2019).
Key Relievers: RH Trevor Rosenthal (1-0, 1.90, 11/12 saves for Padres and Royals), LH Jake Diekman (2-0, 0.42), RH Yusmeiro Petit (2-1, 1.66), LH Adam Kolarek (3-0, 0.95, 1 save for Dodgers), RH Sergio Romo (1-2, 4.05, 5 saves for Twins), RH Lou Trivino (0-0, 3.86), RH J.B. Wendelken (1-1, 1.80).
Outlook: After winning their first division title in seven years, the A’s took some serious hits this offseason with Semien leaving to sign a one-year deal in Toronto after not getting a qualifying offer from Oakland, and star closer Hendriks signing with the White Sox. The A’s acquired Andrus to replace Semien at shortstop but the 32-year-old batted just .194 in limited time last season. Rosenthal was signed to take over as closer as part of what should be a very strong bullpen. There are still plenty of key pieces sticking around in Oakland, led by Chapman and Olson at the corner infield spots, along with a young rotation anchored by Montas, Manaea and Luzardo. Puk is coming off shoulder surgery but also could contribute. The A’s will be able to have fans at the Coliseum, with state rules allowing 20% capacity to start the season with a chance for that number to rise if coronavirus cases in the area drop.
2020: 29-31, second place, lost to Rays in AL Championship Series.
Manager: Dusty Baker (second season).
He’s Here: RHP Jake Odorizzi, C Jason Castro, RHP Pedro Báez, RHP Ryne Stanek, RHP Steve Cishek, OF Steven Souza Jr.
He’s Outta Here: CF George Springer, OF Josh Reddick, RHP Roberto Osuna, RHP Chris Devenski, RHP Brad Peacock, LHP Cionel Perez, RHP Cy Sneed.
Projected Lineup: 2B Jose Altuve (.219, 5 HRs, 18 RBIs), LF Michael Brantley (.300, 5, 22, 15 2Bs), SS Carlos Correa (.264, 5, 25), 3B Alex Bregman (.242, 6, 22), DH Yordan Álvarez (.250, 1, 4 in 2 games), RF Kyle Tucker (.268, 9, 42, 6 3Bs), 1B Yuli Gurriel (.232, 6, 22, 12 2Bs), CF Myles Straw (.207, 0, 8), C Martín Maldonado (.215, 6, 24).
Rotation: RH Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA), RH Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 3.93), RH Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 6.59 in 4 starts for Twins), RH Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48), RH Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.73 in 5 starts).
Key Relievers: RH Ryan Pressly (1-3, 3.43, 12 saves), RH Steve Cishek (0-0, 5.40 for White Sox), RH Joe Smith (opted out of 2020 season), RH Pedro Báez (0-0, 3.18 for Dodgers), RH Josh James (1-0, 7.27).
Outlook: The Astros seek their fourth AL West title in five seasons after keeping last year’s team that came a win shy of the World Series largely intact. They relied on a bevy of talented young pitchers to carry them in a season when ace Justin Verlander made just one start. One of those starters, Framber Valdez, broke a finger on his pitching hand in spring training and could miss significant time. That leaves McCullers, Urquidy and Javier needing to take another step forward this season with Verlander out all year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The rotation got a late boost when Houston added Odorizzi. The 2019 All-Star gives the Astros a veteran to pair with the 37-year-old Greinke and provide stability as some of the young arms develop. They’ll have a huge hole in the lineup after leadoff hitter and center fielder Springer signed a $150 million, six-year contract with the Blue Jays after spending his first seven major league seasons in Houston. The Astros brought back veteran outfielder Brantley, who signed a two-year deal to stay with the team, and their offense should get a boost with the return of Alvarez. The 2019 AL Rookie of the Year is healthy after missing all but two games last season after being diagnosed with COVID-19 before having knee surgery. His return should help make up for the loss of Springer in a lineup that also features Bregman, Altuve and Correa, who powered the offense in the playoffs with six homers and 17 RBIs. The Astros announced in January that they would allow about 10,000 fans per game at Minute Maid Park early this season. But they could increase that number before opening day in the wake of the Texas Rangers’ decision to allow 100% capacity at their ballpark after Gov. Greg Abbott lifted coronavirus restrictions in the state.
2020: 27-33, third place.
Manager: Scott Servais (sixth season).
He’s Here: LHP James Paxton, RHP Rafael Montero, RHP Keynan Middleton, RHP Chris Flexen, OF Mitch Haniger, OF Taylor Trammell, RHP Logan Gilbert.
He’s Outta Here: INF/OF Tim Lopes, INF/OF Dee Strange-Gordon, OF Mallex Smith, RHP Yoshihisa Hirano, RHP Carl Edwards Jr.
Projected Lineup: SS J.P. Crawford (.255, 2 HRs, 24 RBIs), RF Mitch Haniger (.220, 15, 32 in 63 games in 2019), CF Kyle Lewis (.262, 11, 28, .801 OPS, AL Rookie of the Year), 3B Kyle Seager (.241, 9, 40), DH Ty France (.305, 4, 23 in 20 games with San Diego and 23 with Seattle), 1B Evan White (.176, 8, 26, 84 Ks), 2B Dylan Moore (.255, 8, 17), C Tom Murphy (.273, 18, 40 in 75 games in 2019) or Luis Torrens (.257, 1, 6 in 25 games with San Diego and Seattle), LF Taylor Trammell (.234, 10, 43 at Double-A in 2019) or Jake Fraley (.154, 0, 0 in 7 games).
Rotation: LH Marco Gonzales (7-2, 3.10 ERA, 64 Ks, 7 walks in 69 2/3 innings), LH Yusei Kikuchi (2-4, 5.17), LH James Paxton (1-1, 6.64 in 5 starts with Yankees), RH Chris Flexen (8-4, 3.01 in 21 starts for Doosan in KBO), LH Justus Sheffield (4-3, 3.58 in 10 starts), RH Justin Dunn (4-1, 4.34) or LH Nick Margevicius (2-3, 4.57).
Key Relievers: RH Rafael Montero (0-1, 4.08, 8/8 saves with Texas), RH Kendall Graveman (1-3, 5.79), RH Keynan Middleton (0-1, 5.25 in 13 games with Angels), LH Anthony Misiewicz (0-2, 4.05).
Outlook: The Mariners believe they are on the cusp of contention and this season will be the litmus test of whether that’s accurate, or if their rebuild still has more stages to come. Lewis is the first Rookie of the Year for Seattle since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001 and combined with Gold Glove winners Crawford and White gives the Mariners a solid defensive foundation. The starting rotation has potential if Paxton can rediscover his past form and if the Mariners have unearthed a gem in Flexen. Bullpen has been remade, and along with depth of the batting order, will be key in just how competitive Seattle is in 2021. There is still the pending arrivals of prospects Jarred Kelenic, Logan Gilbert, Cal Raleigh and Julio Rodriguez on the horizon that Seattle believes could push its rebuild into being contenders. When and if they arrive in 2021 could be the difference in Seattle ending the longest playoff drought in baseball or if there will be at least one more year of waiting. The Mariners will open the season with a capacity of 9,000 fans at T-Mobile Park.
Los Angeles Angels
2020: 26-34, fourth place.
Manager: Joe Maddon (second season).
He’s Here: OF Dexter Fowler, SS José Iglesias, RHP Raisel Iglesias, LHP José Quintana, RHP Alex Cobb, C Kurt Suzuki, LHP Alex Claudio, RHP Aaron Slegers, GM Perry Minasian.
He’s Outta Here: SS Andrelton Simmons, RHP Hansel Robles, RHP Julio Teherán, RHP Keynan Middleton, RHP Cam Bedrosian, RHP Noé Ramirez, RHP Matt Andriese, GM Billy Eppler.
Projected Lineup: 2B David Fletcher (.319, 3 HRs, 18 RBIs, .376 OBP), CF Mike Trout (.281, 17, 46, .993 OPS), DH Shohei Ohtani (.190, 7, 24, .657 OPS), 3B Anthony Rendon (.286, 9, 31, .915 OPS, 10 GIDP), LF Justin Upton (.204, 9, 22, 43 Ks, .711 OPS), 1B Albert Pujols (.224, 6, 25, .665 OPS), RF Dexter Fowler (.233, 4, 15 with Cardinals), SS José Iglesias (.373, 3, 24 in 39 games with Orioles), C Max Stassi (.278, 7, 20 in 31 games).
Rotation: RH Dylan Bundy (6-3, 3.29 ERA), LH Andrew Heaney (4-3, 4.46), RH Griffin Canning (2-3, 3.99, Gold Glove), LH José Quintana (0-0, 4.50 in 4 appearances with Cubs), RH Alex Cobb (2-5, 4.30 with Orioles), RH Shohei Ohtani (0-1, 37.80 ERA in 2 starts since 2018).
Key Relievers: RH Raisel Iglesias (4-3, 2.74, 8/10 saves with Reds), RH Ty Buttrey (2-3, 5.81, 5 saves), LH Alex Claudio (0-0, 4.26, 1 save with Brewers), RH Mike Mayers (2-0, 2.10, 2 saves), RH Félix Peña (3-0, 4.05, 2 saves), RH Junior Guerra (1-2, 3.04 with Diamondbacks), RH Jaime Barria (1-0, 3.62), LH Patrick Sandoval (1-5, 5.65).
Outlook: The big-budget Angels believe they’ve got the talent and stability to end their streaks of five straight losing seasons — the franchise’s longest skid since the 1970s — and six consecutive non-playoff campaigns. Limited groups of fans at Angel Stadium next month should provide a big boost for a team that will welcome the help. With much of the AL West rebuilding or rebooting, the timing could be right for Los Angeles to get Trout’s first playoff victory. Coming off an unimpressive year by his peerless standards, Trout is back with Rendon for their first full season together. Starting pitching has been the Angels’ biggest problem for years, and new GM Minasian addressed it only by acquiring Quintana and Cobb instead of bigger-name targets. Minasian is also overhauling the Halos’ awful bullpen, starting with new closer Raisel Iglesias. While they’re talented enough to win now, this also is a transition year for the Angels, with only four players under contract past 2021 — including Ohtani, who will be a two-way player again after a rough 2020. Ohtani is hitting the cover off the ball in spring training, and the early results from his return to the mound are promising. This is also a probable farewell season for the 41-year-old Pujols, the oldest player in the majors as he hits the final summer of his 10-year contract with a fraction of his prime production.
