Redskins

Red Sox look for innings in Dempster

Red Sox look for innings in Dempster

BOSTON (AP) The Boston Red Sox have the reliable starter they sought in Ryan Dempster.

He's pitched at least 200 innings in four of the past five seasons, impressive to general manager Ben Cherington but not so special to Dempster.

``That's your responsibility as a starting pitcher in the big leagues,'' Dempster said Wednesday at a news conference after his $26.5 million, two-year deal was finalized. ``The norm used to be 300 and somehow we worked it down to like 200. Even 180 seems to suffice.''

He said he works hard to stay in shape ``so that I can take on that workload.''

Boston had just one starter reach the 200-mark this year, with Jon Lester pitching 205 1-3 innings.

``It's important,'' Cherington said. ``Ryan's got a history of being very effective and a really good pitcher. The consistency he's shown in taking the ball every fifth day was important to us. I think as a team when you start having to fill in for guys, if we don't have a reliable rotation and you start filling in with guys from down below or guys from the bullpen or whatever, it's not so much that move but you've inevitably weakened another area of your team.''

Dempster gets $13.25 million a year and would earn an additional $250,000 each season for pitching 190 innings.

``We went into this offseason wanting to add a proven starter to the rotation, someone that has a history of success, reliability and someone who we thought would embrace coming to Boston and everything that comes with pitching and playing in Boston, on and off the field,'' Cherington said. ``We think Ryan is the perfect fit for that.''

The 35-year-old right-hander adds experience to a rotation that underachieved this year as the Red Sox went 69-93 and finished last in the AL East in their only season under manager Bobby Valentine. He was fired and replaced by John Farrell.

``Obviously there's a lot of room to go up,'' Dempster said. ``Ben and the organization have done an incredible job of adding a lot of really good players and good baseball guys. So we're just going to go into spring training and work as hard as we can and go out there every day and leave it all on the field and play as hard as we can to get the best out of each other.''

Lester and Clay Buchholz had disappointing years and John Lackey returns after missing the season following elbow-ligament replacement surgery. Left-hander Felix Doubront was in the rotation for most of the season.

Dempster reached the major leagues in 1998 with the Florida Marlins and has a 124-124 record with a 4.33 ERA. A Canadian, he said he is undecided about playing in the World Baseball Classic.

But he is confident the Red Sox can reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

``That's why we play,'' he said. ``The money and things like that in baseball are great. But I came here because I believe this team has a chance of winning as much as anybody else. I've always believed that should be your mentality going into any season. Because it's proven day in, day out every team's going to win 50 games, every team's going to lose 50 games. It's what you do with the other 62 that matter.''

He went 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA this year. After starting 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA in his ninth season with the Chicago Cubs, he was traded to the Texas Rangers and went 7-3 with a 5.03 ERA. That was his first stint in the American League.

``It's going to be a little bit different not being able to hit,'' he joked. ``They're going to miss my bat in the lineup, but we'll get through that.''

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Doc Walker won't 'burn' Washington gear but questions how to celebrate history moving forward

Doc Walker won't 'burn' Washington gear but questions how to celebrate history moving forward

Though the Washington franchise has now entered a new era with the former name of the team soon-to-be retired, an entire 83-year history here remains.

Great players and teams alike still live on in the memory of many, even if the name they played under is no longer. However, figuring out how to celebrate the past that is intertwined with a moniker that has negative connotations can be tricky. It's something former Washington player and current ESPN980 host Doc Walker has been contemplating in the wake of recent news.

RELATED: JASON CAMPBELL CALLS NAME CHANGE BITTERSWEET

Walker wants to continue to honor the history of success of the franchise, while also understanding why the name change needed to happen. For him, it's all about separating the name from everything else Washington has achieved.

“It’s kind of like an emotional separation. I’ve said I do not look at the logo and look at it and think that it’s a swastika. I’m not sitting here about to burn all my gear," Walker said on Doc and Galdi. “But I do have to establish, take a deep dive as to how I’m going to represent it and what’s going to be represented by it.”

Walker's reflection includes understanding the difference is how the name was perceived back when he played in the 80s compared to how it is viewed today. Thirty years ago surely part of the population found it offensive, but Walker believes that the negative connotations and opinions were lesser-known.

Therefore, he still looks to the past with positivity, because there was no ill-intent by which he celebrated the name and the team.

“I’m not trashing my past, and the honor, because we didn’t go about it in a derogatory sense," Walker said. "I wasn’t trying to be a jerk.”

