Thursday’s Sports in Brief

OLYMPICS

LONDON (AP) The head of the Pyeongchang Olympics organizing committee said that the NHL isn’t being ”greedy” preventing hockey stars going to the 2018 Games and he was willing to be flexible to meet its demands.

Organizing committee president Lee Hee-beom told The Associated Press that ”we are ready to cooperate.” Lee says he’s doesn’t know what the NHL’s conditions are ”but whatever they ask – if it is acceptable for us – we will do our best.”

The International Ice Hockey Federation also has been willing to discuss options, but acknowledged a ”game-changer” offer was likely needed for NHL team owners to change their minds about halting the league schedule for three weeks. The best players in the world have played in every Olympics since 1998.

The IIHF had already agreed to meet players’ travel and insurance costs when the International Olympic Committee ended its long-time commitment to pay. The NHL sought more concessions, but the IOC would not concede a share of marketing rights to a commercial league.

SPORTS MEDIA

NEW YORK (AP) – Holly Rowe says her cancer has recurred, just as she’s agreed to a multiyear contract extension with ESPN.

Rowe told The Associated Press that her cancer has come back and spread, sharing the news hours after ESPN announced it had extended her deal. The longtime sideline reporter was worried she’d be among those laid off by ESPN last month. Instead, she’ll remain on the sidelines for college football, basketball, volleyball, softball and WNBA games for the next few years. She’ll also keep her health insurance at a pivotal time.

Rowe was first diagnosed with cancer nearly two years ago after discovering a small spot on her chest. It turned out to be a big tumor under her skin.

She covered her first WNBA game of the season when the New York Liberty hosted the Minnesota Lynx. She’ll have a CAT scan Monday and continue her treatment.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) – The two groups bidding to buy the Miami Marlins from Jeffrey Loria are relatively even in their price offers, according to Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush leads one group, which includes former New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who would head the team’s baseball operations. The other group is led by businessman Tagg Romney, son of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and includes Hall of Famer Tom Glavine.

”There are two bidders, at least, for the franchise. The bidders are in relatively the same place in terms of price, maybe minuscule differences, and they are in fact in the price range that Mr. Loria was looking for,” Manfred said following a quarterly owners meeting.

Loria, 76, bought the Marlins for $158.5 million in 2002 from John Henry, who was part of the group that bought the Boston Red Sox.

The groups are bidding to buy the Marlins for approximately $1.3 billion, which would include the assumption of about $100 million in baseball-related debt. More than $200 million in other debt associated with the team would be paid by Loria as part of the closing.

NEW YORK (AP) – Acknowledging that games have gotten even slower this season, Commissioner Rob Manfred says MLB with will meet with players in an attempt to find a solution.

The average time of a nine-inning game is a record 3 hours, 5 minutes this season, up from 3 hours last year and 2:56 in 2015, Manfred’s first season as commissioner.

”We’ve probably gone backwards a little bit,” Manfred said after an owners’ meeting.

Management proposed making changes for this year, such as installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound by catchers, but players’ association head Tony Clark said his side would not agree. Management can implement changes unilaterally with one year advance notice.

NEW YORK (AP) – Baseball fans can like their team’s games with a click starting Friday.

Major League Baseball announced Facebook will carry a live game nationally each Friday starting with Colorado at Cincinnati this week. The Facebook package of 20 games will use the broadcast feed of one of the involved teams.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred calls it ”really important for us in terms of experimenting with a new partner in this area.”

The Twitter feed of a game each Friday, which started April 7, will be moved to Tuesdays.

Dan Reed, Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships, says in a statement ”baseball games are uniquely engaging community experiences, as the chatter and rituals in the stands are often as meaningful to fans as the action on the diamond.”

”By distributing a live game per week on Facebook, Major League Baseball can re-imagine this social experience on a national scale,” he adds.

ATLANTA (AP) – The Braves are looking for help at first base after losing Freddie Freeman for about 10 weeks due to a broken left wrist.

President of baseball operations John Hart says he knows no player can replace the production lost by the injury to Freeman, who shared the major league lead with 14 homers and was hitting .341.

Freeman was hurt when hit by a pitch from Toronto’s Aaron Loup during the fifth inning of an 8-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

Hart said losing Freeman is ”devastating news for the ballclub.”

ATLANTA (AP) – Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar was suspended two games for yelling an anti-gay slur at a Braves pitcher.

The Blue Jays suspended Pillar without pay shortly after he apologized in a statement, saying he was ”completely and utterly embarrassed” by the word he directed at Jason Motte.

Pillar was angry at Motte for allegedly quick-pitching him to get a strikeout that ended the seventh inning in Atlanta’s 8-4 victory Wednesday night.

Replays appeared to show Pillar using the slur as he shouted toward the mound. After what he described as a sleepless night, the player acknowledged his wrongdoing.