2020: 22-38, fifth place.
Manager: Chris Woodward (third season).
He’s Here: RHP Kohei Arihara, LF David Dahl, DH/OF Khris Davis, RHP Dane Dunning, INF Brock Holt, 1B Nate Lowe, RHP Mike Foltynewicz, GM Chris Young.
He’s Outta Here: SS Elvis Andrus, RHP Jesse Chavez, LF Shin-Soo Choo, INF Derek Dietrich, RHP Corey Kluber, RHP Lance Lynn, C Jeff Mathis, RHP Rafael Montero, INF/OF Danny Santana, 2B Rougned Odor.
Projected Lineup: CF Leody Taveras (.227, 4 HRs, 6 RBIs, 8 SBs), SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa (.280, 3, 10, 8 SBs), RF Joey Gallo (.181, 10, 26), LF David Dahl (.183, 0, 9 in 24 games for Rockies), DH Khris Davis (.200, 2, 10 in 30 games for Athletics), 2B Nick Solak (.268, 2, 23), 1B Ronald Guzman (.244, 4, 9), C Jose Trevino (.250, 2, 9).
Rotation (including two likely tandem-starter spots): RH Kyle Gibson (2-6, 5.35 ERA), RH Mike Foltynewicz (0-1, 16.20 in 1 start for Braves), RH Kohei Arihara (8-9, 3.80 in 132 2/3 IP for Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan Pacific League), RH Dane Dunning (2-0, 3.97 in 7 starts for White Sox), LH Wes Benjamin (2-1, 2.48), RH Jordan Lyles (1-6, 7.02), LH Kolby Allard (0-6, 7.75).
Key Relievers: RH Jose Leclerc (0-0, 4.50 in 2 games), LH Brett Martin (0-0, 3.63), LH Joely Rodriguez (0-0, 2.13), RH Ian Kennedy (0-2, 9.00 with Royals), RH Matt Bush (no MLB appearances since 2018 after Tommy John surgery), LH Taylor Hearn (0-0, 3.63).
Outlook: The Rangers are in a rebuilding mode that began last season when they finished an AL-worst 22-38 and traded away workhorse starters Lynn and Mike Minor. There is uncertainty in a rotation that might utilize seven pitchers for five starting spots, two filled by two-pitcher tandems. Leclerc, still unestablished as a closer, is coming back from a shoulder injury and Jonathan Hernandez, maybe the team’s best reliever, is shut down from throwing until at least early April because of a ligament sprain in his right elbow. Several veterans in the lineup are coming off horrendous offensive seasons, including OFs Gallo (who did win a Gold Glove in right field) and Dahl, who wasn’t even offered a new contract by Colorado over the winter after being an NL All-Star in 2019. There has been an infield shuffle, with Kiner-Falefa set to be the first opening day shortstop in 13 seasons other than Andrus. The young Hawaiian shifted over after winning a Gold Glove at third base last season. Long-struggling Odor is still in the lineup, at third base instead of second, where Solak is getting his shot to be an everyday player. With Texas now allowing businesses in the state to operate at 100% capacity, the Rangers are preparing for a potential full house of 40,518 fans for their home opener at Globe Life Field on April 5 against Toronto. They could be the first team in any major U.S.-based sports league with a full-capacity crowd since the coronavirus pandemic started altering the sports landscape more than a year ago.
American League East Preview Capsules
Tampa Bay Rays
2020: 40-20, first place, AL champions, lost to Dodgers in World Series.
Manager: Kevin Cash (seventh season).
He’s Here: RHP Michael Wacha, RHP Chris Archer, LHP Rich Hill, RHP Collin McHugh, C Francisco Mejia.
He’s Outta Here: LHP Blake Snell, RHP Charlie Morton, OF Hunter Renfroe, RHP Aaron Slegers, 1B Nate Lowe, LHP Aaron Loup, LHP Jose Alvarado, 1B Brian O’Grady, LHP Sean Gilmartin.
Projected Lineup: RF Austin Meadows (.205, 4 HRs, 13 RBIs), 2B Brandon Lowe (.269, 14, 37), LF Randy Arozarena (.281, 7, 11 in 42 regular-season games; .377, 10, 14 in 20 postseason games), 1B Ji-Man Choi (.230, 3, 16), 3B Yandy Diaz (.307, 2, 11), DH Manuel Margot (.269, 1, 11) or Yoshi Tsutsugo (.197, 8, 24), CF Kevin Kiermaier (.217, 3, 22), SS Willy Adames (.259, 8, 23), C Mike Zunino (.147, 4, 10).
Rotation: RH Tyler Glasnow (5-1, 4.08 ERA), LH Ryan Yarbrough (1-4, 3.56), RH Chris Archer (3-9, 5.19 for Pirates in 2019), RH Michael Wacha (1-4, 6.62 for Mets), LH Rich Hill (2-2, 3.03 for Twins).
Key Relievers: RH Nick Anderson (2-1, 0.55, 6/6 saves), RH Diego Castillo (3-0, 1.66, 4 saves), RH Pete Fairbanks (6-3, 2.70), RH Collin McHugh (4-5, 4.70 for Astros in 2019), LH Cody Reed (0-1, 4.50 with Reds and Rays), RH Ryan Thompson (1-2, 4.44), RH Chaz Roe (2-0, 2.89), LH Josh Fleming (5-0, 2.78 in 7 appearances, 5 starts).
Outlook: The defending AL champions hope to build on last year’s run to the World Series, where the Rays lost to the Dodgers in six games. Expectations remain high for 2021 despite having to replace their top two starting pitchers after declining a $15 million option on Morton and trading Snell, a former AL Cy Young Award winner, to San Diego. The team is counting on Glasnow to step into a leading role, with offseason acquisitions Wacha, Archer and Hill filling openings in a revamped rotation. A versatile lineup will be largely the same, with rookie Arozarena getting more playing time after a breakout postseason and Cash continuing to make liberal use of a deep bench. The offense averaged 4.82 runs per game during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, its best showing in 10 years, and could be even better if Meadows, Choi and Diaz rebound from injuries that hampered their production last year. Nevertheless, the Rays thrive on pitching and defense. A major league-high 12 pitchers earned saves last season, tying a big league record, and the bullpen — fortified by the addition of McHugh — figures to be a difference-maker again.
New York Yankees
2020: 33-27, second place, lost to Rays in Division Series.
Manager: Aaron Boone (fourth season).
He’s Here: RHP Corey Kluber, RHP Jameson Taillon, RHP Domingo Germán (returning from domestic violence suspension), RHP Darren O’Day, LHP Justin Wilson, RHP Adam Warren, RHP Jhoulys Chacín, RHP Asher Wojciechowski, LHP Lucas Luetge, C Robinson Chirinos (broken right wrist), OF-1B Jay Bruce, INF Derek Dietrich.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Masahiro Tanaka, LHP James Paxton, LHP J.A. Happ, RHP Tommy Kahnle, RHP Jonathan Holder, C Erik Kratz.
Projected Lineup: 2B DJ LeMahieu (major league-leading .364, 10 HRs, 27 RBIs, 41 runs, 1.011 OPS), RF Aaron Judge (.257, 9, 22 in 28 games), CF Aaron Hicks (.225, 6, 21), DH Giancarlo Stanton (.250, 4, 11 in 23 games), 1B Luke Voit (.277, major league-leading 22, 52), SS Gleyber Torres (.243, 3, 16), C Gary Sánchez (.147, 10, 24), LF Clint Frazier (.267, 8, 26), 3B Gio Urshela (.298, 6, 30).
Rotation: RH Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84 ERA, 94 Ks), RH Corey Kluber (0-0, 0.00 in 1 inning for Rangers before tearing muscle in right shoulder), RH Jameson Taillon (has not pitched since May 2019 while recovering from second Tommy John surgery), LH Jordan Montgomery (2-3, 5.11), RH Domingo Germán (has not pitched since September 2019), RH Deivi García (3-2, 4.98, 33 Ks in 34 1/3 IP as rookie), RH Luis Severino (out until June or July following Tommy John surgery on Feb. 27, 2020).
Key Relievers: LH Aroldis Chapman (1-1, 3.09, 3/5 saves), LH Zack Britton (1-2, 1.89, 8 saves; out until at least May and possibly July following elbow surgery), RH Chad Green (3-3, 3.51, 1 save, 32 Ks in 25 2/3 IP), RH Darren O’Day (4-0, 1.10, 22 Ks in 16 1/3 IP for Braves), LH Justin Wilson (2-1, 3.66, 23 Ks in 19 2/3 IP for Mets).
Outlook: A new-look rotation could include Kluber and Taillon, high-risk additions who due to injuries have combined for one inning since May 1, 2019, and Germán, who hasn’t pitched since September 2019 while serving a domestic violence suspension. They join ace Cole, García and Montgomery, with Boone saying he is likely to push people back and skip turns early in the season. New York allowed Tanaka to return to Japan after seven seasons in pinstripes and also did not re-sign Paxton or Happ. Urshela is recovering from surgery Dec. 4 to remove a bone chip from his right elbow, a procedure with an anticipated recovery time of three months. Voit had a platelet-rich plasma injection to treat plantar fasciitis in his left foot after leading the majors in home runs. LeMahieu re-signed for $90 million over six years after becoming the first player to win undisputed batting titles in both leagues. Judge and Stanton are trying yoga after both missed a majority of their second straight season due to injuries. Focus will be on Sánchez, who struggled at the plate for the third straight year, hit a career-worst .147 and was benched in favor of Kyle Higashioka for four of five Division Series games. New York is seeking to be more consistent: The pandemic-shortened season included a 16-6 start followed by a 5-15 slide, a 10-game winning streak and six losses in the last eight games. The Yankees were 22-9 at home and 11-18 on the road. A long-ball dependent offense scored 156 of 315 runs on homers. Yankee Stadium will host fans at 20% capacity (up to 10,850 for the April 1 opener against Toronto) to begin the season.
