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SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Padres have reinstated shortstop Everth Cabrera from the 15-day disabled list and designated left-hander Jason Lane for assignment.
Cabrera started Tuesday night’s game against St. Louis. He had been out since July 2 with a strained left hamstring.
The switch-hitter is hitting .218 with three home runs and 16 RBIs.
On Monday, the 37-year-old Lane, an outfielder turned pitcher, became the oldest San Diego player to make his big league debut as a starter. He had been called up from Triple-A to start for ailing Ian Kennedy.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The question lobbed from the back of the media scrum was something of a throwaway, one last query for Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson as he headed from the practice field to the locker room.
It wound up stopping him in his tracks.
“You’re 32. Have you given any thought to how much time you want to keep doing this?”
“First of all,” Johnson replied glibly, “I’m 31. I’ll be 32 soon.”
On Nov. 22, to be exact. But what could have been an awkward moment was immediately defused by the effervescent smile that Johnson plastered on his face, one that seems to be permanently affixed these days.
The veteran is beginning his 10th season, coming off his third Pro Bowl, and closing in on the franchise record for tackles – he needs 19 to reach 1,000 for his career, which would be one more than Gary Spani recorded from 1978-86.
He still believes his best days are ahead of him, even if the first strands of gray hair are lurking in the shadows.
“No, it hasn’t crossed my mind,” Johnson continued, when asked about retirement. “I’ve been fortunate and blessed not to have a major injury. Every year, when I go back to work out with Jamaal (Charles) and all of these guys. If I can keep up with these guys, I can come back.”
Besides, age is just a number at his position. Ray Lewis and London Fletcher were both playing at a high level when they retired at age 38. Keith Brooking, Mike Peterson and Vonnie Holliday were also hanging around in their late 30s, though their play had begun to taper off.
There have been no signs of that happening with Johnson’s play.
“He has a unique skill set. He has great range and great speed for a linebacker, which allows us to do a lot of things,” Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said.
“Any time you have speed, a lot of times the things that go unnoticed are the plays you prevent. Sometimes, a 5-yard gain stays 5 yards because you have the speed to be over there to make a tackle.
“In the time I’ve been here,” said Sutton, who was hired last year, “he has improved all the time, which has kind of been his trademark since he’s been in the league.”
Indeed, if there is any constant on the Chiefs defense, it is No. 56 in the middle of the linebacker group.
After falling out of favor with former coach Todd Haley in 2009, and regaining his starting job the following year, Johnson has started every game with the exception of last season’s finale, a meaningless game in which current coach Andy Reid rested nearly every starter.
Along the way, Johnson has put together four straight seasons of at least 100 tackles, picked off five passes and put relentless heat on unsuspecting quarterbacks.
He’s managed to do it through a revolving door of head coaches and defensive coordinators, too, and even teammates at his own position. He’s had four different linebackers start alongside him over the past two seasons, and will likely have another one in Joe Mays when this season kicks off.
“He’s been just a big-time playmaker,” Mays said. “Now, I’m trying to pick his brain so I can get the chance to be where he’s at, doing things that he’s been doing on the field.”
Does it matter who is playing next to him?
“Does not matter, does not matter. This league is about change, how you adjust, and people change around the league all the time,” Johnson said, shaking his head. “When they come in, the veterans get them acclimated to the system and just go.”
Go, go, go. That’s been Johnson’s mantra since his days wrecking running backs at Texas, when he made a name for himself as one of the nation’s premier linebackers.
And it was that constant pursuit of unparalleled perfection that made him a first-round draft choice in 2005, when Chiefs rookie De’Anthony Thomas was still playing Pop Warner football in Los Angeles.
“He’s a pro, in every aspect of it. He’s a pro,” Reid said. “Just handles everything the right way: classroom, on the field, off the field. He’s top-notch.”
Back to that question about retirement, though.
Johnson is only signed through next season, which makes his long-term future uncertain. Will the Chiefs be willing to give him anything more than year-to-year deals? Will any team? And will he still have the same drive to keep playing the game at the highest of levels.
