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Archive for July, 2013

(Ohio) (AP) – One of Trent Richardson’s goals is to be one of the best running backs in NFL history, a Hall of Famer like Marshall Faulk.

And Faulk believes Richardson is on a path to greatness.

“He has it in him,” Faulk said about Cleveland’s second-year star. “It’s in him to be great. He wants it.”

Richardson and Faulk had a chance to catch up and talk some football Wednesday after practice. Faulk, who currently works as an analyst for the NFL Network, was at Cleveland’s training camp to report on the Browns, who are counting on Richardson to build off his solid rookie season, when he rushed for nearly 1,000 yards despite playing most of the year with two broken ribs.

The two backs have known each other for a few years and Richardson has long admired Faulk, one of the most versatile backs in league history. During a 12-year career with Indianapolis and St. Louis, Faulk rushed for 12,279 yards and had 767 receptions for 6,875 yards to goal along with 136 combined touchdowns.

Faulk was elusive, durable and versatile and Richardson would love to follow in his footsteps.

“I’m trying to get to where he is today,” Richardson said.

Richardson has another Hall of Fame mentor in Jim Brown, who is back working as an adviser with his former team.

“It’s big having him out here at practice,” Richardson said. Him, me and Jim Brown on the same field, that’s a powerful field. That’s a strong moment to have both of them on the field at the same time.”

It’s interesting that Faulk and Brown (12,321) are only separated by 33 yards on the career rushing chart. Richardson wears No. 33.

Richardson first met Faulk at the NFL Combine a few years ago and the two have stayed in touch since. But even before he got to know Faulk, Richardson studied the former star, hoping to pick up something he could use to make his game better.

“I learned a lot from Marshall as far as watching film on him,” said Richardson, who arrived at camp about 10 pounds lighter than he was last season. “When we were at Alabama, we used to watch a lot of film on Marshall. I still study a lot of his game, go back and watch a lot of his film on certain stuff that he do. And I give him phone calls every now and again and ask him what I need to do better, what I need to work hard on.”

Faulk believes Richardson has everything he needs to succeed.

“Yeah, it’s there,” he said. “You saw it in college. It’s the reason that in a league that they’re starting to kind of devalue the position, he gets drafted so early. He’s never shied away from asking questions or letting you know what he don’t know because he understands that the things that you don’t know when you find them out, it makes it easier to become great.”

Following practice, Richardson and Faulk filmed a segment together on the field. Richardson, who had 51 catches last season, got some tips on running pass routes from Faulk, who was a nightmare for any linebacker or defensive back to cover when he came out of the backfield.

Faulk showed Richardson than finer points on a quick route he mastered.

“He calls it the “Faulk” route but a lot of people call in the `angle’ route,” Richardson said. “He was like the king of it, he’s still the king of it. I haven’t seen nobody run it like him.”

Faulk knows the key for Richardson to attain his goals is to stay on the field. No back has ever broken records or transformed a franchise while standing on the sideline.

Richardson showed remarkable toughness last year while playing with his ribs cracked, and there will be moments ahead when he’ll have to fight through pain to gain yards.

“The position is one that’s it’s not about how healthy you are,” Faulk said. “It’s how unhealthy you can play at times, and that’s what being reliable at the position is. He’s thirsty to not just get yards and be a good player, but he wants to be great and he wants to win. He’s a breath of fresh air with the mindset that he has and not just after having a good rookie season, being happy with it that he did his job.

“He understands what needs to happen in order for him to be great.”

Richardson has all the physical tools, and there’s one characteristic Faulk that he wants.

“Marshall wasn’t that big, but he was that guy on the field that everybody feared,” he said. “When I get on that field I want everybody to fear me.”

(Springfield) – West Plains’ all-time leading scorer in girls basketball has received more recognition for her stellar career with a win during the “1 Awards” ceremony, hosted by KY3′s sports affiliate, Ozarks Sports Zone.

Haney was named the “best girls basketball player” for the past year. The decision was made by a popularity vote on the Ozarks Sports Zone website.

Haney led the West Plains Lady Zizzers in four categories this year: points (23.3 per game), rebounds (7.3), assists (6.2) and steals (4.3). She also became West Plains’ all-time leading scorer late in the regular season, surpassing the 1,914 career scoring record held by Karensa Barr in 1996-1999, and topped 2,000 career points at the end of the season.

