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Archive for July, 2013

(St. Louis) (AP) – Rams running back Daryl Richardson expects a heated training camp competition with teammate Isaiah Pead for the vacant spot left by the departure of long-time standout Steven Jackson.

But the battle won’t extend off the field.

Richardson and Pead are not only roommates but the best of friends. The two second-year players bonded together last season as rookies and that kinship remains strong even though they are fighting for the same starting position.

“No matter what happens, we’re cool,” Richardson said.

Explained Pead, “He’s my friend and he’ll always be my friend.”

Richardson, a seventh-round choice out of Abilene Christian and Pead, a second-round selection from the University of Cincinnati, have taken turns practicing with the first unit during the first two days of camp. The two alternated during Saturday night’s practice and the early returns have them deadlocked.

St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher has indicated that there are four or five players in the hunt for Jackson’s spot. Rookie Zac Stacy, a fifth-round choice out of Vanderbilt, is also a serious contender. Benjamin Cunningham, a rookie from Middle Tennessee State, and 2012 waiver pick-up Terrance Ganaway are in the running, as well.

But for now, all eyes are on Richardson and Pead.

Richardson, listed at 5-foot-10 and 196 pounds, was steady in the No. 2 role behind Jackson last season. He carried 98 times for 475 yards. Pead, the 50th overall pick, showed flashes in 2012 but struggled at times and finished with just 54 yards on 10 carries.

With Jackson in Atlanta, the two will be forced to develop quickly.

“The way I look at it is I’m still trying to find a spot on this team,” Pead said. “I feel good physically, it’s the mental part I’m working on.”

Pead, who is 5-10 and weighs 197 pounds, has been putting in extra duty and remains in the running for a kickoff/punt return role.

“I’m just doing anything I can to get on the field,” he said.

Richardson has more experience than all of the running backs in camp.

“I don’t feel any pressure, but I’m excited about the season and what it’s going to bring,” Richardson said. “It looks like I’ll have a bigger role and I’m just happy for that.”

Fisher has indicated he may end up using several running backs in rotation – a system he has had success with before. In 2008, as coach of the Tennessee Titans, Chris Johnson (1,228 yards) and LenDale White (773) formed a perfect tandem.

“We may not end up with a, “bellcow,” like we had last year,” Fisher said. “One of them may emerge and carry it 350 times this year. But it’s nice to have two or three guys in a rotation.”

No matter what happens, Richardson and Pead will remain close. For now, the pair are enjoying the situation.

“Off the field we just talk about life and other things,” Pead said. “We’ll question one another about what to do in a certain situation, but we don’t talk a whole lot about football.”

Richardson says the best part of the friendship is that the two push each other to become better.

“We hold each other accountable,” he said.

Notes: QB Sam Bradford hit WR Brian Quick on a 65-yard scoring toss to highlight Saturday’s two-hour out practice. The throw came during 11-on-11 drills. Bradford also hooked up with Austin Pettis on a long score. … The defense appeared a step ahead of the offense during most of the drills. S Rodney McLeod picked off a pair of passes. … A record crowd of 2,297 attended the practice. … The Rams will hold a special teams-only practice Sunday.

(Chicago) (AP) – Kansas City manager Ned Yost thought it was a hit. Greg Holland was preparing for a tie game. David Lough had other ideas.

Lough made a terrific diving catch to rob Jeff Keppinger of a tying RBI single in the ninth inning, helping Wade Davis and the Royals beat Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox 1-0 Saturday night for their fifth consecutive victory.

Lough’s grab in right was part of a terrific defensive performance for Kansas City. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain and shortstop Alcides Escobar also chipped in with two nice plays apiece.

“We play great defense every night,” manager Ned Yost said. “I mean it was a great play by David Lough, but we play solid, solid good defense every single night for the most part.”

Davis (5-9) allowed four hits – all singles – and walked three in a season-high 7 1-3 innings. The right-hander, who came over with James Shields in Kansas City’s big offseason trade with Tampa Bay, was 0-4 with a 10.91 ERA in his previous four starts.

“I got ahead of a lot more guys tonight,” Davis said. “I got some early swings to help me get deeper in the ballgame, too, and defense was pretty good today.”

