AP source: MLB owners approve plan to start season in July
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball owners gave the go-ahead Monday to making a proposal to the players’ union that could lead to the coronavirus-delayed season starting around the Fourth of July weekend in ballparks without fans, a plan that envisioned expanding the designated hitter to the National League for 2020.
A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. Spring training would start in early to mid-June.
MLB officials are slated to make a presentation to the union on Tuesday. An agreement with the players' association is needed, and talks are expected to be difficult — especially over a proposal for a revenue split that would be unprecedented for baseball.
Each team would play about 82 regular-season games: against opponents in its own division plus interleague matchups limited to AL East vs. NL East, AL Central vs. NL Central and AL West vs. NL West.
Postseason play would be expanded from 10 clubs to 14 by doubling wild cards in each league to four.
Teams would prefer to play at their regular-season ballparks but would switch to spring training stadiums or neutral sites if medical and government approvals can’t be obtained for games at home. Toronto might have to play home games in Dunedin, Florida.
The All-Star Game, scheduled for Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on July 14, likely would be called off.
In other MLB news:
— Under 1% of Major League Baseball employees tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. Results were based on 5,603 completed records from employees of 26 clubs. The total testing positive was 0.7%. Samples were obtained on April 14 and 15. Stanford University, the University of Southern California and the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City led the study. Data for players was not broken out. The study was not representative of the overall population, given 95% of the participants were under 65 and few reported comorbidities.
Ravens sign Fluker, who will seek to replace Yanda at guard
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) —The Baltimore Ravens have signed free agent guard D.J. Fluker, who is expected to compete for the opening on the offensive line created by the retirement of Marshal Yanda.
Fluker has 92 games of NFL experience over seven years with three teams, most recently the Seattle Seahawks. He has played primarily at right guard, the position Yanda manned for the majority of his 13 seasons before retiring in March.
Fluker signed a one-year contract, the Ravens announced Monday. He has 88 career starts, the last 57 of them at guard. The 6-foot-5, 342-pound Fluker started in 14 regular-season games and had two playoff starts for Seattle at right guard last season.
NCAA leading scorer Dugan agrees to join Golden Knights
LAS VEGAS (AP) — NCAA leading scorer Jack Dugan agreed Monday to turn pro and join the Vegas Golden Knights.
Dugan was a fifth-round pick of the Golden Knights during their first draft in 2017. Because of his age, his NHL entry-level contract beginning next season would be for two years.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound forward from Pittsburgh had 10 goals and 42 assists for 52 points during his sophomore season at Providence College. Dugan was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as the nation’s top college player.
Dugan, 21, led the NCAA this season with 1.53 points a game, 1.24 assists a game, 22 power-play points and 30 even-strength points.
In other NFL news:
— Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Russell Okung says he's appealing a decision that denied a claim he brought against the National Football League Players Association alleging unfair labor practices. The National Labor Relations Board last week dismissed Okung’s claim against the NFLPA. Okung has been outspoken against the new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA that was ratified in March by players. He says union voting procedures were not handled correctly and that the union tried to silence his right to speak on the matter.
AHL-VIRUS OUTBREAK-AHL CANCELED
American Hockey League cancels rest of season, playoffs
The American Hockey League canceled the rest of its season Monday because of the coronavirus pandemic, shifting its focus toward an uncertain future.
While the Calder Cup will not be handed out for the first time since 1936, the 31-team AHL hopes to return next season. That remains uncertain; one possibility is that no fans would be allowed in arenas.
Incoming president and CEO Scott Howson, who will take over for David Andrews this summer, said the AHL is still planning for a full 2020-21 regular season running from Oct. 9-April 18. But it also is working on schedules that start in November, December or January.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-CANADA TENNIS
Aid for Canadian tennis pros
OTTAWA (AP) —
Canada’s National Bank is offering cash grants to each of 23 tennis players from the country who are facing financial issues because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tennis Canada announced the grants of $10,000 to $20,000 in Canadian dollars, or about $7,000 to $14,000 in U.S. dollars, from National Bank on Monday, saying the amounts will depend on a player’s ranking.
The money will help professionals ranked from 100 to 750 in singles or between 25 and 100 in doubles, members of the top 100 in the ITF junior rankings who are transitioning to the pros, and players in the top 50 of the ITF wheelchair rankings.
Among the recipients: Sharon Fichman, who is No. 48 in women’s doubles; Leylah Annie Fernandez, who is No. 118 in women’s singles; Brayden Schnur, who is No. 177 in men’s singles; Peter Polansky, who is No. 192 in men’s singles; and Rebecca Marino, who is No. 300 in women’s singles.
All sanctioned tennis events have been called off since March because of the outbreak, and all tennis events in Canada are called off until the end of August, except for the Rogers Cup men’s tournament in Toronto. The WTA and ATP are suspended until at least mid-July everywhere.