Nationals

Virginia has new theory on QBs: Let's play 2

Virginia has new theory on QBs: Let's play 2

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Virginia coach Mike London finally settled the Cavaliers' dual quarterback situation, deciding to play both Phillips Sims and Michael Rocco - and the system has received strong initial reviews.

The Cavaliers (3-6, 1-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) got touchdown passes from both quarterbacks last week in ending a six-game losing streak with a 33-6 victory on the road at North Carolina State.

London says both will play again Saturday when Virginia hosts Miami (5-4, 4-2).

``Both guys have things that they do, different skill sets that they bring to the table. Michael is a guy that's been in the offense, knows the offense,'' London said of Rocco, who started all last season.

``Phillip has a strong arm and is kind of learning on the job, so to speak. And he has some skills himself that we like, and can get the ball to some of the other playmakers,'' London said.

The arrangement works for Sims, a transfer from Alabama who arrived last May and took over as the starter four games ago. He struggled, but said lots of reps in an off week helped iron some things out.

``Especially in a timing-oriented offense like ours, you have to have reps,'' he said. ``And not only just reps within the offense, reps with certain receivers, because everybody runs routes differently.

``No matter how much you try to teach all your receivers to run routes at the same time and at the same yard distance, everything like that, everybody runs routes a little distinctly.''

Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's game plan also helped, Sims said.

``The play-calling got me into a good rhythm early,'' he said of his 8-for-10 passing day for 115 yards with a 38-yard TD to Tim Smith. ``Just quick passes to get the ball out of my hands real quick and get guys the ball in space. It got me into a rhythm early, and it just carried on throughout the game.''

The Cavaliers need to beat the Hurricances, North Carolina and in-state rival Virginia Tech to have a chance of going to a bowl game, and the Hurricanes bring their own intrigue to the noon matchup.

They lead the conference's Coastal Division and would win it if they beat Virginia and then Duke next weekend. But the school still hasn't determined if it plans to accept any postseason invitation or self-impose a ban as it did last season because of an ongoing NCAA investigation into its compliance practices.

A victory would make Miami eligible for a bowl game, moving the Hurricanes closer to the ACC title game and potentially a spot in the Orange Bowl. So this year, the decision figures to be even more difficult, either for the school to make or for fans - if another self-imposed ban comes - to accept.

``I'll definitely have mixed emotions,'' Miami quarterback Stephen Morris said. ``I'm not in control of that. No one on this team is.''

Miami has more pressing concerns than anything that goes past Saturday: Virginia has beaten the Hurricanes in their last two meetings; and Miami's defense will likely be without linebacker Denzel Perryman (ankle) after safety Deon Bush (shoulder) was already been ruled out of the contest.

Virginia will be without freshman defensive end Eli Harold for an issue described as ``medical.''

With the Cavaliers suddenly clinging to their own bowl hopes, they have the Hurricanes' attention.

``We know we'll get their best,'' Miami safety A.J. Highsmith said. ``But we've got motivation as well.''

And the Cavaliers' two-quarterback approach only adds further intrigue.

``They're both good,'' second-year Hurricanes coach Al Golden said. ``Obviously, they've won with both of them. They're hitting their outlets. They'll throw it to the two tailbacks out of the backfield.

``I'm sure (Virginia) sees them differently in terms of how they operate. But right now we're just preparing for the totality of the Virginia offense, not really just one quarterback or the other.''

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AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.

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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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