Matt Kemp probably won't be winning MVP now

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Matt Kemp probably won't be winning MVP now

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers placed center fielder Matt Kemp on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday for the second time this month because of a left hamstring strain. And this time, the training staff is going to make sure there are no recurrences when he returns to the lineup. Kemp went 1 for 4 with a double in two games since being reinstated from the disabled list on Tuesday. He left Wednesday night's game against Milwaukee after scoring all the way from first base on a first-inning double by Andre Ethier. "He has a little bit of swelling in the same area, as well as a new strain in a higher part of that hamstring," said Sue Falsone, who is in her first year as the club's head athletic trainer after spending the previous five seasons as the team's physical therapist. "They're both Grade-1s, which means that there's not a lot of muscle fiber tear. It's the lowest grade of a muscle strain, so that's good news. But having multiple strains in one muscle, obviously it's going to be a little bit longer from a rehab standpoint. So we're just going to take it day-by-day." Falsone said the best-case scenario for Kemp is four weeks before he can play again. He spent two weeks on the disabled list the first time the hamstring bothered him and when he got back to the dugout after his latest mishap, he broke a bat over his knee in frustration. "It's nobody's fault," Kemp said after Wednesday's game. "I was happy to be back. It felt great, and I thought I was 100 percent. But now I'm going to be sitting out a while. It feels worse than the first time. This is my first time ever really having any hamstring problems, so I don't know how to really treat it. I know they're very tricky and they can always come back. So I definitely have to take it slow and make sure it's healed." Kemp was leading the league with 12 home runs when he aggravated the hamstring running out a grounder May 13 against Colorado -- ending his consecutive games streak at 399. He played in two rehab games with Triple-A Albuquerque over the weekend, going 5 for 7 with two homers and five RBIs. "We have benchmarks and milestones in place, and he achieved all of them or he wouldn't have been out there playing," Falsone said. "But I don't think you can say that the first strain caused the second strain. So we'll put him through all the same rigors that we did before -- all the baserunning, all the deceleration stuff -- but we're just going to take longer to do it." Los Angeles entered Thursday with a major league-best 32-18 record and a 5-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West despite their first three-game losing streak. And with Kemp's bat missing from the third spot in the order, the Dodgers will be hard-pressed to fill the void on a long-term basis. "It's frustrating for everybody," Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw said. "We all feel bad for Matt. I know nobody feels worse than he does. He wants to play -- bad. It's never easy for the team to deal with when your superstar's out. But at the same time, the games keep coming. So you've got to keep playing and keep grinding." "This is our first tough stretch of the year, but we'll come out of it and we'll be better for it," said. "We don't know how long Matt's going to be out, but we've got to play like we did the first time he was out, and the guys who stepped up have got to keep doing that." Kemp, who finished runner-up to Milwaukee's Ryan Braun in last year's NL MVP voting, is batting .355 with 28 RBIs in 36 games. Last season, he hit .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBIs -- falling one homer shy of becoming only the fifth player in big league history with at least 40 homers and 40 stolen bases in the same season. "We thought Matt was ready to roll," manager Don Mattingly said. "We wouldn't have thrown him out there if we didn't think he was a hundred percent -- or if he didn't think he was a hundred percent. This should be a challenging time for us. It's the time you find out what kind of club you are and what kind of character you have. We were pretty resilient for a couple of weeks when Matt was out (9-5), and guys stepped up and did their thing. And we're going to have to do it again." The Dodgers promoted second baseman-outfielder Alex Castellanos from Triple-A Albuquerque. Castellanos, who will be making his major league debut, was hitting .379 with 10 doubles, four triples, five homers and 14 RBI in 22 games with Albuquerque.

Ravens take chance on Navy QB Reynolds after position change

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Ravens take chance on Navy QB Reynolds after position change

After his memorable career at Navy, Keenan Reynolds fulfilled another dream Saturday when the Ravens drafted him in the sixth round (No. 182 overall).

Reynolds has been told by Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome that he will compete for a roster spot as a wide receiver – punt returner, after playing quarterback at Navy. When he received the phone call from Newsome, Reynolds described it has one of the most emotional moments of his life. 

“Relief, excitement,” Reynolds said during a conference call. “I was upset (watching the draft). I know I can play with these guys. To see my name, to see my phone ring…It’s a dream come true. All I ever wanted to do was play on Sundays.”

It remains to be seen if Reynolds’ Navy obligations will interfere with his dream of an NFL career. Reynolds said he had already talked with some Navy officials, and hoped a resolution could be reached.

“I think being in the DMV area is going to help my cause, but again that’s a call that’s up to the Navy,” Reynolds said. “It’s up to the secretary of the Navy and the Navy. But right now I’m just trying to bask in what the now is, and I’m just blessed to be picked up, and I’m ready to get started.”

Asked when he would get an answer from the Navy, Reynolds said, “It will be soon. It will probably happen within the next few days. 

Reynolds believes he can make a quick transition to wide receiver. 

“I’ve been running routes like crazy, trying to get quicker in and out of my routes, I’ve been catching punts – everything that they want me to do. To get to work with Steve Smith Sr. and learn from him, try to get better from him? It’s going to be an awesome ride.”

