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After surgeries, Chapman ready to help A’s contend again

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Matt Chapman didn’t have a lot of time to savor his strong season — or the Oakland Athletics’ surprise playoff run — during the winter.

The 25-year-old third baseman had planned to have surgery on his right thumb after the season ended, but he also ended up getting an operation on his left shoulder in December. Both injuries had been bothering Chapman for a while.

“The shoulder was kind of a fluke thing, but it was hurting me the last couple years,” Chapman said. “Just overuse. … I didn’t really think it was anything besides just being sore.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Now he’s ready to build on a year in which he hit 24 homers, won a Gold Glove and finished seventh in AL MVP voting.10

His preparation has been compressed because of the surgeries and Oakland’s early start to spring training and the regular season. The A’s will travel to Japan to play the Seattle Mariners in the season-opening series on March 20-21.

“I think he’s right on schedule,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said Friday. “We maybe got him in there a day earlier than we expected. He’s running up close to 20 at-bats, which I didn’t think we’d have right now. I think everything’s going great with him.”nfl nike jersey cheap

Chapman has been to the plate 16 times this spring, with four walks and four hits including a double and a home run.

“Just getting more and more healthy and strong each day,” he said. “No excuses now.”

The A’s won a surprising 97 games last year even with injuries to their entire starting rotation. Now they’re aiming even higher.

“Hopefully continue to build on what we did last year,” Chapman said. “One hundred wins. Win the division. If your goals going into the season aren’t to win your division or make the playoffs, then what are you playing for?”

Molina continues comeback, catches Mikolas

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St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina took another step in his comeback from left knee surgery in December by catching Opening Day starter Miles Mikolas in a camp game Wednesday.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Molina, a nine-time All-Star, took part in a game played at the team’s complex in Jupiter, Florida, that included players who didn’t travel for the Cardinals’ 9-5 win over the New York Yankees in Tampa.9

“Yadi caught Miles, threw a couple guys out, took his at-bats, so favorable positive day back on the ranch so to speak,” manager Mike Shildt said. “They got their work in. It’s a good day for the Cardinals.”

The 36-year-old Molina has not played in a spring training game. He has averaged 133 games behind the plate over the past three seasons.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Mikolas went 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA and was an NL All-Star last season.

Chelsea’s Hudson-Odoi should not be held back by age – Loftus-Cheek

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Hudson-Odoi came off the bench to cap a lively 12-minute cameo with Chelsea’s third goal in a 3-0 victory over Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League round-of-16 first leg on Thursday. And after the match, Loftus-Cheek said talent should be the only consideration when deciding his teammate’s minutes on the pitch.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“If he’s good enough, he’s good enough,” Loftus-Cheek said of Hudson-Odoi. “I think the manager knows him well.

“He sees him in training every day and he will make the decision. But Callum is doing well at the minute and that’s all you can do. I think he is doing so well now; he just wants to play. He is young, fresh, has that momentum. He is scoring so when he doesn’t start and feels he should, it’s part of the game.10

“I’ve told him: ‘You’re at a big club, you’re young, just keep your head focused and keep doing what you’re doing’ — like he did against Dynamo. He came on and did well.”

Hudson-Odoi submitted a formal transfer request in January after Bayern Munich bid £35 million to sign him, and fears remain that the 18-year-old will simply force his way out of Stamford Bridge this summer by threatening to run down his contract, which expires in June 2020.

Loftus-Cheek, who spent years on the fringes of Chelsea’s first-team squad before joining Crystal Palace on loan in 2017, said he sympathises with his teammate.

“I know what he is going through, having been at that age in the first team as well,” Loftus-Cheek said. “If I can help him do well, I’d love to do that.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“He is such a good kid and seeing him do so well I’m really happy for him — to give him that assist felt good.”

Loftus-Cheek’s own attempts to break into Chelsea’s starting XI under Sarri this season have been undermined by persistent back injuries, but the midfielder said he is cautiously optimistic that the worst of his fitness nightmare is behind him.

Liga MX W2W4: Monterrey and Tigres clash in Clasico Regio, La Volpe returns to Toluca

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It doesn’t get much bigger than this. A crosstown rivalry clash between the two title favorites will be one of the defining moments of the Clausura.

