Citi Open preview: ATP and WTA tours invading D.C.


Citi Open preview: ATP and WTA tours invading D.C.

Starting Monday professional tennis is backin Washington and with a double your fun kind of vibe, not to mention a new name. Traditionally thistournament is all about the mens (ATP)tour, but the first year under the Citi Open label the Rock Creek hard courts will also host the womens (WTA) version. As for who is specifically in the field, your familiarity with the names may vary. Mardy Fish headlines the ATP side of the aisle, but the second-highest ranked American in the world also sports one of the few recognizablenames in the event, previously known as the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. With the stars of the tennis world competing for gold, silver and bronze over in London, familiar names like Andy Roddick and John Isner, not to mention notable international stars are not in D.C.Same goes for the WTA field, which includes a trio of young seeded American women led by Sloane Stephens, plus former it-girl Melanie Oudin, working her way back up the charts. After playing in College Park last year during a different week, organizers folded that event into one that has been played in the D.C. area since 1969.Fish, one of two top 20 players competing this week in either draw, is the obvious men's favorite. However, despite the lack of star power in the field, do not assume winning this week will be yes, I am going there - shooting fish in a barrel easy for the thirteenth ranked player in the world. No. 17 Alexandr Dolgopolov, South Africa's Kevin Anderson and former top-10 player Tommy Haas round out the top four seeds. All have impressive wins on tour this season and Anderson and Haas have accomplished what Fish has not: win a title in 2012.Fish is also recovering from an ankle injury suffered 10 days ago, which forced him to withdraw in Atlanta. He also has not had much recent success in Washington, but a win this week could springboard the 30-year-old toward a strong close to the season and a successful U.S. Open. Taking home the winners portion of the 1.049 million purse would not be too shabby either (playing in significantly lesserevent compared to the men in terms of their respective tours,the women'stotal purse is220,000).Here is what else you need to know about the 2012 Citi Open:Mens Draw- Finals on August 5Top seed: A six-time tour winner, Fish has twice reached the quarterfinals in Washington, most recently in 2006, but has not won more than a single match in a given year since. He pulled out last year as the No. 2 seed with a heel injury. Others to watch: The Ukrainian Dolgopolov, the No.2 seed, reached the finals in Brisbane earlier this year34-year-old and former top 10 player Hass is the last man to have defeated Roger Federer this year, taking down the eventual Wimbledon champ in the finals at HalleThe 6-foot-8 Anderson defeated Roddick and Isner on his way to way winning a hard courts title in Delray Beach back in FebruaryAmerican Sam Querry is seeded eighth.Blast from the past: Longtime American stalwart and 2002 Washington champion James Blake returns to D.C. for the ninth time. Perhaps being on familiar turf or rather, hard courts will turn around what has been a losing season.Womens Draw- Finals on August 4Top seed: Ranked 28th in the world, 21-year-old Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is aiming for her fourth career title and first in 2012. Though she prefers clay, Pavlyuchenkova showed her court diversity with a run to the quarters on the grass at Eastbourne this summer.Others to watch: No. 3 seed Sloane Stephens tops the three Americans seeded in Washington, including Vania King (4) and Coco Vandeweghe. Stephens, ranked 52 in the world and a rising 19-year African-American talent from Florida, reached the round of 16 at the French Open and round of 32 at Wimbledon. South African Chanelle Scheppers is the No. 2 seed.Blast from the past: Melanie Oudin, remember her? The precocious 17-year-old American stormed the tennis gates in 2009 including a run to the quarters at the U.S. Open and reached a ranking of 31 in 2010. Since there have been more downs then ups, but while currently outside the top 100, Oudin has recently begin move back in the right direction.

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Hunter can't hide his excitement about Orioles return

Hunter can't hide his excitement about Orioles return

NEW YORK—Tommy Hunter couldn’t hide his surprise and delight to be back with the Orioles. It’s been just under 13 months since he was last with the team, and most of the faces were very familiar to him. 

When he arrived in the clubhouse around 11 a.m., he began hugging the guys he knew, and shaking hands and introducing himself to the ones he didn’t know. 

“I’m thrilled. Some of my best friends are in there.  So, it’s been a wild year and a half. It was pretty exciting times in our household last night,” Hunter said. 

Since he was traded by the Orioles to the Chicago Cubs on July 31, 2015, Hunter spent nearly three months with the Cubs and signed with Cleveland in February. He was released by the Indians on Thursday. 

How did he end up back with the team he loved? 

“I have no idea. There was a slip, a fall, a break of the back, three offseason core surgeries and a few things that happened in the meantime. I had a kid. There was a lot of things that happened to get me back to this spot. It’s come full circle and, to be honest with you, I couldn't be happier,” Hunter said. 

On the day he was traded, Hunter was shocked and sad. 

“I’m not going to stomp out of here like I didn’t like it because I loved it here,” Hunter said then.