“I’ve been blessed to be with the Chiefs for this long,” he said. “The main part is staying healthy, being out there, being accountable, being responsible, staying on the field when they need me. … You’ve never arrived. There is always room to get better.”
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Twins were playing short-handed Tuesday night against the Royals while outfielder Oswaldo Arcia spent time with his family following the birth of his baby boy.
Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony said Arcia declined to take paternity leave. He planned to spend the day with his boy before catching a flight to Kansas City for Wednesday’s game.
In other news, Antony said that catcher Joe Mauer swung in the batting cages and did a series of drills while recovering from a strained right oblique. Mauer plans to hit live batting practice in the cage on Wednesday before the Twins decide on his next step.
Right-hander Ricky Nolasco, recovering from a sore elbow, also came out of a bullpen session feeling good. He plans to throw another one Thursday.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Left-hander Jason Vargas peered toward the plate, wound up and delivered a fastball with total confidence, and Eric Hosmer took a massive cut with just as much certainty in his swing.
Both of which were good news for the Kansas City Royals.
For Hosmer, it was one last test of his bruised hand before returning to the lineup for Tuesday night’s series opener against Minnesota. For Vargas, it was a four-inning simulated game that could be the final hurdle in returning to the starting rotation following an appendectomy.
The Royals began the day five games back of Detroit in the AL Central, and just 2 1/2 games out of the second wild card. They are trying to end a playoff drought that stretches back to 1985.
“Games throughout the year are huge,” Hosmer said, “but obviously time is ticking down now.”
Hosmer’s return should help. Not only is he far better defensively than Billy Butler, who filled in at first base, but he also was starting to heat up when he took a pitch from Boston’s Jon Lester off his right hand. Hosmer was hitting .410 in July, the best in the majors.
Hosmer believes he’ll be able to pick up right where he left off.
“I’m ready to get back in there and not have to watch anymore,” he said. “It feels good.”
Vargas, who has been a pleasant surprise for the Royals this season, has been on the disabled list since July 10. He threw 15 pitches in each of his simulated innings Tuesday, and said moments after walking off the field that “everything is good.”
Manager Ned Yost didn’t rule out Vargas returning to the rotation this weekend, when the club plays in Oakland. That would mean sending out a starter who is 8-4 with a 3.31 ERA rather than getting another start from Bruce Chen, who is just 2-3 with a 6.42 ERA this season.
“We just go day to day with it. Our focus today is to win this ballgame, and I don’t take it much farther than that,” Yost said, when pressed for a timetable on Vargas’ return. “You’re asking me to answer questions that I don’t have the answer to.”
In other news, catcher Erik Kratz and touted prospect Christian Colon arrived following Monday’s trade with the Blue Jays. Kratz was acquired along with minor league pitcher Liam Hendriks for third baseman Danny Valencia, while Colon was recalled from Triple-A Omaha.
Kratz, a longtime minor leaguer, will back up Salvador Perez, while Colon will serve as a utility infielder capable of playing second base, third base and shortstop.
“I’m going to come out here and work every day and make sure I’m doing everything in my power to win games,” Colon said. “The guys here are doing a great job. I’m just trying to help out.”
(West Plains) As the 2013 football season began for the West Plains Zizzers, it was clear that progress was being made by head coach Steve Ary in transforming the Zizzers into a competitive team in the Ozark Conference. After starting the year with two wins in the first three games, the injuries started to set in and the slide began. West Plains lost six of the next seven games.
But, optimism is high coming into the 2014 campaign. Perhaps more so than any of the past ten seasons. Zizzers head coach Steve Ary knows fans are excited about the prospects for the season.
The annual football fundraiser will be held Friday, August 8th at the high school cafeteria.
Tickets are available from Coach Ary and at the high school office.
The season begins with the jamboree at Waynesville on August 15th. The season starts August 22nd for the Zizzers, also at Waynesville.
Again this season, the Ozark Radio Network will be providing live coverage of the Zizzer games. Zizzer football has been a fixture on the Ozark Radio Network for over 60 years. Travis Smith will be handling the play-by-play duties on KDY, entering his second season.
