Valverde hopes regain role; Wilson happy rooting

Valverde hopes regain role; Wilson happy rooting

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Jose Valverde hopes to speed his way back into the closer role for the Detroit Tigers during the World Series.

After reviewing video of his meltdown against the New York Yankees in the AL championship series opener, Valverde concluded his lower body mechanics were off.

``It's my legs. My legs were a little slow,'' he said Tuesday. ``Now I have the same rhythm I had before.''

Valverde had a 3.78 ERA and 35 saves in 40 chances this season, down from a 2.24 ERA and 49 saves in 49 opportunities last year.

He allowed a tying two-run double to Oakland's Seth Smith in Game 4 of the AL division series as Detroit lost 4-3, then wasted a 4-0 lead against the Yankees when he gave up two-run homers to Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez. Detroit rebounded to win 6-4 in 12 innings and went on to sweep New York.

``The last time I pitched in New York my split was flat,'' Valverde said. ``Now so far everything is perfect.''

Valverde worked with pitching coach Jeff Jones and Tigers manager Jim Leyland in bullpen sessions to get his mechanics back in whack.

Lefty Phil Coke earned saves in Games 2 and 3 against the Yankees, brought in against a team with powerful left-handed hitters. Leyland wasn't revealing his plans against the Giants, who figure to start four straight left-handed hitters at the bottom of their batting order in the opener against Tigers ace Justin Verlander. San Francisco's top five probably will include three righties and a pair of switch hitters in Angel Pagan and Pedro Sandoval.

``Just going to play it by ear, see what happens,'' Leyland said. ``I don't really have any definite information on that yet. We'll just see how the game plays out, who's coming up. Like I always say, I hope we have that to worry about. If we do, we'll come up with somebody.''

Valverde says any role is OK.

``Leyland knows what he's doing. He's been doing it for a long time,'' the reliever said. ``If he wants to put me in in the eighth, in the seventh, I'll be there to support my team.''


THE BEARD IS CLEAR: Injured Giants closer Brian Wilson is getting almost as much television time now than he was in 2010, when he saved six of San Francisco's 11 postseason wins.

With his long, scruffy beard, resembling a billy goat, Wilson has been seen dancing in the dugout to celebrates rallies during the playoffs. The video gets replayed on the Internet.

``I can't control what the camera is doing,'' Wilson said. ``Nowadays, social media is humongous. You can't even breathe without getting on camera. It's fine. We're having good fun.''

Wilson had ligament-replacement surgery on his right elbow April 19. He says he relishes his role as cheerleader-elder statesman.

``I don't look at myself as a selfish, like, oh, man, really would love to,'' he said. ``Yeah, I'd like to participate, but I am participating. Physically, it does not matter whether I'm throwing a pitch or not. I have a role to do. I've been in this organization for nine years. It's almost a decade, so I have sort of allegiance and responsibility to maintain a good leadership role and be a good teammate, pick some guys up when you need it or tell certain guys who haven't been there before what pressure really is, what fear isn't.''

His message to his teammates?

``If you really aspire for something, you have to taste it, breathe it, smell it, you just have to focus all your energy on attaining that.''


MELKY VS. MOTA: Giants manager Bruce Bochy reiterated San Francisco will not add All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera to the World Series roster following the end of his 50-game drug suspension - a decision the team made Sept. 27.

Reliever Guillermo Mota has been part of the team's postseason roster following his 100-game suspension for a second violation for a positive test. Bochy didn't plan to announce his World Series roster until Wednesday.

Cabrera was suspended Aug. 15 for 50 games after testing positive for testosterone, and the ban ended with the completion of the division series. The Giants activated Mota on Aug. 28 after he came off the restricted list.

Mota tested positive for Clenbuterol, which he said was in children's cough syrup. His first suspension came in November 2006 when he was with the New York Mets. Mota became just the third major league player disciplined twice for positive drug tests.

``I think they're two different situations really,'' Bochy said. ``I mean, one happened during the season with Mota, and he was available to help us out during the season. So we made a spot there for him. Now, with Melky, we felt when that happened, as far as losing him, the club played very well, and the guys that we had been putting out there have done the job. They've earned this, and this is the way we're going to move forward.''


IN ORDER: Madison Bumgarner will pitch Game 2 of the World Series for San Francisco on Thursday, giving the Giants back-to-back lefties after Barry Zito goes in the opener.

