Nationals

Cal coach Dykes plans to open practices for fans

Cal coach Dykes plans to open practices for fans

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) California football fans won't have to wait until next year's season opener to get a good look at new coach Sonny Dykes' squad.

Dykes said Wednesday all his practices will open to fans and media, starting with the beginning of spring practice the final week in February.

``We don't have any secrets,'' Dykes said. ``The thing is, people can watch our film, they can rewind it, fast forward it, make cutups, all that stuff. I don't know why you wouldn't want someone to be able to come and watch.''

Dykes' predecessor, Jeff Tedford, opened a handful of practice to fans during spring ball and fall camp but kept them closed once the season started, except for a 30-minute window at the beginning for media.

Dykes said his wife and two young daughters will often come to practice and he hopes students and fans also show up to watch the team work.

``This is not my program, this is Cal's program,'' he said. ``They should be engaged and ought to be able to check it out. It's their program.''

Dykes also announced that Wisconsin linebackers coach Andy Buh has been hired as defensive coordinator. Buh will join the staff after coaching the Badgers in the Rose Bowl.

Buh the previous two seasons as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Nevada and also was co-defensive coordinator during the final two years of his three-year at Stanford from 2007-09. Buh also spent two seasons at Cal from 2000-01 as a defensive administrative assistant.

Dykes called this perhaps his most important hiring because his own expertise is on the offensive side of the ball, meaning Buh will have great autonomy running the defense.

``He kind of fits my personality of what I'm looking for in a defensive coordinator,'' Dykes said. ``Somebody who is intense and positive. It's hard to find positive defensive guys. They are usually pessimistic guys.''

Dykes still needs to hire an offensive line coach and three more defensive assistants to round out his staff.

In other news, Dykes said the returning quarterbacks will begin spring ball on an even playing field with hopes that one will stand out above the others within two weeks so the coaches can give the starter more practice time.

Allan Bridgford, who started the final two games last season, and prized recruit Zach Kline, who sat out last season as a redshirt, are expected to be the top contenders.

Dykes said he would like to sign about 26 recruits from this year's class in addition to two junior college players. He expects five players to enroll in school early and participate in spring ball. Dykes said Cal has not lost any commitments yet since the coaching change.

Dykes said he has watched every run, pass or reception from every offensive player last season, as well as tape of the final four games of a 3-9 campaign. Some of his initial impressions are the offensive line is better than he expected, he plans to incorporate some of the returning tight ends in his offense after not using them much at Louisiana Tech and the defense is athletic.

``That's the thing as a head coach,'' he said. ``You hear things and some of them are right and some of them are wrong.''

Dykes also said he would like to see easier non-conference opponents in future years as long as the Pac-12 keeps playing nine conference games. Cal opens the 2013 season with home games against Northwestern, Portland State and Ohio State to go along with the regular conference schedule.

``The nine conference games makes it really important to schedule smart,'' he said. ``Most schools are playing a directional whatever and we're playing USC. I think that puts you at a competitive disadvantage in some ways as far as winning games and getting to bowl games. So that's tough. The Pac-12 has always prided itself on playing competitive out of conference games. Great for fans, good for athletic directors but not always great for coaches.''

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Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman tests positive for COVID-19 with Opening Day 12 days away

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman tests positive for COVID-19 with Opening Day 12 days away

The New York Yankees could be without their top relief arm on Opening Night against the Nationals.

Manager Aaron Boone announced Saturday that Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is experiencing “mild symptoms” after testing positive for the coronavirus and will be away from the team “for the foreseeable future.” Chapman is the third Yankees player to contract the virus after infielder DJ LeMahieu and reliever Luis Cessa tested positive in early July.

Boone’s announcement comes 12 days before the Yankees are scheduled to take on the Nationals in D.C. to kick off MLB’s abbreviated 2020 season. New York will play three games against Washington in the only series between the two clubs this year.

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However, if any team is built to absorb the loss of its closer, it’s the Yankees. Boone said that reliever Zack Britton would be the “natural guy” to handle ninth-inning duties if Chapman isn’t ready for the start of the season. New York’s bullpen also includes Adam Ottavino, Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle, each of whom—like Britton—would be a closer on most other teams.

On Friday, MLB and the players union announced that 28 of the 30 MLB teams had at least one player or staff member test positive for the coronavirus between intake screening and monitoring testing. Overall, 83 of the 11,149 samples collected have come back positive—a rate of 0.7 percent.

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Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Howie Kendrick among several Nationals players still not in Summer Camp

Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Howie Kendrick among several Nationals players still not in Summer Camp

WASHINGTON --More than a week into the Major League Baseball’s reboot, and its gleefully-named and grotesquely-sponsored Summer Camp, the Nationals are still in wait-and-see mode.

Two players tested positive for Coronavirus at intake screening. The team is not obligated to release their names and cannot do so without the player’s permission. So, what we do know is Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Howie Kendrick are among multiple players not yet in Nationals Park for workouts 12 days before the season is scheduled to begin.

Their health and safety is paramount. However, when they are not working with the team, the organization needs to formulate a baseball-specific plan to go forward without them, should the need arise. And, that time is close because the preparation window is closing.

RELATED: HOW WILL MLB'S NEW EXTRA INNING WITH A RUNNER ON SECOND RULE WORK STRATEGICALLY?

“Right now, we’re taking things one day at a time,” Davey Martinez said Saturday. “I’ve got to put eyes on these guys and see where they’re at. I know Soto was actually working out pretty good in the Dominican back home, so was Robles. I talked to those guys. We talked to the strength-and-conditioning guys. They think they’re in really good shape. They worked really hard. We’ll have to get them on the field.

“The biggest thing is they can be in great shape, but how much baseball shape have they done? To me, where something happens, if anybody strains an oblique, you’re looking at a significant amount of time. You’re probably looking at almost a whole season here with only 60 games. We got to be careful, we’ve got to see where they’re at. Then once they get here, we’ll determine whether they’re going to be ready or not.”

The Nationals have three exhibition games scheduled before the season opener against Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees. They can carry 30 players into that game. Martinez is trying to worry about who is in the stadium since he has no control over the clearances for the players who are not.

“We’re in a difficult situation,” Martinez said. “We really are with these guys. We’ve done everything we can. I know our strength guys have Zoomed with them and actually put them on some kind of workout program and watching them do what they can do in their apartment. You’re talking about some of our younger players, too. We don’t want to get them hurt. We’ve got to be smart. We’re also talking about a shorter season where we’ve got to win games right away. We’ll see how these guys come in and for me, it’s the baseball shape....Standing on their feet for seven, eight, nine innings.”

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Catcher Raudy Read played first base during Saturday’s intrasquad workout at Nationals Park. He was there in part because Read could well be a first baseman in the long-term. The Nationals also needed another body at the spot because Eric Thames -- their lone true first baseman available -- played for the opposing side.

The team variations spread across the infield and into the outfield because Soto, Robles and Luis Garcia remain in quarantine.

Martinez said “hopefully” the players in quarantine will be with the team soon. Even if they are, their window to be prepared for Cole is extremely limited, which is going to force the Nationals to start making contingency plans.