(Kansas City) (AP) – Danny Duffy trudged off the mound with the bases loaded and his team trailing by a run, and took a seat in the dugout to watch Jason Frasor try to bail him out.
He roared when the Royals reliever struck out Chris Colabello to end the threat.
“He came through with flying colors,” Duffy said with a smile.
Buoyed by the clutch pitching, Kansas City churned out three doubles in the bottom half of the inning Wednesday night, scoring all their runs in an eventual 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
“Frasor was huge with the bases loaded,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Just about everybody who stepped on the mound for Kansas City came up big.
Duffy allowed only a homer by Josh Willingham over 5 2-3 innings, despite walking a season-high six. Scott Downs and Kelvin Herrera gave back a run in the seventh, but Herrera struck out Brian Dozier and Willingham with runners on second and third to preserve the Royals’ one-run lead.
Wade Davis worked a perfect eighth, and All-Star closer Greg Holland survived two wild pitches that sent Eduardo Nunez to third base by striking out Sam Fuld for his 28th save.
“Anytime you lose a battle like that it’s frustrating, especially with game on line,” Fuld said. “Holland made a great pitch. We battled him.”
The Twins’ Phil Hughes (10-8) showed no lingering effects from a comebacker off his right ankle that cut short his last outing. He allowed only three singles before the sixth, when the Royals were able to finally string together a series of hits that gave them the lead.
Omar Infante led off the sixth with a single and Salvador Perez added a tying double moments later. Alex Gordon followed with an RBI double to center, and Mike Moustakas pulled another run-scoring double just inside the first-base line to give Kansas City a 3-1 lead.
The Royals’ bullpen and defense made each run seem huge.
Perez made the first of several memorable plays in the third inning, when he picked Nunez off first base with a snap throw. Duffy picked Fuld off first in the fourth, and Dozier was thrown out at the plate on a base-running mistake later in the inning.
“I’m trying to make an aggressive play,” Dozier said.
Perez’s best play may have come in the seventh, when he leaped from the behind the plate to grab a sacrifice bunt and throw the runner out at first. Herrera followed with his strikeouts to leave the go-ahead run standing on second.
“That was a big play right there,” Yost said. “That was a great play by Sal.”
WADE IN THE WATERS
Davis continues to dazzle in his setup role. His scoreless eighth inning Wednesday night gave him a 0.99 ERA in 43 games. The former starter is still the only pitcher in the major leagues with more than five appearances who hasn’t allowed an extra-base hit.
GORDO DOUBLES UP
Gordon finished 3 for 4 with two doubles, the All-Star left fielder’s first three-hit game at Kauffman Stadium since May 18, against Baltimore. It was the first time he had two doubles in a game since doing it April 12, in Minnesota.
WILLINGHAM THE LONER
Willingham has hit 11 homers this season, eight with nobody on base. That includes the last six. And the fact that the bases were empty when he went deep Wednesday night proved costly when Minnesota was unable to coax another run across until the seventh inning.
Twins: Catcher Joe Mauer (strained right oblique) took batting practice in the cage without any problems. Right-hander Mike Pelfrey began his throwing program after surgery on June 10 to relieve numbness caused by a nerve in his throwing elbow.
Royals: First baseman Eric Hosmer was in the lineup for the second straight night after missing time with a bruised right hand. He finished 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians had little choice but to give up Justin Masterson. The trade doesn’t mean they’re going to surrender the season.
“We will never raise the white flag,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “That’s not an option. Anybody who stands next to me in the dugout knows that will never happen.”
Protecting themselves in case the 29-year-old Masterson left as a free agent after the season, the Indians traded the right-hander on Wednesday to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The trade of Masterson could be followed by other moves by the Indians, who entered Wednesday 6 1-2 games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central and in a scramble with five other teams for the league’s second wild-card spot.
The Indians could also trade shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera before the deadline. Like Masterson, Cabrera is in the final year of his contract and the Indians have shown little interest in re-signing him. Dealing the two-time All-Star could bring a prospect in return.
General manager Chris Antonetti said he’s exploring deals to improve the team before Thursday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline.
