Astros' Bregman, Altuve apologize for sign-stealing scheme
UNDATED (AP) — Houston Astros infielders Alex Bregman and José Altuve (al-TOO'-vay) have apologized on behalf of the ballclub for its sign-stealing scheme that was investigated and punished by Major League Baseball.
Bregman said at a news conference Thursday that he is “really sorry.” Altuve said there was a full team meeting Wednesday to discuss what happened.
Astros owner Jim Crane and new manager Dusty Baker — who replaced the fired AJ Hinch — also spoke at the news conference at the team’s spring training facility in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Crane raised eyebrows when he said: “Our opinion is that this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series. And we’ll leave it at that.”
MLB didn’t punish any players for the cheating and Crane said the team wouldn’t, either. However, former Houston outfielder Carlos Beltran was forced out of his new job as manager of the Mets following his role in the sign-stealing process.
Commissioner Rob Manfred disciplined the Astros after he found the team broke rules by using electronics to steal signs during its run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season.
In other MLB news:
— Diamondbacks right-handed pitcher Mike Leake has a fracture on his non-throwing wrist but still hopes to be ready for the beginning of the regular season. The 32-year-old Leake had an MRI on Wednesday and said it revealed an old fracture that was aggravated by a fall while he was chasing his dog.
— Major league teams improved to 5-1 in salary arbitration this year when the Red Sox beat pitcher Eduardo Rodríguez Thursday. He will earn $8.3 million rather than his request for $8,975,000. The right-hander was a career-best 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA in 34 starts last season, when he made $4,325,000.
— Boston manager Ron Roenicke (REHN'-ih-kee) says injured second baseman Dustin Pedroia won't report to spring training with the rest of the position players next week. Pedroia has played in just nine games the last two seasons while trying to recover from an injury he sustained in May of 2017 when Baltimore's Manny Machado slid spikes-high into his knee.
— The Dodgers have agreed to pay pitcher Kenta Maeda's (mah-EH’-dah) a $1 million assignment bonus as part of his trade to the Twins. Los Angeles also agreed to pay the Twins $3 million to cover part of Maeda's salary and reimburse Minnesota for up to $7 million of his earned bonuses, according to information obtained by The Associated Press.
— Right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker says he is fully recovered and excited to be back with his original team, the Seattle Mariners. Walker has appeared in only four games since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2018 and a shoulder injury last May.
— Right-hander Brad Boxberger and utilityman Sean Rodriguez have agreed to terms on minor league deals with the Marlins that include invitations to spring training. Boxberger went 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA for the Royals last year. Rodriguez batted .223 in 76 games for the 2019 Phillies.
— Free agent outfielder Jarrod Dyson has finalized a $2 million deal with the Pirates. Dyson hit .230 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs in 130 games with the Diamondbacks last season.
Clippers' Paul George fined $35,000 for criticizing refs
UNDATED (AP) — The NBA has fined Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George $35,000 for critical comments toward the officiating after his team’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
George pointed out the Clippers were called for eight more fouls than Philadelphia in the 76ers' 110-103 win at home, referring to that disparity as “home-court cooking."
This is the fifth fine and stiffest financial penalty given to George for commenting on officials.
In other NBA news:
— Suns guard Devin Booker is headed to his first NBA All-Star Game, replacing injured Trail Blazers backcourt ace Damian Lillard. Booker was chosen by Commissioner Adam Silver after feeling snubbed by voters and coaches when he didn't make the original list for Sunday's game in Chicago. Lillard injured his groin on Wednesday night.
— Jennifer Hudson will be at the NBA All-Star Game to honor Kobe Bryant with her voice. The two-time Grammy winner and Oscar winner will perform just before Sunday night’s player introductions. It will be a tribute to Bryant, his daughter Gianna and the seven other victims of the helicopter crash that took their lives in Southern California last month.
NCAA finds serious infractions committed by Gamecocks
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina has become the latest school to receive an NCAA notice of allegations over the federal probe into college basketball.
Athletic director Ray Tanner says the school received the notice about a violation alleged to have been commited by former assistant coach Lamont Evans, who worked for coach Frank Martin for four seasons from 2015-16.
The NCAA has categorized the infraction as Level I, the most serious of its violations and what it calls a “severe breach of conduct."
Evans moved on to Oklahoma State and has admitted to accepting $22,000 in bribes as a college assistant to connect players with runner Christian Dawkins and others hoping to represent them after college. Evans was sentenced this past June to three months in prison.