Louis Coleman came in after Alejandro De Aza’s single in the eighth and got Alexei Ramirez to ground into a double play. Holland then worked a shaky ninth for his 26th save in 28 chances.

The White Sox had runners on the corners with one out when Lough scrambled in to grab Keppinger’s liner. Alex Rios did not tag up on the play, and pinch hitter Conor Gillaspie struck out to end the game.

“No-doubles (defense), so I was a little deeper than what I normally would be on Keppinger,” Lough said. “He kind of hit it pretty hard out there, thought I had a chance at it so I went for it and I was able to make the catch.”

It was another hard-luck loss for Sale (6-10), who allowed seven hits and struck out seven in his fourth career complete game. The All-Star left-hander is 1-8 with a 2.84 ERA in his last 10 starts.

“Just keep grinding. Stay on top and keep your head up,” Sale said. “Things will turn around.”

Billy Butler and Eric Hosmer had two hits apiece for the Royals, who have won seven of nine overall. Butler went 2 for 3 with a walk and is batting .450 (18 for 40) in his last 11 games.

Hosmer and Butler started the sixth with consecutive singles. Hosmer advanced to third on Salvador Perez’s fly ball to deep center and came home when Cain doubled down the third-base line.

Cain’s hit put runners on second and third with one out, but Sale retired Lough on a harmless comebacker and struck out Miguel Tejada to end the inning.

“He pitched great tonight,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “There’s no question about it. You can’t be perfect, but he’s pretty dang close.”

The White Sox threatened in the bottom half, putting runners on the corners with two out. Paul Konerko then hit a drive to center, forcing Cain to make a nice running catch.

Davis waited on the dirt outside of the dugout to congratulate Cain as he hustled in from the outfield, but he was only getting started. Cain made an even better catch for the first out of the seventh, crashing into the wall while taking a hit away from Keppinger.

The second play prompted a few of the Royals to wave their hats toward center while Cain got himself together for the next pitch. He came out in the eighth due to tightness in his left groin, but the Royals said it was precautionary.

“He’s got a little bit of a groin strain, why we took him out,” Yost said. “He’s day to day. Probably rest him tomorrow because we’ve got an off day on Monday, grab him two days right there.”

It was more than just Cain on a nice defensive night for both teams.

Escobar ranged up the middle and made a spinning throw to retire Keppinger in the second. Then he got Josh Phegley with another strong throw in the fifth after his grounder deflected off the glove of third baseman Tejada.

Second baseman Gordon Beckham and shortstop Ramirez each had a defensive gem for the White Sox. Beckham nearly misplayed Tejada’s second-inning popup, but recovered in time to make a tumbling grab in short center field. Ramirez made a diving stop on Perez’s grounder up the middle in the fourth, and then managed to shovel the ball to Beckham at second for the forceout.

(Chicago) (AP) – Kansas City center fielder Lorenzo Cain is out of the starting lineup for Sunday’s game against the White Sox.

Cain left the Royals’ 1-0 victory at Chicago on Saturday night due to tightness in his left groin, and the team said it was precautionary. Kansas City is off on Monday before beginning a three-game series at Minnesota, allowing the Royals to give Cain two days of rest.

Jarrod Dyson got the start in center and was in the ninth slot in the lineup.

Cain is batting .259 with four homers and 38 RBIs in 88 games. He drove in the only run in Saturday night’s win.

By R.B. FALLSTROM || Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — James Laurinaitis was optimistic as he joined the St. Louis Rams in 2009, though they were coming off a two-win season. This summer, he truly believes he’s part of a team poised to turn the corner.

“Oh absolutely. Absolutely,” the middle linebacker said after the first full-squad training camp practice Thursday night. “I was genuinely excited last year, same thing this year.

“The difference is I think this year’s team is more talented on paper, and hopefully that translates to the record.”

Laurinaitis also thought it was Super Bowl or bust in July 2012 when the Rams were coming off another 2-14 record and rebuilding under new coach Jeff Fisher, who stressed from the beginning that players should anticipate success.

They’ve set the foundation, going 7-8-1 and staying competitive in most games last year. They’ve got the comfort of familiarity, there appears to be a much better supporting cast for quarterback Sam Bradford, and there’s more speed across the board.