Toronto Blue Jays
2020: 32-28, third place, wild card, lost to Rays in first round of playoffs.
Manager: Charlie Montoyo (third season).
He’s Here: OF George Springer, INF Marcus Semien, RHP Kirby Yates, LHP Steven Matz, RHP Tyler Chatwood, RHP David Phelps, LHP Francisco Liriano, LHP Tommy Milone, RHP Joel Payamps, LHP Travis Bergen.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Ken Giles, RHP Taijuan Walker, RHP Anthony Bass, RHP Matt Shoemaker, INF Travis Shaw, INF Jonathan Villar, RHP Chase Anderson, RHP Sean Reid-Foley, RHP Shun Yamaguchi, OF Billy McKinney, OF Derek Fisher, RHP Yennsy Diaz, RHP Wilmer Font.
Projected Lineup: CF George Springer (.265, 14 HRs, 32 RBIs with Houston), 2B Marcus Semien (.223, 7, 23 with Oakland), SS Bo Bichette (.301, 5, 23), RF Teoscar Hernandez (.289, 16, 34), 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (.262, 9, 33), LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (.308, 11, 33), 3B Cavan Biggio (.250, 8, 28, 41 BB), DH Rowdy Tellez (.283, 8, 23), C Danny Jansen (.183, 6, 20).
Rotation: LH Hyun Jin Ryu (5-2, 2.69 ERA), LH Robbie Ray (2-6, 6.62 with Arizona and Toronto), RH Nate Pearson (1-0, 6.00), RH Tanner Roark (2-3, 6.80), LH Steven Matz (0-5, 9.68 with Mets).
Key Relievers: RH Kirby Yates (0-1, 12.46, 2/2 saves with Padres), RH Jordan Romano (2-1, 1.23, 2 saves), RHP Rafael Dolis (2-2, 1.50, 5 saves), RH Tyler Chatwood (2-2, 5.30 with Cubs), RH David Phelps (2-4, 6.53 with Milwaukee and Philadelphia), LH Ryan Borucki (1-1, 2.70), LH Francisco Liriano (did not pitch in 2020).
Outlook: The Blue Jays beefed up a young, talented team by adding several playoff-tested veterans in a busy, productive offseason. Springer signed a team-record $150 million, six-year deal, and Semien joined on an $18 million, one-year deal. Toronto also acquired starting rotation depth by getting Matz in a trade with the Mets and bolstered its bullpen by signing a trio of right-handed relievers, including closer Yates. By adding Springer and Semien to a promising group of youngsters including Bichette, Guerrero and Biggio, the Blue Jays have built one of the AL’s most fearsome lineups. However, beyond staff ace Ryu, the rotation is full of question marks. If hard-throwing Pearson doesn’t develop quickly, Toronto might need to make an in-season pitching addition to boost its postseason hopes. With home games in Canada still ruled out by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blue Jays will begin the regular season at their spring training home in Dunedin, Florida. If playing in Toronto still isn’t an option by mid-season, the Jays may move to another minor league park once searing summer heat and thunderstorms become an issue in Florida.
2020: 25-35, fourth place.
Manager: Brandon Hyde (third season).
He’s Here: RHP Felix Hernandez, RHP Matt Harvey, SS Freddy Galvis, 3B Maikel Franco, OF Chris Shaw, 2B Yolmer Sanchez, RHP Mac Sceroler, RHP Tyler Wells.
He’s Outta Here: RHP Alex Cobb, 2B Hanser Alberto, SS Jose Iglesias, OF Dwight Smith, 1B Renato Nunez, RHP David Hess, INF Andrew Velazquez, C Bryan Holaday, RHP Kohl Stewart.
Projected Lineup: CF Cedric Mullins (.271, 3 HRs, 12 RBIs, 7 SBs), LF Austin Hays (.279, 4, 9), 1B Trey Mancini (missed 2020 following colon cancer surgery), RF Anthony Santander (.261, 11, 32), 3B Maikel Franco (.278, 8, 38 for Royals), DH Ryan Mountcastle (.333, 5, 23), C Pedro Severino (.250, 5, 21), SS Freddy Galvis (.220, 7, 16 for Reds), 2B Yolmer Sanchez (.313, 1, 1 in 11 games for White Sox).
Rotation: LH John Means (2-4, 4.53 ERA), RH Dean Kremer (1-1, 4.82 in 4 games), RH Felix Hernandez (opted out of 2020), LH Keegan Akin (1-2, 4.56), RH Matt Harvey (0-3, 11.57 with Royals) or LH Bruce Zimmermann (0-0, 7.71 in 2 games) or LH Wade LeBlanc (1-0, 8.06).
Key Relievers: RHP Shawn Armstrong (2-0, 1.80), LHP Paul Fry (1-0, 2.45), LHP Tanner Scott (0-0, 1.31, 1 save), RHP Cole Sulser (1-5, 5.56, 5 saves), RHP Dillon Tate (1-1, 3.24), RHP Cesar Valdez (1-1, 1.26, 3 saves).
Outlook: Although the Orioles appeared to make some progress last year following two straight 100-loss seasons, general manager Mike Elias remains focused on long-term stability in his effort to slash the payroll and rebuild the franchise with draft picks and prospects obtained via trades for veteran talent. The restive fan base will welcome Mancini back, but he and Santander could be July trade chips. Chris Davis, entering the sixth season of a $161 million, seven-year contract, is likely to begin on the injured list after playing just 16 games and hitting only .115 last season. Aside from Means, a 2019 All-Star, the rotation is full of pitchers who have yet to establish themselves and veterans like Harvey and Hernandez, whose success came years ago. Hernandez was pulled from a spring start with elbow discomfort March 16. The bullpen, vastly improved in 2020, must provide stability for such a questionable rotation. The Orioles will allow about 11,000 fans — 25% capacity — at Camden Yards to begin the season.
Boston Red Sox
2020: 24-36, fifth place.
Manager: Alex Cora (third season, first of second stint with team).
He’s Here: Manager Alex Cora, 2B Enrique Hernández, RHP Garrett Richards, LF Hunter Renfroe, RHP Adam Ottavino, OF Franchy Cordero, RHP Matt Andriese, RHP Garrett Whitlock, RHP Josh Winckowski, 3B Marwin González, RHP Hirokazo Sawamura.
He’s Outta Here: Manager Ron Roenicke, 2B Dustin Pedroia, OF Andrew Benintendi, CF Jackie Bradley Jr., SS C.J. Chatham, C Devy Grullon, LHP Yoan Aybar, RHP Robert Stock, LHP Matt Hall, RHP Ryan Weber, RHP Collin McHugh, RHP Domingo Tapia.
Projected Lineup: 2B Enrique Hernández (.230, 5 HRs, 20 RBIs), CF Alex Verdugo (.308, 6, 15), DH J.D. Martinez (.213, 7, 27), SS Xander Bogaerts (.300, 11, 28), 3B Rafael Devers (.263, 11, 43), RF Hunter Renfroe (.156, 8, 22), LF Marwin González (.211, 5, 37), C Christian Vázquez (.283, 7, 23), 1B Bobby Dalbec (.263, 8, 16).
Rotation: LH Eduardo Rodríguez (19-6, 3.81 ERA in 2019; did not pitch in 2020 due to COVID-19), RH Nathan Eovaldi (4-2, 3.72), LH Martín Pérez (3-5, 4.50), RH Garrett Richards (2-2, 4.03), RH Nick Pivetta (2-0, 6.89), LH Chris Sale (6-11, 4.40 in 2019; expected back from Tommy John surgery midseason).
Key Relievers: RH Matt Barnes (1-3, 4.30, 5 saves), RH Hirokazu Sawamura (1-4, 3.05 for Chiba Lotte and Yomiuri in Japan), RH Adam Ottavino (2-3, 5.89), RH Matt Andriese (2-4, 4.50), RH Ryan Brasier (1-0, 3.96), LH Darwinzon Hernández (1-0, 2.16).
Outlook: After winning the 2018 World Series, the team’s fourth championship in 15 seasons, the Red Sox fired Cora in the wake of the Houston sign-stealing scandal last offseason and traded 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts and 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner David Price to the Dodgers in a salary dump. The Red Sox were also without Sale, who missed the entire 2020 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, and Rodríguez, who was out with heart inflammation caused by COVID-19. Roenicke, promoted from bench coach after players started reporting to spring training, didn’t have much of a chance. So the Red Sox moved on and brought back Cora, who served his one-year suspension for his role in the Astros scandal. The team’s best hope of getting out of the cellar of the stacked AL East in 2021 is that he relights a spark in Martinez and Devers, who both struggled during the pandemic-shortened season; Rodriguez returns strong and Sale is able to recover by midseason. The retirement of Dustin Pedroia, who played only nine games in the past three years, provides clarity at second base and opened a spot that Hernández should fill. Bogaerts is signed to a long-term deal and could become the star future teams are built around. Or, he could become the next Betts. Verdugo, the biggest acquisition in the Dodgers deal, is also a piece for the future. Fenway Park will be open to fans, beginning at 12% capacity, or around 4,500 people.