BOSTON (AP) — The Toronto Blue Jays have traded right-hander Liam Hendriks and catcher Erik Kratz to the Kansas City Royals for infielder Danny Valencia.
The deal between playoff contenders was announced as the Blue Jays were starting their game in Boston on Monday night.
The 29-year-old Valencia hit .282 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in 36 games for Kansas City. He also has played for Minnesota, Boston and Baltimore.
Kratz will join the Royals for Tuesday night’s game against Minnesota and Hendriks will be assigned to Triple-A Omaha. Infielder Christian Colon will be called from Omaha and catcher Brett Hayes has been designated for assignment.
The 34-year-old Kratz hit .198 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 34 games for Toronto.
The 25-year-old Hendriks was 1-0 with a 6.08 ERA in three starts for Toronto. He was a Triple-A All-Star this year at Buffalo, going 8-1 with a 2.33 ERA.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) – The University of Arkansas women’s golf team has been recognized as one of the top academic programs in the country by the Women’s Golf Coaches Association.
The Razorbacks were among the top 25 teams in the country with the highest grade point average. Arkansas was No. 18 overall and was the highest-ranking Southeastern Conference program listed.
The Razorbacks finished the season with a 3.657 GPA.
The team award is one of several recent academic honors for the Razorbacks. This year, senior Emily Tubert and sophomore Gabriela Lopez were named to the WGCA All-Scholar team.
The duo helped the Razorbacks to a No. 9 final ranking after being ranked as high as a program-best No. 4 by Golfstat.com last season.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling lost his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the team to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
In allowing the deal to go forward, Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas sided Monday with Sterling’s estranged wife, Shelly Sterling, who negotiated the record sale after the NBA banned the 80-year-old billionaire for making offensive remarks about blacks.
Shelly Sterling sought the probate judge’s approval to ink the deal after taking over the family trust that owns the team because doctors found Donald Sterling had signs of Alzheimer’s disease and couldn’t manage his affairs.
The judge said Shelly Sterling had negotiated a good deal and the removal of her husband as a co-trustee was in good faith and not part of a secret plan to seize the team.
Shelly Sterling hugged her lawyer and wept after the judge explained his ruling from the bench.
“I can’t believe it’s over,” she said. “This is the best thing.”
An unusual provision of the ruling bars Donald Sterling from seeking a court-ordered delay of the sale as he appeals. His lawyers plan to seek permission from an appellate court to file an appeal.
Sterling was not in court for the ruling. Bobby Samini, one of his lawyers, said Sterling reacted calmly to the news and told his lawyers they had to keep battling on other fronts. Sterling testified during the case that he would fight the NBA until his death.
With lawsuits pending in state and federal courts, the ruling in Los Angeles County Superior Court is unlikely to put an end to the bizarre saga that began in April when a recording surfaced of Sterling scolding his young girlfriend for bringing black men to Clippers games.
The NBA moved quickly to ban Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million.
Sterling was apologetic after the audio recording went viral, but his mea culpa backfired when he criticized Lakers great Magic Johnson, who had been photographed with Sterling’s girlfriend, as a bad role model for kids because he had HIV. Sterling was roundly condemned from locker rooms to the Oval Office, where President Barack Obama called Sterling’s remarks “incredibly offensive racist statements.”
With the NBA threatening to seize the team and auction it, Sterling initially gave his wife of 58 years permission to negotiate a sale but then refused to sign the $2 billion Ballmer deal, which would be a record price for an NBA team. He said he would sue the league instead and then revoked the trust, which his lawyers said effectively killed the deal.
The nonjury trial held over several weeks focused mainly on whether Shelly Sterling properly removed her husband as a trustee and whether her actions carried any weight after he revoked the trust.
Donald Sterling claimed his wife had deceived him about the medical exams. His lawyers argued Monday that Shelly Sterling’s lawyers were in cahoots with the doctors who examined him and that his wife conspired with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to remove him from the trust.
“There’s no evidence, I’ll repeat that as loudly as you allow,” attorney Maxwell Blecher said during closing argument, his voice rising. “There’s no evidence that Mr. Sterling was incapable of carrying out his duties as a co-trustee.”
