Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Sports

MLB likely to turn old pickoff play into a balk

NEW YORK — Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano stepped toward third base and bluffed a pickoff throw, then twirled and made a soft toss to first. No dice; the Rays' runners didn't fall for the trick. They'd seen it too often.

Starting next year, no one might see that play again.

Major League Baseball is poised to pick off the much-maligned fake-to-third, throw-to-first ploy that often succeeds only in getting fans to shout "Balk!"

"I think they should get rid of it," Yankees reliever Boone Logan said. "Us lefties can't do that. If we do, they call a balk."

"Besides, how often does it work? Maybe once in never," he said.

The playing rules committee approved a proposal to make it a balk, too, with MLB executives and umpires in agreement. The players union vetoed the plan for this season to discuss it further. MLB is allowed to implement the change after a one-year wait.

Under the new wording, a pitcher could not fake to third unless he first stepped off the rubber. If he stayed on the rubber, as Soriano did Wednesday night, it would be a balk.

Clemens trial: Yankees GM Brian Cashman, testifying in the perjury trial of Rogers Clemens, said he never suspected the pitcher of taking performance-enhancing drugs, calling him "off the charts in work ethic and desire." Cashman also said Clemens asked for personal trainer Brian McNamee to be hired by the team after a poor playoff performance in 1999. Clemens is charged with lying to Congress in 2008 when he denied using steroids or human growth hormone.

Cashman met with Clemens after he lasted two innings against Boston in Game 3 of the AL playoffs. Said Cashman: "He talked about how he clicked with Brian McNamee. Brian knew how to train him, push the right buttons on him."

The Yankees hired McNamee the next season. McNamee has said he injected Clemens multiple times with steroids and human growth hormone. He is expected to testify next week.

Jays sign Vlad: Vladimir Guerrero, 37, agreed to a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, but GM Alex Anthopoulos cautioned there's no guarantee the 16-year major-league veteran with 449 career homers will join the big club. Toronto will send him to extended spring training in Dunedin to assess him.

Valentine backs Beckett: Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine downplayed the fan uproar over pitcher Josh Beckett's golf outing after he was taken out of the rotation because of stiffness. Beckett, who had a sore upper back muscle last week, was scratched from a start and played golf on an off day.

"I've never seen a pitcher get hurt playing golf," Valentine said before Beckett was hammered for seven runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Indians on Thursday.

Valentine had said he didn't think the back would be made worse by golfing. Had Beckett been sidelined be a serious problem, Valentine may have felt differently. "I didn't think he was injured when he was skipped," Valentine said.

Red Sox P.A. tribute: The Red Sox went without a public address announcer for their game against Cleveland as part of a tribute to Carl Beane, "the Voice of Fenway Park," who died Wednesday after having a heart attack while driving.

Angels: C Chris Iannetta will miss six to eight weeks because of an injury to his right wrist that requires surgery. No specifics on the injury were revealed.

Cardinals: The team will retire the No. 10 jersey of former manager Tony La Russa today, and representatives of the A's and White Sox will be on hand.

Yankees: LHP Andy Pettitte, 40 years old and returning from a one-year retirement, pronounced himself physically and mentally ready to rejoin the rotation. He is scheduled to start Sunday at home against the Mariners. "You want to get that first out behind you," Pettitte said.

Comments
For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

UPDATE, 6:45: Cash said Smith will continue to play a lot, getting time in LF and RF, meaning something of a rotation system for rookie Johnny Field and veteran Carlos Gomez.UPDATE, 4:49: Kiermaier is batting leadoff and playing center as expected, w...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Zero Bucs players on NFL top 100 list for 2018

Zero Bucs players on NFL top 100 list for 2018

Just to preface this, the NFL Network's annual countdown of the league's top 100 players is a made-for-TV deal, good for summer offseason conversation but not carrying any huge amount of real significance.Having said that, it's worth noting that for ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Norris Trophy could be good consolation for Lightning’s Victor Hedman

Victor Hedman is talking from a hotel room in Las Vegas and admits he's a little jet-lagged."Actually, very jet-lagged," Hedman says.That's what happens when you take a flight from Sweden to the party capital of the world.But he knows exactly what he...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Big Ten reaps recruiting bounty in Tampa Bay

Big Ten reaps recruiting bounty in Tampa Bay

Largo High defensive back Solomon Brown had plenty of college options with offers from 20 Division I-A schools. Still, the three-star recruit did not need to go through a prolonged process to figure out where he wanted to go.Two weeks ago, Brown comm...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Skyway 10K returning in March 2019, renewed for 5 more years

Skyway 10K returning in March 2019, renewed for 5 more years

ST. PETERSBURG — After raising $560,000 for its inaugural run on March 4, St Petersburg’s Skyway 10K will be returning in 2019 and will have the support of governmental agencies for years to come, run organizers said Tuesday.The run, which had around...
Updated: 7 hours ago
So, how exactly did the Rays end up losing Monday?

So, how exactly did the Rays end up losing Monday?

The Rays lost Monday's game when Sergio Romo failed them in the ninth inning.Called on to protect what was whittled to a one-run lead from 4-0, Romo got off to a bad start, walking the first batter on four pitches and then allowing a single to the se...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Mike Hoffman traded twice in wake of harassment, cyberbullying claims

Mike Hoffman traded twice in wake of harassment, cyberbullying claims

The Ottawa Senators traded winger Mike Hoffman on Tuesday, hoping to solve an ugly off-ice issue involving star defenseman Erik Karlsson and his wife. The Senators sent Hoffman to the San Jose Sharks, who then dealt him to the Florida Panthers. All t...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Salary-cap increase makes for ‘more fun’ NHL offseason

Salary-cap increase makes for ‘more fun’ NHL offseason

Thanks, Vegas. That’s what NHL general managers are saying this offseason after the Stanley Cup Final run of the expansion Golden Knights contributed to what’s expected to be a healthy increase for the salary cap. With elite center John Tavares, No. ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay boys soccer players of the year

Tampa Bay Times’ all-Tampa Bay boys soccer players of the year

Hillsborough player of the year: F Eric Ugarte, Sr., Plant CityThe numbers: Ugarte scored 21 goals and added 11 assists to lead the Raiders to their first state title in soccer. He scored 71 goals in his career.Something about Eric: The skilled ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays continue to struggle in close games

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays continue to struggle in close games

The Rays blow a four-run lead in Houston and lose on a walkoff hit to the Astros in the opener of their three-game series. It's the 19th one-run loss for the Rays this season as they continue to struggle in close games. Fortunately, reinforcements ar...
Updated: 10 hours ago