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Longoria takes in Winter X before spring training

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Longoria takes in Winter X before spring training

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) Evan Longoria bundled up before stepping out into the cold, zipping his bright blue winter jacket all the way up, putting on his scarf and pulling his gray stocking cap tight over his ears.

This wasn't exactly baseball weather.

The Tampa Bay Rays third baseman spent Saturday hanging out with fellow athletes sponsored by Red Bull and taking in the dizzying sights and loud sounds of the Winter X Games.

For a change, Longoria was just a fan - gushing over meeting Mark McMorris, who won the snowboard slopestyle competition over a talented field that included Shaun White.

And for once, Longoria didn't draw a crowd; nobody really knew who he was. He wasn't the All-Star who signed a lucrative new contract in the offseason.

No, he was simply that guy shivering like everyone else.

``It's pretty cool to see other professionals do what they do,'' said Longoria, who left the 80-degree weather of Scottsdale, Ariz., for his trip to Aspen. ``Just chillin' with the Red Bull people.''

Emphasis on chill. Sure, it was 35 degrees but the snow moved into the area Saturday night.

Makes the warmth of Florida sound awfully nice about now.

Longoria will report to Port Charlotte, Fla., for spring training with Tampa Bay's pitchers and catchers on Feb. 12 because the Rays want to check his progress after he underwent minor surgery on his left hamstring in late November. That partially torn hamstring hampered him all last season, when played in just 74 games.

``Two weeks after the surgery, I felt like it had never happened,'' Longoria said. ``It was that good. The surgery helped that much.''

Although he's surrounded by snowboarders, he has no desire to try it. Longoria will stick with hitting hanging sliders instead of the slopes. But when his career is over - and his contract permits it - he wants to try snowboarding again. When he was younger, Longoria used to head up to Big Bear in California to get in a few runs.

``But I didn't have the money to afford the right gear so I was cold and miserable,'' he said. ``I think it would be fun to give it a try again with the right gear.''

He certainly came away with a sense of awe for these athletes. He watched the 19-year-old McMorris turn in some gnarly tricks to capture his second straight slopestyle title.

``That McMorris kid is the truth,'' Longoria said. ``He's crazy good.''

Longoria has been, too.

The two-time AL Gold Glove winner and 2008 AL Rookie of the Year ranks second on the Rays career list with 130 home runs and third with 456 RBIs.

This illustrates the importance of Longoria last season: Tampa Bay went 41-44 without him and 47-27 with him in the starting lineup. That's a reason why the Rays agreed to a $136.6 million, 10-year contract with Longoria that adds six guaranteed seasons and $100 million.

It's a lot of money - and pressure.

Then again, he's been there before. Just six games into his major league career in `08, Longoria agreed to a $17.5 million, six-year contract that included club options.

Now that was pressure.

``People were like, `This guy hasn't even proven himself at the big league level and you just gave him all that money?''' Longoria recalled. ``With this contract, the expectations will be higher for people on the outside looking in. I understand. I'm an established player and know what I need to do to prepare and succeed.''

Like spending the offseason working out. Five days a week, he was at a local training facility. And with a fully enclosed cage at his house, he didn't have to go far to take some swings. That cage will come in handy when Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki uses his house for spring training, since it's only 10 minutes from Colorado's facility.

When Longoria shows up for camp, he's going to have quite a few new teammates to meet. The Rays traded James Shields to the Kansas City Royals, getting top prospects Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi along with two other minor leaguers in return. The team also signed first baseman James Loney.

However, Tampa Bay saw outfielder B.J. Upton leave for Atlanta.

``I'm excited to see how it comes together,'' Longoria said. ``The most important thing is good clubhouse chemistry.''

The Rays open the season April 2 at home against Baltimore. Longoria hopes he's in the lineup for the game. See, he and his girlfriend are expecting their first child the day before.

``We're excited,'' he said, ``and we're a little bit nervous.''

