Weekend Sports in Brief
BOSTON (AP) — Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski says he is retiring from the NFL after nine seasons.
Gronkowski announced his decision via a post on Instagram Sunday, saying that a few months shy of his 30th birthday “it’s time to move forward and move forward with a big smile.”
Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus confirmed his client’s decision to retire.
The tight end, who turns 30 in May, leaves as a three-time Super Bowl champion who has established himself as one of the most dominant players at his position.
But he has been dogged in recent seasons by back, knee, ankle and arm injuries that have limited his ability to stay on the field.
MIAMI (AP) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is apologizing after being charged in a Florida massage parlor prostitution investigation.
In a statement Saturday, Kraft acknowledged disappointing family, friends, co-workers, fans “and many others who rightfully hold me to a higher standard.”
Kraft said he has “extraordinary respect for women,” adding that his morals were shaped by his late wife.
He said he expected to be judged by his actions, not just his apology.
Kraft pleaded not guilty last month to two counts of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution.
NEW YORK (AP) — The NCAA Tournament field is down to 16 — and the top seeds are still at the top.
The field has the top three seeds in each round in the Sweet 16 for only the second time (2009) since the bracket expanded in 1985. It’s tied with 2009 for the most top four seeds (14) in the Sweet 16.
Sure, Virginia had to sweat out another tourney opener.
And Duke was a tip-in away from being done.
But it’s rare this many single-digit teams still have a shot at cutting down the nets.
ATLANTA (AP) — Ron Hunter is leaving Georgia State to become Tulane’s coach.
Less than 48 hours after the Panthers were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Hunter told The Associated Press on Sunday that he’s moving on from the downtown Atlanta university where he coached the past eight seasons.
The 54-year-old Hunter takes over a Tulane men’s basketball program that fired Mike Dunleavy after the Green Wave failed to win a game in the American Athletic Conference.
Hunter posted a record of 171-95 at Georgia State, leading the Panthers to three NCAA appearances.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Avery Johnson is out as Alabama’s coach after making the NCAA Tournament only once in four seasons.
Athletic director Greg Byrne announced Sunday that the Crimson Tide and Johnson “made the decision to mutually part ways.”
Johnson’s buyout under a contract extension reached in August 2017 would be $8 million.
He led the Tide to a 75-62 record in four seasons, including a trip to the NCAA Tournament last year. Alabama lost five of its last six games this past season, including a first-round upset by Norfolk State in the NIT on Tuesday night.
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — California has fired basketball coach Wyking Jones after winning just eight games in each of his first two seasons.
Athletic director Jim Knowlton announced the decision on Sunday, days after reports emerged that Jones had been told he would return to Cal for a third season.
Knowlton thanked Jones for his dedication to the program and called the firing a difficult decision. Jones has three years remaining on a five-year, $5 million contract.
Justin Verlander and the Houston Astros have agreed to a contract adding an additional $66 million in guaranteed money for 2020 and ’21, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.
The person spoke Saturday on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced. The agreement was first reported by KRIV-FOX 26.
A 36-year-old right-hander, Verlander is due $28 million in 2019, the final guaranteed season of a $180 million, seven-year deal he signed with Detroit before the 2013 season. That contract included a $22 million for 2020 that would have become guaranteed if Verlander finished among the top five in Cy Young Award voting this year.
— By AP Sports Writer Kristie Rieken.
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Ace left-hander Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a new contract that guarantees an additional $145 million from 2020 to 2024.
Sale has been an All-Star the last seven years and would have been eligible for free agency after this season.
He is guaranteed $15 million this year under the second option year of the contract he signed with the Chicago White Sox before the 2013 season. The deal wound up to be worth $59 million over seven years plus award bonuses.
The contract announced Saturday adds $30 million salaries annually from 2020-22 and $27.5 million a year in 2023 and 2024.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez bruised his left knee when he fouled a ball off himself Sunday and his status for opening day is uncertain.
X-rays on the two-time All-Star were negative. The team said Ramirez will remain in Arizona, and that it will be determined later whether he can play Thursday when the AL Central champions open at Minnesota.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco Giants acquired outfielder Michael Reed from Minnesota on Saturday while sending outfielder John Andreoli and cash to the Twins.
In addition, San Francisco dealt Matt Joyce to Atlanta for cash. The Giants, under new president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, have been searching all offseason for an impact outfielder.
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) — All-Star second baseman Scooter Gennett will miss the opening months of the season with a severe groin strain, costing the Cincinnati Reds one of their top hitters less than a week before opening day.
Gennett injured the right side of his groin Friday while making a play on a groundball hit by Milwaukee’s Yasmani Grandal. He had an MRI, and the Reds said Saturday that he’s expected to miss two to three months.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Rehabbing Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia will open the regular season on the 25-man roster so he can serve a five-game suspension stemming from last season before being placed on the injured list.
