Nationals

Edsall: 'No doubt' Maryland can compete in Big Ten

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Edsall: 'No doubt' Maryland can compete in Big Ten

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Maryland's football team is stumbling through a second straight losing season and now has gone 11 straight years without winning an Atlantic Coast Conference title.

So how in the world are the Terrapins going to survive in the Big Ten?

Maryland announced Monday it will leave ACC and begin play in the Big Ten in 2014. That means the struggling football program will be forced to swap games against Wake Forest, Duke and Boston College for potential matchups with Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Fortunately, Maryland has one more year to prepare for the decided step up in competition. The Terrapins will close a 60-year association with the ACC next season before beginning Big Ten play.

Football coach Randy Edsall, 6-17 in his two seasons at the school, is certain Maryland will flourish in its new conference.

``The young men that we have here now, with what we recruited last year and knowing what we're building here and the depth we're creating, there's no doubt we will be able to compete and do well in the Big Ten,'' Edsall said Tuesday. ``We'll be fine because we'll have the right people here, we'll have the talent, and we'll develop talent to make sure that we're going to go in there and be competitive and win. That's exactly what we'll do.''

The problem is, Maryland can't even win in the ACC. The Terps went 1-7 in the league in 2009, 5-3 in 2010 and 1-7 last year. This season, they are 2-5 (4-7 overall).

The team did, however, show improvement this year before losing four quarterbacks, its leading tackler and leading rusher to injury. Edsall did a decent job of recruiting last year, and expects the excitement generated over the conference switch to enhance his effort this winter.

Edsall said all those players from which he received an oral commitment remained on board. And why not?

``I would probably be more excited about coming here, playing against those big schools,'' sophomore nose tackle Darius Kilgo said. ``You get a lot of exposure for your team and individually. So it would be a good experience.''

Edsall intends to broaden his scope in terms of recruiting, branching out toward the middle of the country instead of staying on the East Coast.

``Now that we could end up playing in the Midwest, we'd be foolish not to recruit in those areas and have people come here to such a great University,'' he said. ``There might be some areas we were in that we might not have as much manpower, so we'll recruit a little bit differently than we did before. You've got to go to some other areas now to attract quality student athletes to come help you get your program to where you want.

``But the bottom line is, the area we've got to control is the one right here at home, and that's not going to change.''

When Edsall heard of the move to the Big Ten, he could barely contain his excitement.

``I was ecstatic. I thought it was a home run for the university and I thought it was great for the athletic department,'' he said. ``It really enhances this university academically and financially, and it helps the student-athletes in a big way. It will allow the athletic department to better serve and better fund the student athletes and their programs in terms of what they need.''

Until Maryland gets to the Big Ten, things are going to be a bit strange as it counts down toward the end of its membership in the ACC. This week's game in North Carolina, for instance, could be the football team's final trip to Chapel Hill - ever.

``I guess it's kind of historic in a sense, us being the last team,'' wide receiver Kevin Dorsey said.

Guard Bennett Fulper, a senior, won't be around when the Terps make the switch to the Big Ten. But he thinks they'll do just fine.

``They're going to be playing against some big-time teams. Obviously, you lose some of the tradition, but some choices have to be made and I think it's going to be a good thing,'' he said. ``We've got great coaches here, we've got a great supporting cast. I feel that they're going to do a great job of getting guys in here that can compete for many years to come.''

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Nationals set to enter defining seven-game stretch

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USATSI

Nationals set to enter defining seven-game stretch

WASHINGTON -- Most baseball managers try to operate in monochromatic fashion. They see one goal each day, and it only rests in those 24 hours. Some -- like Davey Martinez -- claim they don’t look at the standings in June. His standard message is to “win today” then move to tomorrow.

Human nature often runs interference on compartmentalization. It even crept up on Martinez on Sunday morning when in the midst of an answer about Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner playing daily. 

“For me, this is a big week,” Martinez said. “We have a chance to make up some ground here. I want these guys readily available to play.”

He’s right. The claim of significance is valid for once in mid-June, not a concept drummed up by overzealous television promos or interminable Internet space. 

The Nationals have seven games in seven days against two teams near the top of the division. Damaged Philadelphia arrives Monday. The Phillies’ bullpen is hurting and ineffective. Bryce Harper could miss the All-Star Game for just the second time in his career. Philadelphia is 6-8 in June. Meanwhile, Atlanta is rolling along. Its lineup remains deep, the pitching functional and Dallas Keuchel set to make his debut here in D.C. next weekend. The Braves hold a 2 ½-game lead in the not-so-great National League East. 

“Not thinking too big picture,” Adam Eaton said. “But knowing we have an in-division rivalry, we’ve got to win those games. It’s important. We’re trying to chase at this point. Not to put too much emphasis on it, but we need to play some really competitive baseball. And we shouldn’t beat ourselves these next four games. Play good baseball and not beat ourselves. If we play the brand of baseball we know how to play, and play clean, we have a good chance.”