Levanas said there was no credible evidence that Sterling was defrauded.
Blecher said he was deeply disappointed in the judge’s legal analysis.
The ruling Monday was tentative until the judge files it in writing.
NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement that the league was pleased and looked forward to the transaction closing as soon as possible.
At the conclusion of his lengthy ruling, Levanas envisioned what might happen if Donald Sterling remained the owner.
Citing testimony of Clippers interim CEO Richard Parsons, he said the team would go into a “death spiral.” Sponsors would withdraw, players would quit and coach Doc Rivers would leave.
“The Clippers would suffer a massive loss of value if the team survived at all,” Levanas said.
The judge was adamant that a team owned by Donald Sterling would not draw a price anywhere near the “stunning” $2 billion pledged by Ballmer. Sterling, a lawyer who made a fortune as a landlord, bought the team in 1981 for $12 million.
“Ballmer paid an amazing price that can’t be explained by the market,” he said.
On the witness stand, Shelly Sterling was more credible than her husband, who was more evasive, gave inconsistent answers and presented wild fluctuations of damage estimates, Levanas said.
He noted that the couple presented genuine professions of love for each other despite Donald Sterling’s outburst calling his wife a “pig” after she testified.
Outside of court, his wife said she thought her husband would be happy with the ruling. She said she thinks he will ultimately drop his antitrust suit in federal court against the NBA and the lawsuit he filed in state court against her, Silver and the league.
Her lawyer wasn’t so sure. Asked what might stop the deal, Pierce O’Donnell said: “Donald.”
“He never met a lawsuit he didn’t like,” he quipped.
Bruce Givner, a Los Angeles tax attorney who handles celebrity cases, said he thinks Sterling’s lawsuits will fail and an appeals court won’t care about the probate case.
“I think the sale is going to go through,” Givner said. “I suspect the NBA is ready to move very quickly. They want to get rid of Sterling like a canker sore. Nobody wants him around except the people that are charging legal fees to continue this charade.”
ST. LOUIS (AP) — It’s become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford.
Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he’s supposedly at a career crossroads.
Bradford can’t remember when that wasn’t perceived to be the case, and he tries to ignore low outside expectations that include a fantasy rating in the bottom half of NFL quarterbacks and other assorted doubts. He’s as eager as anyone on the outside to be a difference-maker in a breakthrough season.
“Every year is a `make it or break it’ year according to someone,” Bradford said, then quickly shifted to team emphasis. “I think everyone in our locker room feels really good about where we’re at right now and where this football team is going.
“I think we have a great chance to be really good.”
So far he’s been impressive in camp, rewarded for dedication to the rehab program. Though he’s wearing a brace, there have been no restrictions.
“If we have to back down, we’ll back down,” coach Jeff Fisher said.
Whatever he does, criticism flows freely. The team can only scoff at some of the opinions on social media.
The biggest reason Bradford is a lightning rod player is because he had the good fortune to be the last high-dollar No. 1 pick before the NFL went to a rookie salary cap. He has two years to go on a six-year deal worth $78 million that can be a bit of an albatross if the Rams aren’t winning, or if he’s injured.
“No one steps on the field to lose,” Bradford said. “I think we want it just as bad as the city and the fans do.”
Former Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson suggested on ESPN recently that Bradford has a reputation of being “soft.” He also missed six games with a high ankle sprain in 2011.
Another opinion making the rounds this week is the notion Bradford is a high-paid game manager with limited improvisational skills.
“Geez, there’s a million experts out there and they all know football so well, but they’ve never coached or played a day in their life,” defensive end Chris Long said. “If I sit there and start talking about Cardinals baseball, well, I’m not a baseball player, I’m just a fan. It’s kind of out of my lane.”
Long was chosen second overall a year before Bradford went No. 1, so he can relate to attention that sometimes borders on obsessive.
“It’s just dialogue and you’ve got to block it out, and I think he does a really good job of it,” Long said. “He’s a tough guy mentally and physically and he’s just going to have a big year, I just feel that way.”
