Redskins

Musial on manager's mind at Cardinals fan festival

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Musial on manager's mind at Cardinals fan festival

ST. LOUIS (AP) Mike Matheny first encountered Stan Musial about two decades ago, watching the Hall of Famer draw a harmonica out of his jacket with an impish grin and captivate yet another crowd.

Whichever way the St. Louis Cardinals decide to remember Stan the Man, whether they wear armbands or a patch on their uniforms, their manager expects his team to adhere to Musial's work ethic. Matheny, who begins his second spring training in charge in about three weeks, believes Musial's passing will serve as perspective and motivation while reminding players that the window of opportunity is short.

``I think everybody around here, young and old, gets how important Mr. Musial was and still is - and will be - to this organization and this community. Just everything he stood for,'' Matheny said Monday at the end of the three-day Winter Warm-Up fan festival.

``Whether it's something we physically put on our sleeve or not, I'm sure there will be something that will memorialize Mr. Musial.''

The 92-year-old Musial, a seven-time National League batting champion and three-time MVP, died on Saturday. A public visitation will be Thursday at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, with a funeral Mass on Saturday.

``I think whether you grow up in St. Louis or not, if you're a fan of baseball you're going to hear Stan Musial's name repeatedly,'' said third baseman David Freese, who grew up suburban St. Louis. ``He's going to be missed, I think everybody knows that.

``What a life he lived.''

Matheny's on-field focus has been tested beyond the anguish of a blown a 3-1 NLCS lead against the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants last fall. He faces bankruptcy over a series of failed investments that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported have left him more than $4 million in debt.

Matheny told the newspaper he expects to liquidate all of his investments and real estate holdings, including his dream home, which has 17 rooms on 11 acres. From all accounts, Matheny was able to block out those issues when he put on the uniform.

``You just never know any situation how you're going to react until you get into it, but I was able to show up every day with an incredible ability to just focus and do my job,'' Matheny said. ``Stuff on the outside I was able to compartmentalize and deal with that as I had to.

``It's a story that doesn't have anything to do with woes, it's about some pretty cool things that have happened, but I'm looking forward to moving on.''

The Cardinals, meanwhile, hope to sign pitcher Adam Wainwright, entering the final year of his contract, to a new deal. The 31-year-old Wainwright returned in less than a year from reconstructive elbow surgery last season and was 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA, after totaling 39 wins in 2009-10.

``You can be sure we'll try to sign him,'' chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. ``Whether we'll be able to, remains to be seen.''

Wainwright wore a T-shirt that read ``Just Happy to be here. Hope I can help the ballclub.''

``If they want to talk about it with my agent, they're more then welcome to,'' Wainwright said. ``I don't respond well when I'm thinking about other stuff on the mound.''

The Cardinals have three remaining arbitration-eligible players - closer Jason Motte, left-hander reliever Marc Rzepczynski and Freese. They're closer to deals with the two pitchers than Freese, the 2011 World Series and NL championship series MVP.

The 29-year-old Freese played his first full season last year, batting .293 with 20 homers and 79 RBIs, and is seeking $3.75 million. The Cardinals have offered $2.4 million.

``Publicly I'm not going to get involved with talking about where we're at,'' Freese said. ``It's going to get resolved sooner or later, it kind of has to.

``When I don't know, but obviously we're in the process.''

Motte submitted for $5.5 million and was offered $4.5 million and Rzepczynski requested $1.3 million and was offered $900,000.

Outfielder Carlos Beltran, entering the second year of a two-year, $26 million contract, wasn't looking ahead.

``Whatever happens after this year, I don't know,'' Beltran said. ``But I also have to find out what the organization's plans are.

``They don't really have to come to me and explain it to me. It depends on how this year goes, probably.''

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Jay Gruden doesn't care about Mason Foster's comments from private conversation

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden doesn't care about Mason Foster's comments from private conversation

Mason Foster created a firestorm when a private conversation emerged from social media in which the linebacker said "F*** this team and this fanbase" amid other disparaging comments.

Jay Gruden got asked about the comments on Wednesday, and the head coach didn't hold much back. 

