Nationals

UF's Muschamp to Bama's Saban: We can switch spots

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UF's Muschamp to Bama's Saban: We can switch spots

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) If Alabama coach Nick Saban doesn't like the way the Bowl Championship Series is playing out, Florida coach Will Muschamp has a solution.

``Well, I can switch and go to Atlanta if he doesn't want to go to Atlanta and play the Dawgs,'' Muschamp said Monday. ``Be careful what you ask for, Nick.''

Saban said Sunday that is isn't fair that the fifth-ranked Gators likely will play in the Sugar Bowl over the loser of the Southeastern Conference title game. No. 2 Alabama plays No. 3 Georgia for the SEC title Saturday, with the winner advancing to the BCS title game in Miami and the loser probably landing in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.

``It's not really a great scenario,'' Saban said. ``You play your way into the (SEC) championship game, which means you're the best team in your division. ... It doesn't seem quite right, but it is what it is. I don't really know what me commenting about it is going to do to change it. But I don't feel good about it.''

Muschamp worked for Saban at LSU and with the NFL's Miami Dolphins, and the two remain on good terms.

Florida (11-1) is essentially locked into the Sugar Bowl. The Gators are ranked No. 4 in the latest BCS standings, and even though they are off this weekend, probably won't fall. The top four teams are guaranteed spots in BCS games as long as no conference sends more than two teams. It will be nearly impossible for a two-loss Alabama or Georgia team to stay ahead of Florida.

The Gators, though, aren't lobbying for anything.

``We knew the rules of engagement when we started the season,'' Muschamp said. ``I'm not one that's going to sit there and complain about it. It is what it is. We had our opportunity in Jacksonville, and we didn't get it done.

``That's our fault. Nobody else's.''

Florida's lone loss came against Georgia in Jacksonville. The Gators turned the ball over six times, including once at Georgia's 5-yard line with 2:06 remaining. Florida needed a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 17. Jeff Driskel found tight end Jordan Reed for a 13-yard gain, but Reed fumbled while trying to gain extra yards.

Georgia recovered and ran out the clock.

The 17-9 loss cost the Gators a berth in the SEC title game and a shot at the national title.

Muschamp said he's looking forward to college football's four-team playoff, but won't complain that it's not in place already.

``It is what it is this year,'' Muschamp said. ``I'm not a guy that's going to sit there and belly-ache about the rules. They were set before the season started. We knew the deal. I'm not going to sit there and complain about it. We should have won the game.''

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Managers in Nationals-Orioles series embrace shared history as they face off for the first time

Managers in Nationals-Orioles series embrace shared history as they face off for the first time

Brandon Hyde and Davey Martinez have spent countless days on the same fields, but Tuesday night was the first time they found themselves managing against one another.

Before heading to the nation’s capital to manage the Washington Nationals, Martinez coached under Joe Maddon with the Chicago Cubs from 2015-17. Brandon Hyde was also in Chicago during those years, coaching first base and then succeeding Martinez as Maddon’s bench coach prior to his hire in Baltimore last offseason.

While both figures are competitive enough to not need any added motivation against the opposing team, it’s still a fun moment for the two longtime friends to appreciate.

“Oh, he’s awesome,” Martinez told reporters in the visitor’s dugout before Tuesday’s game when asked about his relationship with Hyde. “I know him and his family very well, almost like family of mine. When we got in town we had dinner together, so it was kind of fun.”

Martinez went on to emphasize he knows Hyde will be playing to win, too.

“Obviously we both know he’s very competitive,” Martinez continued. “He knows that we want to win and he wants to win, so put everything aside. We’re going to compete.”

Despite the difference in records and team expectations in 2019, Hyde was pretty clear about his desire to take down his former colleague.

“Obviously me and Dave are very close friends and I wish him all the success in the world,” Hyde echoed during his own pregame availability. “But obviously I hope we beat them these next couple games.”

Martinez is not the only National to have a relationship with Hyde.

“Davey’s over there, Henry Blanco’s very close friend of mine, Joe Dillon the hitting coach I played with in high school, so I have some close relationships on that staff,” Hyde said.

Martinez knows the Nats can’t let their guard down against weaker opponents, Orioles included. As he put it, the Nationals “gotta come out and play baseball like we always do.”

And yet, even though each manager is putting his best foot forward to try to win the game, same as every other night of the season, it’s hard to ignore the unique relationship between the two.

For most, it’s just another night of baseball. But as Brandon Hyde put it most simply, “this will be a little bit different managing against Davey on the other side.”

Orioles-Nationals has yet to fully develop into a true rivalry, but perhaps a few more games that feel just “a little bit different” will help one blossom going forward.

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Max Scherzer feeling 'a lot better' but next start date is still up in the air

Max Scherzer feeling 'a lot better' but next start date is still up in the air

BALTIMORE -- Some pitching clarity was acquired Tuesday.

Erick Fedde will make a spot start Wednesday in the second, and final, game between the Orioles and Nationals. That bumps Stephen Strasburg to Thursday. Max Scherzer's next start remains a question.

The Nationals decided Strasburg would pitch Thursday once they put Scherzer (mid-back strain) on the 10-day injured list July 13. Moving Strasburg a day allows Washington to dispatch its best arms against first-place Atlanta during a four-game series instead of burning one against Baltimore, the worst team in the major leagues.

Scherzer threw Tuesday in the outfield and "said he felt a lot better," according to Davey Martinez. Next is a check Wednesday morning, then further work. Martinez wants Scherzer to throw a bullpen session before making a start. That could happen Thursday in Atlanta. If Scherzer throws a bullpen session then, he could pitch as early as Saturday, when he is first eligible to come off the injured list. 

Scherzer could also pitch Sunday in Atlanta. The Nationals can easily manipulate the situation once they have Scherzer throw a bullpen session. Patrick Corbin will pitch Friday -- receiving an extra day of rest himself -- then Anibal Sanchez would be on turn Saturday after an extra day of rest. 

If Scherzer is ready to go this weekend, the Nationals could have lucked into a position where they pitch all four of their best pitchers on extra rest against first-place Atlanta.

"It's hard to tell with Max," Martinez said. "Max always feels he's ready to pitch. I just want to see him progress."

One of the issues last weekend in Philadelphia was Scherzer's back problem did not improve from Friday to Saturday, prompting the team to eventually decide an injured list stint was best.

In the interim, Austin Voth, who pitched Tuesday, and Fedde receive cameo appearances. Martinez said in Philadelphia the fifth starter spot is "open" between Voth, Fedde and, more distantly, Joe Ross. 

"[Tuesday] I'm just worried about Austin Voth going out there and competing and keeping us in the ballgame," Martinez said. "Worry about [Wednesday on Wednesday]. Both of those guys are part of our future right now. We hope that they both pitch well."

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