Haney was a McDonald’s All-American nominee, was named the Athlete of the Year by the Springfield News-Leader, and received conference honors as well.

Haney will play collegiately at Harding University in Arkansas, and will be re-uniting with her sister Tabitha as teammates.

MARC RZEPCZYNSKI DEALT FOR MINOR LEAGUER JUAN HERRERA

 ST. LOUIS, MO., July 30, 2013 – The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have acquired minor league shortstop Juan Herrera from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for left-handed pitcher Marc Rzepczynski who the Cardinals had optioned to Memphis (AAA) earlier today.

Herrera, 20, was batting .275 in 39 games this season for Mahoning Valley of the New York-Penn League (A).  He has hit 9 doubles with a homer and 11 RBI.  The 5-11, 165-pound right-handed hitting native of Bani, Dominican Republic, was signed by Cleveland as a non-drafted free-agent on October 6, 2010.

Herrera will be assigned to the State College (Pa.) Spikes roster of the New York-Penn League (A).

MINNEAPOLIS — Take a good look at the standings, Royals fans. After Tuesday’s 7-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins, your club has a winning record on the morning of July’s final day for the first time in a decade.

Ervin Santana delivered seven strong innings for his third straight victory since the All-Star break and — more encouraging — the Moose broke loose for two home runs.

Mike Moustakas snapped a 1-1 tie by capping a four-run third inning with a three-run drive against Twins starter Mike Pelfrey before rocking a solo shot in the eighth inning against lefty reliever Brian Duensing for a 5-2 lead.

So bad for so long this season — Moustakas was batting .183 over the first two months — he is now on a .286 surge (38 for 133) since June 10. His overall average is up to .224.

“It’s taking 100 swings every day,” he said, “and just trying to get that good feel back. And today, I found it. Now, just keep working and keep building off of this.”

It was Moustakas’ second career multihomer game. He previously did it on June 24, 2012, in an 11-8 loss to St. Louis at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals added two runs in the ninth inning and, when Luke Hochevar set down the Twins in the ninth, stretched their season-best winning streak to seven games.

They also climbed above .500, at 52-51, for the first time since they were 20-19 on May 18. The last time they had a winning record this late in the season was when they ended 2003 at 83-79.

“We don’t think about that,” Santana said. “You just take it one day at a time and keep having fun. You want to just keep winning series. That’s the key for us.”

The Royals are 9-2 since returning from the All-Star break — and Santana, 7-6, is a big reason why. He limited the Twins to two runs and four hits and is now 3-0 since the break while allowing three runs in 221/3 innings.

“He’s been good all year long,” manager Ned Yost said. “Again tonight. To get us through seven innings, the way that he did, and turn it over to the bullpen was phenomenal.”

This continues a career trend: Santana is 52-31 with a 3.90 ERA in 114 career games (111 starts) after the All-Star break.

“He’s the magic man,” Moustakas said. “Anytime he goes out on the mound, you know he’s going to deal, and he’s going to keep them to two or under runs. We’ve just got to score for him. He did it again tonight.”

Pelfrey, 4-9, was fortunate to yield just four runs in his four innings while allowing eight hits and throwing 93 pitches. The Royals stranded six runners.

“We had Pelfrey on the ropes the first four innings,” Yost said, “but we really couldn’t do much damage. Then Miggy’s (Tejada) big hit, which he squirted up the middle, was huge to get Moose to the plate.”

That came in the third after the Royals stranded two runners in each of the first two innings. Eric Hosmer led off with single and went to second on Salvy Perez’s one-out single.

David Lough popped to Pelfrey, but Tejada wedged a grounder up the middle for a game-tying single. Moustakas followed with a 398-foot drive over the big right-field scoreboard for a 4-1 lead.

Santana surrendered single runs in the first and fourth innings but set down the last 11 batters he faced before handing a 5-2 lead to Tim Collins to start the eighth.

Collins worked a one-two-three inning before Hochevar closed out the victory. Hosmer contributed two singles and a double to a 12-hit attack, while Alex Gordon, Moustakas, Perez and Tejada each had two hits.

The Royals’ last seven-game winning streak was Sept. 10-17, 2011.

“That’s the only stat that counts right now,” Moustakas said. “As long as we keep winning ballgames, we’re going to make that push. There’s a lot of season left, and we’ll see what happens.

“As of right now, we’re playing great baseball. It feels good to be back over .500.”

