Rays’ Snell says he won’t take another pay cut
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A former Cy Young Award winner is balking.
Tampa Bay Rays ace Blake Snell says he won’t take the mound this year if his pay is cut further. He also has health concerns as Major League Baseball tries to salvage a season that has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Snell says he should receive the money he signed for and not 50% because the season is being cut in half. Snell would get $43,210 for each day of the schedule under the March 26 agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association.
Snell was slated to make $7 million this season, part of a five-year, $50 million package he accepted in February 2019.
Snell won the American League Cy Young Award in 2018 after going 21-5 with a circuit-leading 1.86 ERA. Injuries limited him to 23 starts last year as he went 6-8 with a 4.29 earned run average.
NASCAR plans to race its way through the South in June
UNDATED (AP) — It will be a summer in the South for NASCAR. The stock car series says it will stick to Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Florida and Alabama for June races, all without fans.
NASCAR has now set plans for 20 races, including nine in the elite Cup Series. It is coming back after being shut down for more than two months by the pandemic.
The Cup Series resumes this Sunday at Darlington Raceway and run four times in 11 days at the South Carolina track and at Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. Then NASCAR will go to Bristol, Martinsville, Atlanta, Homestead and Talladega.
In other developments related to the coronavirus pandemic:
— The Cincinnati Reds are laying off less than 25% of their staff and reducing pay for others on June 1 in response to the pandemic. Cincinnati was among the majority of teams that committed to paying full-time employees through May. The move comes a day after The Associated Press was told the Miami Marlins are furloughing 90 to 100 baseball operations employees beginning June 1.
— The PGA Tour Champions has decided to combine 2020 and 2021 into one season. Tour president Miller Brady says combining two seasons into one is the best solution. The 50-and-older circuit already has canceled eight tournaments because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tour is scheduled to resume with the Ally Challenge in Michigan on July 31. That would be the first of 13 events remaining this year, barring any delays. The PGA Tour Champions already has lost two majors, the U.S. Senior Open and the Senior PGA Championship, and is waiting to hear the fate of the Senior British Open.
— NBC’s on-air sports personalities are taking a pay cut ranging from 5-10% through the rest of the year because of the coronavirus pandemic. NBC Sports Group President Pete Bevacqua says the pay cuts are voluntary. NBCUniversal executives are taking 20% pay cuts and those making more than $100,000 are seeing a 3% salary reduction.
— ACC commissioner John Swofford says the league expects to distribute 98% of its projected revenues to member schools for this school year despite the shutdown of college sports amid the coronavirus pandemic. The NCAA announced in March that it would distribute $225 million in June to 350 Division I schools after the cancellation of its men’s basketball tournament, much less than the original plan of $600 million. But Swofford said the league has offset some losses in savings for canceled championship events as well as less travel and other expenses.
— Golf has joined baseball and soccer as sports in South Korea that are back in action. The women's KLPGA Championship started Thursday. The tournament is being played without fans and with players using hand sanitizers and following social-distancing rules. Caddies wore masks on the course and players were allowed to play without them.
— Orlando is the latest NBA team to reopen its practice facility since the coronavirus shutdown, with Nikola Vucevic (VOOCH'-uh-vihch) among the first Magic players to arrive back for voluntary workouts Thursday. The Magic released video of Vucevic working with assistant coach Lionel Chalmers, who was in a mask and gloves for the session. The NBA requires anyone who is present for the workouts, except for the player while he is working out, to be wearing personal protective equipment.
— West Virginia University president E. Gordon Gee is vowing that the Mountaineers will play football this fall. Despite uncertainly around the coronavirus pandemic, all Big 12 schools, including West Virginia, plan to open campuses for the fall semester, a key step toward launching fall sports. Gee joked in a radio interview that he would “suit up” if it meant the Mountaineers would play.
— The Southern Conference will cut back on schools qualifying for several championships, trim its league baseball series from three games to two and hold virtual media days for football and basketball. Those are among several cost-cutting moves announced by the conference because of the impact of the pandemic. The Division I conference will reduce qualifiers to four for men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s tennis, softball and baseball.
— The IOC has set aside $800 million for loans and payments arising from the pandemic that forced the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be postponed. It is still unclear how big the total postponement bill will be with Olympic organizers and public authorities in Japan facing extra costs estimated to run into billions for the one-year postponement. A sum of $150 million is for loans to sports governing bodies and more than 200 eligible national Olympic committees. The IOC is working on how to allocate the other $650 million.
