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Phillies hire Wally Joyner as assistant coach

Phillies hire Wally Joyner as assistant coach

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Phillies have hired Wally Joyner to be their assistant hitting coach.

Joyner will assist new hitting coach Steve Henderson. The Phillies reshuffled their coaching staff after finishing 81-81 following five straight division titles.

Joyner previously was the batting coach for San Diego during parts of the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

The 50-year-old Joyner was a left-handed hitting first baseman for 16 seasons with four teams. He finished his career with a .289 batting average, 409 doubles, 204 home runs and 1,106 RBIs in 2,033 games.

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Kelly Oubre Jr. is heating up and might be solving his issues at home

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Kelly Oubre Jr. is heating up and might be solving his issues at home

Over the past week-plus, the Wizards have overall been trending in the wrong direction, now with three straight losses and injuries to John Wall and Otto Porter Jr. But over the past five games, Kelly Oubre Jr. has quietly been playing some of the best basketball of his career.

In his last five outings, Oubre has scored at least 19 points in four of them. He has amassed 96 total points, his most ever in a five-game stretch.

That breaks out to an average of 19.2 per contest and he got that number while shooting 53.2 percent from the field and 44 percent from three. He also grabbed 4.2 rebounds and posted 1.6 steals and a block per game.

With Porter out for the better part of the past two games, Oubre has capitalized on the extra minutes. He scored 23 against the Pacers in 37 minutes and then 20 vs. the Celtics in 38 minutes.

The latter came at home where Oubre has for some reason been much worse this season. He is shooting just 38.3 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from three at home compared to 46.8 percent and 37.2 percent on the road.

Against the Celtics, Oubre went 7-of-15 overall and 3-for-8 from three.

"Kelly's been on a nice little rhythm shooting the ball," head coach Scott Brooks said. "It's good to see him make some threes at home because he hasn't made them this year and hopefully this game can catapult him to making some threes because we need him to make those shots."

Oubre, in fact, has been turning it around at home in the past few weeks. In his last seven home games going back to Nov. 16, he's shooting 46.7 percent from the field, about his season average on the road.

During this five-game surge, Oubre has moved into third place on the Wizards in scoring this season. His 13 points per game average is slightly ahead of Dwight Howard (12.8) and outpacing Porter and Markieff Morris, who play more minutes.

Oubre had one of the best quotes of the night after Wednesday's loss when asked about whether making threes at home could boost his confidence. He said he doesn't need anything to boost his confidence.

"I'm always confident. Just look at my jacket," Oubre said while wearing a black coat with the word 'wave' stitched on the front.

Oubre's belief in himself never wavers and that confidence may be growing even more than usual with the way he's played lately. 

That, in theory, is a good thing. Though with Oubre, like many young players, it's important he doesn't take that as a sign he can play outside of himself and outside of the Wizards' system.

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T.J. Oshie says he was held out of the lineup longer than he wanted to be as a precaution

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T.J. Oshie says he was held out of the lineup longer than he wanted to be as a precaution

On Nov. 14, T.J. Oshie suffered a concussion on a hit from Josh Morrissey. The concussion sidelined him for nearly a month. He finally returned to the lineup Tuesday for a game against the Detroit Red Wings, but it sounds like he was medically cleared to return sooner.

During the team’s morning skate on Tuesday, Oshie revealed he had wanted to return a week sooner, but had actually been held out as a precaution.

“I've been good now for about a week and a half,” he said. “This is the longest [concussion] I've sat out. I wanted to play last week. We were pretty careful about it, and the guys that were in the lineup did an outstanding job of allowing them to give me that rest.”

This was the fifth documented concussion of Oshie’s career. While there is still much we do not know or fully understand about concussions and their effects on the brain, it certainly appears as if the severity of a concussion and concussion symptoms can worsen with successive injuries. As a result, the team’s medical personnel took no chances when it came to Oshie and held him out of play even after he was medically cleared to return.

“I felt good so what we did paid off,” Oshie said following Tuesday’s game. “It was an open conversation, a bunch of conversations between me and [Jason Serbus] our head medical trainer and really all our whole team of doctors. We went through it day by day. As it lingered on it was a couple of days by a couple of days and once I started feeling good they let me go. We took it slow and I got a week in of bag skates so legs-wise I felt pretty good out there. That was kind of the process for me.”

Oshie admitted there had been times in the past he thought he was ready to return, but it was clear after returning he had not fully recovered which could have been a factor in the team’s decision to be extra cautious.

“Every concussion's different. This one was different than all the last ones. It's really just not coming back until you're ready. I've had some where you think you're ready to play and you're pretty sure, maybe not 100 percent sure, and then a couple games in you get hit or your head hits something or whatever it is and you don't have a concussion but you have a headache now every time you get hit for sometimes a month or so.”

Oshie suffered a concussion last year after a hit from San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton. He returned to game action 15 days later, but did not look quite right initially and registered only a single point in his first seven games after returning.

If you believe the team’s decision to hold Oshie out had anything to do with that, however, Oshie disputes that notion.

“Last year I don't think I came back too quick,” he said. “I wasn't able to find ways to score, really. I was missing some passes that I normally don't miss. Everyone kind of jumps on the goal-scoring drought stuff, but I felt like I was doing a lot of good things away from the puck. I was keeping the puck out of our net and I was creating chances for teammates to score. It was a learning experience, but I felt like I was 100 percent when I came back last time.”

But why was it even necessary for the team to hold Oshie back? With his repeated history of concussions, not to mention his family’s history with Alzheimer’s, it may be surprising to some that Oshie had hoped to return earlier or that he wanted to return at all.

While the long-term effects of repeated concussions are still being studied and debated within the medical community, it is not a stretch to believe that repeated blows to the head can be detrimental to one’s health.

Oshie was asked if he felt concerned after suffering repeated concussions. His answer? “Not really.”

“I feel like when I go out there, if I get concerned about what's going to happen to me, I'm not going to play at the top of my game,” Oshie said. “Doesn't really concern me. I just kind of roll with the punches every day and if it does, it does. Hopefully it doesn't.”

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