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Irish LB Spond thriving after being hospitalized

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Irish LB Spond thriving after being hospitalized

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) When Notre Dame linebacker Danny Spond was lying in a hospital bed with a debilitating headache in August, he wasn't worried about whether he'd play football again. He wanted to know whether he'd ever walk again.

``I didn't know whether that was going to be a possibility,'' Spond said. ``That was the scariest moment for me.''

The pain struck the junior from Littleton, Colo., about an hour into a summer football practice. He started getting a headache, but didn't think much about it. Then it started getting worse. His vision blurred, his face started tingling and became numb.

``It hit so hard and it was so intense. It was a complete numbness,'' Spond said. ``It was a terrifying feeling.''

An ambulance took him to the hospital and there was some fear originally he might have suffered a stroke. That was quickly ruled out, but it took doctors a while to figure out what was wrong while he was in bed, the left side of his body numb.

He was finally diagnosed with having a semi-hemiplegic migraine, which involves pain so bad that part of the body just shuts down. He remembers having a long talk with his father, Don, about whether he would play football again. He spent four days in the hospital and then had to undergo rehabilitation to learn to walk again. His left leg was limp, so he had to focus on picking up his leg, landing on his heel and pushing off with his toes.

``If I tried to speed it up, it went limp again. So it was just a slow process of training those muscles again to do what they normally do,'' Spond said.

When doctors told him they didn't believe the migraine was football-related, he decided to try to return. He sat out the first two games as he worked to regain his strength, but returned against Michigan State. He has been a solid contributor on a defense for the third-ranked Fighting Irish (10-0) that ranks eighth in the nation in total defense and first in scoring defense heading into Saturday's game against Wake Forest (5-5).

Spond has 33 tackles, an interception against Brigham Young and three pass breakups. As an outside linebacker, Spond might be setting the edge on one play, covering a wide receiver on another or taking on a 300-pound lineman on another. Against Boston College last week, he ran stride for stride with receiver Alex Amidon before diving to break up a pass.

``If they were giving out helmet stickers, he's have a lot of helmet stickers,'' coach Brian Kelly said. ``He's a guy that gets a lot of production points.''

Spond played quarterback at Columbine High School and was recruited to play quarterback at Colorado, where he originally committed to play, but chose Notre Dame instead even though he wasn't sure what position he would be playing for the Irish. Spond believes being a former quarterback helps him be a better defender.

``I've seen what he sees during a game. That's definitely helped me,'' he said.

Spond said doctors still don't know what triggered the migraine and don't know whether it will ever occur again. He said the first few times he began getting headaches after that he was concerned, but doesn't worry about it anymore. He said his Catholic faith helped him get through the most terrifying moments of dealing with the migraine and gives him confidence he will be all right.

``I'm just at a point where I'm fully relying on God to take care of me out there,'' he said.

With all he's been through, Spond is grateful to be playing for a team that could finish the season undefeated. He said he's not spending time worrying about whether the Irish will make it to the BCS title game.

``All we can do is win every game we have the opportunity to play. Numbers and computers, I don't mess around with all that. All we have control over is who we play and how we can play against them each Saturday,'' he said.

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Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals deal Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik ahead of the draft

DALLAS—The Capitals have dealt backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer and veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round pick, the team announced shortly before the NHL Draft kicked off Friday at American Airlines Center.

GM Brian MacLellan was widely expected to deal Grubauer, a 26-year-old who wanted the opportunity to be a No. 1. As a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who was also coming off a strong season, Grubauer was due a significant raise.

“We would like to thank Brooks and Philipp for all of their contributions to our organization,” MacLellan said in a statement. “Philipp has been a consummate professional and a great teammate and we wish him all the best.”

Trading Orpik, on the other hand, was a bit unexpected, particularly considering how much 37-year-old’s play and leadership meant to the Caps during their run to the Stanley Cup.

By dealing Orpik, MacLellan shed the 37-year-old’s $5.5 million cap hit for next season—an important development given the Caps’ tight salary cap situation and the number of key players who need new contracts. John Carlson, Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek are unrestricted free agents, while Tom Wilson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Travis Boyd and Madison Bowey are restricted free agents.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Avalanche are expected to help Orpik land or a preferred spot, whether via trade or buyout. By taking on Orpik in the deal, Friedman reported, the Avs only had to give up one pick.

“Brooks,” MacLellan continued, “was a great leader and a tremendous role model for our young players in his four years with our organization. This was a difficult move, but the one we felt we needed to make in order to give some flexibility moving forward.”

Will moving out Grubauer and eliminating Orpik’s cap charge allow MacLellan to re-sign Carlson, who's set to become the top defenseman on the free agent market? That’s unclear—even with the salary cap ceiling going up to $79.5 million—but it sure helps the Caps’ cause.

Dealing Orpik also opens up a spot for a young and inexpensive defenseman such as Christian Djoos or Madison Bowey to take on a bigger role in 2018-19.

Without Grubauer, the Caps are likely to turn to Pheonix Copley as their backup next season. And if Copley, who is due to earn the NHL minimum of $650,000 next season, starts the year in Washington, that allows 2015 first round pick Ilya Samsonov to take the reins in Hershey.

The second round pick the Caps received in exchange for Grubauer and Orpik is the 47th overall selection.

MacLellan is expected to speak to reporters following the first round later Friday night. The Caps currently hold the 31st overall pick.

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Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

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USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

It’s happening.

When the 2018 All-Star Weekend comes to Washington, D.C. in the middle of July, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will compete in the 2018 Home Run Derby, but only on one condition: He has to be a member of the 2018 National League All-Star Team.

Though Harper is having a down year, only hitting .213 thus far, he leads the NL in home runs with 19.

In the June 18 update of All-Star game voting, Harper sat second among all outfielders with just north of 1,000,000 votes.

That means he’s not only going to make the All-Star team, but he’ll likely start in the outfield.

Harper, a five-time All-Star, competed in the Home Run Derby once before. He was the runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013, losing by just one long ball, 9-8.

The 2018 Home Run Derby will take place on July 16 at Nationals Park.

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