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#SportsReport: Harper, Machado Still Unsigned

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The head of the baseball players' association expressed concern over a second straight offseason that has seen Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and many other free agents remain without deals less than a month before spring training. 

Wanting to increase the pace of games and concerned about a drop in offense, management has made proposals to the union that include a pitch clock and rules changes. The players' association says it will respond, and unlike last year the union appears open to discuss the issues. This year's free agents still available include Harper, Machado, pitcher Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel.

In other MLB news, it turns out Derek Jeter was not the last of the New York Yankees' single digits. The tradition-laden Yankees say newly signed reliever Adam Ottavino will become the first player in franchise history to wear No. 0, a decision that was OK'd by owner Hal Steinbrenner. Jeter was thought to be the last player with a single-digit uniform on the Yankees when his No. 2 was retired in 2017. Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle are among other players whose single-digit numbers were retired by the Yankees.

A person familiar with the negotiations says free-agent outfielder AJ Pollock and the Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed to a $55 million, four-year contract. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement has not been announced.

Free agent Asdrubal Cabrera has finalized a $3.5 million, one-year contract with the Texas Rangers to take over at third base for the retired Adrian Beltre. The deal was completed Thursday after the 33-year-old successfully completed a physical. Cabrera is a .269 career hitter.

Left-hander T.J. McFarland and the Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a $1.45 million, one-year contract, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. The reliever was 2-2 and set career bests with a 2.00 ERA and 47 games pitched last season.

Miguel Cabrera and Michael Fulmer expect to be ready for the start of spring training. The two Detroit standouts sound pleased with their progress after injuries interrupted the 2018 season. Cabrera played only 38 games before season-ending biceps surgery. Fulmer has dealt with knee issues.

A person familiar with the situation says free agent reliever Brad Brach and the Chicago Cubs have agreed to a one-year contract that guarantees $4.35 million. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto and director of player development Andy McKay have strongly denied allegations from the team's former high performance director that they disparaged Latino players. Dipoto and McKay reiterated the team's stance that Lorena Martin is fabricating claims against members of the front office. Major League Baseball is investigating.


Stephen Curry scored 38 points, local product Kevin Durant had 21 and the Golden State Warriors hammered the ball inside to beat the Washington Wizards 126-118 for their season-high ninth consecutive victory. The two-time defending NBA champions put up 70 points in the paint after shooting 1 of 6 from the outside in the first quarter. Curry was at the forefront of Golden State's drive-the-paint strategy as he made just two of his eight 3-point attempts and was 12 of 16 inside the arc. Durant was 9 of 18 from the floor. Trevor Ariza led the Wizards with a season-high 27 points and Bradley Beal had 22 points as their two-game winning streak came to an end.

Elsewhere around the NBA, Russell Westbrook posted his NBA-leading 15th triple-double of the season and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the injury-depleted New Orleans Pelicans 122-116. Westbrook finished with 23 points, 17 rebounds and 16 assists for the 119th triple-double of his career.

Damian Lillard scored 24 points, CJ McCollum and Jake Layman added 20 apiece and the Portland Trail Blazers pulled away in the second half to hand the short-handed Phoenix Suns their sixth straight loss, 120-106. The Trail Blazers beat Phoenix for the ninth straight time. Portland has won four of five and eight of 11 overall.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 27 points and 12 rebounds to help the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Los Angeles Lakers 120-105. Andrew Wiggins added 23 points and Jerryd Bayless scored 16 off the bench for the Timberwolves, who have won three straight.

In NBA news, the Indiana Pacers have lost All-Star guard Victor Oladipo with a season-ending ruptured quad tendon in his right knee. Oladipo was injured during Wednesday night's 110-106 victory over Toronto and left the court on a stretcher with 4:05 left in the first half. Coach Nate McMillan says he is unsure when Oladipo would have surgery or whether he would be ready for the start of next season. Oladipo led the Pacers in scoring at 19.2 points per game, was a first-team all-NBA defensive selection last season and one of the Pacers' co-captains.

The Memphis Grizzlies have signed forward Bruno Caboclo to a 10-day contract on a call-up from the NBA's G League Rio Grande Valley Vipers.  Caboclo was the 20th pick overall in the 2014 draft and has played 35 career games in the NBA with Toronto and Sacramento. He spent the 2018 preseason with Houston. Caboclo has started 23 of his 28 games for the Vipers this season averaging 16.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the captains for this year's NBA All-Star Game. James and Antetokounmpo will pick their teams on Feb. 7, in advance of the Feb. 17 game in Charlotte. James extended his record by being picked as an All-Star starter for the 15th consecutive year. Antetokounmpo is now a three-time All-Star, and a first-time captain.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic will be out for at least a week with a right calf strain. Mirotic, who averages 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, suffered the injury against Detroit, and he missed the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.