2021 NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE-RB TRAVIS ETIENNE, CLEMSON
Completed one of the most prolific careers in Clemson, ACC and college football history across the 2017-20 seasons … rushed 686 times for 4,952 yards with 70 rushing touchdowns and caught 102 passes for 1,155 and eight receiving touchdowns in 1,852 career snaps over 55 games (42 starts) … part of a senior class that helped Clemson to four ACC titles, four College Football Playoff berths, two national championship appearances and a national title, all while becoming the first FBS senior class since 2010 to go undefeated at home (27-0 at Death Valley) … NCAA FBS record holder for most career games scoring a touchdown (46 of his 55 career games), breaking the mark held by San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey … ACC career record-holder for rushing yards (4,952), total touchdowns (78), rushing touchdowns (70) and points (468) … became the ACC’s all-time leading rusher in 2020, surpassing a mark held by NC State’s Ted Brown since 1978 … one of only 12 players in FBS history with 4,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 career receiving yards, and his 4,952 rushing yards finished as the second-most by any 1,000-yard career receiver in FBS history … averaged 7.22 yards per carry for his career, a Clemson school record and 11th-best among FBS players (and first among ACC players) in history with at least 300 career rush attempts … exited tied with Travis Prentice (468 from 1996-99) for the seventh-most career points in FBS history … was the sixth FBS player ever to rush for 70 career touchdowns according to official NCAA records … became Clemson’s fifth three-time first-team All-America honoree, joining middle guard William Perry (1982-84), linebacker Anthony Simmons (1995-97), wide receiver Sammy Watkins (2011-13) and defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (2016-18) … back-to-back ACC Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019 who became the first running back to win the award in consecutive years since Mike Voight in 1975-76 … was the first player in school history with multiple 1,500-yard rushing seasons and completed his career as one of only 16 Power Five players since 2000 to reach the 1,500-yard mark in multiple seasons, joining AJ Dillon, Ameer Abdullah, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Darren McFadden, Ezekiel Elliott, Jonathan Taylor, Ka’Deem Carey, Kendall Hunter, Lamar Jackson, LaMichael James, Melvin Gordon, Montee Ball, Ray Rice and Steven Jackson … set single-season school records in rushing yards (1,658), yards per carry (8.1), rushing touchdowns (24), total touchdowns (26) and points scored (156) in 2018 … completed college career as one of only two FBS players — and the only running back — since 2000 to average at least 7.0 yards on 100+ carries in three different seasons … recorded 6,894 all-purpose yards, second-most in ACC history behind only College Football Hall of Famer and Clemson legend C.J. Spiller … his 42 career starts were one shy of the school record for a running back (43, James Davis).
2021 NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE-RB NAJEE HARRIS, ALABAMA
One of the nation’s top running back prospects who passed up on the NFL Draft to return for his senior season … the Crimson Tide’s all-time leader for total touchdowns in a career with 57 (46 rushing, 11 receiving) … Alabama’s career leader for rushing scores with 46, surpassing the previous record of 42 by Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry … totaled 3,843 career rushing yards to rank atop the Alabama all-time list … amassed 4,624 all-purpose yards for his career, a total that is second all-time at UA … averaged 6.0 yards per carry for his career to rank third in Crimson Tide history (minimum 400 carries) … contributed 342 career points to finish fourth in UA annals … recorded 13 games of 100-plus rushing yards in his career, including six as a junior and six in his final season (206 at Ole Miss; 152 vs. Georgia; 119 vs. Mississippi State; 145 at LSU; 178 vs. Florida; 125 vs. Notre Dame) … Doak Walker Award winner, presented annually to the nation’s top running back … unanimous first team All-American (AFCA, Associated Press, FWAA, The Sporting News, Walter Camp) … also earned first team All-America honors from CBS Sports and ESPN.com … second team All-America selection by Pro Football Focus and USA Today … selected as a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award … first team All-SEC honoree by both the AP and the league coaches … named to the SEC Community Service Team … finalist for the Jason Witten Man of the Year … led the nation in total touchdowns (30) and rushing touchdowns (26) in addition to scoring (180) … finished second for single-season rushing scores by a UA back with 26 as a senior … totaled two or more rushing touchdowns in nine of 13 contests with at least one score in 11 games … led the SEC and finished third in Division I for rushing yards at 1,466 … added 43 receptions for 425 yards and four touchdowns to his senior totals … totaled 1,891 all-purpose yards in 2020, good for sixth in UA records for a single season … named a Second Team Preseason All-American by four separate outlets, including the AP, TSN, USA Today and Walter Camp … tabbed to the Doak Walker Award Watch List … also selected to the Maxwell Award Watch List … Maxwell Player of the Week honoree following Ole Miss … also picked up offensive player of the week accolades from the SEC and Walter Camp following the matchup with the Rebels … the 2020 SEC Championship Game MVP … earned offensive player of the week recognition from the Alabama coaches for his play at Ole Miss, against Auburn, at LSU and against Florida in Atlanta. Missouri: Matched his career-high mark with three rushing touchdowns as part of his big day … carried 17 times for 98 yards while adding two receptions for eight yards against the Tigers. Texas A&M: Totaled two rushing touchdowns and 43 yards on 12 carries … also caught a pair of passes for 26 yards … added one tackle to his stat line. Ole Miss: Turned in a record-setting performance in Oxford … finished with five rushing touchdowns to match the Alabama single-game mark … carried for a career-high 206 yards on 23 carries and averaged a whopping 9.0 yards per tote … added three receptions for 42 yards … converted seven first downs on the ground and three more through the air on each of his catches … selected as the offensive player of the week by both Walter Camp and the SEC … also picked up Maxwell Player of the Week recognition … was selected as one of the UA coaching staff’s offensive players of the week as well. Georgia: Helped Alabama grind out the win over the Bulldogs with his strong effort in the running game … carried a career-high 31 times for 152 yards with a score … added one reception for 10 yards. Tennessee: Contributed in both the running and passing game against the Vols … racked up 90 yards and three scores on 20 carries … added a career-high six catches for 61 yards with a long gain of 14. Mississippi State: Posted another 100-plus yard performance with 119 yards on the ground … carried 21 times and averaged 5.7 yards per carry … also caught six passes once again, this time for 36 yards with a long of 11. Kentucky: Scored twice as part of his 13-carry, 83-yard effort on the ground … posted a career-long rush of 42 yards on his second score of the afternoon … added two receptions for 27 yards against UK. Auburn: Led all Tide runners with 11 rushes for 96 yards and a score … averaged a whopping 8.7 yards per carry with a long rush of 39 … found the end zone from 39 yards out, making the cut at the line before outrunning the Tiger defense … added two receptions for 34 yards … named one of the offensive players of the week by the Alabama staff for his play in the Iron Bowl. LSU: Recorded his 11th career 100-plus yard rushing game with 145 yards on 21 carries … averaged 6.9 yards per play with a long rush of 28 … added three touchdowns to put him at 40 for his career, making him one of only four running backs in Alabama history to record 40 scores … earned offensive player of the week accolades from the UA coaches for his play in Baton Rouge. Arkansas: Added two more rushing touchdowns to move his career total to 42, tying Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry for the all-time mark at UA … carried 14 times for 46 yards and the two scores … also caught one pass for two yards … added a tackle to his stat line. Florida: Picked up Most Valuable Player honors in the SEC Championship Game … totaled five touchdowns on the day to break the record for the most by any one player in an SEC Championship … contributed as both a rusher and receiver, finishing with a game-high 245 all-purpose yards … rushed 31 times for 178 yards with two touchdowns while averaging an impressive 5.7 yards per carry … his two touchdowns moved him into first place on the UA career rushing touchdowns list … added five receptions for 67 yards and a team-high three receiving touchdowns … recognized as one of the offensive players of the week by the Alabama staff for his play in Atlanta. Notre Dame: Led all rushers with 125 yards on only 15 carries … averaged 8.3 yards per tote with a long rush of 53 yards … added four receptions for 30 yards. Ohio State: Totaled 158 all-purpose yards and three combined touchdowns as he proved to be a versatile weapon against the Buckeyes … rushed 22 times for 79 yards and two scores … added a career-high seven catches totaling 79 yards and one more touchdown … converted a first down or a touchdown on five of his receptions with a long grab of 26 yards.
2021 NFL DRAFT PLAYER PROFILE-QB TREVOR LAWRENCE, CLEMSON
Recorded one of the most celebrated careers by a quarterback in college football history from 2018-20, leading Clemson to a national championship as a true freshman in 2018 and serving as the face and voice of the sport in the two seasons that followed … concluded his career 34-2 (.944) as a starter, the third-best winning percentage by a starting quarterback with at least 30 career starts since Division I split in 1978, trailing only Miami’s Ken Dorsey (.950) and USC’s Matt Leinart (.949), according to ESPN Stats & Info … exited as the winningest starting quarterback in Clemson history, surpassing the 32 career wins held by Rodney Williams, Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson … finished second in 2020 Heisman Trophy voting, tying Deshaun Watson for the highest finish in school history … completed 758-of-1138 career passes (66.6 percent) for 10,098 yards with 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions for a pass efficiency rating for 164.26 in 2,237 snaps over 40 career games (36 starts) … also rushed 231 times for 943 career rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns, the fifth-most career rushing touchdowns by a Clemson quarterback in the modern era … finished career undefeated as a starter in regular season play and did not lose a regular season game at either the high school or collegiate levels … made five career College Football Playoff starts, tying Jalen Hurts for the most by a quarterback and setting the record for the most at a single program … exited with Clemson career records in career winning percentage (.944), pass efficiency rating (164.3), yards per passing attempt (8.87) and tying for the most wins against Top 25 opponents (nine) … finished in the Top 5 in school history in career completion percentage (66.6, second), passing touchdowns (90, tied for second), interception percentage (1.49, second), passing yards (10,098, third), total offense yards (11,041, third), touchdown responsibility (108, third) and completions (758, fourth) … started the final 11 games in 2018 as a true freshman in helping Clemson become the first major college football team in the modern era to go 15-0 … helped the squad win each of its last 10 games by 20 points or more … became the first true freshman quarterback to lead his team to a national title since 1985 … was a consensus freshman All-America honoree who earned a bevy of nation-wide and conference-wide honors for both his athletic and academic success … his 164.26 career pass efficiency rating broke Jameis Winston’s ACC career record (163.28 from 2013-14) … first quarterback ever to win three ACC Championship Games … was only the sixth quarterback in ACC history to record 10,000 career passing yards and finished tied for third in conference history in career passing touchdowns.