The Royals failed to gain any ground on the two clubs ahead of them in the American League Central Division. They still trail Detroit by seven games and second-place Cleveland by 41/2 games.

“That’s fine,” Yost said. “They keep winning, and we keep winning. The most important thing is we keep winning. We can’t focus on what they do. We have to control our own destiny every single night.”

BY BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star

 

It looks like Major League Baseball is ready to drop the hammer on the rest of the players involved in the Biogenesis scandal sometime this week, according to a report by The New York Post. MLB is also set to announce a lengthy suspension for Alex Rodriguez, according to The Post.

“It always has been MLB’s plan to announce the suspensions at one time for the 15-plus players believed to be facing sanctions in the performance-enhancing drug case,” The Post’s Joel Sherman and Ken Davidoff wrote on Sunday.“MLB went early with Ryan Braun’s suspension because of his willingness to accept the penalty without appeal.”

The player who is expected to be hit the hardest for his alleged PED use is Rodriguez. The Post is reporting that his suspension could span the rest of this year and all of the 2014 season. The Post also points out that it’s still possible that he might receive a lifetime ban.

As for the rest of the players, MLB wants to announce their suspensions before there are fewer than 50 games remaining during the regular season, according to The Post. The significance of 50 games is that it is the suspension length for first-time offenders of MLB’s PED test. This case is different because there were no actual tests that were failed, but rather an investigation into Biogenesis involving these players. However, MLB looks like it will try for the same length of suspension, according to The Post.

Rodriguez is a different story because he has already confessed to using steroids.

“Rodriguez does not fit into this category. It has become evident MLB is going to demand Rodriguez’s punishment far exceed Braun’s,” Sherman and Davidoff wrote in their article for The Post. “That is because MLB believes the combination of being a user and obstructing the case demands a much stiffer penalty — especially because Rodriguez has admitted to previous drug use from 2001-03 and because MLB believes Rodriguez subsequently lied to its investigators in previous interviews about his usage.”

The Post also reported that associates of Rodriguez met with MLB officials to go over potential penalty lengths, although one of those associates told The Post that they are not looking to cut a deal like Braun did.

(Pittsburgh) (AP) – Falling out of first place and an anemic offense are hardly the biggest problems for the St. Louis Cardinals at the moment.

Now, they’ve got to find a way to stay in a playoff race without franchise cornerstone Yadier Molina.

The All-Star catcher left with a sprained right knee after the third inning of a 6-0 loss to Pittsburgh in the second game of a doubleheader on Tuesday night. Molina will fly to St. Louis on Wednesday for further examination and expects to be placed on the disabled list.

Molina has been dealing with inflammation in the knee for more than a month. The pain simply became too unbearable to go on.

“I tried to play through it but it’s getting worse,” Molina said. “The smart thing is to take time off and try to fix it.”

Molina allowed the Pirates to take an early lead in the second game with a rare passed ball and was in obvious discomfort during his two at-bats. The Cardinals replaced him with Rob Johnson in the top of the fourth and aren’t certain when Molina will be able to return.

The timing couldn’t be worse for a slumping offense that now must replace the second-leading hitter in the National League. St. Louis has scored just five runs during its season-high, six-game losing streak and put together nine hits in 20 innings on Tuesday.

“That’s the sad part,” Molina said. “I want to be here for my team and for my teammates, but the smart thing to do is take care of my knee and come back as soon as possible.”

The injury came hours after general manager John Mozeliak insisted the Cardinals aren’t panicking even as the Pirates leapfrogged them in the NL Central standings.

“I still think it’s a good team,” Mozeliak said. “There’s definitely ups and downs and peaks and valleys in every season and this is certainly a down time for us.”

And an up one for the Pirates.

Alex Presley hit a sharp grounder that deflected off the glove of St. Louis reliever Kevin Siegrist (0-1) and away from shortstop Pete Kozma in 11th inning of the first game, giving Pittsburgh a 2-1 victory. Kozma could not recover and the ball rolled into the outfield, allowing Russell Martin to sprint all the way home from second base.

The bounces didn’t get any kinder a few hours later.

While Pittsburgh rookie Brandon Cumpton (1-1) kept the NL’s top offense in check, Pittsburgh poured it on with a little help from St. Louis left fielder Matt Holliday. The Pirates took a 2-0 lead on Jordy Mercer’s RBI single in the fifth before McCutchen stepped in. He drilled starter Tyler Lyons’ pitch deep to left but Holliday appeared ready to track it down at the wall. Instead, the ball popped off the heel of Holliday’s glove and into the stands.