“Our focus is to continue to try to win as many games as we can,” he said. “We’re currently in the midst of having conversations to bring players in to impact our team at the major league level. Whether or not that happens over the next 24 hours, there are a lot of factors in play and it’s hard to handicap that.”
Masterson began the season as the Indians’ ace. He’ll end it with a different team in a different league after a disappointing four months.
“I was surprised,” Masterson said. “It’s bittersweet. I’m sad to leave the fellas and the fight we’re making here in Cleveland, but I’m excited to get to St. Louis and be a part of what they have going there.”
In exchange for Masterson, who was scheduled to come off the disabled list later this week, the Indians got outfielder James Ramsey. A first-round pick by the Cardinals (No. 23 overall) in 2012, Ramsey has spent this season at Double-A Springfield, where he batted .300 with 13 home runs and 36 RBIs.
Antonetti said Ramsey will be moved up to Triple-A Columbus.
Masterson went 14-10 last season and then turned down an offer of a contract extension in spring training.
“It’s an extraordinarily difficult day for us,” Antonetti said. “It wasn’t an easy decision, but it’s one that made sense.”
Masterson is 4-6 with a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts this season and has had a noticeable loss in velocity. In five starts before being placed on the DL with right knee inflammation, he allowed 19 runs and 27 hits in 18 innings.
Masterson, who hasn’t won since June 8, said the impending free agency didn’t affect his performance.
“I guess I could try and blame that, but that would be a lie,” he said.
The Cardinals are in the race for the NL Central crown, a season after going to the World Series.
Masterson was acquired by the Indians at the trading deadline in 2009 in the deal that sent catcher Victor Martinez to Boston. Before Tuesday’s series opener against Seattle, Masterson said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Indians made any moves before the trade deadline Thursday.
Masterson had said he was hoping to stay and help them make a playoff push.
Francona was Boston’s manager when Masterson was dealt to Cleveland.
“The hug was a little longer than normal,” Francona said. “We may part teams, but my admiration for him isn’t parting.”
Joked Masterson: “Tito keeps trading me away. What’s up with that?”
Masterson went 48-61 with Cleveland. He expects to join the Cardinals in the next day or two and said he might start a game this weekend.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Oft-injured Chiefs safety Sanders Commings was carted off the practice field Wednesday after getting juked to the ground by running back Jamaal Charles and hurting his right ankle.
Commings broke his collarbone in his first practice as a rookie and was finally getting up to speed. He was trying to tackle Charles in the open field when he whiffed, turning his ankle in such a way that he was unable to put any weight on it.
Commings was in a heated competition for a backup job, and the Chiefs hoped he would push veteran Husain Abdullah for the free safety spot that opened when Kendrick Lewis departed.
Meanwhile, right tackle Donald Stephenson returned to practice after missing Monday’s workout with a left ankle injury. The Chiefs had Tuesday off.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — The moment when Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith will no longer discuss his contract situation is rapidly approaching, even though he makes it seem as if the deadline has already passed.
Sure, Smith politely answers every question about his uncertain future, but he also makes it clear that he would rather not.
The Chiefs have been talking to his representatives for months about a contract extension, but the sides remain far apart in their negotiations.
“You’re getting to the point where either way, you want it to stop being a distraction,” Smith said after practice Wednesday. “You guys know how I feel about this and it’s the truth, yeah, you get to the point – and I’m there – where you finally cross the line and it’s just football from here on out. I’m done talking about it, behind the scenes as well.”
Asked whether he has a specific deadline for breaking off talks, Smith replied: “No hard line, yeah, but at some point mentally it’ll come to me. `It’s over. Let’s just focus on the season.’”
Smith is due to make $7.5 million this season, the final year of the contract he signed with San Francisco.
And most suspect he’ll land an extension similar to what Colin Kaepernick received from the 49ers – six years, $126 million with $61 million guaranteed – after helping the Chiefs to bounce back from two wins before his arrival to an 11-5 record and the playoffs.
“There’s communication going on,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said simply. “Alex is a good football player and he’s great for this football team. We’re lucky to have him here.”