2020: Became the second Heisman finalist in school history, joining 2015 and 2016 finalist Deshaun Watson and finishing second … Maxwell Award finalist … Davey O’Brien Award finalist… Manning Award finalist … Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award finalist … Walter Camp Player of the Year Finalist … won Bobby Bowden Trophy, becoming Clemson’s third winner in five years (Watson in 2016, Hunter Renfrow in 2018) … AFCA Good Works team selection … first-team All-American according to FWAA and Rivals … second-team All-America selection by the AFCA and The Athletic … third-team All-America selection by the AP … CFPA Elite National Performer of the Year … ACC Player of the Year and ACC Offensive Player of the Year … first-team All-ACC honoree … also captured first-team All-ACC selections from the AP and PFF … voted as a permanent team captain … All-ACC Academic Team selection … completed 231-of-334 passes with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions for a pass efficiency rating of 169.2 in 627 snaps over 10 games (all starts) … also rushed 68 times for 203 yards with eight rushing touchdowns … set school record by averaging 315.3 passing yards per game, breaking Deshaun Watson’s mark from 2016 (306.2) … also set single-season school record for completion percentage (69.2) … his 169.2 pass efficiency rating was the second-best in a season in school history … completed 22-of-28 passes for 351 yards and a touchdown and also added two rushing touchdowns at Wake Forest, the first game of 350-plus passing yards and multiple rushing touchdowns by a Clemson player since Tajh Boyd against NC State in 2012 … his passing touchdown at Wake Forest was the 67th of his career, moving him into the Top 10 in ACC history … set Clemson records for passing yards (351) and total offense (327) in a season opener in the performance against Wake Forest, earning ACC Quarterback of the Week and team offensive player of the game honors … completed 8-of-9 passes for 168 yards and three passing touchdowns and also added a two-yard rushing touchdown vs. The Citadel … completed 25-of-38 passes for 329 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions vs. Virginia, his ninth career 300-yard passing game … completed 29-of-41 passes, both season highs, for 292 yards with three touchdown passes and also rushed eight times for 34 yards with a rushing touchdown vs. No. 7 Miami, collecting ACC Co-Quarterback of the Week honors … completed 24-of-32 passes with career highs in passing yards (404) and passing touchdowns (five) at Georgia Tech, becoming the fourth Clemson quarterback to win 30 career games as a starter … his performance at Georgia Tech was his first career 400-yard passing game and the 10th by a Clemson quarterback all-time … his five-passing-touchdown output at Georgia Tech was the first by a Clemson quarterback since Deshaun Watson’s six-touchdown performance against South Carolina in 2016 … he threw an interception on his 12th pass attempt at Georgia Tech, ending a streak of 366 consecutive passes without an interception, the second-longest streak in ACC history and 13 pass attempts shy of matching the ACC record held by NC State’s Russell Wilson (379 from 2008-09); with 2020 being a leap year, Lawrence went 364 calendar days between interceptions dating to his last pick at Louisville on Oct. 19, 2019 … completed 22-of-27 passes for 391 yards with five touchdowns in the first half alone at Georgia Tech, setting school first-half records in both passing yards and passing touchdowns … earned ACC Quarterback of the Week and sharing team offensive player of the game honors for that performance at Georgia Tech … completed 27 of his career-high 43 passes for 289 yards with two touchdown passes vs. Syracuse … unavailable vs. Boston College and at No. 4 Notre Dame … completed 26-of-37 passes for 403 yards (one shy of his career high) with two touchdowns and no interceptions vs. Pitt, winning ACC Quarterback of the Week … completed 12-of-22 passes for 195 yards with one passing touchdown and added seven carries for 41 yards with a career-high-tying two rushing touchdowns at Virginia Tech, breaking the school record for wins as a starting quarterback shared previously by Rodney Williams, Tajh Boyd and Deshaun Watson (32 wins each) … was responsible for his 100th career touchdown in that game vs. Virginia Tech, joining Tajh Boyd (133), Lamar Jackson (119), Deshaun Watson (116) and Philip Rivers (112) as the only players in ACC history to be responsible for 100 career touchdowns … named MVP of ACC Championship Game vs. No. 2 Notre Dame after he completed 25-of-36 passes for 322 yards with two passing touchdowns and also rushed for a season-high 90 yards … his 412 yards of total offense against Notre Dame were second-most in ACC Championship Game history, trailing only Deshaun Watson’s 420-yard total offense output against North Carolina in 2015, as he became the first starting quarterback ever to win three ACC Championship Games … completed 33-of-48 passes for 400 yards with two touchdown passes vs. No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, the third 400-yard passing performance in a bowl game in Clemson history, joining Deshaun Watson’s efforts against Alabama to conclude the 2015 and 2016 seasons … also rushed for a touchdown against the Buckeyes … with the performance against Ohio State, tied Tajh Boyd for the second-most 400-yard passing games in school history (three) and tied Deshaun Watson for the second-most 300-yard passing games in school history (13).
IU EAST’S MILLER TABBED RSC MEN’S GOLFER OF THE WEEK
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Indiana University East sophomore Jake Miller had high finishes in both tournaments on the week to claim River States Conference Men’s Golfer of the Week for March 22-28.
The Richmond, Ind., product played 72 holes on the week and was a combined 5-over par on the week. He started out shooting rounds of 72 and 73 at the Union Bulldog Spring Invitational. That put him in sixth place of 78 golfers with a two-day total of 3-over 145.
Miller was fourth at the Alice Lloyd (Ky.) Spring Invitational. He opened up with a 2-under 68 and then shot 74 in the second round. That put him at 2-over 142 for the tournament, which had 52 players.
IU EAST DUO OF GUENTHER, TRAPP CLAIM RSC WOMEN’S SOCCER PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — Indiana University East defender Ellie Guenther and forward Kimberly Trapp swept the River States Conference Women’s Soccer Defensive and Offensive Player of the Week awards for March 22-28.
Guenther, a junior native of Indianapolis, Ind., was credited with great play in a 5-0 shutout of Midway (Ky.), the Red Wolves only game last week. It was the fourth straight conference shutout for the Red Wolves, who secured at least a share of the RSC regular season title and secured a top-two seed in the playoffs with the win.
Trapp, a freshman from Mt. Vernon, Ohio, put up five points in the victory and led the second-half charge that included four goals for the team. Along the way, Trapp scored twice and added an assist as well.
RSC Women’s Soccer Championship Qualifiers & Bracket announced for April 1-10
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio — The 2020-21 River States Conference Women’s Soccer Championship qualifiers and bracket are set with the completion of the regular season on Monday, March 29. The top six of the 11 teams in the conference qualified for the postseason April 1-10 at campus sites around the conference.
A three-way tie atop the conference exists with three teams sharing the RSC Women’s Soccer Regular Season Championship — Point Park (Pa.) University, Indiana University East and University of Rio Grande (Ohio) were all 8-2 RSC to share the title.
Point Park (8-2 RSC) claimed the No. 1 postseason seed by virtue of a tiebreaker going 2-0 versus the other two tied teams. IU East (8-2 RSC) is the No. 2 seed with a victory over Rio Grande (8-2 RSC), which takes the No. 3 seed.
Asbury (Ky.) University (7-2-1 RSC) beat IU East, 1-0, in double overtime on Monday to enact the tie at the top of the standings, and the Eagles took the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. No. 5 Ohio Christian (5-5 RSC) and No. 6 WVU Tech round out a deep bracket that features all six qualifiers above .500 in conference and four of them with seven or more wins in 10 RSC games.
No. 1 Point Park and No. 2 IU East both earned a bye into the semifinals. The championship begins with the quarterfinals on Thursday, April 1 with No. 3 Rio Grande hosting No. 6 WVU Tech and No. 4 Asbury hosting No. 5 Ohio Christian.
The Rio Grande-WVU Tech winner will advance to play at No. 2 IU East in the semifinals on Tuesday, April 6. The Asbury-Ohio Christian winner will move on to play at No. 1 Point Park that same day. The finals are April 10 at the highest remaining seed.
The RSC Women’s Soccer Championship winner will earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship, which begins April 15-17 with the opening round at campus sites.
Fan attendance and spectator policies for all games of the RSC Women’s Soccer Championship will be that of the host school of each individual games. Check the school website of the host school for information on that campus’ attendance policy.
The RSC Game Central presented by Stretch Internet will broadcast all games of the RSC Women’s Soccer Championship. Log on to RiverStatesConference.com/Stretch to subscribe.
2020-21 RIVER STATES CONFERENCE WOMEN’S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP
April 1-10 at Campus Sites (All Times Eastern)
Thursday, April 1 — Quarterfinals
No. 5 Ohio Christian at No. 4 Asbury (Ky.), 5 p.m.
No. 6 WVU Tech at No. 3 Rio Grande (Ohio), 6 p.m.
Tuesday, April 6 — Semifinals
Ohio Christian-Asbury Winner at No. 1 Point Park (Pa.), 12 p.m.
WVU Tech-Rio Grande Winner at No. 2 IU East, TBA
Saturday, April 10 — Finals
TBA at Highest Remaining Seed
OHIO STATE BASEBALL
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Maryland was 0-3 on the weekend coming into Monday’s finale and the Terrapins took out their frustrations in a 9-3 victory over Ohio State on Monday afternoon at Bill Davis Stadium.
The Buckeyes (8-7) got a home run from senior captain Conner Pohl to grab a 3-1 lead in the third inning. But then Maryland scored eight unanswered runs over the next four innings to come away with the victory.
In addition to Pohl, Mitchell Okuley and Kade Kern each had two hits in the game.