The Rams failed to build on another seven-win team in 2011 and nosedived in Steve Spagnuolo’s final season.

Nobody’s worried that’ll happen again and Laurinaitis said there’s no reason this team can’t reach for the sky.

“I think realistically this team needs to be thinking Super Bowl,” he said. “If you don’t talk about it, if you’re afraid to talk about it, you’re never going to achieve it.”

Players were perhaps buoyed by announced attendance of 1,755 on an unseasonably mild day with temperatures in the mid-80s for a two-hour workout, with a dunk tank that tested passing accuracy and autographs from offensive linemen as additional attractions.

Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said it was the best weekday showing in his five years with the team.

“We have evidence to believe,” said defensive end Chris Long, now the senior Ram entering his sixth season. “We have reason to believe.

“Some of these things are tangible.”

Fisher tempered the enthusiasm by ticking off the challenges the NFL’s youngest team still faces. They need to score more, make more stops on defense and minimize penalties to improve on the big step they took last year.

“We’ve got a good start,” Fisher said. “We’ve got a ways to go. We’re not satisfied.”

Fisher didn’t think this was a make-or-break year for Bradford, either. Bradford was the first overall pick of the 2010 draft.

“My expectations of myself are always high, I don’t think there’s anyone outside this building that can have higher expectations of myself than I do,” Bradford said.

“The goal for me is to build on what I was able to do last year.”

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer promises to expand the options for Bradford, in addition to talent upgrades topped by tight end Jared Cook and wide receiver Tavon Austin, the eighth overall pick of the draft.

“We’re faster at almost all the positions on the field, and I think that puts a lot of stress on the defense,” Bradford said. “They hesitate for a second, we’re by them.”

No. 11 Austin jerseys were prominently displayed for sale in the team souvenir tent alongside those of Bradford, Long and Laurinaitis.

Players underwent physicals earlier this week resulting in one roster adjustment when offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins reported overweight for the second straight year and was released on the eve of camp.

“Until he can get that stuff figured out and make a commitment, we’re just going on without him,” Fisher said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he gets another opportunity because he’s got some ability.”

KANSAS CITY, MO. (AP)

The Kansas City Royals finished off an impressive homestand against two of the American League’s better teams.

Jeremy Guthrie pitched six solid innings and Billy Butler homered as the Royals beat theBaltimore Orioles 7-1 on Thursday to close out the homestand.

The Royals went 5-2 against the Orioles and the AL Central Division-leading Detroit Tigers.

”I told people who asked over the break that we need to win five of seven or we’re going to be in trouble,” Guthrie said. ”We did exactly what we needed to do.”

Guthrie (10-7), who won 47 games in five seasons with the Orioles, allowed six hits over six innings. He gave up one run, while striking out five and walking one.

Guthrie went 3-1 in July and his 10 victories are one shy of his season high, set in 2010 with the Orioles.

”Ten wins is obviously indicative of the way the team is playing,” Guthrie said.

The Royals had 10 hits, including two each by rookie David Lough and Jarrod Dyson. Lough drove in a pair of runs with singles in the first and fifth innings. Alex Gordon also had two RBIs with a triple in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the second.

Butler homered, his ninth of the season, in the seventh inning off Francisco Rodriguez, who was making his Orioles’ debut after being acquired in a trade with Milwaukee on Tuesday.

”It was a great homestand, going 5-2 against two teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today,” Butler said. ”We’re definitely playing catch up.”

The Royals are in third place in the division, seven games behind the Tigers, but after going 10-10 in the past 20 games against teams with winning records, they play their next 12 against sub-.500 clubs.

”We’re making a big statement, taking series from Baltimore and Detroit,” Lough said. ”We’re trying to climb back to .500 and into the AL Central race.”

Both of Lough’s RBIs came with two out. He is hitting .414 with 15 RBIs with runners in scoring position and two out.

”I like the pressure,” Lough said. ”I take it as a normal at-bat. It seems like I get in a lot those situations. I just try to put the ball in play.”

Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (8-4) lasted just 4 2-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season and snapping his streak of eight straight quality starts. Gonzalez, who lost for only the second time since May 21, allowing a season-high six runs and eight hits, one walk and a hit batter, while striking out none.