And now, he has returned. 

“It doesn’t go away. There were a lot of memories here. A lot of lasting memories, not only for me but for my family as well. Baltimore is special to me, my family, it’s always going to hold a special place. Walking back through the doors and seeing all the faces I just saw makes you smile pretty big,” Hunter said.  

Hunter was on a rehab assignment with Columbus when he was released on Thursday. In July, he fell down stairs carrying his young son and hurt his back. He last pitched on Wednesday. 

In an ideal world, the Orioles might have wanted him to pitch a game or two in Norfolk. But, they need him and wanted to keep Hunter away from other teams who wanted him. 

“I’m ready to roll. I threw nine pitches, I think on Wednesday, in an inning in Indianapolis. I’ve been pain-free for quite a while now, quite a while. I’m here,” Hunter said. 

Now that Hunter has turned 30, fans expecting a quieter Hunter will be disappointed. He’s going to be the same, he says.

“I’m a pretty open book. I’m a pretty honest guy. Sometimes honesty isn’t the best approach and people can’t handle it too much all the time. That’s the way I was raised. I’m going to be my jubilant self and try to bring joy to other people’s lives…and mine as well,” Hunter said.

RELATED:Tommy Hunter returns to Orioles

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Orioles bring Tommy Hunter back to bolster bullpen

Orioles bring Tommy Hunter back to bolster bullpen

NEW YORK---Desperate for arms in the bullpen, the Orioles reached back to their past, and signed Tommy Hunter, who was released by Cleveland on Thursday. 

Hunter had an action-packed five seasons with the Orioles, and was traded four years and one day after he and Chris Davis were acquired from Texas, to the Chicago Cubs. 

Now, Hunter who was in the midst of a rehab assignment at Columbus after he suffered a back injury when he fell carrying his young son down stairs, returns to the Orioles, and they’re happy to have him.

From 2011-15, Hunter was 21-20 with a 4.22 ERA with the Orioles, and in 21 games with Cleveland, was 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA.

The Orioles also recalled right-handed pitcher Oliver Drake from Norfolk and designated outfielder Julio Borbon and left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland for assignment. 

“Well, we need some arms. We knew we could get through one day, and we knew we were going to go to seven today. [Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations] Dan [Duquette] and I talked a lot about how we probably needed two. But Tommy was available, and we got him,” manager Buck Showalter said. 
Hunter is known for his ebullient personality, and Showalter thinks he can add a lot to the team.

“I think the experience. He’s done some work on his health, had some challenges that he seems to have behind him. We didn’t have to give up a player, and we like Tommy’s makeup. He’s been in this division before, and it’s a pretty seamless fit for our locker room. If you look at what’s available this time of year, Tommy, we felt fortunate to add him this time of year,” Showalter said. 

Adam Jones isn’t in the lineup for Sunday’s game, but he shouldn’t be out much longer with his hamstring strain. The Orioles will start Nolan Reimold in center on Sunday, and needed a 40-man roster spot, so they designated Borbon for assignment. 
“It’s tempting,” Showalter said of playing Jones. “The quick turnaround, if it was a night game I think he’d be playing. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. He’s getting there. He’s getting there.”

The Orioles are confident both Borbon and McFarland, who allowed four runs in two-thirds of an inning on Saturday, will clear waivers and return to the organization. 
McFarland is 2-2 with a 6.93 ERA in 16 games. Borbon batted .308 in six games. 

Drake who had a 9.53 ERA in four games with the Orioles earlier this season, was 1-4 with a 2.72 ERA with 10 saves in 47 games at Norfolk. 

Showalter said the team would probably need additional 40-man spots when the roster expands on Thursday. 

NOTES: Chris Tillman (shoulder) will throw on flat ground on Monday instead of Tuesday. Showalter said the earliest he could return to the mound was Sept. 9 or 10.

RELATED: Gausman looking for rare road win

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Nats send down Wilmer Difo to call up Lucas Giolito to face Rockies

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Nats send down Wilmer Difo to call up Lucas Giolito to face Rockies

In need of a starter to fill the void left by injuries in their rotation, the Nationals called up top prospect Lucas Giolito on Sunday morning to face the Colorado Rockies.

Infielder Wilmer Difo was optioned to Double-A Harrisburg as the corresponding move, though he will likely be back soon with the minor league season ending in just over a week and MLB rosters expanding on Sept. 1.

Difo, 24, hit .257 with two doubles, five RBI and six runs in 18 games for the Nats before getting sent back down. He joined the team on July 27 when Stephen Drew landed on the disabled list with vertigo-like symptoms.

Difo stuck around as Drew made little progress in his recovery. Now over a month later, Drew still does not have a clear timeline to return. If he doesn't show improvement over the next few weeks, Difo could again become a valuable piece for the Nationals as a backup infielder who can play multiple positions. Difo also bats switch, which is always a plus.

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