Starter Will Pfennig went 4.1 innings, allowing five runs on three hits but walked four. Joe Gahm came on in relief of Pfennig in the fifth and got the final twos outs to keep the Buckeyes in the game at 5-3. Nate Haberthier, Mitch Milheim, Wyatt Loncar and Ethan Hammerberg all worked an inning out of the pen.
The Buckeyes dented the scoreboard in the first inning as Okuley led off with a double and later scored on Pohl’s fielder’s choice. After Kern singled and Marcus Ernst walked, a wild pitch scored Pohl and the Buckeyes were in front 2-0.
Maryland got a solo home run in the top of the third to cut the lead in half. Conner Pohl then answered with his fourth home run of the season on a no-doubt-about it shot to right.
After the first batter flew out, Maryland scored four times with one out in the fifth on a two-run homer and a two-run single. The Terrapins also added two-run singles in both the sixth and seventh innings to provide the final margin.
Ohio State will continue the homestand next weekend when it welcomes Big Ten leading Indiana to town. The four-game series starts on Friday afternoon at 4:05. The teams will then play a double-header on Saturday followed by one game on Easter Sunday.
HCAC Spring 2021 Baseball Notebook, Week 4
Athletes of the Week:
Hitter of the Week:
Michael Pinarski (Goshen, Ind.) Manchester University | Shortstop/Pitcher | Senior – Pinarski went 8-16 at the plate as Manchester went 4-1 this week. Pinarski had three doubles, a home run and three RBI as Manchester downed Bluffton, Rose-Hulman, and earned a split with Anderson this week. Mike also came in and earned a big save in a 5-4 victory against Rose-Hulman on Saturday. Pinarski helped MU complete the sweep of RIHT with back-to-back strikeouts to end the game.
Pitcher of the Week:
Austin Kresl (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Manchester University | Pitcher | Junior – Kresl made two pitching appearances for Manchester this week. On Wednesday, he earned his first career save in an 11-8 win over Bluffton. He then through 10 scoreless innings against Rose-Hulman on Saturday in the best outing of his career. Kresl allowed just one run while allowing six hits and striking out five. He was incredibly efficient, throwing 97 pitches, 71 for strikes. Manchester would win 2-1 in 12 innings as part of a 4-1 week.
- Jason Hall-Manley (New Palestine, Ind.) Anderson University | Outfield | Junior – Hall-Manley went 7-for-17 with two doubles, a grand slam, eight RBI and six runs. His most notable performance was during a 14-4 seven-inning win against Earlham, where he went 3-for-4 with two doubles and grand slam, finishing with three runs and five RBI. For the week, he finished with a .412 batting average, a .500 on-base percentage and a .706 slugging percentage.
- Travis Bevington (Brownsburg, Ind.) Anderson University | Pitcher | First Year – Bevington led the Ravens to a 12-2 eight-inning win against Manchester in Game 2. Bevington struck out nine batters, issued three walks and allowed two runs on three hits in seven innings.
- Reid Ruhl (Hamilton, Ohio) Bluffton University | Outfield | Senior – Ruhl hit .429 with nine hits and eight runs scored to help the Beavers put together a 2-3 week on the diamond. He added three RBI while slugging .619 with a .520 OBP.
- Jacob Boelkens (Millbury, Ohio) Bluffton University | Pitcher | Sophomore – Boelkens pitched 8.0 innings across two outings, going 0-1 on the seek. He struck out eight with a 3.38 ERA. Opponents batted just .233 against him.
- Nate Kaffenbarger (De Graff, Ohio) Defiance College | Outfield | Senior – In four games last week, Defiance’s Nate Kaffenbarger batted .438 (7-for-16) with two home runs, a double, three RBI and two runs scored. He posted a slugging percentage of .875 and an on-base percentage of .471.
- Danny Dopp (South Haven, Mich.) Earlham College | Designated Hitter | Graduate Student – Dopp batted .636 (7-for-11) with six runs scored and six RBI over three complete games last week, after missing the previous five games due to injury. He went 3-for-5 with a run and one RBI in the Quakers’ completed game one of a doubleheader versus Franklin, with a double. In the doubleheader with Hanover, Dopp was 2-for-3 in each of the two game, with three runs and two RBI in game 1 and two runs with three RBI in game two including a two-run home run. For the week, Dopp had a 1.000 slugging percentage with 11 total bases and a .688 on-base percentage, also drawing three walks and an HBP against just one strikeout. In addition, Dopp went 3-for-5 with three runs and one RBI and one home run in the incomplete game against Franklin, which was halted due to darkness tied 8-8 headed into the top of the 11th inning.
- Nick Wright (Bloomington, Ind.) Franklin College | Infield | Senior – Wright batted .357 (5-for-14) with two home runs, 10 RBI and three runs scored for the Grizzlies in three games against Earlham and Bluffton. He played the hero for Franklin in their comeback win over Earlham on Saturday, going 4-for-6 with seven RBI that included a game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth and a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 10th that gave Franklin a 12-9 win. He knocked in three more runs for Franklin on Sunday in their double-header split with Bluffton.
- Tyler Robinson (Whiteland, Ind.) Franklin College | Pitcher | Senior – Robinson made his first career start in game two of Franklin’s double-header with Bluffton on Sunday and tossed six innings of shutout ball as Franklin claimed a 9-1 win. He scattered five hits and struck out seven batters, setting a career high for punch-outs in a game.
- Charlie Burton (Columbus, Ind.) Hanover College | Catcher | Junior – Burton posted a strong week at the plate for the Panthers posting a 1.000 slugging percentage with a team-high four homeruns. He went 11-for-26 with six runs and a team-best 11 RBI. The starting catcher also charted three doubles. His week outburst propelled him to a tie for the top spot among the HCAC in homeruns.
- Eli Copner (Zionsville, Ind.) Hanover College | Pitcher | Senior – Copner continues to be the top pitcher for the Panthers as he made one start last week against Bluffton. The senior finished the contest tying a game-high eight strikeouts through seven complete innings, propelling him to the top spot among the league with 34 total. He finished the week with a 3.86 ERA.
- Manuel Lopez (Fort Wayne, Ind.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Shortstop | First Year – Manuel finished 4-9 for Rose-Hulman with two doubles and three runs scored. He added one stolen base and was perfect in the field on eight chances. Lopez slugged .667 and had an on-base average of .500.
- Matthew Rouse (Louisville, Ky.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Pitcher | Junior – Rouse allowed one run in 8.1 innings for Rose-Hulman in his appearance at Manchester with nine strikeouts. Rouse held the Spartans to a .241 batting average.
- Riley Willbur (Louisville, Ky.) Transylvania University | Outfield | Senior – The outfielder went 10-for-20 (.500 BA) at the plate this week to lead the surging Pioneers to a 3-1 record against HCAC opponents, including a doubleheader midweek sweep of Hanover with a pair of high-powered offensive wins. Willbur was unstoppable to begin his Wednesday doubleheader as Transy beat Hanover 11-8 and 5-4. In the game one 11-8 win, Willbur went a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate with three doubles (matching a career-high for single-game doubles), three RBI, and one home run to finish a triple short of hitting for the cycle. Between the two games versus Hanover, Willbur collected hits in his first six at-bats of the day and had four doubles total in the Wednesday doubleheader. Willbur offered another complete performance in Saturday’s 16-6 win over Mount St. Joseph, driving in the first run of the day en route to a 3-for-6 games at the plate with two RBI, one double, and a stolen base. After Mount St. Joseph cut an 8-1 lead to 8-6 by the bottom of the seventh, Willbur ignited an eight-run ninth inning by leading off with a double and later scoring a runner on an RBI in his second at-bat of the inning. Willbur finished the week batting .500 with 10 total hits, seven RBI, five doubles, two home runs, two walks, a stolen base, six runs scored and had at least one hit in every game. He added a slugging percentage of 1.050 and an on-base percentage of .546.
- Evan Hall (Lexington, Ky.) Transylvania University | Pitcher | Senior – The senior registered a career-high 11 strikeouts and allowed zero earned runs to claim his first win of the season (and his first in three seasons after missing the past two due to injury) in Wednesday’s 11-8 win over Hanover. Hall pitched a season-high six innings in the win, allowing three hits, two walks against his career-best 11 strikeouts. The senior struck out all three batters he faced in the third inning. Starting with the last batter faced in the second inning through the first batter faced in the fifth, Hall retired seven of nine batters on strikeouts, including four straight at one point. Hall’s durable outing propelled the Pioneers to their fifth straight win.
HCAC Spring 2021 Softball Notebook, Week 6
Athletes of the Week:
Hitter of the Week:
Kalin Hubble (Anderson, Ind.) Defiance College | Utility | Junior – In four games last week, in which Defiance went 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the HCAC, Kalin Hubble batted .643 (9-for-14) with three home runs, three doubles, 10 RBI and five runs scored. She was also 2-for-2 in stolen bases while putting together a 1.500 slugging percentage and .600 on-base percentage. In DC’s doubleheader sweep at Bluffton last Tuesday, Hubble went 5-for-7 with two homers, a double, six RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases.
Pitcher of the Week:
Taylor Biggs (Cincinnati, Ohio) Defiance College | Pitcher/First Base | Senior – Biggs pitched in all four of Defiance’s contests last week, recording two wins and a save in the Yellow Jackets’ three victories. She tossed two complete games and over 15 innings, allowed just two earned runs for a 0.93 ERA. Biggs gave up nine hits and finished the week with 14 strikeouts as opponents batted only .180 against her.
- Taylor Shimp (St. Marys, Ohio) Bluffton University | First Base | Junior – Shimp went 3-of-5 for a .600 batting average with two RBI and one run scored as Bluffton dropped a doubleheader to Defiance on Tuesday afternoon.