CSN analyst Brian Mitchell, a former returner with the Redskins, has been working with Reynolds on his punt return technique. 

“He kind of gave me some extra drills,” Reynolds said. “He brings an innovative style, also perspective from somebody who has returned punts. I’m just extremely excited.”

Ross strong in return as Nats roll past Cardinals in St. Louis

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Ross strong in return as Nats roll past Cardinals in St. Louis

Postgame analysis of the Nats' 6-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium: 

How it happened: Sometimes baseball can be so unpredictable that it almost doesn't even make sense. Trends can reverse in an instant and make all those who cast predictions look like fools. Baseball laughs at your 'educated' guess.

Take this weekend and the Nationals for instance. Somehow, after getting swept at home by the worst team in baseball in 2015, they now find themselves one game away from sweeping a team that led the majors with 100 wins a year ago. The Nats looked like no match for the Phillies in D.C., but now they're dominating the juggernaut Cardinals in St. Louis. Okay, sure. That makes sense.

Amazingly, that's where the Nats find themselves after Saturday's 6-1 win. Joe Ross closed his excellent April with six strong innings, Jayson Werth smacked a three-run homer in the top of the first and the Nats rolled past the Cardinals in St. Louis for the second straight day. They have won their first series at Busch Stadium since 2007. 

What it means: The Nats are off to a terrific start on their toughest road trip of the season. With two wins against the Cardinals, they have a chance to sweep before heading to Kansas City to face the defending champion Royals. These have been two very impressive wins and the Nats are proving well so far that their hot start against bad teams this season was not a mirage.

Ross strong in return: Ross returned from an injury - albeit a minor one - and it was not an easy situation for the right-hander to transition back, on the road at the Cardinals who boast one of baseball's best lineups. The right-hander, though, showed no rust at all from skipping his last start. Ross threw six innings of one-run ball on six hits and two walks. The one run - on a sac fly in the fifth - was the first charged to Ross since the first inning of his season debut. He had a 20 1/3 scoreless innings streak snapped, which is the second-longest in the NL so far this season only to Jake Arrieta's 23-inning streak. Ross now has a 0.79 ERA through four outings.

Werth comes through again: Werth added two hits (and 4 RBI) on Saturday including his big swing in the first inning to give the Nats a nice early lead. His three-run homer was his fourth of the season through 21 games. That's a 31-homer pace over a full 162. Power numbers were a concern for Werth after his shoulder surgery last offseason, but he now has 13 homers in his last 55 games dating back to last August. That's a 38-homer pace over a full season. He needs to get on base more, but lately he's been a significant home run threat.

Harper in a mini-slump: It's not often you see Bryce Harper struggle for several games in a row, but that has been the case over his last four outings. Harper had one walk and a run, but went hitless again on Saturday. He is now 0-for his last 11 at-bats and has one hit in his last four games. Harper's batting average dipped to .289 after Saturday's game, but he still holds a 1.128 OPS, which shows how good he has been overall this season.

Up next: The Nationals have a chance to sweep the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon with another 2:15 p.m. first pitch. Max Scherzer (2-1, 4.35) will try to rebound after an uneven start to the season, while 24-year-old budding star Carlos Martinez (4-0, 1.93) will pitch for St. Louis.

Report: NHL and NHLPA agree to expansion draft rules

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Report: NHL and NHLPA agree to expansion draft rules

One of the biggest storylines in the NHL is over something that isn't even officially happening yet: The expansion draft. Even though the NHL is still deciding whether to expand the league by one or two teams, the rules surrounding an expansion draft were reportedly agreed to by the NHL and NHLPA on Friday, according to Gary Lawless of TSN.

The basic format of the draft was already known with teams being able to protect a certain number of players on the roster. The biggest question was over whether players with no-movement or no-trade clauses in their contracts would have to be protected.

We now appear to have some clarity on that issue.

Lawless reports that players with no-movement clauses will be required to be protected by their teams while players with no-trade clauses are not exempt from the draft and can be left exposed if a team chooses.

RELATED: ALEXANDER RADULOV PLANS ANOTHER NHL RETURN FOR 2016-17

A no-movement clause prevents players from being relocated involuntarily by trades, loans or waiver claims. A no-trade clause allows players to refuse a trade to either all teams or to a designated number of teams depending on the contract.

So what does this mean?

Teams will be allowed to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or eight skaters and a goalie, but those protections must first go to players with no-movement clauses active prior to July 1, 2017, assuming the expansion draft were to take place prior to the 2017-18 season. Teams are under no obligation to protect players with no-trade clauses and those players can be selected in the draft.

According to General Fanager, the Caps have eight players signed into the 2017-18 season: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Jay Beagle, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, Taylor Chorney and Braden Holtby. Of those eight, none of them have no-movement clauses. Ovechkin, Backstrom, Niskanen and Holtby have no-trade clauses, but the Caps would not be obligated to protect any of them.

Obviously, the Caps will probably protect those four players anyway, but the point is that no one will simply be exempt from the expansion draft - all players must be specifically protected by their team.

MORE CAPITALS: CONOR SHEARY CALLS HIT BY WILSON A 'HOCKEY PLAY'