In men's basketball yesterday, Siena defeated Fairfield, 57-48, and Syracuse topped Miami, 73-53. In women's basketball, Fairfield beat Iona, 55-42. 

In top-25 basketball, Cassius Winston scored 23 points, Nick Ward had 21 with 10 rebounds and sixth-ranked Michigan State blew past No. 19 Iowa 82-67, extending its winning streak to 13 games. Matt McQuaid added three second-half 3-pointers for the Spartans, who used a 24-2 run just after halftime to secure a school-record 21st consecutive league victory.

Christen Cunningham scored 17 points with five critical free throws in the final 2½ minutes, and Malik Williams added a pair from the line for 14 points to help No. 23 Louisville outlast No. 21 North Carolina State 84-77. The Cardinals needed scoring from everyone down the stretch to earn their fourth consecutive victory. They succeeded at the foul line, making 24 of 29 and closing the game by sinking 9 of 10 to hold off the Wolfpack.

Josh Perkins had 18 points and eight assists, and every Gonzaga starter scored in double figures as the No. 4 Bulldogs rolled past Santa Clara 98-39.


The NFL says the number of concussions has dropped 29 percent in the 2018 regular season from the previous season, according to preliminary data. Of the 538 evaluations for concussions, the league says, 75 percent ultimately showed no concussions. The league also says the number of anterior cruciate ligament tears increased by three to a total to 57. And medial cruciate ligament injuries that caused players to miss playing time were down by 12.

In other NFL news, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has had arthroscopic surgery on his right throwing shoulder. The team announced Newton's rehabilitation process will begin immediately and no timetable listed for when he can begin throwing again. The procedure was successfully performed by Panthers team physician Pat Connor. Carolina still has not disclosed the exact nature of Newton's shoulder injury. The quarterback also had surgery in March of 2017 to repair a partially torn rotator cuff. Newton struggled all season with right shoulder problems that limited his ability to throw the ball downfield.

Retiring New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson is strongly criticizing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for his public silence following a blown call in the NFC championship game. Watson posted a letter to Goodell on Twitter, saying "your continued silence on this matter is unbecoming of the position you hold, detrimental to the integrity of the game and disrespectful and dismissive to football fans everywhere."

The Green Bay Packers hired Ravens front office veteran Milt Hendrickson as director of football operations on Thursday. Hendrickson has spent the past 14 seasons in the personnel department with Baltimore, a span that includes four division titles and a Super Bowl victory. He was promoted to national scout after the 2016 draft. The position is the result of a front office restructuring.

The Chiefs are hiring Steve Spagnuolo as their defensive coordinator, moving swiftly to replace Bob Sutton after his unit's dismal performance against the Patriots in the AFC title game. Spagnuolo went 10-38 over three seasons with the St. Louis Rams and 1-3 as the Giants' interim coach during the 2017 season.


NCAA President Mark Emmert told his group's annual convention that it must stick to what he calls "values-based bold leadership" when dealing with issues such as improving diversity in college sports, the legalization of sports wagering and the addition of esports as an offering at many schools. Emmert, speaking Thursday in Orlando, Florida, says he isn't sure what the best course of action is for the NCAA when it comes to esports. Earlier this week, Marquette announced that it would become the first major-conference school to offer esports as a varsity team starting in the fall semester. Emmert also says sports betting is "going to threaten the integrity of college sports" unless the NCAA acts "boldly and strongly."


Jon Rahm began with an eagle and kept going lower until he had a 10-under 62 on the North Course at Torrey Pines for a one-shot lead over Justin Rose in the first round Thursday of the Farmers Insurance Open. Tiger Woods made his 2019 debut on the tougher South Course and opened with a 70. The conditions were remarkably close to perfect, with virtually no wind and pure greens on the North Course. Rahm knew it was important to start well, and he hit a 5-wood into 6 feet on the par-5 10th hole. He also made eagle on the 17th and shot 29 on the back. Rose also played on the North. Charles Howell III and Brandon Hagy each had 66 for the low score on the South.

© The Associated Press 2019. All Rights Reserved. 

Jesse King is the host of WAMC's national program on women's issues, "51%," and the station's bureau chief in the Hudson Valley. She has also produced episodes of the WAMC podcast "A New York Minute In History."
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