Nationals

Querrey aces way into Auckland semifinals

Querrey aces way into Auckland semifinals

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) Sam Querrey's booming serve carried him past Jesse Levine 6-4, 7-6 (5) on Thursday and into the semifinals of the Heineken Open.

Fourth-seeded Querrey had 16 aces, to go with the 19 he had in his second-round match against Olivier Rochus, to earn a semifinal place opposite second-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Querrey and Levine, both 25, first played each other as teenagers at a futures tournament in 2006 when Canada's Levine was a winner in three sets.

Their careers have since diverged and Querrey has lifted his world ranking to 22 while Levine was forced to qualify in Auckland on his current ranking of 104.

Thursday's match was his 10th of the year after he also qualified at last week's Brisbane International.

Top-seeded David Ferrer downed Slovakia's Lukas Lacko 6-2, 6-1 in only 52 minutes. The Spaniard rebounded after struggling with the pace of the courts in his opening match on Wednesday when he needed three sets and two hours to beat Lu Yen-hsun of Taiwan.

Ferrer will face the winner of the last quarterfinal, due on court later Thursday, between third-seeded Tommy Haas and Gael Monfils.

``No match is easy but I played a very good game, better than yesterday,'' he said. ``I had a good feeling with my game, with my shots and yesterday it was a little surprise for me that the court was faster. But today I felt better.''

The win kept Ferrer on target for his fourth singles title in Auckland and his third in as many years, feats that will match those of Roy Emerson of Australia.

Querrey kept up his drive toward the final with a narrow win over the tenacious Levine. The American won 80 percent of points on first serve, dropping serve only once in the match - in the third game of the first set.

``The big serve is really helpful, especially in these tiebreakers,'' Querrey said. ``Fortunately I was playing well today. Jesse made it tough today. We've been playing against each other since we were about 13 years old and it's tough every time.''

Kohlschreiber reached the Auckland semifinals for the fourth time in nine attempts, posting his 21st singles victory at the tournament at the expense of Belgian Xavier Malisse.

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Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman tests positive for COVID-19 with Opening Day 12 days away

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman tests positive for COVID-19 with Opening Day 12 days away

The New York Yankees could be without their top relief arm on Opening Night against the Nationals.

Manager Aaron Boone announced Saturday that Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman is experiencing “mild symptoms” after testing positive for the coronavirus and will be away from the team “for the foreseeable future.” Chapman is the third Yankees player to contract the virus after infielder DJ LeMahieu and reliever Luis Cessa tested positive in early July.

Boone’s announcement comes 12 days before the Yankees are scheduled to take on the Nationals in D.C. to kick off MLB’s abbreviated 2020 season. New York will play three games against Washington in the only series between the two clubs this year.

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However, if any team is built to absorb the loss of its closer, it’s the Yankees. Boone said that reliever Zack Britton would be the “natural guy” to handle ninth-inning duties if Chapman isn’t ready for the start of the season. New York’s bullpen also includes Adam Ottavino, Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle, each of whom—like Britton—would be a closer on most other teams.

On Friday, MLB and the players union announced that 28 of the 30 MLB teams had at least one player or staff member test positive for the coronavirus between intake screening and monitoring testing. Overall, 83 of the 11,149 samples collected have come back positive—a rate of 0.7 percent.

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Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Howie Kendrick among several Nationals players still not in Summer Camp

Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Howie Kendrick among several Nationals players still not in Summer Camp

WASHINGTON --More than a week into the Major League Baseball’s reboot, and its gleefully-named and grotesquely-sponsored Summer Camp, the Nationals are still in wait-and-see mode.

Two players tested positive for Coronavirus at intake screening. The team is not obligated to release their names and cannot do so without the player’s permission. So, what we do know is Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Howie Kendrick are among multiple players not yet in Nationals Park for workouts 12 days before the season is scheduled to begin.

Their health and safety is paramount. However, when they are not working with the team, the organization needs to formulate a baseball-specific plan to go forward without them, should the need arise. And, that time is close because the preparation window is closing.

RELATED: HOW WILL MLB'S NEW EXTRA INNING WITH A RUNNER ON SECOND RULE WORK STRATEGICALLY?

“Right now, we’re taking things one day at a time,” Davey Martinez said Saturday. “I’ve got to put eyes on these guys and see where they’re at. I know Soto was actually working out pretty good in the Dominican back home, so was Robles. I talked to those guys. We talked to the strength-and-conditioning guys. They think they’re in really good shape. They worked really hard. We’ll have to get them on the field.

“The biggest thing is they can be in great shape, but how much baseball shape have they done? To me, where something happens, if anybody strains an oblique, you’re looking at a significant amount of time. You’re probably looking at almost a whole season here with only 60 games. We got to be careful, we’ve got to see where they’re at. Then once they get here, we’ll determine whether they’re going to be ready or not.”

The Nationals have three exhibition games scheduled before the season opener against Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees. They can carry 30 players into that game. Martinez is trying to worry about who is in the stadium since he has no control over the clearances for the players who are not.

“We’re in a difficult situation,” Martinez said. “We really are with these guys. We’ve done everything we can. I know our strength guys have Zoomed with them and actually put them on some kind of workout program and watching them do what they can do in their apartment. You’re talking about some of our younger players, too. We don’t want to get them hurt. We’ve got to be smart. We’re also talking about a shorter season where we’ve got to win games right away. We’ll see how these guys come in and for me, it’s the baseball shape....Standing on their feet for seven, eight, nine innings.”

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Catcher Raudy Read played first base during Saturday’s intrasquad workout at Nationals Park. He was there in part because Read could well be a first baseman in the long-term. The Nationals also needed another body at the spot because Eric Thames -- their lone true first baseman available -- played for the opposing side.

The team variations spread across the infield and into the outfield because Soto, Robles and Luis Garcia remain in quarantine.

Martinez said “hopefully” the players in quarantine will be with the team soon. Even if they are, their window to be prepared for Cole is extremely limited, which is going to force the Nationals to start making contingency plans.