Beyond that, there wasn’t a whole lot Reid was willing to divulge. He’s no longer involved in most of the contract talks, as he was in Philadelphia, deferring instead to Chiefs general manager John Dorsey – who has likewise danced around the subject of Smith’s contract.
“They’re working through it and we’ll see,” Reid said. “These things take time. You know how the game goes. Alex isn’t worried about it and I’m not worried about it. We just go play.”
Turns out that’s something Smith did marvelously last season.
After losing his job to Kaepernick in San Francisco, and getting shipped to Kansas City for a pair of draft picks, he proved to everyone he still has plenty of ability.
Smith threw for a career-best 3,313 yards and 23 touchdowns with only seven interceptions, even while skipping the regular-season finale with nothing on the line.
While all those numbers are impressive, even more impressive is his won-loss record. Smith is 30-9-1 as a starter the past three seasons, trailing only Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees in victories among quarterbacks with at least 30 starts. Smith has also thrown just 17 picks over that span, and his quarterback rating of 92.5 is far above the league average.
“He’s definitely peaking and rising,” Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe said. “Definitely leading this offense and making tremendous strides on delivering the ball and putting it where it needs to go, and that’s all you can ask as a receiver from the quarterback.”
That’s why the Chiefs are so eager to have him around for a while.
In the span of 18 months, Smith has gone from the quarterback that the 49ers considered an after-thought to the one Kansas City is building around. Heady times for the former No. 1 overall draft pick, even though he would never allow himself to acknowledge it.
“I’ve got a year left and I’m planning on playing it. It doesn’t change anything either way for me,” he said of his contract situation. “I’ve got some football ahead of me. I’m focused on that and I’m trying to get ready for the Titans (in the season opener). That’s just the way I feel about things and the way it needs to be done. There’s no more time to be bothered by distractions.”
Notes: Oft-injured S Sanders Commings was carted off the practice field after getting juked to the ground by RB Jamaal Charles. A team spokesman said Commings hurt his right ankle. … RT Donald Stephenson (left ankle) returned to practice after missing Monday’s workout. “I got back faster than I thought and I’m proud of it,” he said. … DL Mike Catapano (illness) missed practice.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Quarterback battles and signal-caller questions abound in the Southeastern Conference going into preseason camps around the league.
Big names, not so much.
Division favorites Alabama and South Carolina will be banking on new starters. Ditto for Texas A&M, Georgia and defending East Division champion Missouri.
So long, Johnny Manziel, Aaron Murray and AJ McCarron et al. Hello, little-known new guys.
The biggest name returning at quarterback is Auburn’s Nick Marshall, himself an unproven commodity this time last year. The biggest stars are gone, but Georgia coach Mark Richt says that doesn’t necessarily signal a big drop-off.
“Some guys are going to have a chance to make a name for themselves,” Richt said. “How many seasons start out where you must don’t know what a guy’s going to do? Even (Florida State’s) Jameis Winston, Johnny Football, their first year of starting, all of a sudden they win the Heisman. So anything can happen with a guy who gets his opportunity. I wouldn’t count out the quarterbacks in this league to play great.”
First, some of those candidates for greatness must win the starting job. Others have already risen to No. 1 after biding their time.
South Carolina and Georgia have fifth-year seniors finally getting their shots.
The Gamecocks’ Dylan Thompson supplied a few big highlights during his time as Connor Shaw’s backup. Georgia’s Hutson Mason started a win over Georgia Tech and then put up big numbers in a loss to Nebraska in the Gator Bowl after Murray’s season-ending knee injury.
Missouri sophomore Maty Mauk started four games in place of an injured James Franklin last season, throwing 11 touchdown passes against two interceptions.
“When you’re playing in the SEC, you have to be ready,” he said. “You’ve got to have two or three quarterbacks ready, and I was ready. Maybe I wasn’t mentally fully up with it. I knew this was my opportunity and I took it. They put me in great situations.”
Now, he’s in another good one as Franklin’s heir.
The most experienced returning quarterback is Mississippi’s Bo Wallace, whose 6,340 career passing yards trails only Eli Manning at the school.
Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, Arkansas’ Brandon Allen and Florida’s Jeff Driskel are also back. Driskel, who’s 12-3 as a starter, missed most of last season with a broken leg.