"I really don't even care, it's a private message" Gruden said. 

The head coach explained that Foster was having a private conservation and the converation should not have reached the public eye. Gruden also explained that Foster is one of the best teammates and hardest workers on the Redskins. 

"I know what Mason is. I know what he means to this football team, what he's meant to this football team and anything he said in a personal message was personal and I really don't take anything from it," the coach said. 

Many fans are enraged by Foster's comments, and much of the anger is understandable. Multiple Redskins players have publicly criticized the team's fans this season, including D.J. Swearinger and Josh Norman, though Foster's are certainly the most pointed. 

What isn't known is the context of the conversation, and the type of relationship Foster had with the user. 

Regardless, Foster is the Redskins defensive captain, and for many fans that 'C' should be stripped from his jersey. After listening to Gruden, that doesn't seem likely. 

On the season, Foster has 108 tackes and two interceptions. He's played in all 13 games for the Redskins and also added two fumble recoveries. He was not available for comment on Wednesday. 

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Boyd, Jaskin sizzle as the Caps' fourth line continues to stay ahead of the curve

Boyd, Jaskin sizzle as the Caps' fourth line continues to stay ahead of the curve

Fresh off of a third-star recognition, Travis Boyd returned to home ice to score less than eleven minutes into Tuesday night’s game as the Capitals hosted the Detroit Red Wings.

Saturday’s goal, versus Columbus, was the first of Boyd’s career. The fact that his second came not even four days later may seem unusual – but with the Capitals’ fourth line cruising, it’s hardly a surprise.

The fourth line, consisting of Boyd, Nic Dowd, and Dmitrij Jaskin, has been together the past three games since Tom Wilson sustained an upper-body injury and the lineup changed. That version of the fourth line has combined for eight points in three wins. 

Dowd has had the most sustained success with seven points in his past nine games (three goals, four assists) - though not all of that came with Jaskin and Boyd. But together the trio continues to show that it shouldn’t be overlooked with significant contributions towards the team’s scoring.

“I think right now we're just having fun together,” Boyd said after the 6-2 win against the Red Wings. “It's kind of funny, you play games and you start making plays together and all of a sudden, it's kind of like a snowball effect. The more plays you make, the more confidence you get and it just kind of keeps going.”

The fourth line’s newfound confidence – and the fun they’re having with it – is tangible. Jaskin, after chipping past Detroit defenseman Mike Green, hustled to avoid an icing call and then helped feed Dowd, who passed to Boyd for a goal that put Washington ahead 2-0 just 10:50 into the game. 

The play looked effortless – so much so that the Red Wings were frustrated by the end of the first, down 3-0. It wasn’t until the third period that Detroit was finally able to get on the board thanks to a goal by Dylan Larkin that held up after a coach’s challenge for goalie interference.

Larkin spoke to the struggle to counter Washington’s fourth line’s success..

“There’s no bad players in this league,” Larkin said. “Whoever scores, it’s disappointing. But the next shift is the most important. We got penned in our zone a little too much tonight.”

Capitals coach Todd Reirden had high praise for the line’s developing chemistry.

“[There’s] a lot of chemistry,” Reirden said. “They're playing well and it’s great to see them get rewarded, and they could have had a couple more. They play the right way for the most part.”

Though Boyd, Dowd, and Jaskin have been outstanding in the past few games, it isn’t a completely new development, but rather, an improvement on a larger goal.

“It's something talked about in the summer,” Reirden said. “[There’s an] importance of having depth scoring and I think that was something we struggled with in the first 10 games of the year, getting scoring from that bottom six. Now it's been a really big part of our success.“

As the league evolves, requiring more skill and versatility from more players, Reirden remains positive that the Caps are ahead of the curve.

“The days of just having a fourth line guy that would be your tough guy, that's kind of gone away,” Reirden said. “I think where we're headed, [if] you can get offensive production from that fourth line, you become a very difficult team to match up against. That's a luxury as a coach if you can have that type of depth. Credit all goes to how our players have bought in and taken advantage of their opportunities. They've been given them, they've earned and deserved to be in that situation they're in right now.”


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