- Taylor Biggs (Cincinnati, Ohio) Defiance College | Pitcher/First Base | Senior – Biggs pitched in all four of Defiance’s contests last week, recording two wins and a save in the Yellow Jackets’ three victories. She tossed two complete games and over 15 innings, allowed just two earned runs for a 0.93 ERA. Biggs gave up nine hits and finished the week with 14 strikeouts as opponents batted only .180 against her.
- Natalie Weber (Shelbyville, Ind.) Franklin College | Catcher | Senior – Weber went 3-for-6 with five runs scored, two doubles, a home run and three RBI for Franklin in their double-header split with Hanover on Wednesday. She did all of her damage in game two, going 3-for-4 at the plate with her second home run of the year and two RBI doubles as Franklin set a program record for runs in a game in a 26-8 win.
- Kendra Hutchison (Lafayette, Ind.) Hanover College | Utility | Sophomore – Hutchison posted a strong week for the Panthers as they split with Franklin and Spalding. The sophomore posted an impressive .917 slugging percentage with a team-best eight RBI. She went for 6-for-12 at the plate with five doubles, placing her in the top spot with a season total of 12. Hutchison finished the week with a .500 batting average.
- Kendal Torrence (Lowell, Ind.) Manchester University | Outfield | Senior – Torrence went 5-10 this week with 3 runs scored, 2 doubles, and 2 RBI. Torrence’s hot week upped her batting average to .333 this season.
- Alehia Tucker (Covington, Ky.) Mount St. Joseph University | Shortstop | Senior – Tucker led the Lions to a 3-1 week, as they squared off with Denison and Wittenberg. Tucker was outstanding at the plate for the Lions going 6-of-13 (.462), scoring seven runs, driving in three, hitting a pair of home runs, a double and stole three bases in three attempts. She did so while providing outstanding defense for the Lions at short.
- Sarah Miller (Fishers, Ind.) Mount St. Joseph University | Pitcher | Senior – Miller helped the Lions to a 3-1 week against Denison and Wittenberg. Against Denison on Tuesday, Miller got the win in game one going 5.0 innings allowing four hits and a single earned run while striking out eight. Then on Saturday against Wittenberg she threw a complete game, three-hitter allowing just a single earned run while striking out seven.
- Jessica Thuer (Cicero, Ind.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | First base | Senior – Thuer finished 4-6 with 1 double, 1 run scored, 3 RBIs and perfect fielding in 11 attempts to lead Rose-Hulman in a doubleheader split with Manchester. Thuer hit .667 in the performance.
- Ashley Pinkham (Leawood, Kan.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Pitcher/Second Base | Sophomore – Pinkham pitched her first career shutout and picked up her first career win for Rose-Hulman. Pinkham allowed just three hits with one strikeout in the complete game victory.
HCAC Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Notebook, Week 2
Athletes of the Week:
Jacob Eve (Corydon, Ind.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | First Year – Eve won the 400-meter dash at the DePauw Quad Meet with an HCAC leading time of 49.75 seconds.
Tim Youndt (Pottstown, Pa.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Sophomore – Youndt won the triple jump (43′ 5 1/4″) and came home third in the long jump (20′ 5 3/4″) to lead Rose-Hulman’s second place team performance at the DePauw Quad Meet. He also placed fourth in a track event, the 110-hurdles.
Noelle Loller (Lapel, Ind.) Anderson University | Sophomore – During the Yellow Jacket Collegiate Open, Noelle Loller clocked a 5K time of 18:43.79, which is the fastest time in the conference. She also posted a 1,500 time of 5:12.44, which currently ranks second in the HCAC.
Erin Browning (Greensburg, Ind.) Hanover College | Senior – Browning claimed the top spot in the hammer throw for the Blue and Red as part of the DePauw Quad Meet Saturday afternoon. The senior won the event with a toss of 50.28 meters. Her toss ranks her sixth among Division III athletes and as the best among HCAC opponents.
- Josh Soden (Anderson, Ind.) Anderson University | First Year – Soden raced to a time of 2:03.89 in the 800, which currently ranks third in the HCAC.
- Sheldan Lindsay (Stone Mountain, Ga.) Earlham College | Junior – Lindsay set a new top mark in the HCAC in the 100m after posting a time of 11.39 on Saturday at the Cedarville University Yellow Jacket Open. Lindsay’s time is the best in the HCAC so far in the outdoor season, and helped him finish 22nd in the event at the meet. Lindsay also ran a 23.39 in the 200m at the Cedarville meet to finish 40th, but that mark was good enough to be eighth in the HCAC.
- Conner Hunnard (Osgood, Ind.) Earlham College | Sophomore – Hubbard placed 19th in the shot put (12.58m / 41-3.25) and 31st in the discus (35.20m / 115-6) at Saturday’s Cedarville Yellow Jacket Open. His discus mark is fourth-best in the HCAC this outdoor season, while the shot put mark places him second on the HCAC performance list.
- Ethan Weston (Mount Washington, Ky.) Hanover College | First Year – Weston continued his impressive first year campaign over the weekend as he won the 5,000-meter run as part of the DePauw Outdoor Quad Meet. He finished the race with a time of 15:56.92.
- Reece Hunter (Mooresville, Ind.) Hanover College | Senior – Hunter claimed the top spot in the high jump on Saturday as part of the DePauw Outdoor Quad Meet. The senior won the event with a height of 1.93 meters.
- Jacob Burnam (Louisville, Ky.) Transylvania University | Junior – Burnam placed 10th in the 5,000-meter run at the ultra-competitive IWU Polar Bear Invitational. The junior finished the race with a time of 15:37.55, the fastest mark in the HCAC this season.
- Gunnar Eaton (Glasgow, Ky.) Transylvania University | Senior – Competing at the IWU Polar Bear Invitational, Eaton placed seventh in the men’s javelin throw (45.77 meters), and 11th in the men’s hammer throw (46.12 meters). Both marks currently stand as best in the HCAC this season.
- Emily Smatlak (Lynnwood, Wash.) Anderson University | Senior – During the Yellow Jacket Collegiate Open, Smatlak fired the javelin 37.08 meters, which currently leads the conference.
- Shianna Bellingham (Dillsboro, Ind.) Earlham College | Sophomore – Bellingham finished ninth in the 10,000m at the Cedarville University Yellow Jacket Open on Saturday, crossing the finish line in 41:05.11. That time represents the best time in the event in the HCAC this season.
- Arig Tong (Columbus, Ind.) Hanover College | Junior – Tong led the Panthers at the DePauw Quad meet on Saturday afternoon. The junior won the 5,000-meter run in a time of 19:13.00.
- Nosa Igiehon (Wheeling, Ill.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Sophomore – Igiehon won the 100-meter hurdles at the DePauw Quad in a time of 16.32 seconds. She also won two field events, taking home first place honors in the high jump (5′ 2 1/4″) and the triple jump (37′ 3″).
- Claire Perkins (Danville, Ind.) Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology | Junior – Perkins won the pole vault with a mark of 10′ 2″ to tie for second place in Rose-Hulman history at the DePauw Quad. Perkins effort also marked a career-best performance.
- Taylor Allen (Louisville, Ky.) Transylvania University | Junior – Allen made her return to action at the IWU Polar Bear Invitational after over a year away due to injury. The junior placed seventh in the women’s 400-meter dash with a time of 1:01.06, the fastest mark in the HCAC this season.
TODAY IN BASEBALL HISTORY
1922 A frail-looking Christy Mathewson, who served as class president in 1899, is elected as Bucknell’s “B” Club first president. The beloved future Hall of Famer, who will die prematurely in 1925 from tuberculosis after being accidentally gassed in a training exercise during WWI, played on the school’s football team as a placekicker and excelled as a pitcher on the baseball team.
1966 Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale’s refusal to report to spring training ends when the hurlers agree to the Dodgers’ offer of $235,000, signing for $130,000 and $105,000, respectively. The LA starters’ joint holdout lasts for 32 days, paving the way for other players to be more aggressive when negotiating with owners.
1978 The Red Sox obtain Dennis Eckersley and catcher Fred Kendall from the Indians for pitchers Rick Wise and Mike Paxton, designated hitter Ted Cox, and catcher Bo Diaz. The 23 year-old ‘Eck,’ before becoming a Hall of Fame closer, will win 20 games as a starter for Boston this season.
1979 After hitting only .231 in 61 games last season, Ron Blomberg is released during spring training by the White Sox, completing one year of his long-term deal. Chicago owner Bill Veeck had surprisingly signed the first baseman/DH, who had played in only one game during his last two seasons with the Yankees, to a generous four-year, $500,000 contract in 1977 that included an additional $80,000 signing bonus.
1984 The Padres obtain Yankee veteran third baseman Graig Nettles for pitcher Dennis Rasmussen and prospect Darin Cloninger. The 39 year-old infielder’s postseason experience will prove to be invaluable for the NL’s West Division champs, but his on-field contributions will be minimal, hitting just .228 in 124 games.
1991 A sold-out Joe Robbie Stadium plays host to the Yankees and the Orioles exhibition game, which draws 67,654 fans, a spring training attendance record. The two-day series between the AL East rivals is part of South Florida’s efforts to be awarded a National League expansion team.
1992 The White Sox trade Sammy Sosa and pitcher Ken Patterson to the crosstown rival Cubs in exchange for 32 year-old All-Star slugger George Bell, who spends two seasons with his new team before retiring. Sosa will pass Ernie Banks as the franchise’s all-time home run leader, going deep 545 times during his 13-year tenure with the North Siders.
1993 After 43 years, Peanuts character Charlie Brown finally hits a home run, a game-winning round-tripper batting against his nemesis Royanne Hobbs. Almost ten percent of the nearly 18,000 Peanuts strips created by Charles Schulz focused on baseball.
1995 New York Southern District judge Sonia Sotomayor, after careful consideration of the case, rules that the owners’ use of replacement players is in good faith regarding the negotiation for a new collective bargaining agreement, resulting in the players returning to work under the terms of the expired contract. The future Supreme Court Justice’s decision ends the 232-day work stoppage, with fans showing their displeasure about the loss of last season and the cancellation of the World Series by not immediately supporting their local teams when the games resume in late April.
