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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Baseball

Twins optimistic after Byron Buxton carted out of practice with foot injury

Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton was carted out of the Minnesota Twins’ practice game on Monday after suffering a foot injury, but the team is optimistic about his health.

Buxton was trying to track a Nelson Cruz home run in center field when he went down. He was examined by a trainer and taken off the field on a cart.

Buxton went for imaging on his foot, but the team is optimistic after an initial test did not show anything serious, according to manager Rocco Baldelli.

Buxton, the No. 2 pick in 2012, has dealt with injuries throughout his career. He is returning from shoulder surgery and has not played more than 140 games in a season during his career. He’s been recognized for being an incredible defensive player.

Justin Verlander rebuilt his pitching mechanics during MLB shutdown

Justin Verlander is one of the most successful pitchers of his generation. You’d probably think that when the MLB season was delayed, he would focus on doing what he’s always done with regard to staying in shape and being ready to go.

Instead, the Houston Astros ace said he went into a “full rebuild process” with his pitching mechanics in a bid to prolong his career.

“I changed a lot of stuff that some people would think was unnecessary,” Verlander said, via Jake Kaplan of The Athletic. “But I thought it was necessary, especially if I want to play eight, 10 more years.”

Verlander said he came to the realization that he was using his mechanics to compensate for minor injuries. While he could have continued pitching that way, he wants to pitch many more years at a high level, and he felt that required him to essentially start over mechanically.

“It was almost like plugging holes in a roof when it’s raining,” Verlander said. “I would fix one thing and another thing would pop up.”

Verlander said after a simulated game Thursday that he is close to where he wants to be with his new mechanics, but is not entirely there yet.

The reigning Cy Young winner is one of the most driven players in the game, even at the age of 37. He’s always looking to get better and find new competitive advantages. If that means overhauling his mechanics even at this stage of his career, he’s all for it. After all, this is a guy who’s said he’d like to pitch into his mid-40s if his body will let him.

Tony Kemp says black MLB players will make Opening Day statement of unity

Tony Kemp

Oakland Athletics second baseman Tony Kemp said Monday that Major League Baseball’s black players will join other sports in staging some sort of show of unity on Opening Day.

Kemp said the details were still up in the air, but there will be some sort of “statement of unity” when the regular season begins.

Protests have been widespread since the death of George Floyd in early May, and discussions about racial injustice in America have come to the forefront of society. MLB’s black players are clearly eager to take part.

Expect to see demonstrations in all major sports this season in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and fighting racial injustice.

Cardinals’ Jordan Hicks opts out of 2020 season

Jordan Hicks Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals flamethrower Jordan Hicks has become the latest MLB player to decline to play in 2020.

The team announced Monday that Hicks has opted out of the 2020 season, citing “pre-existing health concerns.”

Hicks has type 1 diabetes, which is likely the pre-existing health condition being cited here. The Centers for Disease Control states that type 1 diabetes may increase one’s risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. Subsequently, as a high-risk player, he will still be paid in 2020.

Hicks also underwent Tommy John surgery roughly a year ago. He had been making steady progress in his recovery, but will now get extra time to rehab ahead of the 2021 season.

Hicks has a 3.47 ERA and 20 saves in two MLB seasons. The 23-year-old is known for his blazing fastball, which has previously touched 104 MPH on the radar gun.

Report: Travis Kelce, former NFL stars trying to buy Mets with A-Rod and J-Lo

Alex Rodriguez and his fiancee Jennifer Lopez are leading a group that is trying to purchase the New York Mets, and the NFL community is apparently well represented in their bid as well.

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure revealed on Monday that Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and former NFL stars Brian Urlacher, DeMarco Murray and Joe Thomas are some of the investors in Rodriguez’s and Lopez’s group. Some NBA players are also investing, including Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal and Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have such high-quality individuals as part of our group,” Rodriguez told ESPN.

Kelce called the chance to become a part owner of the Mets a “crazy opportunity,” while Urlacher said he is proud to be a part of such a noteworthy group of current and former athletes.

“Being a former athlete and having a chance to be a part of a group trying to purchase a professional team, it’s pretty cool,” Urlacher said. “It’s especially cool to be involved with Alex. Alex is the man. You’ve got Kelce, Joe Thomas, DeMarco Murray. It’s great to be in a group with them.”

A-Rod and J-Lo have contributed $300 million of their own money. The initial bid from the group was $1.7 billion last week, with billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen reportedly bidding $2 billion. Cohen is still considered the favorite to buy the Mets even though he had a deal in place with owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon that went sour earlier this year due to a number of issues.

Rodriguez and Lopez reportedly have at least one billionaire in their investment group, so it would not be a surprise if they increase their bid.

Red Sox P shares fantastic Julio Franco story

Julio Franco

Boston Red Sox pitcher Collin McHugh shared a great story about Julio Franco on Sunday.

Baseball reporter Hector Gomez shared a video on Friday of Franco taking swings in a batting cage and looking like he was in fantastic shape.

That’s not bad for a 61-year-old, right?

Well McHugh’s story is great. He says that when Franco managed the Mets’ Gulf Coast League team, McHugh asked Franco if he worked out every day. Franco was incredulous over the question and shot back, “do you eat every day?”

Franco was famous for being an ageless wonder. He played 23 seasons in MLB from 1982-2007, all the way up to the age of 48. He led the league in hitting with a .341 batting average in 1991 and made three All-Star teams.

Indians likely to change Francisco Lindor’s spot in batting order

The Cleveland Indians have grown accustomed to Francisco Lindor hitting in the leadoff spot for them, but that will probably be changing soon.

Speaking with the media on Sunday, Indians manager Terry Francona said that Lindor will “likely” hit third in the batting order, per Zack Meisel of The Athletic. Francona added that Cesar Hernandez may hit leadoff instead.

Lindor, the four-time All-Star shortstop, has been Cleveland’s leadoff hitter for the last two seasons. In the early part of his career though, Lindor mainly toggled between the No. 2 and No. 3 spots in the order, so he does already have some experience batting out of that range.

The 26-year-old has also developed a good blend of average and power, hitting .284 last season with 32 home runs and an .854 OPS. That could explain the comfort level of the Indians, who could be seeing a lot of change this season, in shaking up Lindor’s spot in the order.