Sitting in the top two spots of the Liga MX table, Tigres and Monterrey have so far been the most impressive teams in 2019. Thanks to a reliable backline and a six-game winning streak, Tigres are currently sitting in first place on 22 points. Although Monterrey are one point behind their local rivals, Los Rayados’ attack remains the most dominant in the league.

At the risk of overlooking some of the X’s and O’s of the Clasico, there is very little between the two rivals who both boast an embarrassment of riches on the pitch. Even if Tigres striker Andre-Pierre Gignac isn’t 100 percent fit and available this week, the upcoming match will still be a star-studded affair that will feature many of the league’s top talents.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale9

With some help from a restored attack, Tijuana has surpassed all expectations. A current position of fourth in the league table and a place in the quarterfinals of the Copa MX has caught even the most optimistic of Tijuana fans off guard. Benefitting from Pareja’s leadership on the sidelines, Xolos are also on an eight-game unbeaten streak in all competitions.

Will Pareja extend that streak to nine this Saturday against Pachuca?cheap nfl nike jerseys china

Even though they’ve have had some serious defensive issues this season, Los Tuzos have remained quite strong at home. In the last 11 league games at the Estadio Hidalgo, Pachuca have collected eight victories and three draws. When looking at their previous Copa MX and Liga MX matches, Xolos have also never gained an away win over Pachuca.

After his early success with Tijuana, will Pareja be the first Xolos manager to steal three points at the Hidalgo?

How Mike Trout could wind up with Bryce Harper in Philly

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The ink is barely dry on Bryce Harper’s contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, and Mike Trout is under contract with the Los Angeles Angels for the next two seasons, but everyone already is talking about what might happen after the 2020 season. That’s when Trout can hit free agency and sign with the Phillies, teaming up with the player he was so closely linked with back in 2012, when both were hotshot rookies.cheap nfl custom jerseys

Consider some of the comments after Harper’s 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies was announced:

Jeff Passan, ESPN.com: “The deal is mutually beneficial. Philadelphia adds a middle-of-the-order bat to a lineup that already includes the homegrown Rhys Hoskins and a pair of dangerous trade acquisitions: catcher J.T. Realmuto and shortstop Jean Segura. It gets to sell tickets and sponsorships around Harper. And because the deal’s average annual value is $25.4 million, it gets flexibility to spend more in coming offseasons and not run the risk of exceeding the luxury-tax threshold. In other words: Yes, an outfield with Harper and Philadelphia-area native Mike Trout is realistic.”9
Ken Rosenthal, The Athletic: “So, $330 million was the magic number. The average fan probably sees no further than that total. The average Phillies fan likely is salivating, knowing Harper’s relatively low AAV will give the team greater room under the luxury-tax threshold and enable it to pursue other expensive players in the future — most notably Mike Trout if he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season.”

Joe Sheehan’s newsletter: “There’s no need to be coy; Mike Trout is scheduled to reach free agency at the end of the 2020 season, and he plays for a team that has made the postseason once in his seven full seasons, one that is unlikely to get to October in 2019.”cheap nike nfl jerseys china

Then came the hammer, from Harper himself during his introductory news conference in Clearwater, Florida, on Saturday: “I’m making 26 [million] a year. That’s going to be able to bring some other guys in as well to build up this organization. There’s another guy in about two years that comes off the books. We’ll see what happens with that.”

If that sounds like a recruiting pitch for Trout, well, that’s exactly what it was. Harper even said he consulted with Trout during his free-agent process. Of course, there is no guarantee that Trout reaches free agency. The Angels remain hopeful about signing him to a mega-extension, although if that happens it likely won’t happen until next offseason. On Friday, the day after Harper’s agreement with the Phillies broke, Trout remained mum on his future, saying his focus is on getting ready for the season.

Here’s hoping: LeBron, Simmons still a chance for Melbourne showdown

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Marvel Stadium could be the stage for a dream match-up between NBA superstars LeBron James and Ben Simmons when Team USA take on the Australian Boomers in a highly-anticipated FIBA World Cup warm-up series.

More than 90,000 tickets have been sold for the two-match series to be held in August as teams prepare for the World Cup that kicks off in China on August 31.