UNDATED (AP) — Yanni Gourde (YAH’-nee gohrd) has scored again after going 35 consecutive games without a goal.
Gourde has a two-game goal streak after providing a short-handed tally in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s ninth straight win, 3-1 over the Edmonton Oilers. The goal broke a 1-1 tie in the second period and sent the Bolts to their 10th consecutive home win.
Andrei Vasilevskiy (va-sih-LEHV’-skee) stopped 29 shots and improved to 18-0-2 in his past 20 starts. Pat Maroon and Cedric Paquette also scored for the Lightning, who won despite playing without top two scorers Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— The Flyers rolled to a 6-2 win over the Panthers as James van Riemsdyk (REEMZ’-dyk) had a goal and two assists. Carter Hart made 26 saves for his first road win in eight games, helping Philadelphia improve to 9-3-1 in its last 13 games.
— Tyler Seguin (SAY’-gihn) snapped a 17-game goal drought and Ben Bishop made 27 saves in the Stars’ 3-2 victory over the Maple Leafs. Denis Gurianov (gur-ee-AH’-nahv) and Radek Faksa (FAK’-sah) also scored to help Dallas earn its third straight win.
— Victor Olofsson’s second goal of the night was the game-winner as the Sabres downed the Blue Jackets, 4-3 in overtime. Jack Eichel (EYE’-kul) ended his five-game goal drought and had two assists after Columbus took a 2-0 lead.
— Vladislav Namestnikov (nah-MEHST’-nih-kahf), Nick Paul and Brady Tkachuk furnished the Senators’ goals in a 3-2 victory against the Coyotes. Marcus Hogberg handled 32 shots as Ottawa dealt Arizona to its ninth loss in 11 games.
— Wayne Simmonds provided two goals while the Devils scored four times in a four-minute span of the third period to beat the Red Wings, 4-1. Andy Greene and Jesper Bratt also tallied to support Mackenzie Blackwood, who made 25 saves in winning for the fourth time in five games.
Logano takes opening duel race
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Joey Logano has won the first qualifying race for the Daytona 500 for the second consecutive year.
Logano led 19 laps in the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske in Thursday night's 60-lap qualifying race that sets the field for the Daytona 500. He will start from the second row in Sunday's season opener.
Kuchar leads at Riviera
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Matt Kuchar (KOO’-chur) is the leader through one round of the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.
Kuchar birdied his first two holes and never let up until in a 7-under 64 that gave him a three-stroke lead.
Russell Henley, Wyndham Clark, Kyoung-Hoon Lee, Harold Varner III and Adam Schenk are tied for second at 4 under.
Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Jason Day and Bryson DeChambeau are in the mix at 3 under.
Tiger Woods eagled his first hole and added two birdies on his opening front nine, but he closed with a bogey to fall to 2 under.
LPGA-WOMEN'S AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Ewart Shadoff leads Women's Australian Open
ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — Jodi Ewart Shadoff has shot a 7-under 66 to take the lead in the first round of the Women’s Australian Open.
Ewart Shadoff had seven birdies in her round of 66 at Royal Adelaide, giving her a one-stroke edge over U.S. Open champion Jeongeun Lee6 and Inbee Park. Marina Alex, Amy Olson and Jillian Hollis were tied for fourth with 68s and defending champion Nelly Korda is three off the pace.
Tokyo, IOC officials reiterate that the Olympics are on
TOKYO (AP) — Tokyo Olympic organizers are reiterating that the 2020 Games will not be waylaid by the virus spreading from neighboring China.
Organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori says he wants to make it clear again that "we are not considering a cancellation or postponement of the games."
The coronavirus has wiped out track meets, golf tournaments, soccer matches and almost all sports in China. It is also keeping Chinese athletes from traveling to qualify.
Trump to attend Daytona 500
WASHINGTON (AP) — A White House spokesman has confirmed that President Donald Trump will attend NASCAR's season-opening Daytona 500. He is scheduled to spend part of the Presidents Day weekend at his private club in Palm Beach, Florida.
The President will serve as grand marshal and give the command for drivers to start their engines. He's the first sitting president since George W. Bush in 2004 to attend the race.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a flight restriction for Sunday. The U.S. Secret Service also tweeted to fans that drones are prohibited within 30 miles of the race in Daytona Beach, a restriction put in place for presidential visits.