Before his season-ending left knee injury in Week 7, Bradford appeared headed for his best year with 14 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
The Rams were 3-4 with Bradford and it could be argued he’d have made enough impact to turn the tide in narrow home losses the next two weeks against Seattle and Tennessee. They went to a ground-oriented offense under journeyman backup Kellen Clemens and finished with seven wins for the second straight year under coach Jeff Fisher.
“Sam Bradford gets hurt, you change your entire game plan,” general manager Les Snead said.
Well before the draft the Rams assured Bradford of their commitment and quashed rumors about Johnny Manziel. There’s no issue who’s No. 1 at camp. Journeyman Shaun Hill is the backup and there are two young quarterbacks in camp, sixth-round pick Garrett Gilbert and Austin Davis.
“He’s come out healthier, stronger, faster, and everybody can see it,” guard Rodger Saffold said. “At the end of the day he doesn’t need to be tough because we’re going to do what we’ve got to do.”
Bradford’s goals for training camp and the preseason are simple – get reacquainted with the game.
“There’s no doubt that there is still a little rust that needs to come off,” he said. “I just haven’t been out there.”
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The presumptive favorite to win the starting right guard spot with the Kansas City Chiefs worked out with the third team on Monday. The guy who is challenging him for the spot slid over to center during another portion of the workout.
Rishaw Johnson and Zach Fulton are just the start of the offensive line shuffle.
After watching three linemen who started last season depart in free agency – all within hours of each other – the Chiefs are trying to cobble together some sort of protection for quarterback Alex Smith that can also manage to open up running lanes for Jamaal Charles during training camp.
And with lingering questions about the health of left tackle Eric Fisher and an ankle injury to starting right tackle Donald Stephenson, that job hasn’t gotten a whole lot easier.
“People are saying that we are really young and we’ve got something to prove,” said Fulton, a sixth-round pick who could end up starting the Chiefs’ season opener Sept. 7 against Tennessee. “In a sense that’s good. It shows that we can be relied on because that was one of the concerns.”
There are only a few of spots on the offensive line that appear nailed down as the Chiefs prepared to take their first day off from training camp on Tuesday.
Rodney Hudson is entrenched at center, though several guys are getting a look at backing him up. Jeff Allen is back to reprise his role at left guard, while Fisher – the No. 1 overall pick two years ago – will switch to the blind side after starting at right tackle last season.
Stephenson is getting the first crack at replacing Fisher on the right side, but his ankle injury has created a hole there for the time being. And a heated race between Johnson and Fulton at right guard could carry into the final preseason game Aug. 23 at Green Bay.
It surely won’t be decided by the preseason opener against Cincinnati on Aug. 7.
“Right now we’re working on being competitive. This is where you earn a spot,” said Allen, who along with starting at left guard has also spent some time backing up Fisher at left tackle.
“Eventually we’ll find that top five, the best five to play,” Allen said, “and then we’ll develop that camaraderie that it takes to play at a high level.”
The Chiefs managed to develop that last season, when they were able to rely on a handful of veterans to coax it along. But when Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert joined guards Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah in a massive free-agent exodus, it left the Chiefs with what will likely be one of the greenest offensive lines in the league – regardless of who is on it.
Hudson was drafted by the Chiefs in 2011. Allen was picked the following year. That makes them a pair of veterans compared to most of the guys trying to earn a job alongside them.
“To us they’re the older guys because they’ve been here longer than we have. They help you through it,” Fisher said. “They’re surprisingly really helpful with younger guys.”
Likewise, Chiefs coach Andy Reid praised Hudson for holding everything together.
“Rodney just gives you complete confidence that everything is taken care of,” Reid said. “Not only is he telling guys when they need to pick up the pace, but he’s also coaching them up about any transition that takes place with the defense, and you’ve got to abort what you’ve got on and relocate the strength of the defense. He can handle all that stuff and he’s doing it in seconds.”
Now, the challenge is to find five of them who can do it.
“It’s constantly a work in progress. It never ends,” Smith said of the competition. “You could be in December or January. With those five guys, it’s always going.”