Giants

Maria pain-free after her first Aussie match

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Maria pain-free after her first Aussie match

From Comcast SportsNet
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Maria Sharapova said it felt like "forever" since she last played a match without pain, although she didn't hang around long on Hisense Arena to enjoy the experience. Finally recovered from a left ankle injury she sustained in September, the Russian reeled off the first eight games in a 6-0, 6-1 rout of Gisela Dulko on Tuesday. "I couldn't wait to start," the 2008 Australian Open champion said. "It's just nice to go into a match you know that you're going to compete again at such a high level in front of so many people, especially a place where I've won before." Sharapova said the ankle, which forced her to pull out of a planned tuneup event in Brisbane, was no longer troubling her. She may only be 24, but Sharapova is playing in her ninth Australian Open and the three-time Grand Slam winner said she is experienced enough to cope with not playing any matches coming into a major tournament. Since a breakthrough win at Wimbledon in 2004, Sharapova's career has been punctuated by a series of injuries. She was out of action for nine months until May 2009 after right shoulder surgery. Now, her focus is on being as healthy as possible when the major titles are on the line. "I'd rather come in feeling good physically than feeling like I played a lot of matches," she said. "It's more important to me than anything. "I've been on the tour for many years, played enough tournaments, I just want to be as ready as I can for the big ones." ------ BROTHERLY LOVE: Rift? What rift? Andy Roddick believes that talk of tension between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer has been completely overblown. Earlier this week, Nadal criticized Federer in the Spanish media for not doing enough to push the players' demands for changes to the men's game, allowing others to "burn themselves" to make conditions better for everybody. The Spaniard later apologized for airing his disagreement with Federer in public. "Those guys have been the model of a respectful rivalry in sports, so for it to be represented any differently is unfortunate," Roddick said Tuesday after his first-round win at the Australian Open. "I think this is all new territory for us. I think, if anything, it probably taught us that we have to choose our words very wisely right now when talking about it because it is a sensitive issue." The players held a meeting on Saturday to discuss their concerns about the tour, which include the length of the season, the number of tournaments players are required to enter, and the prize money at Grand Slam tournaments. Roddick says there's no "quick fix" to the problems, but he believes the players have a unity they lacked before. "It is fascinating to see how it will play out," he says. "You know, I think as the product, I don't think we should underestimate our leverage in this game, especially if we do have one voice." ------ U.S. REVIVAL: Sloane Stephens says there's no need for hand-wringing over the future of American women's tennis in the post-Williams era -- the kids are going to be all right. The 18-year-old Florida native, who hit a career-high ranking of No. 89 last fall, moved into the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain. Four other American women are also through to the second round -- Serena Williams, Christina McHale, Vania King and Jamie Hampton, a qualifier ranked No. 144 who had only won one WTA-level match coming into the Australian Open. "When (the Williams sisters) stop playing tennis, there'll be someone else to take their spot," says Stephens, who also reached the third round of the U.S. Open last year. "You're kind of like searching for someone to be there right now and I don't think that's going to happen. But there's a lot of us, so who knows who could break through." She says now that a few of the younger Americans have broken into the top 100 -- McHale (No. 42), Irina Falconi (No. 81) and herself -- there's more competition among them, which will only make them better in the long run. "Definitely when we have camps and we're practicing together, it's serious, it's no joke. On changeovers, it'll be ha-ha, hee-hee, but when it's time to play, it's like, OK, I'm going to cut you." Just because they're starting to come into their own, though, doesn't mean they're not still in awe of the elder stateswoman of the tour: Serena. Stephens was so star-struck at a recent tournament, she almost didn't say hello. "She was really nice," Stephens says. "I don't think she knew who I was." ------ VETERAN RIVALRY: Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt have been on the ATP Tour a combined 24 years, but surprisingly, they've only played each other 13 times. The two veterans meet in the second round of the Australian Open after each won on Tuesday. There are many similarities between the players: career records (Roddick is 589-197, Hewitt 551-205), titles (Roddick has 30, Hewitt 28), prize money (Roddick has 20 million, Hewitt 19 million). Roddick, however, has a 7-6 edge in their head-to-head record -- and he has won the last six times they've played dating back to 2005. He's also ranked 16th and Hewitt has slumped to 181. Still, Roddick expects a close match. "I've won the most recent meetings, but I think out of the six that I've won, four or five have gone the distance," he says. "We always have a bit of a war." For that reason, the match could well be scheduled during the evening session on Rod Laver Arena. Hewitt was part of the latest finish in Australian Open history four years ago, closing out victory over Marcos Baghdatis at 4.33 a.m. "I don't really want to have too many of the Baghdatis matches again," Hewitt said. "Go home and McDonald's is already open on the way home for breakfast."

