AP source: MLB owners approve plan to start season in July
NEW YORK (AP) — It’s the players’ union turn at the plate.
Major League Baseball owners gave the go-ahead Monday to making a proposal to the union that could lead to the coronavirus-delayed season starting around the Fourth of July weekend in ballparks without fans, a plan that envisions expanding the designated hitter to the National League for 2020.
A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press that 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. 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 underlying medical conditions.
— A person familiar with the planning tells The Associated Press that the World Baseball Classic will be postponed from 2021 to 2023 because of the new coronavirus. The decision must be approved by the WBC board of directors, which is expected. The fifth edition of the tournament was scheduled for next March in Taiwan, Tokyo, Phoenix and Miami. The decision to postpone was first reported by ESPN Deportes (day-POHR’-tays).
— Major League Baseball may be weeks away from playing again, but the factory that supplies bats to many of its players resumed production Monday in Kentucky. The Hillerich & Bradsby plant that makes Louisville Slugger bats had been idled for nearly two months because of the coronavirus outbreak. Workers started filling orders for some big leaguers as parts of Kentucky’s economy reopened Monday after weeks of shutdowns.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-THE LATEST
—The coronavirus pandemic is impacting how college athletic programs make their travel plans as they budget for the upcoming year. The cancellation of the NCAA Tournament has produced a budget crunch that leaves colleges looking for cost-saving measures. One simple step is to cut back on travel. Chattanooga took a creative approach by announcing that any 2020-21 away games that hadn’t already been scheduled must be played within 150 miles of its campus. Other schools also are trying to make their trips as short as possible without instituting any specific limits.
— Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ is using his love of coffee to help raise money for COVID-19 relief charities. The 25-year-old Happ is partnering with Connect Roasters for Quarantine Coffee. It costs $15 per bag, and $3 from every sale goes to virus-related causes.
— The Big Sky Conference is leaving the decision of when to return to sports up to its member schools. The Big Sky’s President’s Council voted to allow schools in one of the nation’s largest geographical conferences to make decisions based on NCAA and state guidelines. The conference also adjusted the schedule of volleyball, track, women’s soccer, softball and tennis for the 2020-21 school year in an effort to limit travel as schools face mounting budget issues.
— 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.
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.
The Ravens announced Monday that Fluker signed a one-year contract. 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.
In other NFL news:
—The Las Vegas Raiders have agreed to a deal with former Denver Broncos running back Devontae Booker. The 5-foot-11, 219-pound Booker was a fourth-round pick by Denver in 2016 and played four seasons with the Broncos. Booker rushed for 1,103 yards in 61 games over his career. He wasn’t re-signed by Denver in the offseason. The Raiders also waived linebacker Derrick Moncrief.
— Longtime NFL assistant coach John Teerlinck has died. He was 69. Colts owner Jim Irsay made the announcement in a Twitter post Sunday night. Team officials confirmed it was from Irsay's account. Teerlinck spent 24 seasons coaching NFL defensive linemen, the last 12 with the Indianapolis Colts, and developed a reputation as one of the top pass-rushing coaches in league history. Hall of Famers Chris Doleman, John Randle and Kevin Greene were among Teerlinck's top pupils.
— 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.
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.
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.
Stricker appoints Love, Zach Johnson as Ryder Cup assistants
PALM BEACH GARDEN, Fla. (AP) — Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker has asked two-time U.S. captain Davis Love III and Zach Johnson to be his assistants for the upcoming matches at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
Stricker previously appointed the last captain, Jim Furyk, to be one of his assistants. The Ryder Cup is still on schedule to be played Sept. 25-27 — one week after the rescheduled U.S. Open.
Love was captain at Medinah in Illinois in 2012 when Europe rallied from a 10-6 deficit on the final day, the largest comeback by a visiting team in Ryder Cup history. He was appointed captain again for the 2016 matches at Hazeltine in Minnesota, the first Ryder Cup since players were given more control over decisions. The Americans won for only the second time in eight matches.
Horse dies at Santa Anita after workout; 13th since December
ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) — A 13th horse has died at Santa Anita since late December.
Tailback, a 4-year-old gelding, broke down after a workout Sunday. Tailback (trained by Mike Puype) had no wins in two career starts and earnings of $4,340, according to Equibase.
Tailback is the sixth horse to die on the main track since Dec. 26. A required necropsy is pending. Four others died on the turf course and three on the training track.
The track in Arcadia has been closed for racing since March 27 by order of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. However, horses are allowed to train.
A string of horse deaths at Santa Anita last year led to sweeping changes involving medication and safety.