Capitals

Napoli to Red Sox, Loney to Rays, A-Rod out

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Napoli to Red Sox, Loney to Rays, A-Rod out

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Boston Red Sox began to play catch-up by getting All-Star catcher Mike Napoli, Tampa Bay took a chance on James Loney and the New York Yankees prepared for more time minus Alex Rodriguez during a brisk Monday at baseball's winter meetings.

Soon after the Hall of Fame welcomed three new members from long ago, teams got busy. The World Series champion San Francisco Giants kept center fielder Angel Pagan, while the Texas Rangers brought back catcher Geovany Soto and made a deal for injured closer Joakim Soria.

Top free agent Josh Hamilton remained in play after hitting 43 home runs with 128 RBIs for the Rangers last season.

``I saw Josh on the flight here Sunday by accident. Coincidence, I guess, is a better word than accident,'' Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. ``Chatted with him a little bit in the airport. I know he's here probably to meet with some other teams.''

Quite a contrast to last year's session, when the Miami Marlins often appeared to be the only player with their high-priced splashes. This time, inside the vast Opryland Hotel complex that houses a studio for famed country music station WSM, several teams had a grand ole time.

Coming off a last-place finish, Boston tried to resolve its catching situation. Napoli got a $39 million, three-year contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press.

``Awesome addition to our team!'' Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester tweeted.

The Red Sox are aiming at another prize, too, exploring trade possibilities to pry Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey from the New York Mets. Boston GM Ben Cherington didn't mention the knuckleballer by name, simply saying the price for pitching was ``always steep for the better guys.''

Mets manager Terry Collins, meanwhile, left the trade talk to others.

``Anybody, anything can happen anytime. I've been in the game long enough to understand that,'' he said. ``I don't think as managers we can sit here and get caught up on one move or another move and say, well, this is - we can't worry about that. We've got to worry about what we have and how we're going to get better.

``When we go to spring training, I'm going to look at the names on those lockers, and I'm going to figure out what we've got to do to be successful with the names on the lockers, depending on who they are,'' he added.

Also in play, maybe: Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco.

Nolasco, who went 12-13 with a 4.48 ERA this year and is signed for $11.5 million next season, asked the payroll-slashing Marlins to deal him in the wake of trades that jettisoned Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and Josh Johnson.

``I just think that he's just looking for a better situation than he feels what is presented to him in Miami,'' agent Matt Sosnick said. ``We defer to the fact that we have no control and he's under contract for another year. The team certainly can do as they please. We felt it was important to make his feelings known.''

The Yankees know Rodriguez won't be in the lineup on opening day. The 37-year-old third baseman, looking nothing like the slugger who ranks fifth on the career list with 647 homers, will have surgery on his left hip and could be out until the All-Star break.

``It's a significant blow,'' Yankees GM Brian Cashman said. ``But we've dealt with significant blows and, hopefully, we'll be able to deal with this one, as well.''

Rodriguez is a 14-time All-Star and baseball's highest-paid player at $275 million. This will be his sixth stint on the disabled list in six seasons, including a trip in 2009 after surgery on his right hip.

Loney found a new home in Tampa Bay. The 28-year-old first baseman hit a combined .249 with six homers and 41 RBIs for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston.

Soria reached a two-year agreement with Texas after missing the entire season for Kansas City because of his second Tommy John surgery. The Royals declined their option on the two-time All-Star for next year.

The first announcement at the meetings podium came from the Hall of Fame, which said its pre-integration panel had elected former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, longtime umpire Hank O'Day and barehanded catcher Deacon White. They were honored for their achievements before the first half of the 20th century, and increased Cooperstown's membership to 300.

Ruppert brought Babe Ruth to New York, built Yankee Stadium and transformed the pinstripers into baseball's most dominant power. He did so much, many people just figured he was already enshrined.

``The family is so thrilled,'' great-grand-nephew K. Jacob Ruppert told The Associated Press by phone. ``His mark is now indelible.''

``Growing up, I was under the impression that he was inducted sometime in the 1940s or 1950s. But I guess it never happened. Some things in history aren't appreciated. If it's not in the here and now, it's off the radar screen.''

Expanded replay, however, is still important to Major League Baseball.

Commissioner Bud Selig has said he wants to add video reviews for trapped balls and fair-or-foul calls next season. MLB executive Joe Torre said ``we're looking at it'' but offered no guarantee that the technology would be in place by then.

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Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

As the NHL continues to focus more on speed and skill, the Capitals took a very old-school approach to Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. From the moment the puck dropped until the clock hit zero, it was clear Washington came into Monday with a very physical game plan.

"It made a big difference," T.J. Oshie said. "I think in these games, everyone’s bringing energy and you kind of want to control that and direct it towards some positive play, some momentum building for your team, and tonight I think we handled that and did that pretty well."

"We just wanted to throw everything we had at them," Stephenson said. "It was a do or die game and we don't want our season to end."

It worked.

The scoresheet officially credited the Caps with 39 hits for the game. The Lightning had only 19. The physical play seemed to wear down Tampa Bay as the game went on.

After an even first period, Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Then, very fittingly, a physical fourth line extended that lead to 2-0 in the third to finish the Lightning off.

"All of a sudden now we turn a puck over, you’re back in your end, they’re feeling it, they’re being physical, crowd’s behind them and we’re spending way too much time in our D zone," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That’s what hurt us."

What made it so effective was the fact that the entire team bought into it. Alex Ovechkin was certainly the most noticeable player as he threw himself around like a wrecking ball against everyone wearing a white jersey. But it was not just his line. Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six hits, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded five of his own while Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had four.

The Lightning faced a constant barrage from the Caps from every line and defensive pair. There was no respite.

The hits also gave the fans plenty to cheer for.

The Caps were playing an elimination game at home and Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was standing on his head. Even with the score locked at 0-0 through the first period, the crowd was still very much into the game. There was no apprehension, there was no quiet tension. There was just a loud crowd cheering on its team.

"[The fans] were loud right from the start, which I think we fed off of and wanted to give them something back," Brooks Orpik said. "We didn't get a goal early. I think some of the physical play kind of helped carry that. They were great for us."

Now in the third round of the playoffs after six intense games between the Caps and Lightning, the hope is that Game 6's physical play will continue to take its toll on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7.

"We need to do that every game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "That's our forecheck. Hopefully, we can keep it going here in Game 7."

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2018 NBA Mock Draft: What's changed after the combine

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2018 NBA Mock Draft: What's changed after the combine

Something that used to be a rare occurrence has now happened four years in a row.

The Phoenix Suns had the best odds of winning the NBA lottery, and they did, landing the number one pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. 

Over the last four years, the team with the NBA's worst record has landed that top spot each year. Before this stretch though, dating back to 1985, only four teams that had the worst record still won the lottery.

Nine teams have also jumped at least five spots to get to No. 1 during that period as well.

Now the order is set (until any trades of course) and teams have had a chance to check out many of the top players at the combine.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT 

This draft is loaded with big man prospects too, from DeAndre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Marvin Bagley, and Mohamed Bamba, along with countless others likely going in the top-14. 

There's also the very intriguing Luka Doncic, who most still believe won't go back to Real Madrid, even with him leaving the door open. 

A few names jumped into the first round since the last mock draft, which is something we always see after the combine. 

As for the Wizards, we know they need an athletic big man, and sitting at pick No. 15, they may just get one, although he brings a lot of mystery. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT