NY Rangers land Rick Nash in blockbuster deal

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NY Rangers land Rick Nash in blockbuster deal

From Comcast SportsNet
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The wait to land in a new city and with a new team is over for Rick Nash. Finally, after months of speculation, the high-scoring forward was dealt on Monday. And the destination was not a surprise. He's gone from Blue Jacket to Blueshirt. "There was a lot of limbo for sure," Nash said. "It was a tough period. The good thing now is it's over and I can look forward to next year." Nash was traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the New York Rangers for three players and a first-round draft pick. The All-Star, who first went to Columbus management in January and asked to be dealt, heads to Manhattan in exchange for forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov along with defenseman Tim Erixon and a first-round draft pick in 2013. Nash, at 28, is the oldest of the players in the deal, and was shipped along with a third-round pick and a minor-league defenseman to the Rangers, who can use offense. Nash is a former NHL goal-scoring champion, who has never played for a contender, but could blossom under the bright lights of the big city. "We're happy to have a five-time All-Star on our team and a 40-goal scorer," said New York general manager Glen Sather, who was also happy he didn't have to break up the young core of his team any more than he did. "He will help us immensely." Talks heated up over the weekend between Sather and Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson. And by Monday afternoon, a day before labor talks resume between the NHL and the players' association in Toronto, the long-rumored deal was done. Howson began his comments at a news conference by thanking Nash for his contributions over a nine-year career in Columbus as he became the face of the franchise. Howson conceded that the fans might need some time to take it all in. "This is difficult for people to accept when you trade what is arguably your best player," he said. "We understand the fans (might find it) difficult to understand this or (be) upset with this. But this is something that we did because we think it's going to better our hockey club. We got the right value for Rick. "And it's all about moving forward." For both sides, of course. The deal, after all, gives the Rangers a big, sturdy right wing to add to their core of solid young players and also helps them counter moves made by other Eastern Conference powers this offseason. Nash will join a New York offense that includes captain Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. "They are already one of the top teams in the league. The players they have are pretty impressive," Nash said. "In finding a team, I thought the Rangers were perfect. They are a great fit for my style." The Rangers were the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season and just missed out on the Presidents' Trophy for most regular-season points. New York defeated Ottawa and Washington in the playoffs before losing to New Jersey in the conference finals in six games. Nash immediately improves its credentials and gets it -- on paper, at least -- closer to its first Stanley Cup since 1994. "This changes the complexion of our team," Sather said. "He is a world-class player. This kind of quality hockey player doesn't come along very often." The move to New York and a perennial playoff team should be a boon to his career, although it will require a major alteration in his lifestyle. Quiet and almost shy, Nash enjoyed playing golf at nice courses and walking around Columbus virtually unnoticed. That will end when he takes his act to the Big Apple. Nash is in the third year of an eight-year contract he signed in 2010 which has an average annual value of 7.8 million. The total salary cap hit of Dubinsky, Anisimov and Erixon is almost exactly the same. One of the most decorated players in the league, Nash helped his native Canada win the gold medal in the 2010 Olympics. He also has played in four World Championships, leading Canada to gold in 2007 and silver in 2005 and 2008. Plus, he shared the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2004, scoring 41 goals to lead the league along with Ilya Kovalchuk, then of Atlanta, and Calgary's Jarome Iginla. Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said he was pleased by one aspect in particular of the trade. "I'm glad that he's in the East," he said with a laugh. "Obviously, he's a great player, and if you only have to play him one time, that's a good thing." On April 5, 2013, Columbus will play host to Nash and the Rangers for the first time. Nash is coming off a season in which he had 30 goals and 29 assists while playing in all 82 games. He has 289 goals and 258 assists in 674 career NHL games, all with the Blue Jackets. His offensive skill set will be welcomed by a New York team that struggled for offense during the postseason. With one of the NHL's top goaltenders, Henrik Lundqvist, playing in front of a deep, young defense, many people believed the Rangers were just one scorer away from a title last season. Offense was clearly a problem in the six-game loss to the rival Devils, as the Rangers did not score more than three goals in any of those contests. Meanwhile, the acquisition of the three skilled, young players greatly improves the Blue Jackets, who had the worst record in the NHL last season. They believe they made a key step at the trade deadline when they sent forward Jeff Carter to the Los Angeles Kings -- who would go on to win the Stanley Cup with Carter playing a key role -- for young defenseman Jack Johnson and a first-round pick. Johnson, who captained the United States squad in the 2010 Olympics, will likely take over that role in Columbus. They also traded for another young forward, Nick Foligno, in a one-for-one deal with the Senators earlier this summer. The loss of Nash will hurt a Columbus offense which already was starved for goals. But Dubinsky and Anisimov will likely get a shot at playing on the top two lines as will Foligno, Vinny Prospal, Derick Brassard, R.J. Umberger and youngsters Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson. The Blue Jackets, who have only been to the postseason once in their 11 seasons, now own three first-round picks in the 2013 draft. Dubinsky, 26, had 10 goals and 24 assists in 77 games a year ago with the Rangers, while the 24-year-old Anisimov had 16 goals and 20 assists in 79 games. Erixon, just 21, a former first-round pick of the Calgary Flames in 2009, only played in 18 games for the Rangers last year in his first year as a professional. Dubinsky missed part of the Rangers' playoff run this year with a foot injury. Howson said both Dubinsky and Erixon were looking forward to a fresh start with a young team in Columbus. Anisimov, as far as anyone knows, still doesn't know he was traded. "Artem is on his honeymoon in Fiji," Howson said. "A number of people left messages for him but we haven't heard from him yet."

Nats credit adjustments made by Mets for Gio's rough outing

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Nats credit adjustments made by Mets for Gio's rough outing

Having seen Gio Gonzalez just five days before, the New York Mets came to Washington on Monday with an adjustment to their approach. Now knowing what to expect from the Nats' lefty and having their previous meeting fresh in their mind, the Mets were aggressive early in counts and used that method to hand Gonzalez his worst start not only of this season, but in years.

Gonzalez was fine until the third inning when all hell broke loose. He hit Curtis Granderson on the elbow with one out, then saw Juan Lagares single on the first pitch of his at-bat and David Wright homer in the first pitch of his. Wright's victim was an 82 mile per hour changeup and he got every piece he needed of it.

"This game is a game of adjustments, and they adjusted quite well to Gio today," manager Dusty Baker said.

Wright's homer was one of three Gonzalez allowed in Monday's 7-1 Nats loss, a setback that tied the season series at 2-2. Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker also launched back-to-back bombs in the fifth inning.

It was the first time since July of 2009 that Gonzalez allowed at least seven earned runs and three homers in a single game. He hadn't allowed three homers since July of 2011 and had surrendered just three total in his previous eight starts of 2016.

"I just left pitches up. That was it. Just one of those nights," the lefty said. "They saw a pitch up and they were making contact… they were hitters being aggressive first pitch, got hits, and then they started being patient."

Baker went back to the changes the Mets made from game to game in their second look at Gio and within Monday's loss itself.

"They smell blood in the water," he said. "The adjustments, they happen so fast, in baseball like, you go to the bathroom and come back and they got five runs. It turns into a feeding frenzy."

Much will be made about Gonzalez working with catcher Wilson Ramos for the first time this season. Though the difference in his career numbers with Ramos as opposed to Jose Lobaton are negligible, it was still the first time Gonzalez and Ramos have formed a battery this year. The Mets, some may argue, aren't an easy team to get experimental against.

"It was the first time. I’m not going to judge him off one game. He’s a great catcher. Like I said, it was just unfortunate," Gonzalez said.

Gio, who saw his season ERA go from 1.86 to 2.87 all in a five inning span on Monday, instead turned the blame towards himself.

"I was flat today. It was just one of those games. I take this one on me. He did everything right as part of calling the game. If I executed pitches I wanted and bring it down with more movement, different game," he said.

Gio Gonzalez shelled as Mets blow out Nats in series opener

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Gio Gonzalez shelled as Mets blow out Nats in series opener

Postgame analysis of the Nationals' 7-1 loss to the New York Mets on Monday night at Nationals Park.

How it happened: Last week the Nationals earned two blowout wins on the road against their division rival New York Mets. On Monday, it was the Mets' turn.

In a rematch between Gio Gonzalez and Bartolo Colon, this time it was Gonzalez who put in his shakiest outing of the season, a seven-run drubbing that saw his season ERA jump a full run. Gio got through the first two innings unscathed before getting clobbered for five runs in the third. Three of those came on a David Wright homer to left field, and Gio served up two more home runs in the fifth to Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker. All in all it was a trainwreck of an outing for Gonzalez, who was working with catcher Wilson Ramos for the first time this season.

