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Sports Report: Cuban National Team Takes On Tampa Bay Rays In Historic Game

Map Picture of Cuba

Three-time All-Star and former Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant will throw out the first pitch as Cuba's national team faces the Tampa Bay Rays in Havana this afternoon. The game comes as MLB officials are in talks with U.S. and Cuban officials on a proposal that could make it easier for Cuban athletes to play in the U.S.


In the NBA, Boston won against Orlando 107-96, Golden State topped Minnesota 109-104, Chicago bested Sacramento 109-102, Washington blasted Atlanta 117-102, Memphis beat Phoenix 103-97, Indiana trumped Philadelphia 91-75, Charlotte defeated San Antonio 91-88, Cleveland beat Denver 124-91, and it was Detroit over Milwaukee 109-104.

LSU forward Ben Simmons says he is leaving the school to turn pro. The freshman says he will soon hire an agent and enter the NBA draft. Simmons led the Tigers in scoring, rebounds and assists this season, averaging 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists. Also heading to the NBA is Florida State freshman guard Malik Beasley. The 6-foot-5 Beasley was third among freshmen in scoring in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, averaging 15.6 points per game.


In the NHL, the Rangers doubled up Florida 4-2, Philadelphia beat the Islanders 4-1, Nashville bested Los Angeles 5-2, and it was Toronto over Calgary 5-2.


The NFL is looking into playing a regular-season game in China as early as the 2018 season. An analysis of how much interest there would be in such a game in the world's most populous country is under way and being discussed at this week's owners' meetings. Few details have been settled, including which Chinese city the league will target. This year, the NFL will stage three games in London, two at its usual venue, Wembley Stadium, and one at Twickenham rugby ground. The league also will return to Mexico for a regular-season game in November.

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson has a message for his free agent quarterback: "Come back to the Jets." Johnson spoke yesterday at the NFL owners' meetings when asked about the team's negotiations with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick comes off the best season of his 11-year career, one in which he led the Jets to a 10-6 record even though he was brought in last offseason to back up Geno Smith.

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has asked the NFL to reinstate the draft picks the team lost in the deflated footballs investigation stemming from the 2014 AFC title game. Kraft says he sent a letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell more than a month ago seeking a return of the two picks — a first-rounder this year and a fourth-rounder in 2017. He did not say if Goodell responded.

A federal court hearing is scheduled for former NFL star Darren Sharper, who has pleaded guilty or no-contest to charges involving the drugging and rape of women in four states. Tuesday's hearing in New Orleans is the first for Sharper since he decided to maintain his guilty plea in U.S. District Court after a judge rejected a deal that would have meant as little as nine years in prison.

In other league notes:

— The Minnesota Vikings have signed tight end Brian Leonhardt (LEE'-ihn-hart). The 6-foot-5, 255-pound Leonhardt went undrafted out of Bemidji (behm-IHD'-jee) State and spent time with Oakland and Cleveland over his first two years in the NFL. He played last season for San Francisco, where his position coach was Tony Sparano, now offensive line coach of the Vikings.

— Monte Kiffin is coming back to coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 76-year-old has been hired as an assistant coach on the defensive side of the ball. He worked with the team during the 2015 offseason and helped coach Gus Bradley earlier this year during his search for a new defensive coordinator. This will be Kiffin's 50th year of coaching, with 28 years of NFL experience and 21 years in the college ranks.

— The Detroit Lions have signed wide receiver and punt returner Jeremy Kerley. He had 182 receptions for 2,225 yards and nine touchdowns with the New York Jets over five seasons, leading them in punt returns each year.

— James Starks is returning to Green Bay to rejoin Eddie Lacy in the Packers' backfield, getting what one source says is a two-year deal worth $6 million. Starks re-signed with the Packers after spending more than a week on the market as an unrestricted free agent.

— The Supreme Court is staying out of a dispute between videogame maker Electronic Arts Inc. and former National Football League players who accuse the company of using their likenesses in the popular Madden NFL video game series without approval. The justices are letting stand an appeals court ruling that said the company's use of the players' likenesses was not protected as "incidental use" under the First Amendment.


The Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 yesterday. Clay Buchholz pitched into the fifth inning, and Pablo Sandoval and Jackie Bradley Jr. each drove in two runs. Buchholz gave up one run and five hits in 4 2-3 innings. He missed much of last season with an elbow strain and had allowed four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings earlier this spring.

The Miami Marlins beat the New York Mets 2-1 yesterday. Jacob deGrom threw four scoreless innings and struck out five for the Mets. DeGrom walked one and didn't allow a runner past second base. Mets captain David Wright was 0 for 3 with a strikeout.

