Friday Sports in Brief

COURTS

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Saints are going to court to keep the public from seeing hundreds of emails that allegedly show team executives doing public relations damage control for the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese to help it contain the fallout from a burgeoning sexual abuse crisis.

Attorneys for about two dozen men suing the church say in court filings that the 276 documents they obtained through discovery show that the NFL team, whose owner is devoutly Catholic, aided the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its “pattern and practice of concealing its crimes.”

“Obviously, the Saints should not be in the business of assisting the Archdiocese, and the Saints’ public relations team is not in the business of managing the public relations of criminals engaged in pedophilia,” the attorneys wrote in a court filing. “The Saints realize that if the documents at issue are made public, this professional sports organization also will be smearing itself.”

The Saints organization and its attorneys emphatically disputed any suggestion that the team helped the church cover up crimes. In a statement Friday, the Saints said the archdiocese sought its advice on how to handle media attention that would come from its 2018 release of its list of more than 50 clergy members “credibly accused” of sexual abuse.

A court-appointed special master is expected to hear arguments in the coming weeks on whether the communications should remain confidential.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — NFL free agent Antonio Brown was released on bail Friday after a night in a Florida jail, where he turned himself in to face charges that he and his trainer attacked the driver of a moving truck that carried some of his possessions from California.

Broward County Judge Corey Amanda Cawthon set a $110,000 bond and imposed conditions including surrendering his passport, wearing a GPS monitor, possessing no weapons or ammunition, and agreeing to a mental health evaluation and random drug testing.

Brown was released a few hours after the hearing, his lawyer said.

Brown, 31, had appeared via video in a green jail outfit, with his wrists shackled. He spoke only to answer the judge’s questions.

Prosecutors had sought no bail, pointing out that the wide receiver is a wealthy sports figure who is a risk of flight if released. They noted that police had been called to his Florida home 18 times since December, for various reasons.

But one of Brown’s lawyers, Eric Schwartzreich, said Brown deserved credit for surrendering voluntarily and had no incentive to flee.

NFL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Eli Manning ended his 16-year NFL career on his own terms. He was classy, well-prepared and walked away as a New York Giant.

In a roughly seven-minute speech touched with a little humor and almost no emotion, the 39-year-old Manning officially ended his career Friday at a packed news conference surrounded by family, friends and former teammates and coaches and the two Super Bowls he delivered to the storied franchise.

“From the very first moment I did it my way,” said the low-key Manning, who followed in steps of father Archie and brother Peyton, as NFL quarterbacks. “I could not be someone other than who I am. Undoubtedly, I would have made the fans, the media, even the front office more comfortable being a rah-rah guy.

“But that’s not me,” Manning said. “Ultimately I choose to believe that my teammates and the fans learned to appreciate that. What they got was pure unadulterated Eli.”

The one person who was emotional was Giants co-owner John Mara, who said Manning would be inducted into the team’s ring of honor at MetLife Stadium next season and that the quarterback’s No. 10 jersey was being retired.

MLB

CHICAGO (AP) — Dallas Keuchel has become the first member of the 2017 Houston Astros to offer a public apology for the team’s sign-stealing scheme during their run to the World Series championship.

Speaking Friday at the fan convention for the Chicago White Sox, who signed the left-hander to a $55.5 million, three-year contract in December, Keuchel said he felt what happened was blown out of proportion, but he was sorry.

“I’m not going to go into specific detail, but during the course of the playoffs in ‘17, everybody was using multiple signs,” Keuchel said, “I mean, for factual purposes, when there’s nobody on base, when in the history of major league baseball has there been multiple signs?

“It’s just what the state of baseball was at that point and time,” the former AL Cy Young Award winner said. “Was it against the rules? Yes it was, and I personally am sorry for what’s come about, the whole situation.”

An investigation by Major League Baseball found the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Oakland Athletics pitcher Mike Fiers didn’t have any more to say regarding his role as a whistleblower.