Lyons (2-4) placed both hands on his head in shock while the packed bleachers let Holliday have it. Holliday’s night didn’t get any better an inning later when he overran Josh Harrison’s flyball to the wall, allowing Harrison to make it all the way to third.

“It’s a hard game,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. “Our guys have been making a lot of good plays. Every once in a while there’s tough ones you don’t make.”

Pittsburgh has outscored St. Louis 17-3 through the first three games of the pivotal five-game series.

“It’s an opportunity for us to find out what we’re made of,” Matheny said. “These are the times that define you. They happen during the season — never fun when you go through them, but we’ll see what kind of fight you have.”

The Cardinals can rely on one of the best pitching staffs in the majors, a status Lance Lynn did little to jeopardize while dueling with Pittsburgh’s A.J. Burnett in the opener. Pitching without the usual run support he receives, Lynn matched Burnett strike for strike in six taut innings. Lynn allowed a run on three hits, walking two and striking out seven.

Still, it wasn’t enough to halt a slide that’s in danger of turning into an extended slump.

“It’s just one of those points in the season — you have your ups and downs, and hopefully it’s the only down we have and we can move on tomorrow and get a win tomorrow and get back going in the right direction,” Lynn said.

Voice of the Cardinals, #MikeShannon, will hold first-ever game Twittercast on July 31st

 

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (July 29, 2013) – Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon will hold his first-ever “Twittercast,” taking over @Cardinals for Wednesday night’s game against the Pirates.

“While his voice is synonymous with Cardinals baseball, this will be Mike’s social media debut,” said Bill DeWitt III, President of the Cardinals. “This should be a lot of fun as Mike makes the transition from behind the microphone to behind the computer or smart phone for one night to tell the story of the game in 140 characters or less.”

During Wednesday’s game versus the Pirates – which is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. in Pittsburgh at PNC Park – Shannon will step away from his play-by-play seat on the Cardinals Radio Network and into Mike Shannon’s Grill in Edwardsville, IL, where he will host the @Cardinals Twitter Takeover.

Throughout the game, Shannon will comment on game action, share personal anecdotes, tweet answers to fan questions and more on @Cardinals under the hashtag #MikeShannon.

This marks the first time that the Cardinals Twitter account will be taken over by a personality. The first @Cardinals Twitter Takeover occurred earlier this season when fan retweets told the story of the game during the club’s annual Social Media Night at the Ballpark. Fans are encouraged to join the conversation by submitting their questions for Mike on Twitter by using the hashtag #MikeShannon.

Shannon has manned the Cardinals broadcast booth since 1972. Throughout his tenure as the Voice of the Cardinals, Shannon has also made appearances for the Cardinals television broadcasts, including as a pre-game analyst for Fox Sports Midwest. A St. Louis native, Shannon played for the Cardinals from 1962 to 1970, a span that included two World Championships (’64 and ’67) and a National League pennant in 1968. In 1999, Shannon was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of his on air career as well as his contributions on the field during his career as a player.  In May 2013, Mike was named the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame’s 26th Missouri Sports Legend in Springfield, Missouri.

Al Hrabosky will join John Rooney on the Cardinals Radio Network in place of Mike Shannon for the Wednesday night matchup. For more information on the takeover, fans can visit cardinals.com/mikeshannon.

 

Mike Shannon’s Grill

Mike Shannon’s Grill, the new upscale-casual eatery from the team behind downtown St. Louis’ favorite steakhouse Mike Shannon’s Steaks and Seafood, is the first new Shannon family restaurant in 27 years.  Located in Edwardsville, IL in the Park at Plum Creek development, the restaurant serves comfort cuisine appealing to a wide variety of customers and dining occasions.

 

Cardinals Social Media

The Cardinals have seen dramatic growth in the team’s various social media platforms in recent years, most notably on Twitter (@cardinals) and Facebook (facebook.com/cardinals). In May of 2010, when the team used Twitter to launch the Stand for Stan effort to celebrate Stan Musial, the team had just over 5,000 followers. Today, the team has more than 300,000 followers on Twitter, making @Cardinals one of the largest followings in Major League Baseball. The Cardinals have more than 1.4 million fans on Facebook, as well as a growing presence on other social media platforms such as Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest and Google Plus.