Washington is five games under .500. Days are clicking off the calendar. Departing along with them are opportunities to chop at an 8 1/2-game deficit in the division. Following this week, only seven games against Philadelphia remain. However, 13 with Atlanta remain on the schedule, including seven in 10 days in September. The question is if those will matter. Sink this week and they won’t. Pull off a deficit-halving six of seven and everything changes. 

This week’s ramifications will first be felt on the phone lines in a month. The non-waiver trade deadline arrives July 31. Drag back to a double-digit deficit this week and plunk down the “for sale” sign. Rocket through the week and perhaps reinforcements will be found.

Monday brings a dreaded series opener. The Nationals are 6-17 in the first games of series this season. No one knows why. It doesn’t make sense. But, here they are, incapable of winning a first game and constantly playing from behind.

Patrick Corbin will be on the mound attempting to counter the trend. He, like the team when a new opponent shows up, has been in arrears the last three games. Corbin’s ERA dipped to 2.85 following a 116-pitch shutout of Miami on May 25. He’s been bludgeoned since. His ERA is up to 4.11, he will start twice this week, and the Nationals need him to right his ills.

Friday, Corbin threw a bullpen session focused on his line to the plate. Pitching coach Paul Menhart describes what they are trying to accomplish to get Corbin back to the version he was earlier this season:

“His lines and his east-west motion have made it very difficult for him to get the ball to where he wants it to be,” Menhart said. “He needs to be more direct to the plate and have more of a north-south rotation with his upper body and being more stable lower-half wise will allow him to do that and have his deception and hide the ball better and keep that tunnel.”

Corbin agreed. He doesn’t watch much video to cure ruts. He also doesn’t want too much information. The team’s analytics trackers have informed him his arm slot remains in a good place. He thinks his body is still in a running at a high level, dismissing any correlation between his struggles and the workload against Miami. He’s also going through the most common element of reduced success: trying not to chew on it too much.

“I think when I’m away from the field, you think about it more,” Corbin told NBC Sports Washington. “You’re frustrated about it a little bit -- what the heck is going on? But when you get here, you just try to work, try to do things to get better. That’s how I approach it. I’m just looking forward to my next start on Monday going out there and trying to get back to how I know I can pitch.”

Philadelphia arrives after being thumped in Atlanta on Sunday, 15-1. Washington had the opposite day in a 15-5 win. Monday night starts a reckoning of sorts for both. The Nationals will send out their three high-end starters during the four games. Philadelphia is trying to right itself and not let the Braves get out of touch at the top of the division. So, even for the one-day-at-a-time crew, the coming seven carry significant weight, and they’re finally admitting it.

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Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

WASHINGTON — The Capitals bolstered their forward depth and its penalty kill by re-signing two-time Stanley Cup champion Carl Hagelin before he hit unrestricted free agency next month. 

Washington has officially re-signed forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract extension, a move that goes a long way toward re-establishing a third line that had some openings entering the offseason. 

Hagelin, 30, was a pending unrestricted free agent. Washington acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21 just four days before the NHL trade deadline. Hagelin played primarily on the third line – although injuries in the Stanley Cup playoffs pushed him onto the second line. 

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Hagelin had three goals and 11 assists in 20 regular-season games with the Capitals and became an instant staple on the penalty kill. His 47 minutes, six seconds on the PK in those 20 games were enough to rank sixth among all forwards on the team.

Traded twice last season, Hagelin had a total of five goals and 14 assists with the Capitals, Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins in 58 games. He had a sprained knee (medial collateral ligament) with Los Angeles that kept him out for 20 games.  

"[Hagelin] was a good fit,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said on April 26. “I thought he fit seamlessly from day one. Really liked him on the third line, the way we used him, we bumped him up obviously with the [T.J.] Oshie injury. Our PK got a lot better. Fits in well with his teammates. It's a really good fit for us, yes." 

The Penguins traded Hagelin to the Kings on Nov. 14. He was a key part of Pittsburgh’s back-to-back Stanley Cup winners in 2016 and 2017, which came at the expense of Washington in the playoffs each time. 

This was the last year of a four-year, $16 million deal that Hagelin signed with the Anaheim Ducks in 2015. He was always viewed as a likely trade chip for Los Angeles, which finished in last place in the Pacific Division and eventually flipped him to the Capitals. 

Even after the disappointing first-round Stanley Cup playoff loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, Hagelin said he was open to re-signing with the Capitals before he hit unrestricted free agency on July 1. His signing follows the trade of defenseman Matt Niskanen on Friday. The NHL Draft is this coming weekend in Vancouver with more moves expected.   

“I liked the fact that I got a good look from the coaches,” Hagelin said on April 26 of his time with the Capitals. “I got to play with good players, I got to play in key situations. I felt comfortable here.”

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