— The English Premier League has received government backing to resume next month if games become more accessible to fans and the world’s richest soccer competition provides financial support across the English game. The top division is the most advanced in its planning to restart amid concerns the three other professional football leagues in England could lack the funding to resume without ticket revenue from supporters. Mass gatherings are still banned and fans are not allowed to attend sports events.
— Germany’s Bundesliga (BOON’-dehsh-lee-guh) soccer clubs will be allowed to use five substitutions per game when the season resumes on Saturday. The clubs in the top two German divisions have decided to accept the rule change allowed last week by the International Football Association Board. The change is meant to reduce the workload on players as the leagues pack their schedules to complete the season. Teams can make substitutions only at three breaks in the game and the league recommends making only two substitutions at once.
— The German Football League has relaxed its stance on finishing the season by June 30, when some players' contracts expire. Games could continue into July if the alternative is leaving the season unfinished at the end of June, it said in a statement. Some games could be moved to neutral venues if they can't be played at the original stadium because of infection risks locally. The league delayed a decision on how to decide final standings if the season can't be finished.
— A Turkish soccer club says eight people have tested positive for the coronavirus and training has been suspended. The club, Besiktas, says its president and a player were among those who tested positive. Turkish teams have resumed limited training sessions following the federation’s decision to restart matches in empty stadiums on June 12.
— The Italian soccer federation has set up a pool of inspectors to check that teams comply with new health protocols and government decrees issued during the coronavirus pandemic. Serie A teams were permitted to resume individual training on May 4 while full team training can restart Monday. Lazio has reportedly already been training in groups of three players. The federation says inspectors will verify that practices are held according to the rules. The league said on Wednesday that it hopes to resume playing games on June 13 but the government has not approved a restart yet.
Coyotes part ways with CEO Ahron Cohen
UNDATED (AP) — The Arizona Coyotes confirmed Thursday that they are parting ways with president and CEO Ahron Cohen.
Cohen has been with the Coyotes since being hired in 2015 as chief operating officer and chief legal officer by previous owner Andrew Barroway. Cohen was named president and CEO in 2017 after Steve Patterson stepped back to serve as a consultant and adviser after a year on the job.
The Coyotes were still in contention for a Western Conference playoff spot when the NHL season was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In other NHL news:
— Penguins forward Dominik Simon is out six to seventh months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Simon initially hurt the shoulder in a loss to the San Jose Sharks on Feb. 29 and underwent surgery on April 29. The procedure would preclude Simon from returning if the 2019-2020 NHL season resumes. The league is currently on “pause” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 25-year-old Simon had seven goals and 15 assists in 64 games this season for Pittsburgh.
Olympic basketball qualifying for Tokyo Games rescheduled
UNDATED (AP) — FIBA (FEE’-bah) says the final four men’s basketball spots in the 12-nation field for the Tokyo Olympics will be decided next summer.
FIBA has pushed back the dates for the four remaining qualifying tournaments to June 29 through July 4, 2021, meaning they would end 19 days before the rescheduled start of the delayed Tokyo Olympics.
But it remains unclear if those final spots will be earned while an NBA season is happening or if NBA players will be able to take part.
Extra innings: Baseball head pitches Olympics to MLB, again
ROME (AP) — The president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation is making one final pitch to Major League Baseball to send its top stars to the Tokyo Olympics.
Riccardo Fraccari sees the one-year postponement of the games as a new opportunity for MLB. He tells The Associated Press that because of the damages from the coronavirus "baseball needs the Olympics now more than ever to boost the sport’s globalization, expansion and mass appeal."
MLB and its players' association have so far only agreed to allow players not on 26-man active rosters or injured lists to take part in Olympic qualifying.
PGA Championship returns to Charlotte's Quail Hollow in 2025
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — The PGA Championship will return to Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, in May 2025.
Quail Hollow hosted the PGA Championship in 2017, when a 24-year-old Justin Thomas defeated Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen (WUHST'-hy-zehn) and Patrick Reed by two shots to claim his first major championship.
PGA officials raved about the 2017 event and strongly hinted at the time they'd like to see the PGA Championship return to Charlotte due to strong attendance numbers.
This year's PGA Championship was rescheduled for Aug. 3-9 at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco because of the coronavirus pandemic.