”It was a tough one tonight,” Gonzalez said. ”It just didn’t work out. (Guthrie) did a good job getting our hitters off-balance. I was trying to stay focused but the grip wasn’t there. I had to battle and it didn’t work out.

”My adrenaline wasn’t there. I was high with my pitches the first couple of innings and I was behind in the count. I had good stuff but I was up with the fastball and the splittie was up and guys took advantage of that and scored early.”

The Royals scored three runs in the first two innings, all with two out. Salvador Perez and Lough contributed RBI singles in the first. Gordon’s fly to center in the second scored Chris Getz, who had doubled and moved to third on Dyson’s bunt single.

The Royals’ three-run fifth included Dyson scoring on Gordon’s triple, while Eric Hosmer and Lough added RBI singles.

Henry Urrutia tripled with two out in the fifth and scored on Brian Roberts’ double for the Orioles’ run.

The Orioles won the first four games of this road trip before losing the final three at Kauffman Stadium.

”We look at it as kind of a half-empty, half-full thing,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ”We’ve been gone 11 days and everybody is looking forward to getting back home. It was a tough game. We hit some balls hard, but things didn’t go our way.”

Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters singled in his first two at-bats for his fifth consecutive multi-hit game and extended his hitting streak to seven games.

Note: The Royals went 26-22 with Hall of Famer George Brett as the interim hitting coach, a position he stepped down from Thursday. ”I just thought it was time for me to move on,” Brett said. ”It was time for me to sit in the suite again with Dayton (Moore, general manager), instead of travel around the country.” Pedro Grifol, who had been Brett’s assistance, was promoted to the hitting coach. … RHP Chris Tillman, who starts Friday against Boston, is trying to become the first Oriole to win 13 games in a season since Erik Bedard won 13 in 2007. … Orioles 3B Manny Machado leads the majors with 39 doubles, but none since July 6. … Baltimore 1B Chris Davis, who tops the majors with 37 home runs and 97 RBIs, struck out four times and went 3-for-15 with eight strikeouts in the series.

By STEVE OVERBEY (Associated Press) | The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Lance Lynn knew from the first pitch on Thursday that his recent struggles were over for at least one game.

The St. Louis right-hander bounced back from a frustrating stretch to allow one run over seven innings and the Cardinals scored three times in the third inning of a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Matt Carpenter, Jon Jay and Matt Adams drove in runs for theCardinals, who have won seven of nine.

Philadelphia has lost five in a row, tying a season high. The Philliesalso dropped five straight from June 7-12.

St. Louis, which swept the three-game set, has the most wins in the majors at 62 and is a season-high 25 games over .500.

Lynn (12-5) had dropped four of his previous five decisions and was 3-4 with a 6.32 ERA in his past eight starts.

”I knew I had to be a lot better than I had been,” Lynn said. ”It was bad.”

Lynn came out against the Phillies with an aggressive mindset, which paid immediate dividends. He realized quickly that he had rediscovered his early season groove.

”I had good stuff early on and I could feel it,” Lynn said. ”I knew I had it from the get-go. I was able to attack with my fastball and able to get into a rhythm.”

Lynn, who was 8-1 with a 2.76 ERA in his first 12 starts, gave up just five hits against the slumping Phillies, who have scored just nine runs during the five-game skid. He struck out six and walked four.

Lynn’s turnaround came at a perfect time. St. Louis is set to embark on an 11-game road swing beginning Friday in Atlanta.

Lynn, whose last win came on July 7, retired eight batters in a row from the fourth through seventh innings. He set the side down in order in the fifth and sixth on a combined 23 pitches.

”That’s what we’ve been hoping to see,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. ”He kept his focus and he still maintained his energy. He had impressive depth to his sinker.”

Closer Edward Mujica picked up his 30th save in 32 opportunities. He struck out two and is tied with Pittsburgh’s Jason Grilli for the most saves in the NL. Trevor Rosenthal pitched a scoreless eighth for the Cardinals.

Mujica, who converted his first 21 save opportunities this season, needed to 14 pitches to nail down the victory.