The Cardinals’ various social media efforts, such as the Stand for Stan Campaign, Facebook Fridays with Fredbird, the 2011 Like Mike Facebook campaign, the 2012 #FreesePlease Final Vote push and the 2013 #VinetheVote & #VoteSTL Fan All-Star balloting push have all been designed to take advantage of these communication mediums that are transforming how fans interact with the club. Fans can learn more about the club’s social media activity by visiting cardinals.com/connect.

 

— STL —

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Kansas, featuring highly recruited freshman forward Andrew Wiggins, will face Wake Forest on Thanksgiving in the opening round of the third annual Battle 4 Atlantis.

The other first-round matchups announced Monday are: Villanova against Southern California and first-year coach Andy Enfield, who led Florida Gulf Coast on its NCAA tournament run in March; Xavier, in its first season as a member of the Big East, meeting Iowa; and Tennessee facing UTEP.

The Kansas-Wake Forest winner will meet the Villanova-Southern California winner in one semifinal on Nov. 29. The championship game is Nov. 30 in the Imperial Arena, a grand ballroom converted to a basketball venue.

Harvard beat Central Florida in the inaugural tournament and Duke defeated Louisville last season.

 

 

 
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

Former Cubs pitcher and minor league coach Frank Castillo died Sunday in Bartlett Lake near Phoenix, his family announced. He was 44.

The 13-year major league veteran drowned while swimming in the lake.

“It was shocking,” said Brian McRae, his former Cubs teammate. “You don’t expect to see your teammates’ name on the bottom scroll of ESPN saying he drowned at 44 years old. Frank was a quiet guy, didn’t say a whole lot. I hung out with him a lot, so I knew him at a different level than some others. He just went about his business and got the most out his ability, spent parts of 13 years in the big leagues and had some success — a good dude and a good teammate.”

Castillo was the third pitcher from the ’97 Cubs to suffer a tragic death. Kevin Foster died after a six-month bout with renal cell carcinoma in 2008, and Geremi Gonzalez was struck by lightning, also in 2008.

Cubs manager Dale Sveum, a teammate of Castillo in the minors, said he was saddened by the news.

“Obviously it was a bad accident at a lake probably close to my house,” Sveum said. “He lived right over the hill to me. Great guy and he was a great teammate when I played with him. It was an unfortunate accident.”

Castillo had a career record of 82-104, with a 4.56 ERA. His biggest moment as a Cub came on Sept. 25, 1995, when he was one pitch away from becoming the first Cub in 23 years to throw a no-hitter. Harry Caray was going wild in the Cubs TV booth, and his former wife, Tracy, was constantly shown in the stands cheering him on.

Castillo had two strikes on Cardinals outfielder Bernard Gilkey with two outs in the ninth of a 7-0 win when Gikley lined a high fastball to right in front of a diving Sammy Sosa to spoil the no-hit bid. The ball rolled past Sosa to the wall for a triple, leaving Castillo with a magnificent one-hit effort that earned several standing ovations from the crowd of about 10,000.

“It was one of those pitches that as soon as I threw it, I wanted it back,” Castillo said. “Sammy made a great effort. He almost made it.”

Mark Grace gave Castillo the ball, saying: “I saw his face on the mound. I almost started to cry. He came so close.”

Castillo’s family released a statement to El Paso TV station KVIA calling Castillo “a wonderful son, terrific brother, and an extraordinary father to his two beautiful girls. Everyone who knew Frank loved Frank. We are devastated by this loss. It is impossible to express in words the level of sadness we feel due to this tragedy. All of those who counted Frank as a personal friend, and to all those wonderful fans who cheered for him during his major league career, we genuinely appreciate your prayers and kind words during this extremely difficult time.”

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Donovan McNabb will officially retire a member of the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday.

McNabb played 11 of his 13 seasons with the Eagles, leading them to eight playoff appearances, five NFC East titles, five conference championship games and one Super Bowl loss.

The 36-year-old McNabb hasn’t played in the NFL since 2011. He was traded to Washington in 2010, started 13 games for the Redskins that season and six for Minnesota the following year.

McNabb is the Eagles’ leader in may passing categories, including attempts (4,746), completions (2,801), yards (32,873), and touchdowns (216). He led the team to 100 wins, including nine in the playoffs. His 3,469 career yards rushing ranks sixth on the NFL’s all-time list.

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.