Other teams’ quarterback competitions are carrying into August, and several could include freshman contenders:
- Alabama appears to have a two-man race to replace McCarron, the 2013 Heisman Trophy runner-up. Blake Sims was shaky in the spring game and Florida State transfer Jacob Coker is the presumed front-runner. But Coker, Winston’s former backup, will have to play catch-up since he didn’t report to Tuscaloosa until the summer after graduating.
“Those two are just two different type of quarterback,” Crimson Tide receiver Christion Jones said. “Alabama’s probably never seen those two, no matter who’s the starting quarterback between them. There’s no comparison to any other quarterback.”
- Texas A&M also should have no shortage of playmakers but scant experience at quarterback. Sophomore Kenny Hill and freshman Kyle Allen, who went through spring practice, are vying to replace Manziel, the 2012 Heisman winner.
Kyle Allen was one of the Aggies’ prized recruits, but few matched the razzle-dazzle of Manziel as a scrambler and runner.
Left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi insists the basic formula doesn’t change.
“Same offense. Same plays,” Ogbuehi said. “Pass the ball. Run the ball. It’s all the same.”
- LSU freshman Brandon Harris, also a January enrollee, and sophomore Anthony Jennings are competing to replace Zach Mettenberger.
Harris accounted for three passing touchdowns and one rushing score in the spring game.
“It will be a very competitive event from the start to the finish,” LSU coach Les Miles said.
- New Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason will likely choose between Patton Robinette, redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary and LSU transfer Stephen Rivers. Mason said he’s not ruling out three other potential candidates.
- Patrick Towles and Maxwell Smith are vying to claim the job at Kentucky, where last year’s primary starter Jalen Whitlow transferred. Plus, highly recruited freshman Drew Barker and Reese Phillips are waiting in the wings.
- Tennessee’s Justin Worley, Joshua Dobbs and Nathan Peterman are vying to lead an offense that ranked 13th in the league in passing. All three started at least one game in 2013.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Chiefs rookie Aaron Murray was tied up in meetings Monday night, at the same time millions of people were tuning into ABC to see whether his brother would be popping the question.
No worries. Murray knew months ago that his brother, Josh Murray, would be chosen by “The Bachelorette” Andi Dorfman on this season of the reality dating show.
In fact, the finale was taped the same week of the NFL draft, making it a memorable weekend in his household.
“He’s excited. He’s very happy,” the younger Murray said after Wednesday’s practice on the campus of Missouri Western. “It was fun watching him when I got the opportunity to watch on TV. And I’ve got a (future) sister-in-law, so I’m happy.”
Aaron Murray even got a bit of TV time himself, offering up a toast when Dorfman visited the Murray household during one of the late-season episodes. That episode coincided with the pro days that the QB was having for prospective NFL teams in the weeks leading up to the draft.
“The finale happened the week of the draft, actually. We knew that Friday of the draft, we got a call from him – `Hey, she picked me. I proposed. We’re engaged.’ So it was an exciting weekend,” Aaron Murray said. “He gets engaged, the next day I get drafted.”
Like his younger brother, Josh grew up playing sports, but he ultimately gravitated toward baseball first. He was plucked out of high school by the Milwaukee Brewers in the second round of the 2002 draft, only to fizzle out after several years in the minor leagues.
He later enrolled at Georgia and spent two seasons playing safety while Aaron was becoming the star quarterback, setting SEC records for completions, yards passing and touchdown passes.
Josh Murray now lives in Atlanta, the same city Dorfman calls home, though his little brother anticipates seeing both of them at Arrowhead Stadium at some point this season.
Aaron Murray is competing with Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray to back up Alex Smith, and will get his first opportunity to make his case in a preseason game on Aug. 7 against Cincinnati.
“I feel great right now. I feel ready. I feel comfortable with the playbook and I’m excited,” he said. “My first time in Arrowhead Stadium, my first NFL experience. I’m looking forward to it.”
Even more than he’s looking forward to seeing the finale of “The Bachelorette.”
“I still need to get it on iTunes or something,” he said with a smile.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — James Shields acknowledged that he didn’t have his best stuff Tuesday night.