USA Basketball national team director Sean Ford and Basketball Australia acting chief executive Paul Maley led a delegation that toured the Docklands facility on Tuesday afternoon.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Ford outlined the difficulties involved in assembling a roster of NBA superstars, but is hopeful James, an unabashed fan of incoming coach Gregg Popovich, will opt to play.10

“I think he would like to play for coach Popovich, but of all the athletes, LeBron probably has the most going on both on and off the court,” Ford said. “I mean we would love to have him … who wouldn’t, right?

Whether ‘King’ James is present for the August 22 and 24 games or not, Ford is confident there will be plenty of big-name NBA talent on show for the locals.

“It’s hard for us to say ‘These five or six guys will be here’,” he said. “I’m confident that we will have a quality team here with high-level NBA players … who exactly they will be I can’t say right now.”

Meanwhile, Simmons remains coy about his availability for the 2019 World Cup.

With a mega-dollar contract extension with Philadelphia 76ers in the offing, he has a lot to lose if he suffers a major injury playing for his country.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

“He is a 22-year-old and most of us can only comprehend a little bit of what his life is like,” Maley said. “He’s in the middle of a season where they are legitimately hopeful of going deep into the playoffs, then there’s contracts coming up and all sorts of things.

Packers focus resources to improve on special teams

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And it’s no surprise that Gutekunst, the Packers general manager, and Murphy, the team president, want things to change.

It was in Week 2 last season, when the Titans, playing without starting quarterback Marcus Mariota, came up with a fake-punt touchdown pass and a game-winning field goal in the last minute to beat the Texans.

And it was most of last season when Gutekunst and Murphy watched the Packers stumble to a dead-last ranking in Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings under former coordinator Ron Zook.

To say special teams has been a problem for the Packers is to say Lambeau Field gets a tad chilly in December.

“It has,” Murphy said when asked if he views special teams as recurring problem.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

So Murphy approved an added position on LaFleur’s coaching staff. He not only has a special teams coordinator in Shawn Mennenga, who came from the college ranks (Vanderbilt) to take his first NFL coordinator job, and returning assistant Maurice Drayton, but there’s a third coach dedicated to special teams, quality control assistant Rayna Stewart (who assisted Mennenga at Vandy last year).

“It was an added position, and we’ve struggled on special teams,” Murphy said. “So hopefully one more person could be helpful there.”

So could players specifically pegged for special teams.10

Not since the days of Sean Richardson (in 2015) and Jarrett Bush (in 2014) have the Packers kept veteran players on second contracts whose primary role is on special teams. Yes, Richardson and Bush played some in the secondary, but their main roles were as veteran cover men and blockers.

In 2016, the Packers cut backup safety Chris Banjo with an injury settlement. A year earlier, he led the Packers in special teams tackles and was elected as a playoff captain following the 2015 regular season.

Banjo joined the Saints in 2016 and was named as a Pro Bowl alternate as a special teams player for the 2017 season. That year, he made just $1.05 million. He turned 29 last month but still played in every game for the NFC’s top-seeded Saints, who paid him just $1.55 million.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Last season, four of the Packers’ top-five special teams tacklers were rookies.

“I think it’s kind of the philosophy,” Murphy said. “Some teams keep players just for special teams. We’ve been one of the younger teams. Part of that is getting players that are going to be able to perform on special teams.”

Essam El-Hadary is about to break a World Cup record … just don’t ask him about his hands

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Essam El-Hadary’s face is broad and unlined. He has a majestic head of midnight-black hair. His eyes are clear, his smile is full, and his frame — 30 pounds lighter than it has been — is lean and unbent. He does not look 45 years old, like he’s about to become the oldest man to play in a World Cup. Sitting in a hotel lobby in Zurich, he looks more like a man at ease, like a titan of industry, content in his skin and the surrounding luxury. Only his hands betray the truth of his life and trade. He has the hands of a working man twice his age.

He holds them up for examination with equal parts pride and reticence. Seeing El-Hadary’s hands without gloves is a little jarring, like seeing a lion shaved of its mane. “Egyptian hands,” he calls them. They are huge and incalculably damaged. Several of his fingers look as though they’ve been smashed with hammers. He has knuckles where the human hand is not meant to have them.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Has he broken all of his fingers? “Almost,” he says, before tucking his hands back out of sight.10

He has been a professional goalkeeper since 1993, earning 156 caps for Egypt. Saves made, not goals allowed, have left the plainer scars. “Life has sometimes been difficult,” he says through a translator. “Football has made me. But I always feel like I’m at the beginning. I always feel like I’m starting over.”