Sabathia, retiring after the season, is expected to miss the first two or three turns through the rotation as he recovers from an offseason that included knee surgery and the insertion of a stent after a blockage was found in an artery from his heart.
The Yankees will be short-handed for three games with Baltimore and a pair against Detroit while Sabathia serves the suspension for hitting Tampa Bay’s Jesus Sucre with a pitch in his last regular season start of 2018.
MESA, Ariz. (AP) — The Chicago Cubs have optioned versatile youngster Ian Happ to the minor leagues.
Manager Joe Maddon announced the decision Saturday.
The 24-year-old Happ appeared in 142 games with Chicago last season, hitting .233 with 15 homers and a .761 OPS while playing second base, third base and all three outfield spots. He finished eighth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2017 after hitting .253 with 24 homers in 115 games.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Chicago White Sox think Eloy Jimenez is going to be a big-time slugger.
They are so sure they gave the young outfielder a record-breaking deal.
The 22-year-old Jimenez is looking forward to the upcoming season after finalizing a $43 million, six-year contract with Chicago, nearly double the amount of the previous high for a player under club control yet to make his major league debut.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose has undergone arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow.
The Timberwolves announced Saturday that Rose had the procedure done at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The Wolves previously said Rose was unlikely to play again this season. They’re already eliminated from playoff contention.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Joshua Kushner, the brother of President Trump’s son-in-law, has purchased a minority stake in the Memphis Grizzlies.
A Grizzlies team spokesman has confirmed that Kushner and Brandon Arrindell “recently, in their respective individual capacities” purchased minority stakes in the franchise.
The Grizzlies haven’t said how much of a stake they purchased.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal came to Penn State after the Nittany Lions had already seized control of college wrestling. The dynamic duo helped them tighten their grip.
Nolf (157 pounds) and Nickal (197) ended their careers with individual championships hours after the Nittany Lions claimed a fourth-straight NCAA team title and their eighth in nine years.
With help from 285-pound champion Anthony Cassar, the Nittany Lions totaled 137.5 team points to top second-place Ohio State’s 96.5. Oklahoma State was third with 84, followed by Iowa (76) and Michigan (62.5).
HAMDEN, Conn. (AP) — Senior captains Sophia Shaver and Annie Pankowski each scored, and Wisconsin won its fifth NCAA women’s hockey championship with a 2-0 victory over Minnesota on Sunday.
Kristen Campbell, named the most outstanding player, pitched her 11th shutout of the season, including a victory over two-time defending champion Clarkson in the Frozen Four. She did not allow a goal in three NCAA Tournament games.
The NCAA and major college conferences will appeal a judge’s ruling that the governing body violates antitrust laws by limiting education-related benefits to athletes.
In a statement released early Saturday, NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said the district court “erred by giving itself authority to micromanage decisions about education-related support” to athletes.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, ruled this month in the so-called Alston case that football and men’s and women’s basketball players competing at the NCAA’s highest level may receive compensation from schools beyond the athletic scholarship if the benefits are tied to education.
While the judge ruled the NCAA was in violation of antitrust law, the plaintiffs had asked to lift all NCAA caps on compensation.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Elisha Barno of Kenya passed countryman John Korir with 150 meters to go to win the Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday for the closest finish in the race’s 34-year history.
Ethiopia’s Askale Merachi won the women’s race and set a race record.
Barno crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 46 seconds and beat Korir by seven seconds. It is the second time in three years that Barno has won at Los Angeles. He finished third last year.
HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — Cutting Humor edged Anothertwistafate by a neck to win the $800,000 Sunland Derby and enter the picture for the Kentucky Derby.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Cutting Humor ran 1 1/8 miles in a track-record 1:46.94 on Sunday at Sunland Park.
The colt earned 50 qualifying points for the first Saturday in May, putting him fifth on the Derby leaderboard after not having appeared in the standings previously. The top 20 horses earn berths in the Derby.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — By My Standards passed three horses down the stretch to win the $1 million Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds Race course Saturday.
The winner went off at 22-1 in what is one of the major prep races for the Kentucky Derby, and galloped past Todd-Pletcher-trained Spinoff to win by nearly a length.
Trained by W. Bret Calhoun, By My Standards earned 100 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby, assuring qualification for the Triple Crown opener. Jockey Gabriel Saez steered By My Standards into fourth entering the final turn and finished the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:49.2. He paid $47, $16.60 and $9.40.
With John Velazquez aboard, Spinoff earned 40 points with a second place finish and paid $6.80 and $5.40.
Sueno finished third and paid $6.