Saturday, December 16, 2017
Sports

Fort Bragg game a mission for Marlins

ATLANTA — It wasn't that the work day began before dawn at Fort Bragg, N.C. It was the relentless physical pace in striving for excellence that heightened the appreciation Mike Dunn already felt for the military personnel who toil tirelessly at the world's largest military base.

The Marlins reliever got a closeup look at their spirit and dedication during four days of joining in training and interacting with soldiers as part of a group of major-league players who participated in Fox Sports' "Spring Training to the Troops" tour in February 2014.

Dunn recalls the experience as life-changing, and he is excited about the opportunity he and his teammates have to provide a few hours of entertainment for the troops at Fort Bragg when the Marlins face the Braves there tonight in what is believed to be the first regular-season game staged by a professional sports league on a U.S. military base.

It will be televised at 8 p.m. by ESPN.

"I've always appreciated our service men and women, but going there and spending time with them one-on-one really gave me a different outlook on it," Dunn said. "So being able to play this game, give them a chance to watch a game, I think is going to be an awesome experience for everybody.

"To visit there was unforgettable, and I think this game will be unforgettable, too."

The 12,500-seat Fort Bragg Field has risen from an abandoned golf course on the massive U.S. Army base over the past four months as a show of gratitude by Major League Baseball and the players' association, who spent about $5 million on the project.

The effort to shape and prepare the field to major-league standards and erect temporary stands and facilities is impressive. But the focus will be on the troops at the base that encompasses 251 square miles and has more than 50,000 active duty personnel.

"It really is an honor to be able to go. I'm excited about it," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "I feel like the energy is going to be great. From our standpoint, it should be an appreciation. It seems like not only baseball but all sports and the nation have been a lot better lately about honoring our military and respecting what they do for us."

Plans for the game were finalized during spring training, and Marlins players have embraced the chance to be part of the historic occasion for various reasons.

The connection is personal for LF Christian Yelich, whose younger brother Cameron is a U.S. Marine who has been stationed in Japan and is currently home on leave in California.

"I asked him if he wanted to come, but I don't think he's going to make it out. But he knows we're going there and he's going to watch on TV," Yelich said, adding that he supported his brother joining the corps out of high school. "I'm proud of his decision, and that's a tough commitment. I feel like the people who serve our country are the best our nation has to offer.

"I think we're all looking forward to it, giving back to the people who serve our nation."

INTERNATIONAL SIGNINGS: The Braves agreed to terms with SS Kevin Maitan and C Abraham Gutierrez among their class of 13. Maitan, 16, a switch-hitter landed a $4.25 million signing bonus and is widely regarded as the prize of this year's international signing period. Also, the A's signed the top Cuban prospect, OF Lazaro Armenteros, who received a $3 million signing bonus.

BLUE JAYS: INF Ryan Goins, one of two position players to pitch for Toronto in Friday's 19-inning loss to the Indians, was placed on the 15-day DL with a sore right forearm.

INDIANS: 3B Juan Uribe left after being hit on the right hand by a pitch in the sixth inning. X-rays were negative, but Uribe may have lost a fingernail.

METS: OF Curtis Granderson, out since straining his right calf Tuesday, should return to the starting lineup today, manager Terry Collins said. … OF Juan Lagares, out since June 14 with a sprained left thumb, was activated from the 15-day disabled list.

NATIONALS: Manager Dusty Baker said he spoke with RF Bryce Harper for not immediately running on a long hit in Friday night's game. Harper's fourth-inning single could have been at least a double if he hadn't stopped to admire the shot off the wall.

REDS: 1B Joey Votto was scratched from the lineup because of a sore right shoulder.

TWINS: SS Eduardo Escobar left in the third inning with a strained left hamstring and is day to day.

YANKEES: INF/OF Nick Swisher opted out of his minor-league deal, saying he wanted to spend the rest of the year with his family after the birth of his second daughter. Swisher, 35, said he's not retiring.

Comments

Boys basketball: Lakewood 45, Gibbs 44

ST. PETERSBURG — Once the lights dimmed in the gymnasium and the capacity crowd dispersed, Lakewood coach Anthony Lawrence spotted Gibbs coach Larry Murphy strolling past the the bleachers."Hey, Murph. Do we have to do this every time?" Lawrenc...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Boys basketball: Nature Coast 78, Central 29

Boys basketball: Nature Coast 78, Central 29

BROOKSVILLE – Once again supporting its place as the top program in Hernando County, Nature Coast maintained its undefeated record in a dominant win over rival Central.While the Bears were able to upset the Sharks to win the Class 6A, District ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Girls basketball: Plant 66, Steinbrenner 31

LUTZ — Here's some discouraging news for any team that has to play Plant this season or in the next few seasons: The Panthers beat Steinbrenner 66-31 Friday night. Of those 66 points, 48 were scored by a sophomore and two freshmen.Freshman powe...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Boys basketball: Plant City 79, Tampa Bay Tech 74

Boys basketball: Plant City 79, Tampa Bay Tech 74

TAMPA — Traveling to play at Tampa Bay Tech is a test for any area basketball team these days because the Titans are tough and the crowd is loud.Plant City prepared for all of the above, answered most of the questions and passed the exam Friday...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Nobody has Jameis Winston’s back more than Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator Todd Monken insists

Nobody has Jameis Winston’s back more than Dirk Koetter, offensive coordinator Todd Monken insists

Nobody is a bigger supporter of Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston than head coach Dirk Koetter.That was the passionate message that offensive coordinator/receivers coach Todd Monken unloaded at his news conference Friday, saying that reports that Winst...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Westbrook, Embiid put on show in triple OT thriller

Westbrook, Embiid put on show in triple OT thriller

PHILADELPHIA — Russell Westbrook had 27 points, 17 rebounds and 15 assists, and the Thunder and the 76ers went basket-for-basket in a three-overtime thriller before Oklahoma City pulled out a 119-117 victory Friday night. Andre Roberson scored the wi...
Updated: 4 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Dec. 15

Friday’s scoreboardGirls soccerCountryside 7, Clearwater 0Osceola 9, Bradenton Bayshore 0Palm Harbor U. 2, Plant 1Boys soccerPalm Harbor U. 0, Plant 0Lennard 4, Armwood 1
Updated: 4 hours ago

Saturday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBoxingMiddleweights: Lemieux vs. Saunders9:30 p.m.HBOCollege basketballButler vs. PurduenoonFoxMiami at George WashingtonnoonCBSSNLouisville vs. MemphisnoonESPN2Detroit vs. MichigannoonESPNUNC-Greensboro at N.C. StatenoonFSFSeton Hall at Rutgers...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Ryan Callahan out at least 3-4 weeks for Lightning

Ryan Callahan out at least 3-4 weeks for Lightning

When Lightning wing Ryan Callahan took a nasty spill into the boards Thursday night, it didn't look good.Turns out, it wasn't. Callahan will be sidelined indefinitely with an upper body injury, evaluated after three to four weeks, per GM Steve Yzerma...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rangers hold off Pacific-leading Kings

Rangers hold off Pacific-leading Kings

NEW YORK — Rick Nash scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:27 left to lead the Rangers to a 4-2 victory over the Pacific Division-leading Kings on Friday night. Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller scored to help New York win for the second time i...
Updated: 5 hours ago