“If I had known that was hateful in the 80s, I never would have represented it," Walker said. "That was not the case, it was a level of pride and it was something that you were so honored to embrace."

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Even with that mindset, Walker did admit that he made mistakes by not seeking out more information and alternative views about the name. He's since made an effort to learn more about what problems some have with the moniker, and it made him understand why change was requested.

“It was also some ignorance because I never went out of my way to find out what Native Americans thought. I did ask around and when I heard it was negative I immediately dropped it," Walker said. "I had just one conversation, that’s all I needed. It didn’t matter."

The reason Walker has still been able to celebrate the past while seeing all sides of the argument stems from the same mentality he is trying to put forward now. His fondness of the history of the Washington franchise isn't unilaterally connected to the name, but rather the memories that were created by teams and players. Even without the focus of the name, there was so much to celebrate over the years.

"It didn’t take away the Burgundy and Gold… the Hogs, the Hogettes, all these things that went on that were different," Walker said. "We were still able to be in love with the colors, Hoggettes. But it didn’t kill us.”

With the name now on its way out, Walker believes the same can be done in the future. There is no reason to look down at the incredible moments that have taken place over the years and the players who have come through the franchise. They can be separated from the name, and still celebrated and honored.

However, he does admit that it will be a challenge. The current landscape and negative aura around the name will not go away, even when looking at the past. That leaves Walker wondering how exactly history will be remembered in Washington.

“This right now. This is like, how do we go from this point forward with our past, our stuff. What do you treat it like?" Walker said. “That to me has to be addressed. It’s going to take time.”

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Mystics face tough first week of new WNBA schedule in bid to defend championship

Mystics face tough first week of new WNBA schedule in bid to defend championship

Right out of the gate of the 2020 season, the Washington Mystics will face a challenging schedule to begin their repeat campaign. 

The WNBA announced the team's docket for the shortened 22-game season on Monday, which features two head-to-head matchups with each team in the league and eight nationally televised contests. 

Three of the Mystics' five games will be against teams that have true championship aspirations. The team will follow up its season opener (July 25, 5:00 p.m. ET) against the Indiana Fever, with back-to-back WNBA Finals rematches against the Connecticut Sun on July 28 and the Seattle Storm on July 30. 

Even though Connecticut is without some key figures from last year's team, they are still a threat after adding DeWanna Bonner in the offseason. Seattle, of course, has two of the best players to ever play in the W in Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird returning. 

RELATED: DELLE DONNE REPORTEDLY DENIED MEDICAL OPT-OUT

Less than a week later, the Mystics will go face-to-face with the Las Vegas Aces. In what is beginning to turn into a continuous rivalry between Vegas and DC, the two will surely have that contest circled. However, the two biggest characters, Liz Cambage and Natasha Cloud, both opted-out of the season. 

That is why these opening games will be a challenge for Washington. The team is presumably going to be without four of their five starters from last season, assuming Elena Delle Donne decides not to play and forgo her salary. 

There are four 'new' players at camp this season including Kiara Leslie (who missed her entire first season due to an injury), Essence Carson, Leilani Mitchell and Alaina Coates. 

With training camp also condensed, getting the new players up to speed and ready for a new role will be important. It might take a while before a new, open offense that isn't centered around Delle Donne takes shape. Head coach Mike Thibault says that the team will be able to spread out their offense more and not center around Emma Meesseman or a central piece. Still, that will take time to develop especially with Mitchell being the team's new point guard.

But while the opening couple of games will be a tall task, that means the team comes together true to form later in the year and have a lighter schedule. 

"It's hard to assess I mean, you know, you haven't seen anybody else play," head coach Mike Thibault said. "I haven't really worried about the schedule, other than looking at who our first couple games are I think it'll be fun for people to see a national TV game against Seattle in that first week, I don't know if that will be fun for us but we'll see. But you know, I think it just, it's hard to judge other teams when you don't even know who everybody's got right now."

No teams will have back-to-backs in the schedule that runs until Sept. 12. 

After Washington's first four contests, they'll have three-off days before a stretch of six games in 11 days. That series of games will likely be a measuring stick of where the team stands. Both Aces contests are in that stretch, along with two games against non-playoff teams from a year ago. 

The schedule will bode well for the Mystics to make a mid-to-late half of the season push. It's just a matter of if can they come together early enough that the push puts them in a favorable spot for the playoffs. 

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