Nationals

Daniels hopes to give Irish a boost vs. Alabama

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Daniels hopes to give Irish a boost vs. Alabama

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) DaVaris Daniels felt a moment of trepidation when he ran across the middle in practice and took his first hit since breaking his left collarbone two months ago. Then the Notre Dame wide receiver realized it felt like just another normal hit.

``I had to get the jitters out of the way,'' he said. ``It was like a confidence boost.''

The top-ranked Fighting Irish could use a confident Daniels when they face defending national champion Alabama (12-1) in the BCS title game in Miami on Jan. 7.

Irish coach Brian Kelly said the Irish need to make some ``big chunk'' plays against the Crimson Tide and Daniels could help. His average of 15 yards per catch is the highest of any Irish receiver, and he had the longest catch of the game for Notre Dame in four of the 10 games he played.

``We have a lot of guys that can fill in that role, so it's on all of our shoulders. Everybody has to make a play,'' Daniels said.

Kelly said the Irish need to spread the field against the Crimson Tide, and Daniels can help with his speed.

Daniels, who had his first contact Friday, said his shoulder still isn't 100 percent, but said it's getting better daily. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound sophomore had his best game against Pittsburgh with seven receptions for 86 yards, including a career-best 45-yard catch, a week before getting injured against Boston College on Nov. 10.

Kelly said on Saturday that Daniels, who has 25 catches for 375 yards, looks good.

``I think we'll be fine with him. He's a really good player who understands that his reps are going to be based upon how he practices and how he performs,'' Kelly said. ``I'm certain he'll play a role in the game.''

Daniels returned to practice in early December wearing a red jersey, which meant he couldn't be hit. He said it helped him get back into condition and get his timing down. He said it didn't take him long to get back into a groove with Irish quarterback Everett Golson.

Daniels said he tried to keep his mind in the game after being injured by attending team meetings, watching practices and going through as many off-field activities as he could.

``I think that really benefited me to get back to where I am right now,'' he said.

Daniels said he doesn't know yet exactly what his role will be against the Crimson Tide.

``Hopefully it's a lot,'' he said.

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Max Scherzer leaves start against Mets after one inning

Max Scherzer leaves start against Mets after one inning

WASHINGTON -- Something didn't look right from the start Wednesday night when Max Scherzer took the mound.

He walked Mets leadoff hitter Brandon Nimmo on five pitches. Seven of his first eight pitches were balls. All told, he needed 27 pitches -- just 14 were strikes -- to make it through the first inning against the Mets.

His velocity was also down in the 92-94-mph range.

After the inning was over, Erick Fedde began to throw in the Nationals bullpen. Scherzer stood in the dugout with his hands on hips and talking to athletic trainers. Fedde came in to start the top of the second.

Scherzer made 27 starts last season, five fewer than normal, because of neck and back problems which put him on the injured list. He said at spring training he thought he figured out the reason for the problems.

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Injuries have been pervasive this season since Major League Baseball resumed July 23. That includes fellow Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg, who has missed his first two starts of the season while dealing with a nerve issue in his right hand. Strasburg threw a simulated game on Wednesday.

Scherzer was 0-1 with a 2.84 ERA in two starts in 2020 coming into the game.

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Lars Eller departs the bubble for birth of his second child

Lars Eller departs the bubble for birth of his second child

Capitals forward Lars Eller has left the NHL bubble in Toronto to be with his family for the birth of his second child, the team announced Wednesday. Eller had made it known he intended to do so before even arriving in Toronto so the news of his departure is no surprise.

Eller is actually not the first player to voluntarily leave the bubble for the birth of a child. That honor goes to Ivan Barbashev of the St. Louis Blues who departed on Tuesday.

Eller’s departure means he will miss Thursday’s game, Travis Boyd is expected to step into Eller’s position at third line center. Boyd has largely been an extra for much of the season in Washington and played in only 24 games, but still managed 10 points. Boyd also has experience playing the third-line center role in the playoffs as he did it in 2018 during the team’s Cup run. An injury to Nicklas Backstrom pushed Eller into the second line, which allowed Boyd to get into the lineup.

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Eller’s return will be complicated. It is not just a matter of rejoining the team, but also being able to re-enter the NHL’s bubble which will mean a period of quarantine and testing. That means that even upon returning to Toronto, he will not be available to join the team right away. Eller will almost certainly miss the team’s final round robin game as well against the Boston Bruins on Sunday.

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