Righty Ryan Vogelsong will pitch Game 3 on Saturday at Detroit and ace Matt Cain will go in Game 4. Two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum will remain in the bullpen, providing options.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy could have flip-flopped, starting Cain on full rest in Game 3.

``Well, I like the way Vogelsong is throwing, too,'' Bochy said. ``He's throwing the ball as well as anybody on the staff, so we just kept it in order. If Vogelsong gets the last start, we have no problem with that. I know Matt has worked hard, he's got a lot of innings. I didn't think we needed to flip-flop the two, to be honest.''


VENEZUELAN REUNION: Miguel Cabrera heard about Pablo Sandoval long before the Kung Fu Panda became a San Francisco sensation as a major league third baseman with the Giants.

Cabrera played for a few years as a teammate with Sandoval's older brother, Michael, back home in Venezuela. Michael would often brag about his younger brother's exploits.

``He always told me his little brother would be good, and he's right,'' Cabrera said. ``It's very exciting to see.''

Sandoval remembered watching Cabrera back home and marveled at his talent.

``That's a great hitter,'' he recalled of his first impression. ``The first time I saw him play he was so big to be a shortstop. My brother told me they'd move him some day to third base because he has a bat but he was too big to be a shortstop.''

Now Cabrera and Sandoval are two of at least nine Venezuelans playing in this year's World Series along with San Francisco's Marco Scutaro, Gregor Blanco, Hector Sanchez and Jose Mijares; and Detroit's Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante and Avisail Garcia.

``I have a good relationship with all those guys,'' Cabrera said. ``It will be exciting to play against them. It will be extra motivation.''


AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and Josh Dubow contributed to this report.

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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings 

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Free agency update: What happens next for the Redskins on the defensive line?


Free agency update: What happens next for the Redskins on the defensive line?

The Redskins sure hosted a lot of free agent defensive line visits in the second week of free agency, but so far, no signed contracts. 

Johnathan Hankins came to Ashburn. Sylvester Williams came to Ashburn. Pernell McPhee came to Ashburn. All three left without a done deal, and now for Redskins fans, the question becomes not about when a deal will get done, but if any deals will happen.

Actually, one deal did happen. According to a report, Williams has signed with the Lions. 

Since visiting the Redskins on Monday, Hankins also took a trip to see the Lions. McPhee, who was offered a contract by the Redskins, has since taken a trip to visit the Falcons. 


Keep in mind too, Washington expressed interest in nose tackle Bennie Logan last offseason, and the 6-foot-2, 309 lb., former Chief is again on the market. A visit from Logan would surprise nobody, though it hasn't been reported yet. 

Mother Nature might also be an impediment for the Redskins. A March snowstorm shut the D.C. region down on Wednesday, which could have limited potential free agent visits.

What's clear is between Hankins, McPhee and Williams this week, in addition to Muhammad Wilkerson and Benson Mayowa last week, the Redskins are obviously looking to upgrade their defensive line. Combine that with a contract restructure for incumbent Terrell McClain, and Washington has the flexibility to improve on last season's NFL-worst run defense. 

That doesn't mean, however, the Redskins will absolutely sign one of the above mentioned players. And it doesn't mean outside linebacker Junior Gallete won't return to the Redskins either. 

Many fans wonder if a McPhee signing means the Redskins would move on from Galette. It might, but that's no sure thing. 

Washington went into the 2017 season with five outside linebackers: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Galette, Ryan Anderson and Chris Carter. Right now, the 'Skins only have Kerrigan, Smith and Anderson under contract. The team needs to add at least one OLB, but likely two.

McPhee also carries about 20 extra pounds on his frame than Galette, giving the former Bear and Raven more flexibility to play against the run. Galette is a speed, leverage and moves player, focused on getting to the quarterback. He's capable against the run, but in the same way a sports car shouldn't carry a snow plow, Galette should be used to pressure QBs. 

Point being: McPhee and Galette could both make sense for the Redskins, if the team can work out the cash. 

Money usually matters the most in free agency, and it's clear the Redskins haven't made the type of offers that any of these players felt compelled to immediately sign. Deals could still happen though. Hankins didn't sign last offseason until April and Galette seems to thank Redskins fans via social media with relative frequency. 

Washington also had some success with the patient approach to free agency. The team was able to keep Zach Brown, though it took some nervous days of allowing the tackling machine linebacker to test the free agent market. With that win in hand, don't expect the Redskins brass to change their philosophy. 

Until further notice, it's hurry up and wait season in Ashburn.

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