Braves prepared to go to arbitration hearing with Martin Prado

Braves prepared to go to arbitration hearing with Martin Prado

As Matthew mentioned earlier, Martin Prado requested $7.05 million and was offered $6.65 million from the Braves when arbitration figures were exchanged today. With such a small gap between the two sides, one would think that it wouldn’t take much work to get a deal done, but Braves general manager Frank Wren told David O’Brien…

Ward: Retirement of O'Ree's number a 'no-brainer'

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Ward: Retirement of O'Ree's number a 'no-brainer'

It is not Joel Ward’s nature to use his first-ever appearance in the Stanley Cup Final as a civil rights platform. That’s not who he is or what he’s about.

But when ESPN.com’s Joe McDonald asked Ward over the weekend if he believes the NHL should consider retiring Willie O’Ree’s No. 22 in recognition of him breaking the league’s color barrier on Jan. 18, 1958, he was quick to jump on board with the idea.

"That's something to definitely talk about for sure,” said Ward, who upon becoming a member of the Capitals in 2011 requested to wear No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. “It would be great if they did. … With the amount of respect Willie has around the league, it would definitely be something special if that did come up."

Currently, there is only one jersey number retired by every team in the NHL – Wayne Gretzky’s No. 99.

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O’Ree, 80, played in only 45 NHL games with the Boston Bruins (two games in 1957-58 and 43 games in 1960-61), but he paved the way for other black players to follow.  

“It's a no-brainer,” said Ward, whose San Jose Sharks will face the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Without Willie, it would be tough for me to be sitting here today.”

O’Ree has been an ambassador for the NHL for several years. In April he visited Washington to attend a private screening of the movie “Soul on Ice: Past, Present and Future,” and spoke passionately about the racism he faced as a young player who hid from the Bruins organization that he was blind in one eye.

“I was faced with racism, bigotry, prejudice and ignorance and discrimination,” O’Ree recently told a group of students at the Anti-Defamation League Youth Congress in Boston.

“Every time I went to the ice I was faced with racial slurs because of my color and my brother taught me names will never hurt you unless you let them. I had black cats thrown on the ice and told to go back to the cotton fields and pick cotton.”

Ward, 35, faced a different kind of racism after he scored the series-clinching goal for the Capitals in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. In the hours after netting the overtime goal in Game 7 in Boston, Bruins fans tweeted racist remarks about Ward, whose parents were born in Barbados and raised their three sons in the Scarborough neighborhood of Toronto.

“I don't let it bother me at all,” Ward told reporters after the incident in Boston. “It's a few people that just made a couple of terrible comments, and what can you do? I know what I signed up for. I'm a black guy playing a predominantly white sport. It's just going to come with the territory. I'd feel naive or foolish to think that it doesn't exist. It's a battle I think will always be there.”

While he was a member of the Capitals, Ward was invited to throw out the first pitch on Jackie Robinson Day at Nats Park, telling the Washington Times about his deep appreciation and respect for what Robinson faced nearly 70 years ago.

“I always question myself whether would I ever be strong enough to go through something like that,” Ward said. “And the fact that he excelled hitting over .300 and knowing that he could be shot at any minute, every time he stepped up to the plate. He just seemed to tune that out in some miraculous way, so for somebody to pave the way like that and open doors for guys like myself is unbelievable."

It took Major League Baseball 50 years after Robinson’s first game to retire his No. 42 forever.  It’s been more than 58 years since O’Ree broke the NHL’s color barrier and Ward believes it’s time to at least start a similar discussion to honor the man whom many describe as the Jackie Robinson of hockey.

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Stanley Cup Finals simulated on NHL 94 and Caps fans will like the results

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USA TODAY Sports

Stanley Cup Finals simulated on NHL 94 and Caps fans will like the results

Whenever a big sports event is about to take place, people go to great lengths to try to figure out what will happen. Some people use animals to make predictions (remember Paul the octopus?) while others use simulations.

What better way to simulate this year's Stanley Cup Final than with the classic video game NHL 94?

The description of the video says the simulation was done with an updated version of NHL 94 from NHL94.com.

Las Vegas may have the Penguins as the favorites in the series, but clearly the wise guys did not do their research. This foolproof simulation has the Sharks sweeping the Penguins in four games. Sidney Crosby also manages just one goal and one assist in the series.

Call your bookie, you've got the inside scoop on what's going to happen in the Finals.

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Showalter reiterates that Jimenez gets next start

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Showalter reiterates that Jimenez gets next start

BALTIMORE—Ubaldo Jimenez will be the Orioles starter on Thursday, Buck Showalter said. 

“He’s had some really good bullpen sessions that don’t transfer to game day,” Showalter said. 

“The bullpen sessions are fine and dandy. It’s about the game.” 

Showalter thinks that mechanics are at the root of Jimenez’s problems.

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“The same reason why he has a deceptive delivery is why he has trouble staying in sync with it. Very frustrating for him and the pitching coach. It’s part of why he’s in the zone that he’s effective,” Showalter said.

Jimenez has had trouble keeping runners on base. On Saturday, he allowed four stolen bases.

“Sometimes he loses focus or concentration,” Showalter said. 

If Jimenez didn’t start, the logical choice to replace him would Vance Worley, who worked 4 1/3 innings in relief of Jimenez when he was knocked out in the second inning on Saturday. 

“How do you know what he’s going to do as a starter?” Showalter asked about Worley, who started twice last month.

“[Worley is] one of the reasons why our bullpen has been healthy and stays intact,” Showalter said. 

He would prefer having Worley and T.J. McFarland as long relievers. 

“It’s hard to relate to a lot of people how important the job that Vance and Mac have done for us,” Showalter said.

MORE ORIOLES: KIM'S FIRST MAJOR LEAGUE HOME RUN HELPS ORIOLES TO 6-4 WIN