Nationals

AP Source: Pats TE Gronkowski has forearm surgery

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AP Source: Pats TE Gronkowski has forearm surgery

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) No more end-zone spikes for a while from Rob Gronkowski.

A person familiar with the process said Monday the New England Patriots tight end expects to be sidelined for four to six weeks after having surgery for a broken left forearm. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick gave no update on the high-scoring, free-spirited tight end, who appeared to be hurt while blocking on an extra point late in the Patriots' 59-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Asked during an early afternoon conference call if Gronkowski had undergone surgery, Belichick said, ``I really haven't met with our doctors and trainers yet today. I do that at the end of the day. I don't have any updates.

``Whatever the injury information is, we'll release it in a timely fashion, when we're required by the league, just like we always do.''

The Patriots gave no estimate of how long Gronkowski, who hasn't missed a game in his three NFL seasons, might be sidelined. But they have to make a quick adjustment with only three days to prepare for Thursday night's game at the New York Jets.

The Patriots (7-3) lead the other three AFC East teams, including the Jets, by three games.

Gronkowski caught seven passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns against the Colts, becoming the first tight end in NFL history with at least 10 touchdowns in three consecutive seasons. He has 53 catches for 748 yards this season.

After his first touchdown on a 4-yard pass midway through the first quarter Sunday, he spiked the ball, causing a nearby official to throw his hands in front of his body for protection. And after the first of his two touchdowns on Oct. 28 in a 45-7 win over the St. Louis Rams in London, Gronkowski did a high-stepping strut to mimic a local tourist attraction then spiked the ball.

``That was a `Palace Guard,''' he joked after the game.

On Sunday, he went to the locker room with team physician Dr. Thomas Gill with 3:55 left in the fourth quarter after blocking on an extra point that increased the victory margin to 35 points.

Gronkowski has played with a hip injury this season and was listed as questionable on the injury report for each of the past seven games. But Belichick voiced no second thoughts of continuing to have him block on kicks.

``I don't think there are any quicker ways to lose a game than getting a kick blocked and run back for a touchdown,'' he said. ``Whoever does it, it's a very important job in the game.''

The extra point on which Gronkowski was hurt followed the final touchdown, a 4-yard run by Shane Vereen. After the kick, and while most of his teammates were gathering near placekicker Stephen Gostkowski to congratulate each other, Gronkowski walked straight to the sideline with his left arm hanging by his side.

On the play, Gronkowski had lined up on the far right of the tight formation. Cornerback Marshay Green charged toward a narrow gap to Gronkowski's left. Gronkowski raised his left arm, bent at the elbow. The arm bent back as it contacted Green's left side. Gronkowski's right arm did not touch anyone.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said Monday morning that he had known about the injury but did not know its extent.

``It's part of this game,'' he said on his weekly appearance on WEEI radio. ``He's got to do his best to get back as soon as possible, and we've got to go out there and win some games without him.''

Gronkowski had 10 touchdown catches as a rookie in 2010, then set NFL records for tight ends last year with 17 touchdowns and 1,327 yards receiving. He caught 90 passes. But he sprained his left ankle in the AFC title game and was a nonfactor in the Super Bowl, which New England lost 21-17 to the New York Giants.

The Patriots' other first-string tight end, Aaron Hernandez, has missed the last three games - and a total of six this season - after he sprained his right ankle in Week 2. He has 17 catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns in four games.

``We'll see,'' Hernandez said Monday when asked if he would play Thursday. Belichick said it might come down to ``a game-time decision.''

The Patriots will have 10 days following Thanksgiving before they play again, giving Hernandez extra time to recover if he doesn't play.

``I think that a player's availability for the game would be judged on its merits, period, for this game,'' Belichick said.

Hernandez practiced on a limited basis Monday, as he has before each of the last three games.

Gronkowski is ``one of the best players in the league,'' Hernandez said. ``It puts pressure on everybody. Not just one player can just replace him.''

The other tight ends on the roster - Daniel Fells, Michael Hoomanawanui and Visanthe Shiancoe - have a total of four receptions. Shiancoe has played just two games since being activated off the injured reserve list. Fells was healthy but inactive and Shiancoe had no catches against the Colts.

``He gets better every time he goes on the field,'' Belichick said of Shiancoe. ``He has a chance to run the plays in our system, which he missed the majority of training camp being able to do that.''

Shiancoe is not unfamiliar with a starting role. In his 10th season in the league, Shiancoe came into his own as a Viking. After four ho-hum seasons with the Giants, Shiancoe made the most of his time with Minnesota, topping 500 yards receiving three times in five seasons.

In 2008-09 and 2009-10, in fact, he caught 18 total touchdown passes.

