Nationals

Andy Murray keeps his cool on a hot day

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Andy Murray keeps his cool on a hot day

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) On a hot day at the Australian Open, it was perhaps fitting for Andy Murray to be talking about short shorts.

And the weather, of course.

After soaking in an ice bath to cool down, Murray said he was thankful that his match went quickly on Thursday when temperatures reached 106 degrees - and the court felt like a sauna.

``There were very few long rallies. So it worked out well for me because it was really, really tough conditions,'' said Murray, who won in straight sets over Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

Murray sat between changeovers sipping bottled water and with an ``ice towel'' slung over his neck - a towel packed and bound with chunks of ice.

Union Jacks and Scottish flags flew in the stands, where fans sang a song called ``Andy Style'' to the tune of ``Gangnam Style.''

After the win, a confident Murray tossed his racket to the ground and thanked fans by hurling his sweaty wristbands and a damp towel into the stands.

The 25-year-old Scot has been dubbed ``A New Andy'' at this year's Australian Open.

Unburdened by the pressure that followed him on previous trips to Australia, he arrives this year as the reigning major champion.

Now that he has ended the 76-year drought for British men at the majors, he doesn't have to field the same nagging questions about whether he has the talent to win a Grand Slam.

Which is why the world's No. 3-ranked player was talking about tight shirts and short shorts in his post-match news conference.

The subject of his shirt had come up in the first round when he explained he hasn't bulked up his upper body, but it may have appeared that way because he's wearing a tighter shirt this year.

Elaborating Thursday, he said the change of style was decided on by his sponsor, Adidas, but he didn't mind the snug new fit and preferred it to tops with low, baggy sleeves that can impede the elbow during swings.

``The less material there is on the shirt I think probably the better. There's less to get in the way,'' he said, with his typical deadpan delivery. ``So long as they're tailored somewhat, I think there's no real problem.''

Murray was then asked his personal view on certain men's players who seemed to be wearing shorter shorts this year in a nod to the 1970s.

``I actually wore a pair at Wimbledon,'' he said. ``Not quite like what Ivan (Lendl) and those guys used to wear on the court. I can't see a return to them, to be honest.''

Thinking about it made him smile: ``Yeah, they were a bit too short. Didn't leave too much to the imagination.''

Lendl, the eight-time Grand Slam champion, is Murray's coach and is the man he largely credits with his winning streak and an added aggressiveness that carried him through a breakthrough year in 2012.

On Thursday, Lendl sat in the stands watching Murray, leaning on a towel draped over the hot railing.

Since teaming up with Lendl, Murray was runner-up at Wimbledon, a gold medalist at the London 2012 Olympics and then won his first Grand Slam at the U.S. Open.

He has come tantalizingly close in Australia, where he was a finalist in 2010 and 2011 and a semifinalist in 2012.

Standing in the way of a potential second Grand Slam title for Murray is a likely semifinal against No. 2-ranked Roger Federer and No. 1 Novak Djokovic, whom he could face in the final.

Murray knows his next opponent well - qualifier Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania. The two have trained together ahead of past Australian Opens and practiced together earlier this month at the Brisbane International, where Murray defended his title just before heading to Melbourne.

The 22-year-old Berankis is playing his first Grand Slam in Melbourne and ranked 110th.

``He hits the ball pretty big from the back of the court. He plays aggressive. He's a very flat hitter of the ball,'' Murray said of his opponent. ``It's nice to see him do well because we spend quite a bit of time practicing together.''

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Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

Astros players plan to make a team statement on sign-stealing scandal during Spring Training

The Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal has rocked MLB and left a dark shadow over the league during offseason. Up until this point, despite a fired general manager and on-field manager, the players at the root of the scandal have remained silent on the subject and avoided questions from the media.

That will all change in Spring Training as the Astros players plan to make "a strong statement as a team," according to Astros' owner Jim Crane. 

"When we get down to Spring Training, we'll all get them together and they'll come out with a strong statement as a team and apologize for what happened and we'll move forward," Crane said in a media scrum.

Over the weekend the team held their annual winter FanFest where several players had to face the music as many players met with the media for the first time. Jose Altuve, who is one of the players who allegedly benefited from the sign-stealing, dodged the question as best he could. The Astros shortstop's comments coincide with Crane's, saying “I think the time to comment about that will come. It’s a little early for me to say something about it.” 

Outside of their FanFest event, there is little that has come out of the clubhouse. Their owner acknowledged the lack of communication from the players and said the players were advised to stay out of the conversation. 

"The players have been beaten up a little bit and they've been all spread out. They've just kinda getting [sic] advice to take it easy."

Already Spring Training in West Palm Beach is going to be awkward between the two teams that made the World Series last season. The Nationals, who won the World Series whether or not the Astros used their system to gain an advantage, have their facilities next door to Houston's.

And if the Astros sign former Nationals' manager Dusty Baker to the same position in wake of A.J. Hinch's firing, there will be even more tense situations at Spring Training this year. 

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Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Jay Gruden reportedly to join Jaguars as their offensive coordinator

Just four months shy of his last appearance on the NFL gridiron sidelines, Jay Gruden may already have his 2020 gig lined up, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero.

Gruden was head coach of the Washington Redskins for six seasons, beginning in 2014 and going 35-49-1 in his burgundy and gold tenure. Gruden pushed the Redskins to their first postseason appearance since 2012 in his second year with the team, as well as back-to-back winning seasons in 2015 and 2016, not seen in Washington since 1996 and 1997. 

In March 2017, Gruden signed a two-year extension with the Redskins. He was fired after beginning the 2019 season 0-5. 

Recently, Gruden confirmed to Rapoport that he was "itching for something to do" and seeking employment before Jacksonville brought him in to interview for the OC role. 

After playing four years at the University of Louisville and and eight more in various football leagues, Gruden held many offensive roles, offensive coordinator for the Florida Tuskers and Cincinnati Bengals. 

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