El-Hadary seems destined to answer the call for Egypt once again in Russia. (His principal domestic rival, 26-year-old Ahmed El-Shenawy, injured his knee in April and will not be fit for the tournament.) El-Hadary has mixed feelings about the record he is poised to break, the way he feels conflicted when he’s asked to show his hands. He says he’s been beset by media requests. He has turned most of them down.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Goalkeepers have long been football’s most probable ancients. It’s the position for which wisdom can most compensate for physical decline. The World Cup’s longevity record is held, at least for the moment, by Faryd Mondragon, who was 43 when he played goal for Colombia in 2014. Dino Zoff remains the oldest winner of a World Cup; he was 40 when he captained Italy to victory in 1982. Peter Shilton of England and Pat Jennings of Northern Ireland also played into their 40s.

El-Hadary looks to outstrip them not by weeks or months but by years. In Africa, he is already regarded as an all-time great — Didier Drogba called him his “best opponent” — but he knows that breaking Mondragon’s mark, possibly during Egypt’s opener against Uruguay on June 15, will subject him to the most intense global attention of his storied career. He also knows too well every question that will follow.

Bregman hit in 1st appearance since surgery

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On the morning of his spring debut Saturday, Alex Bregman woke up early because of a nightmare about being hit by a pitch.

Hours later, as Houston’s third baseman prepared to take the field against the New York Mets following his recovery from surgery on his right elbow, he was still thinking about his dream. He asked a teammate to borrow a guard to cover his other elbow.

The move proved fortuitous: On his third and final plate appearance, Bregman was plunked by Jeurys Familia on the protected elbow. Infield prospect Alex De Goti, who provided the guard, became Bregman’s hero.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“De Goti saved my life today or else I would have been on the shelf for a minute with the other elbow,” Bregman said laughing.

Bregman was limited early this spring after having arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in January. He said after the game that both elbows were OK, but that the surgically repaired one felt better than the other, which was bruised from the pitch.

“I’m fine,” he said. “Other elbow’s good. This one is sore.”10

He walked on his first two plate appearances. Bregman started at third base but didn’t see any action on the field with Justin Verlander giving up just two hits in three innings.

“I got to throw the ball across in between innings,” Bregman said.

Though Bregman declared his right elbow 100 percent, the 2018 All-Star Game MVP said he’ll need a few more games this spring before he’s where he wants to be.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“I’ve got a lot of work to do to get ready for the season, but I’ve got plenty of time,” he said.

Jose Altuve played second base for the first time this spring after serving as the designated hitter in his first two games. He is coming off surgery to repair a fractured kneecap.

The 2017 American League MVP doesn’t have a hit yet but walked twice in three plate appearances Saturday.

“I feel better than what I thought,” he said. “I’m really happy. I feel good. I feel like I’m where I want to be right now.”

Manager AJ Hinch was glad to see two of his stars back on the field and was encouraged by their work.

“Good, productive day,” Hinch said. “Just seeing them on the field together is nice. I like when our good guys play.”

Royals’ Perez injures UCL, could miss season

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Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez damaged the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, raising the possibility the 2015 World Series MVP may need Tommy John surgery and miss the season.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Perez was hurt during a workout Wednesday, and the team said a MRI on Thursday revealed the damage. Perez will travel next week to California for a second opinion from Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

The 28-year-old has been an All-Star for six straight seasons and won Gold Gloves in five of the last six years. He hit a career-low .235 last year and had 27 home runs and 80 RBIs for the second straight season.9

He has a $10 million salary this year and is owed $13 million in each of the following two seasons.

Cam Gallagher and Meibrys Viloria are the other catchers on Kansas City’s 40-man roster. Gallagher, who appeared in 35 games during the past two years, has a .218 career average with two home runs and 12 RBIs.

Viloria, 22, was a September callup last season and has appeared in only three major league games, his only experience above Class A.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Drew Butera, the Royals’ primary backup the past three years, was traded to Colorado on Aug. 31 and signed a minor league contract with Philadelphia last month.