Fiers declined Friday to answer questions about revealing the sign-stealing scam that has engulfed Major League Baseball, instead saying he simply wanted to focus on the future. He spoke a day ahead of an A’s fan event, his first public appearance since divulging the Houston Astros used electronics to illicitly steal signs from opposing catchers in 2017.

“I don’t want this to be a distraction to them. I want them to be ready for the season,” Fiers said. “For me it’s all about getting ready for the season, playing baseball and not being a distraction to this team.”

Fiers said he would take “baseball questions.” As for the cheating scam and its aftermath, “I’m not talking about that right now,” he said.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Nationals “face of the franchise” Ryan Zimmerman agreed to terms on a $2 million contract for 2020 that includes the possibility of earning $3 million more in incentives.

The parameters of the deal were described to The Associated Press on Friday by a person familiar with the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement was still pending a physical exam.

The incentives are based on the number of games the first baseman plays and how many plate appearances he gets.

The person also said the 35-year-old Zimmerman was given a full no-trade clause.

He already had gotten a $2 million buyout when the Nationals declined their $18 million option for next season.

The new agreement was first reported by The Washington Post.

—By AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich.

NEW YORK (AP) — Luis Rojas began his tenure as manager of the New York Mets by thanking his famous father, Felipe Alou.

Rojas was introduced by the Mets on Friday as the replacement for Carlos Beltrán, whose tenure was cut short last week after just 84 days.

Felipe Alou was a three-time All-Star who managed Montreal for 10 seasons and San Francisco for four. Rojas called him his “college, university of baseball” and said he “taught me the game of baseball and life and helped me balance that through this journey.”

Rojas had been the Mets quality control coach last year and was elevated after the newly hired Beltrán was implicated for his role as a player in 2017 in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.

Rojas also praised his brother, six-time All-Star Moises Alou.

NHL

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Puck and player tracking is coming to the NHL in the playoffs.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday that puck and player tracking will be up and running in all playoff arenas this spring and is expected to be fully operational leaguewide next season.

“There will be more data than ever before,” Bettman said. “I believe the players will generate something like 200 data points per second and the puck 2,000 data points a second, so in terms of getting inside the game, telling stories, as a fan delving in to get what you’re interested in, you’re going to be able to do more things than ever before and even imaginable.”

The league will test the system — which is a mix of sensors and optical tracking — during certain games in the regular season. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league hasn’t decided which games will be chosen for that testing.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky freshman forward Kahlil Whitney says on his verified Twitter that his time at the school “has not gone as I had hoped” and that he will leave the No. 15 Wildcats.

The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Whitney averaged 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds and started eight of Kentucky’s first 11 games. He hasn’t played more than 11 minutes during the past seven contests and recorded just three points and three rebounds in that stretch.

The Chicago native thanked coach John Calipari and others in his post and added that “the business of basketball waits for no one, and sometimes tough choices need to be made in order to progress.”

GOLF

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The PGA Tour is raising the prize money at The Players Championship to $15 million, making it the largest purse in golf unless any of the majors decide to up the ante this year.

The winner of March 12-15 event at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, will receive $2.7 million, nearly as much as Tiger Woods earned in his first two seasons as a pro.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced the increase at the annual players meeting this week at Torrey Pines during the Farmers Insurance Open, according to several players.

The tour typically does not release information on the prize money, wanting the focus to be more on prestige than cash. But it also has a history of wanting its premier event to reflect that in the money available.

FIGURE SKATING

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Alysa Liu needed all of her technical brilliance in her impressive jumping arsenal to hold off Mariah Bell and successfully defend her U.S. Figure Skating Championships title Friday night.

No American woman comes close to the repertoire of jumps the 14-year-old Liu possesses. She hit two triple axels among eight triples overall and attempted the only quad of the event, a lutz she under-rotated. Her 160.12 points by far exceeded the rest of the field and lifted her to 235.52 and up from second place after the short program.

Skating last, Liu had little margin after Bell’s superb skate.

Bell knew after her final triple lutz, her seventh triple jump of the program, that she’d put out the performance of her life. A huge smile spread across her face for the final half-minute as she flew across the ice with spirals and then her last spins.