Beede, Garcia among Giants protected from Rule 5 draft

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AP

Beede, Garcia among Giants protected from Rule 5 draft

SAN FRANCISCO — A top pitching prospect highlighted the list of Giants added to the 40-man roster before Monday’s deadline. 

The Giants put right-hander Tyler Beede on their 40-man roster, along with Aramis Garcia, Tyler Herb and D.J. Snelten. The four players were protected from the Rule 5 draft, held in December on the final day of the annual Winter Meetings. To clear roster spots, the Giants designated Orlando Calixte and Micah Johnson for assignment and outrighted Dan Slania to Triple-A. 

Beede, a 24-year-old former first-round pick, likely would have ended up on the roster earlier if not for a groin injury that ended his Triple-A season early. The Giants anticipated him making a September debut, but he ended up needing time in the Arizona Fall League to make up for lost innings. Beede was sharp in the AFL once he knocked the rust off, allowing three runs over 10 innings in his final two starts. He is expected to compete for a rotation spot at some point next year, although he also stands as one of the organization’s best offseason trade chips. 

Garcia, 24, has struggled with injuries at times in the minors, but he hit 17 homers in just 402 at-bats in 2017 and earned a promotion to Double-A Richmond. Garcia is currently one of just two catchers on the 40-man roster. 

Herb was essentially the player to be named later in the Chris Heston deal. The 25-year-old had a 2.76 ERA in 10 starts for Double-A Richmond last season. Snelten is a lefty reliever who had a 2.20 ERA across two levels last season and could break into the big leagues as a bullpen weapon next year. 

The roster now stands at 40 after the churn, which included a couple of players picked up as flyers because the Giants are at the front of the waiver process. Johnson was added in October and infielder Engelb Vielma, added during the season, was claimed by the Phillies on a  waiver claim. Slania, who made his big league debut during the season, cleared waivers and joins Triple-A Sacramento’s offseason roster. 

A's make roster moves, DFA outfielder who played in 48 games in 2017

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USATSI

A's make roster moves, DFA outfielder who played in 48 games in 2017

In order to get their 40-man roster set for the Rule 5 Draft, the A's did a little roster reshuffling on Monday.

Among the casualties from the roster crunch was outfielder Jaycob Brugman, who played in 48 games for the A's in 2017.

Brugman and left-handed pitcher Sam Moll were designated for assignment in order to clear spots for the A's to add right-handed pitchers Heath Fillmyer and Lou Trivino to the 40-man roster.

During his stint with the A's last season, Brugman hit .266/.346/.343 with two doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI. Brugman participated in the recently-concluded Arizona Fall League, but didn't put up great numbers. He his just 1.82 in nine games.

The 23-year-old Fillmyer started 29 games for Double-A Midland and posted a 3.49 ERA in 149.2 innings. He was a fifth-round by the A's in 2014.

Trivino spent time with Midland and Triple-A Nashville during the 2017 season. In 48 relief appearances between the two levels, he posted a 3.03 ERA and struck out 65 batters in 68.1 innings.

Earlier on Monday, the A's acquired outfielder Ramon Laureano from the Astros for right-handed pitcher Brandon Bailey. Laureano was added to the 40-man roster and right-handed pitcher Bobby Wahl was outrighted to Triple-A Nashville.

The Rule 5 Draft will be held on Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Winter Meetings in Orlando.