He has the bruise on his rump to prove it.
The Royals’ ace struggled to find the strike zone against the Minnesota Twins, and was hit hard when he finally did. And while he managed to wiggle out of a series of jams, Shields still allowed both of the runs that doomed Kansas City to a frustrating 2-1 defeat.
“We just got out-pitched and out-played. I didn’t have my best stuff out there,” Shields said. “I tried to keep the team in the game as long as I could. It just wasn’t enough.”
As if the loss wasn’t bad enough, Shields was left hobbling around behind the mound in the third inning, when Sam Fuld ripped a liner at him. It hit Shields squarely in the left butt cheek and ricocheted toward third base, where it was retrieved for a rather painful groundout.
Shields (9-6) ultimately threw 124 pitches – two shy of his career high – while walking four in six innings. The runs came on Josh Willingham’s sacrifice fly and Brian Dozier’s RBI single.
“A bit erratic. He got his pitch count up early,” Royals manager Ned Yost explained. “At the end of five, he’s at 100, which is uncharacteristic for him.”
His counterpart, Kyle Gibson, was having no such trouble for Minnesota.
He allowed a single by Alcides Escobar in the third inning and another by Nori Aoki in the sixth over seven dazzling innings. Gibson (9-8) was at his best at the end, too, setting Kansas City down in order in the seventh on four seemingly effortless pitches.
“I don’t know what it was tonight,” he said. “I just had a lot of confidence.”
Casey Fien worked the eighth before Glen Perkins ran into trouble in the ninth, giving up a leadoff double to Omar Infante and an RBI single to Eric Hosmer. Perkins bounced back to get three straight pop outs and record his 26th save of the season.
“The loss is frustrating in general. It doesn’t matter how it is,” the Royals’ Billy Butler said. “It’s not fun to lose, especially in a 2-1 game like that. We should have put up more runs.”
That’s been a common refrain for Kansas City, which has scored three runs or fewer in seven of its past 10 games. Two of those games have been shutouts.
“It’s just one of those days where we had a tough day offensively,” Butler said.
REVIEW THE REPLAY: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire wanted a review of a replay in the third inning, when he thought Royals left fielder Alex Gordon trapped the ball in robbing Chris Parmelee of a hit – and likely saving a run. After challenging the call, Gardenhire was incensed that it stood, taking out his frustration on plate umpire Ted Barrett. Gardenhire was tossed after a nose-to-nose confrontation. “I just wanted to find out what happened,” he said. “I was just looking for an explanation. He threw me out really quick. He was really hot.”
ONE-RUN WOES: The Royals dropped to 12-21 in one-run games this season, a mark that would be even worse if not for 2-1 victories over Chicago and Cleveland in the last week.
BIG WORKLOAD: Shields threw his most pitches as a member of the Royals, and the 124 tied for the third-most of his career. It was the most by a Royals pitcher since May 8, 2010, when Gil Meche threw 128 pitches in a 3-2 loss at Texas. “They were sitting on some really good pitches,” Shields said. “Their plate discipline was phenomenal tonight.”
Twins: Catcher Joe Mauer (strained right oblique) swung in the batting cage and plans to hit live batting practice Wednesday. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (sore elbow) also felt good after a bullpen session. He plans to throw another one Thursday.
Royals: Hosmer was back in the lineup after missing six of the past seven starts with a bruised right hand, while LHP Jason Vargas (appendectomy) also reported no problems after throwing about 60 pitches during a four-inning simulated game. “Today went well,” he said.
Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes makes his first start since leaving a game July 24 against the White Sox with a bruised right shin. Hughes (10-7) won his previous start in Kansas city April 20.
Royals: Left-hander Danny Duffy (5-10) threw seven shutout innings his last time out, only to get stuck with a no-decision when the Indians’ Corey Kluber matched him pitch for pitch.
CHICAGO (AP) — The NCAA agreed on Tuesday to help athletes with head injuries in a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit that college sports’ governing body touted as a major step forward but that critics say doesn’t go nearly far enough.
The deal, filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, calls for the NCAA to toughen return-to-play rules for players who receive head blows and create a $70 million fund to pay for thousands of current and former athletes to undergo testing to determine whether they suffered brain trauma while playing football and other contact sports.