What it means: The Mets have tied the season series at 2-2 with their fourth straight win overall coming off a sweep of the Brewers. The Nats now cling to a half-game lead in the NL East over New York, who have managed to hang around despite inconsistency in their pitching staff and a serious injury to Lucas Duda, one of their best hitters.

Gio gets destroyed: Before Monday night, Gonzalez sported a 2.59 ERA in 18 career starts against the Mets. In the past two seasons, Gio's ERA against New York was a microscopic 1.20 across 30 innings. And it was only one start ago that he held the Mets to one run across 6 1/3 frames. On Monday, though, Gonzalez was not as fortunate in what amounted to his worst outing in years. Gio gave up seven earned runs for the first time since May 11, 2014. He began the game with a 1.86 ERA on the season and left at 2.87. The lefty gave up 10 hits and hit a batter on Monday, but what really hurt Gio was the three homers he allowed. They were as many as he'd given up in his other eight starts this season combined and the most he's surrendered since July 8, 2011. It was the first time he's given up three homers and seven earned runs in a start since July 20, 2009.

Ramos catches Gio: Many will point to the fact Ramos was catching Gonzalez for the first time this season. But entering Monday, Gio's ERA with Ramos was 3.42 (44 GS), which is not far off from his 3.16 career mark with Jose Lobaton, his primary partner. This one can't be put on Ramos, it was just not Gonzalez' night.

Another multi-hit game for Murphy: One of the few bright spots for the Nats in the blowout loss was another multi-hit game for Daniel Murphy. The second baseman landed a single in the first inning and then another in the fourth inning. It was Murphy's 22nd multi-hit outing in 44 total games this season. Murphy now has 35 hits in May, which has him close to the Nats' team record for one month. Denard Span holds the record with 40 hits in August of 2014.

Up next: The Nats continue their series against the Mets hoping to rebound from a tough loss in the opener. Stephen Strasburg (7-0, 2.80) and Matt Harvey (3-6, 5.77) will square off again in a rematch of last Thursday's Nationals blowout win.

Recap: Orioles make flurry of moves on a day off

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Recap: Orioles make flurry of moves on a day off

For an off day, it’s been an interesting one for the Orioles. Not only was it Buck Showalter’s 60th birthday, but they traded left-hander Brian Matusz to the Atlanta Braves along with the 76th pick in the draft for two minor leaguers. 

The Braves, who are looking to stockpile draft picks, quickly designated him for assignment. 

In essence, Atlanta gave the Orioles two minor leaguers and took on what was remaining of Matusz’s $3.9 million salary for a pick in the Competitive Balance B round.

No announcement on who will take Matusz’s roster spot has been made, but the team will apparently purchase the contract of left-hander Ashur Tolliver from Bowie. 

Tolliver was a fifth round draft choice in 2009 and has never pitched above Double-A, but the 28-year-old intrigued the team. While the Orioles didn’t protect him, they thought enough of Tolliver to invite him to January’s minicamp and spring training. 

In 18 games for the Baysox, Tolliver is 1-1 with a 2.42 ERA.  

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Tolliver would give the Orioles another left-hander in the bullpen, and they could freely option him to the minors. 

The Orioles also signed veteran left-handed pitcher Brian Duensing to a minor league contract. 

The 33-year-old is 41-37 with a 4.13 ERA in seven seasons with Minnesota. He had been pitching with Triple-A Omaha, but opted out of his contract earlier this month. He hasn’t pitched since May 13. 

Later on Monday night, the Orioles acquired right-hander Franderlyn Romero from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for two International Signing Bonus Slots. 

Romero is 23, but has never pitched above Class A ball. He’s the third minor league pitcher acquired in the last few hours. Right-hander Brandon Barker and left-hander Trevor Belicek, picked up from the Braves for Matusz, will be added to an organization badly in need of additional pitching prospects. 

“With today’s moves, we have added to the pitching depth of the our organization,” executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. 

“The pitchers we have acquired today are very competitive and have very good instincts. They have excellent control, keep the ball in the ballpark, and consistently keep the ball over the plate. Not only have we stocked the pitching in our farm system, but we also added three potential major leaguers. 

“We’d all like to thank Brian Matusz for his contributions to our team, both on the field and in the community.”