Friday’s Sports in Brief
NEW YORK (AP) — Every team in Major League Baseball will shut its spring training camp over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, a move that came in the wake of the Philadelphia Phillies announcing five players had tested positive for COVID-19.
The closures come while MLB owners and players try to negotiate a deal to begin the season, and raise the possibility the virus outbreak could scuttle all attempts at starting up this year.
A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press the spring complexes in Florida and Arizona will temporarily close because of recent events. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there wasn’t an official statement.
The facilities will undergo a deep cleaning and disinfecting. No one will be permitted back inside without a negative test for the virus.
NEW YORK (AP) — Extra innings that start with runners on second base, games ending in ties and re-entry are among the possibilities for a radically altered 2020 Major League Baseball season, one limited to a maximum 60 games by teams that claim they can’t afford more due to the coronavirus pandemic.
MLB included the controversial extra-inning runner rule in its proposal Wednesday for a 60-game season, down from an initial 82, and also wants it for 2021. The players’ association accepted the rule Thursday for 2020 only in its counter-proposal for 70 games, down from an initial 114.
The union also said it wants to discuss allowing games to end in ties “after a certain number of innings” and “the relaxation of substitution rules in extra innings.”
Copies of both proposals were obtained by The Associated Press. Some aspects were first reported by USA Today. The runner on second rule has been used in the minor leagues for the last two seasons.
One big on-field change already has been agreed to by both sides if there is a deal: expansion of the designated hitter to games involving National League teams.
LANCASTER, Pa. (AP) — The independent Atlantic League won’t be able to play this season because of the coronavirus pandemic, and its Sugar Land Skeeters will host a four-team circuit whose managers are to include Roger Clemens, Pete Incaviglia and Greg Swindell.
The Atlantic League said Friday that the High Point Rockers, Long Island Ducks and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs are working with several professional clubs to put together a 70-game schedule starting in mid-July and that will by followed by five-game championship series at the end of September.
Sugar Land will host a four-team league from July 3 through Aug. 23, and each team will play 28 games. Rosters are expected to include players with major league service. It did not say whether the contemplated managers would be fulltime.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Post editorial board is calling on Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change his football club’s name.
Under the headline, “Change the name of the Washington NFL team. Now,” the newspaper says in an editorial posted online Friday that if Snyder won’t switch the nickname, the professional football league itself ought to do so.
Snyder has owned the team since 1999 and steadfastly vowed to keep the name, despite calls to reconsider, a push that has resurfaced during the ongoing national reckoning over racism.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser last week called the name “an obstacle” to the team building a new stadium and headquarters in the nation’s capital, where a project likely would be on land leased by the federal government. The club currently has its stadium in Maryland, and its practice facility in Virginia.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau were trading birdies with vastly different games. Rory McIlroy ran off enough birdies to make the cut. And the biggest move of the day at the RBC Heritage belonged to a player who made it to the course, but not the tee.
Nick Watney became a footnote in golf history Friday as the first player to test positive for the coronavirus.
Watney tested negative when he arrived Tuesday, experienced symptoms Friday and took another test that came back positive. He now faces self-isolation for at least 10 days as the tournament goes on.
The weekend buzz at Harbour Town figures to be about more than just birdies and bogeys.
Simpson got the last word with a 6-foot birdie on his final hole at No. 9 for another 6-under 65, giving him a one-shot lead after another day of watching DeChambeau and his additional 40 pounds of mass swing out of his shoes for a 64. DeChambeau made six birdies on his back nine, missing a 5-footer on the last that would have tied for the lead. Corey Conners also was one back after a bogey-free 63.
Simpson was at 12-under 130, and scoring remained bunched. Thunderstorms that rolled through the island and halted play for two hours only gave players more time to talk about Watney and the ramifications. McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, who is on the PGA Tour policy board, said a positive test was bound to happen as the tour returns from a three-month shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
TORONTO (AP) — Canada has approved the NHL’s return-to-play proposal that could lead to one or more cities north of the border serving as host sites for the league’s 24-team playoff format.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced that the nation’s top public health officer, and health officials in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario had signed off on the NHL plan.
The decision followed discussions with government health officials, and comes as the league enters the advanced stages of selecting its hub cities — most likely two — from a list of seven in the U.S. and three in Canada, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email to The Associated Press.
Daly didn’t rule out the possibility of two hubs being located in Canada from among Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton.
The NHL, however, did encounter a setback in its bid to resume playing since the season was paused on March 12. The Tampa Bay Lightning closed their facilities indefinitely Thursday after three players and “additional staff members” tested positive for COVID-19. The team said the players were largely asymptomatic and were self-isolating.
The move came as baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies announced that some of their players and staff had tested positive in nearby Clearwater, Florida, and the Toronto Blue Jays had one player show symptoms consistent with the coronavirus in nearby Dunedin, Florida.
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Clemson said 23 football players have tested positive for coronavirus since returning to campus this month.
In all, school spokesman Jeff Kallin said 28 people were found with COVID-19 since testing began for athletes and other personnel on June 8.
The uptick at Clemson mirrors one in the state of South Carolina, which reported a single-day high of 1,081 people testing positive on Friday.
Along with the players, two football staffers and three athletes from other sports were found with the virus. The school said all were asymptomatic and have begun isolation for at least 10 days. No one has been hospitalized.
ROME (AP) — Alex Zanardi, the Italian race car champion who transitioned into a gold medalist Paralympian after losing both of his legs, was seriously injured in a handbike race on Friday.
Zanardi was transported by helicopter to Santa Maria alle Scotte hospital in Siena following a crash near the Tuscan town of Pienza during a national race for Paralympic athletes, police told The Associated Press.
A medical bulletin from the hospital said Zanardi underwent “a delicate neurosurgery operation” due to “severe cranial trauma.”
The surgery lasted about three hours, after which Zanardi was moved to the intensive care unit.