A lead attorney for the plaintiffs who spearheaded nearly a year of talks culminating in the agreement said the provisions would ultimately improve players’ safety and leave open the possibility of damage payments later.
“I wouldn’t say these changes solve the safety problems, but they do reduce the risks,” Chicago attorney Joseph Siprut said. “It’s changed college sports forever.”
Others strongly disagreed.
Unlike a proposed settlement in a similar lawsuit against the NFL, this deal does not set aside any money to pay players who suffered brain trauma. Instead, athletes can sue individually for damages; the NCAA-funded tests that would gauge the extent of neurological injuries could establish grounds for doing just that.
One plaintiffs’ attorney not involved in the negotiations called it a “terrible deal” that lets the NCAA off the hook far too easily. Jay Edelson called the agreement “window dressing,” saying the NCAA will be able to settle one-off suits for several thousand each. He estimated that a single, class-action damages settlement could have been worth $2 billion to players.
“Instead,” he said, “it’s worthless.”
The settlement is primarily directed at men and women who participated in basketball, football, ice hockey, soccer, wrestling, field hockey and lacrosse.
There is no cutoff date for when athletes must have played a designated sport at one of the more than 1,000 NCAA member schools to qualify for the medical exams. That means all athletes currently playing and those who participated decades ago could undergo the tests and potentially follow up with damage claims.
Tuesday’s filing serves as notice to the judge overseeing the case that the parties struck a deal. At a status hearing later in the day, U.S. District Judge John Lee said he wanted more time to consider whether to give the deal preliminary approval. If he does, affected athletes will have a chance to weigh in before Lee decides about granting a final OK.
The NCAA, which admits no wrongdoing in the settlement and has denied understating the dangers of concussions, hailed the deal.
“This agreement’s proactive measures will ensure student-athletes have access to high quality medical care by physicians with experience in the diagnosis, treatment and management of concussions,” NCAA’s chief medical officer Brian Hainline said.
Siprut added that stricter rules and oversight should help ensure the viability of football by allaying fears of parents now inclined to not let their kids play.
“Absent these kinds of changes, the sport will die,” he said.
To keep the NCAA from having to hold unwieldy talks with multiple plaintiffs, 10 lawsuits filed nationwide were consolidated into the one case in Chicago, where the first lawsuit was filed in 2011.
The lead plaintiff is Adrian Arrington, a former safety at Eastern Illinois. He said he endured five concussions while playing, some so severe he has said he couldn’t recognize his parents afterward.
Another named plaintiff is former Central Arkansas wide receiver Derek K. Owens. His symptoms became so severe he dropped out of school in 2011, telling his mother: “I feel like a 22-year-old with Alzheimer’s.”
Among other settlement terms, all athletes will take baseline neurological tests to start each year to help doctors determine the severity of any concussion during the season; concussion education will be mandated for coaches and athletes; and a new, independent Medical Science Committee will oversee the medical testing.
Robert Cantu, a Boston-based clinical professor of neurosurgery and a longtime critic of the NCAA, said the deal is a huge shift by the organization.
“It’ll make collision sports much safer,” said Cantu, who was one of the plaintiffs’ experts.
But former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma said it’s all for show.
“It takes some of the things many of us have been advocating for and pretends to address it,” Huma, president of the College Athletes Players Association, said.
Plaintiffs’ filings say the number of athletes who may require testing to learn if they suffered long-term damage runs into the tens of thousands. They cite NCAA figures that from 2004 to 2009 alone, 29,225 athletes suffered concussions.
Internal emails unsealed in the lawsuit illustrate how pressure mounted on the NCAA over the issue.
In a Feb. 23, 2010, email, the NCAA’s director of government relations, Abe Frank, wondered whether debates about new safeguards for young children playing contact sports would crank up the pressure on the NCAA to do more.
David Klossner, NCAA’s then-director of health and safety, responded bluntly a few hours later: “Well since we don’t currently require anything all steps are higher than ours.”
Later that year, the NCAA established a head-injury policy that states that athletes should be kept from play for at least a day after a concussion. It also requires each school to have a concussion management plan on hand.