About this time of year, Longoria gets a little antsy. That switch gets flipped in his head, telling him it's almost time for baseball.

``Innately, it just happens,'' Longoria explained. ``I know it's around the corner, but I'm still enjoying my time off.''

And trying to stay warm.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 24, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What Jay Gruden and Alex Smith had to say from the podium

After yesterday’s OTA practice, Alex Smith and Jay Gruden took the podium. Here are some of their quotes and my comments on them:

Smith was asked about getting together with his new teammates:

So I think every guy these last two days has enjoyed just getting back out there and losing yourself in the game, right? To be limited, it does make you miss it, and I think it makes you appreciate it, so that’s been nice. 

Comment: This is a guy who loves football and everything that goes with it. Smith would start playing games tomorrow if they were scheduled.

Gruden was asked how Smith has looked in these first two days of OTAs:

He’s got good command of the offense already. Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I would say I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.

Comment: It did seem that Smith was in sync with his receivers, Jamison Crowder in particular. He and Paul Richardson connected on a deep pass after giving each other a look at the line of scrimmage. The encouraging thing is that he is coming from a similar offensive system, so the learning curve should not be too long. 

Smith had a great analogy when asked about similarities to the offenses he has run:

Both from West Coast worlds, so it’s kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same. There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it’s not the same language. I guess that’s the best analogy I can make

Comment: If terminology is the biggest obstacle for Smith to overcome it will be a smooth transition for him. 

Gruden was impressed with the running backs. 

“I’ll tell you what, just today in general, you could see the competition. You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, I mean, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit.

Comment: I think that the Redskins are going to have to release some good running backs. Rob Kelly never really earned the nickname “Fat Rob” but he looked particularly lean and quick running the ball. He wants nothing to do with being on the roster bubble. Marshall moved quickly and showed his speed. Although Gruden wouldn’t say it, Guice clearly was the best of the bunch; his ability to change direction while maintaining his speed will serve him well. It must be noted that they are not in pads and not getting tackled so more definitive opinions will have to wait until we are in Richmond for a few days. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 19
—Training camp starts (7/26) 64
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 78

The Redskins last played a game 144 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 108 days. 

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NHL Stanley Cup Final 2018: Capitals vs. Golden Knights full schedule announced, date, time, TV channel, how to watch

NHL Stanley Cup Final 2018: Capitals vs. Golden Knights full schedule announced, date, time, TV channel, how to watch

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are the only two hockey teams left standing and will meet to decide the 2017-18 NHL Stanley Cup champion.

The Capitals advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1998, thanks to a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

The Golden Knights, in their inaugural season, shocked the NHL world, defeating the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets to become the first team in major American professional sports history to reach the championship game in the franchise's first season.

The Capitals and Golden Knights met twice during the regular season, with Vegas coming out on top in both games. The Golden Knights blanked the Caps 3-0 in the Caps' first trip to Sin City, and bested the Caps 4-3 at Capital One Arena on Feb. 4.

Game 1 of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights takes place on Monday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBC and is available to be streamed online by using the NBC Sports App.

NBC Sports Washington will broadcast pre and postgame coverage of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights,  with Caps FaceOff and Caps GameTime preceding Capitals vs. Golden Knights puck drop and Caps Extra and Caps OverTime following the end of each game. 

2018 STANLEY CUP FINAL HOW TO WATCH

Game 1: Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Monday, May 28
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Wednesday, May 30
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV Channel: NBCSN
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 3: Golden Knights at Capitals
Date: Saturday, June 2
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: Capital One Arena. Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBCSN
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 4: Golden Knights at Capitals
Date: Monday, June 4
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: Capital One Arena. Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 5 (If Necessary): Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Thursday, June 7
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 6 (If Necessary): Golden Knights at Capitals
Date: Sunday, June 10
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: Capital One Arena. Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 7 (If Necessary): Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Wednesday, June 13
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)
 

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