Nationals

Oakland gives manager Bob Melvin 2-year extension

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Oakland gives manager Bob Melvin 2-year extension

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Bob Melvin has repeatedly described the comfort of managing right at home in the Bay Area - and Billy Beane has described the comfort in having a winning, ``modern-day'' manager leading the Oakland Athletics.

Melvin is staying put in the very place he wants to be well into the future.

The A's manager received a two-year contract extension Monday that takes him through the 2016 season. Later Monday, Oakland announced it had reached agreement on a $1 million, one-year contract with catcher George Kottaras, a raise of $275,000.

Beane is thrilled to have a manager in place to guide the small-budget A's for years to come.

``To get an extension like this from people you respect and admire and supported you, it really makes you feel good and makes you feel better about doing your job,'' said Melvin, voted AL Manager of the Year after leading Oakland to a surprising West division title. ``My expectations are the same as last year. We're going to compete hard and expect to win. Based on having the results we had last year, we'll have that much more confidence coming into spring training.''

Oakland became the first team in major league history to win a division or pennant after trailing by five games with less than 10 to play, sweeping three games against Texas to win the division over the Rangers.

``It's really a reflection of our commitment to Bob and Bob's commitment to us. If you know you have the right guy, there's no sense in waiting until he's got one year left,'' general manager Billy Beane said. ``This was probably the simplest negotiation I've ever had in my career here. That's a reflection of the relationship that Bob has with the organization. We're happy to give him this well-deserved extension. It didn't take very long. The actual writing it up took longer than the actual negotiations.''

Oakland lost to Detroit 3-2 in a best-of-five AL division series. The A's ended a five-year stretch without a winning record or playoff berth, finishing 94-68.

The A's did it with a payroll of $59.5 million - lowest in the majors - and 12 rookies. They did it with significant injuries to their starting pitchers and lost their third baseman, Scott Sizemore, to a season-ending knee injury on the first full-squad workout of spring training. And they did it after losing right-hander Bartolo Colon to a 50-game suspension in August for a positive testosterone test, then re-signed him this winter.

The 51-year-old Melvin, a former big league catcher who grew up in Menlo Park and played at Cal, took over from the fired Bob Geren in June 2011. Melvin led the Diamondbacks to the NL West title in 2007 and also won 93 games in his rookie season with Seattle in 2003.

``We knew we had the right guy right from the get go. Continuity is important,'' Beane said. ``It's really important. Once again last year was certainly enjoyable. It's easy to look at a year like last year and everybody has fun when you're winning. This relationship with Bob and myself and the front office and the players started when he took over.''

Melvin received a three-year contract from Oakland late in the 2011 season. The A's went 47-52 after he took over that year.

His local ties are only a bonus. Melvin played three seasons with the San Francisco Giants.

``I was excited and impressed when Billy told me that Bob was available and accepting the manager role with us,'' owner Lew Wolff said. ``As I observed Bob's leadership and very special drive, I was even more impressed with Billy's choice. I am so very pleased that we will have Bob with us for the foreseeable future. Bob's use of our talent was and is brilliant in my opinion.''

Kottaras, acquired from Milwaukee before last year's trade deadline, batted .212 with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 27 games for Oakland after hitting .209 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 58 games with the Brewers.

Three A's remain eligible to file for arbitration Tuesday: left-hander Jerry Blevins and outfielders Brandon Moss and Seth Smith.

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AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report.

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Nationals ace Max Scherzer takes ball off face during batting practice

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Nationals ace Max Scherzer takes ball off face during batting practice

Nationals ace Max Scherzer was struck in the face by a baseball during batting practice Tuesday and was taken to see the team trainer. 

According to NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas, Scherzer was attempting a bunt during BP before the Nationals' game against the Phillies, the ball coming off his bat and hitting him in the face. 

Scherzer was expected to start one of the games during Wednesday's doubleheader against Philadelphia. As of now, the Nats have not named starters for either of Wednesday's games. 

The 34-year-old last pitched Friday in a win over Arizona in which he tossed seven innings of three-hit baseball while striking out 10 Diamondbacks. It marked the 87th time in his historic career he's fanned 10 batters or more in a game.

This is a developing story. We'll have more information as it comes out. 

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Newest Caps defenseman Radko Gudas happy for a fresh start in D.C.

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Newest Caps defenseman Radko Gudas happy for a fresh start in D.C.

Radko Gudas was surprised, but also relieved. A different year in Philadelphia, where everything seemed to go wrong for the Flyers, is behind him now. He plays for the Capitals now. 

 

“I was a little bit shocked to be honest,” Gudas said in a conference call on Tuesday. “But when I heard where I'm going, I was pretty happy that I got traded to a team that's well known for their winning and their will to win every game they play.”

 

It capped a whirlwind few days for the 29-year-old, a polarizing figure in the sport along the lines of Washington forward Tom Wilson. Gudas has been suspended four times by the NHL Department of Player Safety. To say he plays the game on the edge is an understatement.

 

“Staying on right line of suspensions: It's always tough lately in the hockey these last few years,” Gudas said. “I worked on it in the summer and I thought I adjusted the game enough to still be able to play physical, just not be a liability out there for my team. It's always something hard to adjust, but we still have to do it. It's our job.”

 

In the midst of a rough year for Philadelphia that saw a coach firing and a late playoff surge fall short, Gudas took advantage of increased ice time – and cut his penalty minutes to 63 from a high of 116 when he joined the Flyers four years earlier. He will never be a big offensive threat, but he’s figured out how to suppress shots and play a reliable defensive game.

 

At a friend’s wedding in the Czech Republic on Friday when he got the news, Gudas received messages from his new teammates and wasn’t even sure who, exactly, of the Capitals coaches he spoke with. There was a lot going on. But he’s excited to play “for a well oiled machine” like Washington, which has its 2018 Stanley Cup and has won the Metropolitan Division four years in a row. 

 

Gudas knows fellow Washington defenseman Michal Kempny, 29, well. The two men were born just three months apart in 1990 and were teammates on the World Juniors under-18 Czech Republic team in 2008. They reconnected in 2017 for the Czech Republics’ entry in the IIHF World Championships. Jakub Vrana, 23, is a third Czech on one of the NHL’s most diverse rosters and played with Gudas at the 2019 World Championships. Kempny was still recovering from a torn hamstring sustained during the regular season. 

 

That familiarity is nice, but Gudas has been traded before when Tampa Bay sent him to Philadelphia in 2015. You just adjust to the role given with your new team. He’s ready for a fresh start with the Capitals. 

 

“They’re the winners from last year, they were the contenders this year,” Gudas said. “They always have a good team. They in the playoffs every year all these years. Play my simple game, the guys to know what to expect for me and know I’ll be there for them.”