But plaintiffs blamed a tendency of some teams to hurry concussed players back into games, in part, on the NCAA’s lax enforcement of the policy.
In a 2012 deposition, asked if any schools had been disciplined for having subpar concussion plans, Klossner said, “Not to my knowledge.”
ST. LOUIS (AP) — To guard against another bullying scandal, NFL teams are holding sensitivity sessions during training camp.
Such guidance could be valuable for the St. Louis Rams, even if by all accounts they have welcomed Michael Sam into the fold.
“I don’t think it ever hurts to just talk about general respect for other people and other players,” middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “There’s not a problem in our locker room, however it doesn’t hurt to go around and remind people about it.”
The worst hazing Rams rookies face is toting veteran players’ helmets off the practice field. Coach Jeff Fisher says no one is made to sing at dinner time.
“Yeah, we have a philosophy about that,” Fisher said. “The rookies are here to help us win and if you treat a rookie like a rookie he’s going to inevitably do something stupid and act like a rookie.”
As far as Sam goes, there has been no visible dissent in camp whatsoever regarding the NFL’s first openly gay player.
Nowadays, players asked how Sam is fitting in might answer with a question themselves: Why is this still a big deal? They are liable to respond with a shrug when asked what it’s like having an openly gay teammate in the locker room, or whether it’s an issue having Sam showering next to them.
Move on already, they say.
“The NFL is a huge melting pot, people from different walks of life, backgrounds, family backgrounds, socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities, all that stuff,” defensive end Chris Long said. “So people are used to playing with people who are not the same as them in any way.”
The bottom line is it’s “pretty easy” for players to adjust, Long said.
The team has treated Sam just like most of their players, despite the extra attention. It removed the backdrop that had been in place for Fisher for a six-minute post-practice scrum interview with Sam on Tuesday, a message that it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Yet, the NFL Network had a camera and boom mike trailing Sam strolling to the locker room.
The Rams plan to limit availabilities the rest of camp for a player who after all is a seventh-round pick.
Sam appeared confident, even cocky about his chances, saying he thought questions about his sexual orientation would cease “when I lay somebody out that first game.” He was brash enough to deconstruct a few questions and wait to have them rephrased, but also joked some, too, saying he lost 13 pounds preparing for special teams duty “because I want to run fast, don’t you?”
This will be the second round of sensitivity training for the Rams. The head of an advocacy group for gay and lesbian athletes spent a day at Rams Park soon after the draft, meeting with everyone in the building.
Like it or not, round two is coming. And then, players hope, it’s on to the competition.
“Everybody should stop and think about it because it’s a big moment to have courage to do what he did, and be who he is and be openly who he is,” Long said. “It gives cause for reflection.
“But at the same time he’s a football player, it’s about football, and he knows that.”
Sam came out as gay before his senior year at Missouri and judging by the results, it was no distraction at all. The Tigers made a seven-win improvement and tied the school record with 12 wins. Sam was co-SEC defensive player of the year.
“If you look at our season, it didn’t hurt us at all,” said cornerback E.J. Gaines, a fellow rookie and former Missouri teammate. “If anything, it brought us closer.”
It was impressive that everyone kept Sam’s announcement to themselves.
“Mike doesn’t like to refer to it as a secret,” Gaines said. “It was just something that when he’s ready to tell people, he’s ready to tell people, and he was ready to tell us.”
Rams rookies had to sing for their supper in 2009 when Laurinaitis was a second-rounder out of Ohio State, and though he found the prospect embarrassing, he ended up having fun. He volunteered on the first day to get that chore out of the way, and picked a popular song, “Nobody” by Keith Sweat, with the title used continually as a one-word chorus so teammates could easily join in and “you could cut it short.”
Nowadays, all the veterans ask is that youngsters are eager to learn, not full of themselves from college stardom and not daydreaming when they’re on the sideline.
“The ice is thinner in that regard,” Laurinaitis said. “We’re not going to put up with a rookie not working hard, we’re not going to put up with a rookie not pulling his weight.”
“But,” he adds, “we’ve got good rookies.”
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.