The New York Yankees have named the four fields at the team's minor league complex in Florida to honor Billy Martin, Derek Jeter, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. The fields reflect the numbers worn by the Yankees' legends. The Yankees have retired the uniform numbers of Martin, Ruth and Gehrig, with Jeter expected to join the list.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell says outfielder Rymer Liriano is doing OK a day after being hit in the face by a pitch. Liriano sustained multiple facial fractures when he was struck by Dodgers pitcher Matt West during an exhibition game Sunday. Manager Craig Counsell has visited him in the hospital and says Liriano will start the season on the disabled list. Liriano was carried off the field on a backboard after the incident. He was in the mix to start the season in center field for the rebuilding Brewers.


In college women's basketball, UConn beat Duquesne 97-51 last night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Breanna Stewart scored 21 points, while Morgan Tuck and Moriah Jefferson each added 20 in their final game together at Gampel Pavilion. Deva'Nyar Workman scored 13 of her 17 points in the second half, and April Robinson added 16 points for Duquesne, which was playing in its first NCAA Tournament.

Tyler Cavanaugh had 22 points and 12 rebounds, Patricio Garino scored 19 on 8-of-12 shooting and George Washington beat Monmouth 87-71 to advance to its first NIT quarterfinal.  Fourth-seeded George Washington will host No. 2 seed Florida on Wednesday.In another NIT second round game, Adam Smith made five 3-pointers and scored 21 and Georgia Tech beat South Carolina 83-66.

Jamie Dixon is leaving Pittsburgh to take over as head basketball coach at his alma mater. Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes says that Dixon is going to TCU. There was no official confirmation from TCU, which a week earlier fired Trent Johnson. After leading Pittsburgh to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances the past 13 seasons, Dixon will take over a program that hasn't been to the tournament since 1998. He was a senior guard for TCU in 1987.


Heavyweight world champion Lucas Browne says he is seeking legal advice amid reports he failed a doping test around the time of his technical knockout win over Ruslan Chagaev for the WBA's regular title in Grozny on March 5. Browne is Australia's first heavyweight boxing champion.


The tournament director of the BNP Paribas Open who said women's pro tennis players "ride on the coattails of the men" has resigned. Tournament owner Larry Ellison announced Monday night that Raymond Moore was quitting as chief executive officer and tournament director of the $7 million event in the California desert.

Ellison says Moore informed him of his decision to quit when they spoke earlier in the day. Ellison says he understands Moore's decision. Moore apologized after he was roundly criticized by executives from the women's and men's pro tours, players Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka and on social media for his comments Sunday on the tournament's last day.

The 69-year-old former touring pro from South Africa has worked for the desert tournament that features both men's and women's players for several years.


Clint Dempsey is expected to play his first game with the U.S. in nine months when the national soccer team plays a World Cup Qualifying match Friday in Guatemala. The 33-year-old Dempsey was left off the USA roster for two qualifying matches in November because coach Jurgen (YUR'-gihn) Klinsmann wanted to look at younger players. Dempsey has 48 goals while playing for Team USA, second in history behind the 57 scored by Landon Donovan.


Popular Turner Sports reporter Craig Sager says in an interview with HBO that his leukemia is no longer in remission. Sager missed 11 months while undergoing treatment and a bone marrow transplant from his son before returning to his position on the sideline during TNT's NBA coverage in March 2015. But he says in a "Real Sports" interview to air Tuesday that he learned last month that the cancer was no longer in remission. The 64-year-old Sager says he is in "unchartered waters" and must keep his strength up. He adds he has already undergone two stem cell transplants and it's very rare that someone would have a third.


Adirondack Thunder hockey player Quinn Smith of Fairfield Connecicut was arrested Sunday morning in the Town of Queensbury for DWI. He was processed at the Queensbury barracks where he provided a positive breath sample of .17% BAC.

Fantasy Sports:

The nation's top two daily fantasy sports websites have agreed to stop operating in New York through the end of baseball season.


New York is poised to end its ban on professional mixed martial arts, the last state to prohibit the combat sport. Conducted inside a cage or other enclosure with a referee present, MMA bouts end when one fighter quits or gets knocked out, or judges decide after 15 to 25 minutes of fighting who the winner is.

The New York Assembly plans to vote this week, following seven years of leaving the ban intact after critics complained the sport is too violent.

Fighters wear small, fingerless gloves and punch, kick, elbow, grapple, tackle, slam, twist and choke each other inside a cage. Advocates say it has evolved from rougher early days with more rules to protect fighters. Meanwhile, it's on television, and fighters train and amateurs compete in New York.

©2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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