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Nats rookie Juan Soto makes second MLB debut, retroactively hits HR on first-ever MLB at-bat

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USA Today Sports

Nats rookie Juan Soto makes second MLB debut, retroactively hits HR on first-ever MLB at-bat

The Washington Nationals hosted the New York Yankees to finish a once-suspended game, tied at 3-3 in the sixth inning. Though it seemed like just a makeup, it was anything but for rookie Juan Soto.

It’s true that Soto struck out as a pinch hitter in his first-ever game on May 20. Since then, the 19-year-old has caught fire, batting .312 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 23 games this season.

But the makeup of the suspended game took place on May 15, five days before Soto was called up from Double-A to give the Nats an extra bat. Soto would make his major league debut once again.

Though it’s uncommon for a player to compete in a game prior to his major-league debut, it’s been done before. Barry Bonds hit a go-ahead single in a suspended game that dated a month before his debut. Closer Jeff Reardon threw a scoreless inning and picked up a win in a suspended game nearly two months before his debut, as well.              

After Anthony Rendon hit an opposite-field single in the bottom of the sixth, Soto pinch hit for Matt Adams who has missed the previous two games with a hand injury.                                                  

And Soto, with a chance to change his first career at-bat from a pinch-hit strikeout to anything but, did just that. He turned on a fastball and sent a rocket to right field. Aaron Judge took a few steps before looking up toward the bleachers. The ball landed in the second deck.

Talk about a first career at-bat. A no-doubt, two-run shot to give the Nationals the lead in a game that took place before his first major-league debut.

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Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

Texas A&M big man Robert Williams likes potential fit with Wizards, John Wall

In terms of the needs on their roster and the guys most likely to be available when they are on the clock at No. 15 in the first round, few players in this draft class seem as obvious a fit with the Washington Wizards more than Robert Williams of Texas A&M. So, it was no surprise that he not only visited them in Washington on Monday, but received the only individual public workout they have held during this year's predraft process.

Williams could be the answer to their longstanding quest for an athletic big man. No need to bring in five other guys for the usual six-player workout when Williams deserves a longer and more extensive look than most prospects they are considering.

The 20-year-old was put through a variety of drills Monday afternoon, just days before the 2018 NBA Draft. He likes the fit with Washington, if that's how things end up sorting out.

"I definitely feel like they could use a big like me, a defensive-style athletic big like me. I definitely see myself fitting here," he said.

Williams is one of the best big men in this year's draft. He is 6-foot-9 and 240 pounds with a 7-5 wingspan. He used that length to dominate in the paint at the college level.

Williams averaged a modest 10.4 points for the Aggies in 2017-18, but also 9.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. That was his sophomore year. He averaged 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks as a freshman.

He was a shot-blocking force the day he stepped on campus and believes those skills will translate to the professional ranks. In the NBA, Williams believes he can thrive because his defensive versatility will be even more valuable in a day and age where switching is paramount.

"I feel like I can guard all positions. That’s one of my biggest attributes," he said. "It’s just about embracing it, having fun stopping a guard. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can do it."

Williams may adapt to the NBA quickly on the defensive end and that's where the Wizards need help the most. They haven't had a consistent rim-protector in years. Last season, point guard John Wall led the team in blocks per game.

Offense is where the questions lie with Williams. He wasn't a big scorer in college and does not have much of an outside shot. The fact he shot just 47.1 percent from the free throw line this past season suggests he has a lot of work to do before he can stretch the floor.

Williams will need to find a niche offensively, likely as a rim-runner off pick-and-rolls. He sees a lot of potential in a possible pick-and-roll pairing with Wall.

"He’s an elite passer and an elite guard. Coming off a pick-and-roll, you have to pay attention to him as well as have to pay attention to me as well. It’s a win-win situation," Williams said.

Williams believes his offensive game will open up with more space at the NBA level. The Wizards have Wall surrounded by three-point shooters in Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris. Toss Williams into the middle and he could go to work in the paint doing the rest.

If Williams were drafted by the Wizards, he could look at Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets as a model to follow. Like Houston, the Wizards have two All-Star guards. An athletic big man who doesn't need plays run for him could be the perfect complement.

No one needs to tell Williams that, he is well-aware. He said that at nearly every stop during the predraft process Capela's name has come up.

"I knew that’s what you were going to say," Williams said to a reporter (raises hand) who asked about the Capela comparison.

Williams continued to say they are different players and it's not entirely fair to compare them. That exchange showed Williams has an edge to him, sort of like Morris. He's clearly not afraid to be honest when some players would not.

Despite downplaying the comparison, Williams can see what makes Capela successful.

"I’ve watched him. He’s a great player," Williams said. "He is around the right people. He just plays his role. He runs off a lot of screens. He gets up there and does what he has to do."

Williams is gearing up for Thursday's draft and trying to decide who he will walk the stage with, as the NBA has introduced a new tradition of each player walking with two people. He said it will likely be his mother and sister. Perhaps by the end of the night he will also walk that stage wearing a Washington Wizards hat.

For more on Williams, check out our extensive draft profile on him.

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