”At the beginning of the season, they gave me the ball in the seventh inning,” Mujica said. ”I never thought about being a closer. This is unbelievable for me.”

St. Louis scored three times on four hits off Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick (9-7) in the third.

Carpenter drove in Pete Kozma with a one-out single. Jay followed with an RBI triple and Adams added a run-scoring single.

St. Louis, which leads Pittsburgh by 2 1/2 games in the NL Central, won five of six games on its homestand.

”You show up every day wanting to play and you end up with good results,” Carpenter said. ”This was a big day for us.”

Kendrick allowed three runs and five hits over six innings. He gave up just one hit in five of the innings, but the third inning was costly.

”One bad inning can lose a game for you,” Kendrick said. ”It was a quality start, but I had to pitch than that tonight and I didn’t do it.”

Erik Kratz drove in the Phillies’ run with a single in the fourth.

Philadelphia outfielder Steve Susdorf grounded into a double play in the seventh in his major league debut. He was recalled earlier in the day to replace Domonic Brown, who was placed on the seven-day concussion disabled list.

The Phillies, who fell to 9-19 against NL Central foes, remain eight games behind Atlanta in the NL East.

”At times, we have trouble putting anything on the board,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. ”We got some hits, but we didn’t have any real good chances.”

Notes: St. Louis OF Matt Holliday is expected to come off the disabled list on Saturday. Holliday’s wife Leslee gave birth to a son, Reid Joshua, on Wednesday night. Holliday was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 12 with a right hamstring strain. … The Cardinals open their lengthy road trip with three in Atlanta. Adam Wainwright (13-5, 2.44) will face Mike Minor (9-5, 2.88) in the opener of a three-game series. Philadelphia begins a three-game series in Detroit on Friday. Cole Hamels (4-12, 4.16) takes on Doug Fister (8-5, 3.90) in the series opener. … Allen Craig had a nine-game hitting streak snapped Thursday. … Jimmy Rollins and John Mayberry Jr. had two hits each in the game.

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have recalled left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski  from Memphis (AAA).   The team optioned right-handed pitcher Carlos Martinez to the triple-A club following last night’s win.

Rzepczynski, 27, began the season on the Cardinals Major League roster, appearing in nine games (8.0 IP) before being optioned to Memphis on April 29.

Since joining the Memphis club, Rzepczynski has appeared in 32 games, posting a 1-2 mark with a 3.07 ERA. He has struck out 31 batters in 44.0 IP and allowed just one home run and 18 walks. He has limited opposing left-handed hitting batters to a .185 BA.

Rzepczynski appeared in 70 games for the Cardinals last season and allowed runs in just three of 33 appearances after July 1, compiling the National League’s 10th best ERA (1.83) and opponent’s BA (.186) over the season season’s final three months.

Martinez, the Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Month in June, has made eight starts this season at Memphis, going 3-2 with a 1.98 ERA. In his two stints with the big league club this season, the 21-year-old rookie has made 10 relief appearances (11.1 IP) and struck out 11.

(West Plains) – The Lady Zizzer Softball program will be hosting its annual Alumni Game on August 16 at 6:00 p.m. at the softball fields.

Organizers say a BBQ will also be held for current and alumni Lady Zizzer softball players.

For more information contact Ashley Tyree-Hamby at 417-293-4146.

Associated Press

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. –  Tony Moeaki spent most of the Kansas City Chiefs’ offseason workouts watching from the sideline with a baseball cap on his head. Donnie Avery did the same thing.

They’re both happy to have a helmet on instead.

Moeaki had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee after last season, keeping the tight end from participating in the first round of practices under new coach Andy Reid. Avery only managed to get in a couple workouts before a high ankle sprain sidelined the wide receiver.

Both of them are allowed to practice with the rookies this week ahead of the rest of the veterans reporting to training camp on Thursday. The first full-squad workout is Friday.

 

ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Rams released offensive guard Rokevious Watkins on the eve of the first full-squad workout of training camp.
The 338-pound Watkins was a fifth-round pick last year and played in one game in his rookie season before going on injured reserve with an ankle injury. He had been suspended without pay for this year’s opener for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Watkins was held out of the beginning of training camp last summer after reporting overweight.