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MINOR LEAGUE SEASON CANCELED

Baseball’s minor leagues cancel 2020 seasons

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball’s minor leagues canceled their seasons Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the head of their governing body said more than half of the 160 teams were in danger of failing without government assistance or private equity injections.

The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues, the minor league governing body, made the long-expected announcement. National Association president Pat O’Conner says the leagues “don’t have national TV revenues.” O’Conner estimated 85-90% of revenue was related to ticket money, concessions, parking and ballpark advertising. The minors drew 41.5 million fans last year for 176 teams in 15 leagues, averaging 4,044 fans per game. MLB teams are planning for a 60-game regular season and most of their revenue will derive from broadcast money.

In other MLB news:

Major League Baseball says a team will not specifically announce a COVID-19 injured list placement for a player who is removed from the club after testing positive, just an IL trip. MLB’s operations manual says a positive test and exhibiting symptoms that require isolation for additional assessment or exposure to someone who has had the virus are cause for placement on the new COVID-19 IL.

— Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is optimistic right fielder Aaron Judge, left-hander James Paxton, center fielder Aaron Hicks and designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton will be ready to play in the time for New York’s rescheduled opener at World Series champion Washington on July 23. Judge did not play in any exhibition games due to discomfort in his right pectoral muscle and shoulder that he felt when swinging. Paxton had surgery Feb. 5 to repair a herniated disk in his back.

— Outfielder Heston Kjerstad agreed to a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles that includes a $5.2 million signing bonus, well below the slot value of $7,789,900 assigned to the No. 2 overall pick. The 21-year-old joins a rebuilding Orioles team that has lost at least 100 games in two straight seasons and used the No. 1 pick in 2019 to secure catcher Adley Rutschman out of Oregon State.

—The San Diego Padres have acquired infielder Jorge Mateo from the Oakland Athletics in the first trade since baseball resumed after a shutdown of more than three months due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Padres will send either a player or cash to the A’s for the 25-year-old Mateo, who will be added to the player pool for the resumption of spring training. The Padres are scheduled to have their first workout Friday at Petco Park.

—Shohei Ohtani (SHOH’-hay oh-TAH’-nee) will resume his two-way career with the Los Angeles Angels when baseball returns. Angels general manager Billy Eppler confirms his Japanese star will pitch and hit in the majors this season. Ohtani was only a designated hitter last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He wasn’t expected to pitch in 2020 until at least May, and Eppler confirmed that the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t altered the Angels’ plans. The Angels could have a six-man rotation for the short season.

—Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is optimistic right fielder Aaron Judge, left-hander James Paxton, center fielder Aaron Hicks and designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton will be ready to play in the time for New York’s rescheduled opener at World Series champion Washington on July 23. Judge did not play in any exhibition games due to discomfort in his right pectoral muscle and shoulder that he felt when swinging. Paxton had surgery Feb. 5 to repair a herniated disk in his back.

—Sinkerballing reliever Jared Hughes and the New York Mets agreed to a $700,000, one-year contract, a deal that amounts to $259,259 in prorated pay over the 60-game season. He had a 6.35 ERA over five appearances and 5 2/3 innings during spring training with the Houston Astros and was released March 19. A right-hander who turns 35 on July 4, Hughes was 5-5 with a 4.04 ERA last season for Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

— Outfielder Heston Kjerstad agreed to a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles that includes a $5.2 million signing bonus, well below the slot value of $7,789,900 assigned to the No. 2 overall pick. The 21-year-old joins a rebuilding Orioles team that has lost at least 100 games in two straight seasons and used the No. 1 pick in 2019 to secure catcher Adley Rutschman out of Oregon State.

—The Oakland Athletics are selling cardboard cutouts with fans’ photos that they will put in the seats at the Coliseum this season. The team also plans to mix in images of former players and celebrities alongside the fan cutouts. Major League Baseball is looking to play a 60-game regular season this summer because of the coronavirus. There will be no fans at ballparks on opening day, but some markets are hoping to play in front of smaller crowds by the end of the season. The cardboard cutouts for A’s games range in price from $49 to $129. Proceeds from the sales go to charity.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NBA-PELICANS

Three New Orleans players test positive

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Pelicans general manager David Griffin says three New Orleans players have tested positive for COVID-19 and will be in self-isolation until testing shows they can return to team activities without infecting others.