2001 In the East Room, President George W. Bush tells a group of Hall of Famers he is sending an invitation to kids from all over the nation to play baseball on the White House lawn on a junior-size baseball field planned for construction outside the Oval Office. The Commander in Chief enjoys a moment of levity with the group, citing the beloved Yogi Berra as an inspiration for his command of the English language.
2001 Dwight Gooden, choosing to end his career as a member of the World Champion Bronx Bombers, announces his retirement from baseball. The 36-year-old ‘Doc,’ who compiles a 194-112 record (.634) in 16 seasons playing for the Mets, Yankees, Indians, Astros, and Devil Rays, will have a position within the organization, remaining on owner George Steinbrenner’s payroll.
2003 Major League baseball returns to Brooklyn for a day when the Mets appear at KeySpan Park, the Coney Island home of the short-season single-A Cyclones, for the team’s final preseason workout. Rain cancels the practice session, but fans enjoy meeting the players and collecting autographs, with the profits made from beverage and other sales donated to charities in the NYC area serving children.
2006 As a result of the recently released book detailing Barry Bonds allegedly using performance-enhancing drugs, Bud Selig appoints George Mitchell to head an investigation into the use of steroids in baseball. The former Senate Majority Leader will have the authority to expand the probe, which will be made public into events before the Fall of 2002, covering a period when the substances became banned by major league baseball.
2012 Jamie Moyer becomes the oldest starting pitcher to make an Opening Day roster when the Rockies announce that the 49 year-old southpaw will face Houston in the second game of the season. Knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm was the same age as the Colorado left-hander when he opened the season with L.A. in 1972, but ‘Old Sarge’ appeared strictly in relief for the Dodgers.
2016 Arizona State University announces the Sun Devils plan to wear retro uniforms with a commemorative patch on the sleeve to honor alum Rick Monday for his patriotic gesture in 1976. The ASU graduate, who led the school to the 1965 College World Series championship over Ohio State, saved the American flag from being burned by two protesters at Dodger Stadium during the American Bicentennial.
2019 Christian Yelich becomes the only Brewer player in franchise history to hit a home run in each of his team’s first three games when he goes deep in the first inning of a 4-2 victory over St. Louis. The outfielder’s trio of round-trippers has all come at Miller Park at the expense of the Cardinals.
TODAY IN SPORTS HISTORY-1968
PARIS-In a historic decision, the International Lawn Tennis Federation voted unanimously today for open tennis. That means that professionals will be allowed to compete against amateurs in a limited number of tournaments. Not one dissenting voice was heard as the entire agenda was approved with resounding applause at this extraordinary general meeting, fittingly enough held in the Place de la Concorde.
“It was an incredible result achieved here,” said Bob Kelleher, president of the United States Lawn Tennis Association, “in a spirit of highest cooperation and friendliness.” Until today, the federation had adamantly voted down over the years all attempts to introduce open tennis. In 1967 at Luxembourg, the open proposal was defeated, 139 votes to 83.
The British had made approval possible. In an unparalleled decision, they announced last October they would make the 1968 Wimbledon tournament an open. They said that in the future all players in Britain would be simply “players,” not amateurs or professionals. And the British said they were ready to risk expulsion from the federation to make open tennis possible. Country after country fell into line, and today the world agreed.
What the federation is prepared to recognize is the following categories of tennis players: the “amateur,” who is not paid; the “registered” player, who can profit from the game while not making tennis his profession, and the “professional,” who makes his money from teaching or playing in events not organized by the national association. Everybody seemed happy. “It’s a wonderful thing,” said 70- year-old Jean Borotra, who had won Wimbledon as long ago as 1924. “Amateurism is preserved.”
The British were pleased. They continue their own interpretation of “players” as just that, neither amateurs nor pros, but they recognize the rights of other nations to call them what they want. The United States voted for open tennis in February and had worked here solidly behind the scenes all week for its success. Under the new conditions, the open tourney would logically be held in Forest Hills, Queens, the site of the national amateur championships, in early September. “I don’t know whether Forest Hills wants an open,” said Kelleher. “You have to creep before you can crawl, and the evolutionary process will take time.”
The first United States Open was held in September 1968. The tournament moved from Forest Hills to the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows in 1978.
1987: Keith Smart popped in a 17-foot jumper from the corner with four seconds left to lift Indiana University to a 74‚73 victory over Syracuse at the Superdome in New Orleans and give the Hoosiers their third N.C.A.A. title in the turbulent reign of Coach Bobby Knight.
1966: Sandy Koufax (see Sept. 9) and Don Drysdale, the star pitching tandem of the world champion Los Angeles Dodgers, ended a 32-day double holdout, signing with the club. Each received an estimated $135,000. Koufax went 27‚9 with a 1.73 earned run average in his last season but was forced to retire with arthritis in his remarkable left arm (see Nov. 18).
1991: Led by Christian Laettner with 18 points, Duke University upset defending champion Nevada‚Las Vegas, 79‚77, in the semifinals of the N.C.A.A. tournament at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. The loss snapped a 45-game winning streak for the Runnin’ Rebels. Two days later Duke beat Kansas to win its first title in nine trips to the Final Four.
|W||L||Pct||Conf GB||Home||Road||Div||Conf||Last 10||Streak|
|1 Philadelphia||32||14||.696||—||19-4||13-10||8-2||22-7||8-2||1 L|
|2 Brooklyn||32||15||.681||0.5||18-6||14-9||5-2||17-10||8-2||2 W|
|3 Milwaukee||29||17||.630||3.0||18-7||11-10||9-0||18-9||7-3||3 L|
|4 Charlotte||23||22||.511||8.5||13-9||10-13||6-1||12-9||6-4||1 L|
|5 New York||24||23||.511||8.5||14-9||10-14||1-6||17-15||5-5||1 L|
|6 Atlanta||23||23||.500||9.0||11-9||12-14||3-3||13-12||7-3||1 L|
|7 Boston||23||24||.489||9.5||13-8||10-16||3-5||16-13||4-6||1 L|
|8 Miami||23||24||.489||9.5||12-12||11-12||5-5||14-15||4-6||1 W|
|9 Indiana||21||24||.467||10.5||8-12||13-12||5-3||13-14||5-5||1 L|
|10 Chicago||19||26||.422||12.5||9-16||10-10||3-3||9-11||3-7||4 L|
|11 Toronto||18||29||.383||14.5||9-12||9-17||3-5||12-17||1-9||3 L|
|12 Washington||17||28||.378||14.5||10-14||7-14||1-6||7-20||3-7||2 W|
|13 Cleveland||17||30||.362||15.5||11-12||6-18||3-5||13-12||3-7||3 L|
|14 Orlando||15||31||.326||17.0||10-15||5-16||4-4||10-17||2-8||2 L|
|15 Detroit||13||33||.283||19.0||8-13||5-20||0-9||9-21||3-7||1 W|
|W||L||Pct||Conf GB||Home||Road||Div||Conf||Last 10||Streak|
|1 Utah||35||11||.761||—||20-2||15-9||3-2||15-6||8-2||6 W|
|2 Phoenix||31||14||.689||3.5||15-8||16-6||5-2||19-8||7-3||2 W|
|3 LA Clippers||32||16||.667||4.0||17-6||15-10||6-2||18-9||8-2||6 W|
|4 LA Lakers||30||17||.638||5.5||16-10||14-7||2-5||19-10||6-4||2 W|
|5 Denver||28||18||.609||7.0||13-9||15-9||7-1||15-11||7-3||2 W|
|6 Portland||28||18||.609||7.0||14-9||14-9||3-4||15-12||7-3||3 W|
|7 Dallas||24||21||.533||10.5||11-10||13-11||5-2||15-14||5-5||1 W|
|8 San Antonio||23||21||.523||11.0||11-14||12-7||4-6||12-17||4-6||1 L|
|9 Memphis||22||22||.500||12.0||11-13||11-9||4-5||11-16||5-5||1 W|
|10 Golden State||23||24||.489||12.5||14-9||9-15||3-7||12-14||4-6||1 W|
|11 Sacramento||22||25||.468||13.5||12-12||10-13||4-4||10-11||7-3||5 W|
|12 New Orleans||21||25||.457||14.0||14-11||7-14||5-3||12-17||6-4||2 W|
|13 Oklahoma City||19||27||.413||16.0||8-15||11-12||3-6||11-18||4-6||3 L|
|14 Houston||13||33||.283||22.0||6-17||7-16||4-6||9-17||2-8||1 L|
|15 Minnesota||11||36||.234||24.5||6-17||5-19||3-6||8-21||3-7||2 L|
|New York Islanders||36||22||10||4||48||20||106||84||13-1-2||9-9-2||6-4-0|
|New York Rangers||34||15||15||4||34||14||107||92||7-6-3||8-9-1||5-4-1|
|New Jersey Devils||33||13||16||4||30||13||79||101||4-11-2||9-5-2||5-4-1|
|Vegas Golden Knights||33||24||8||1||49||24||108||75||14-2-1||10-6-0||8-2-0|
|St. Louis Blues||35||16||13||6||38||14||100||113||4-8-4||12-5-2||2-5-3|
|Los Angeles Kings||33||13||14||6||32||12||92||94||6-4-4||7-10-2||3-6-1|
|San Jose Sharks||34||14||16||4||32||9||95||118||6-6-2||8-10-2||4-5-1|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||35||22||10||3||47||22||116||91||12-6-2||10-4-1||4-5-1|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||34||24||8||2||50||23||123||82||13-2-0||11-6-2||6-4-0|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||36||13||15||8||34||11||91||117||7-6-6||6-9-2||3-4-3|
|Detroit Red Wings||36||12||20||4||28||12||79||115||9-8-3||3-12-1||5-4-1|