Griffin declined to identify the players, citing medical privacy laws.

The positive tests occurred on June 23, the first day all members of the team were tested as part of the NBA’s plan to restart the season, which was suspended in mid-March because of the pandemic. Griffin says the Pelicans have had no players test positive since.

When the Pelicans return to action on July 30 against Utah at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex outside of Orlando, Florida, they will be 3½ games out of the Western Conference’s final playoff spot with eight games left.

VIRUS OUTBREAK-NHL-HURRICANES

Hurricanes

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Members of the Carolina Hurricanes have returned to their home ice at PNC Arena as the team began voluntary training sessions amid the second phase of the NHL’s return plan.

In a video conference with reporters, captain Jordan Staal said the players went through safety protocols that included wearing a mask and getting a temperature check when arriving at the arena, as well as “keeping your distance as best you can.”

The team had announced last week that roughly 16 players were expected to participate, divided into two groups, with workouts closed to the public and media.

In other developments related to the coronavirus:

— The LPGA Tour lost another tournament when the Canadian Women’s Open was canceled because of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements from the COVID-19 pandemic. The CP Women’s Open was scheduled for Sept. 3-6 at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver. The LPGA Tour and Golf Canada say it will return to Shaughnessy the last week in August next year.

— Up to 800 spectators per day will be allowed at a tennis exhibition in Berlin in mid-July. This, even after four players tested positive for the coronavirus after playing in a similar event fronted by Novak Djokovic. Organizers of two tournaments in Berlin say the city health authorities have approved a limited number of spectators. The maximum is set at 800 per day for a July 13-15 outdoor event on grass, and 200 per day for a hard-court event in a hangar at the disused Tempelhof airport from July 17-19.

NBA-RACIAL INJUSTICE-MORANT APOLOGY

Grizzlies’ Morant apologizes for anti-police Instagram post

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies rookie guard Ja Morant posted and deleted an Instagram photo suggesting he’d replace his name with an expletive on his number 12 jersey in a protest against police.

Morant then apologized, saying the post didn’t “accurately convey” what he wanted to share. Morant said he knows “there are good cops” out there.

The league, Nike and the players association are reportedly working on a deal that would allow players to replace the names on the backs of their jerseys with social justice statements.

MLB-RACIAL INJUSTICE-MVP PLAQUES

‘A dark past’: MVPs say time to pull Landis name off plaques

NEW YORK (AP) — As monuments, statues and memorials around the world come under increased scrutiny, some former Most Valuable Players in Major League Baseball are saying they’d like to see a change in future MVP plaques.

The trophy is engraved with the name of Kenesaw Mountain Landis in large letters. Landis was baseball’s first commissioner and there were no Black players in the majors during his reign from 1920 until his death in 1944.

His name has been on every American League and National League MVP plaque since then. Barry Larkin, Terry Pendleton and Mike Schmidt say they’d like to see it pulled off.

Toward the end of his tenure as commissioner, Landis told owners they were free to sign Black players. But there is no evidence he pushed for baseball integration.

FORMULA ONE-PROTESTS

F1 drivers discuss whether to take a knee at season opener

LONDON (AP) — Formula One drivers will discuss taking a knee at the opening race of the delayed season in Austria on Sunday.

McLaren driver Lando Norris says it will be discussed following the drivers’ briefing with the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association on Friday.

Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has been vocal about the Black Lives Matter movement and F1′s diversity issues.

Black Lives Matter has been supported by soccer players in Germany, Italy and England taking a knee before and during games.

BROADCASTS-DISCRIMINATION

Soccer players’ union points to racial bias in broadcasts

LONDON (AP) — The soccer players’ union in England believes racial bias is evident during broadcasts of matches based on the language used by commentators in European leagues.

The study conducted by Danish research firm RunRepeat in association with the Professional Footballers’ Association found 63% of praise regarding a player’s intelligence was aimed at those with lighter skin, while 63% of criticism for a player’s intelligence was aimed at those with darker skin tones.

The study looked at 80 matches in the Premier League as well as the top divisions in Italy, Spain and France this season.

The Associated Press

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