Yankees trade for another future Hall of Famer

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Yankees trade for another future Hall of Famer

From Comcast SportsNet
SEATTLE (AP) -- Around the All-Star break, Ichiro Suzuki made the difficult decision that it was time to move on from the Seattle Mariners. In a surprise trade Monday, he got his wish. Going from worst to first, Suzuki joined the New York Yankees in a deal that sent two marginal young pitchers to Seattle. "I am going from a team with the most losses to a team with the most wins," he said. "It's hard to contain my excitement for that reason." Wearing a pinstriped suit, Suzuki joined his new teammates in the visitor clubhouse at Safeco Field and, several hours after the trade, was cheered by Mariners fans when he took his position in right field -- in place of the injured Nick Swisher. In the third inning, he was given a standing ovation before his first at-bat against the only team he played for in 11 major league seasons. Suzuki tipped his batting helmet and bowed twice to the more than 29,000 in attendance. The 38-year-old Suzuki slapped a single to center field then stole second base. He went 1 for 4 in his Yankees debut and caught the final out. "I was worried about my first at-bat," Suzuki said after the Yankees' 4-1 victory. "I was really relieved with the standing ovation. It was a special day today." The Yankees also got cash in the deal that sent 25-year-old righties D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to the last-place Mariners. The Yankees made the trade a few days after learning that speedy outfielder Brett Gardner would likely miss the rest of the season because of an elbow problem, and manager Joe Girardi said Suzuki will mostly play left field. "We're very excited with the caliber of player we are getting. We feel that he brings the speed element. He's a tremendous hitter. That speed element is what we lost when Gardy had surgery," Girardi said. "So this is a big day for us." Suzuki was given No. 31 because the number he wore his entire career with the Mariners, No. 51, has not been worn since four-time World Series champion Bernie Williams last played. "No. 51 is a special number to me, but when I think about what 51 means to the Yankees, it's hard for me to ask for that number." Mitchell made his major league debut this season and pitched four games for the Yankees. Farquhar made his big league debut last year with Toronto and was claimed last month on waivers by the Yankees from Oakland. Suzuki had spent his whole big league career with Seattle. The 10-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner is batting .261 with four home runs, 28 RBIs and 15 stolen bases this year. Suzuki is a career .322 hitter, a former AL MVP and holds the record for most hits in a season. He had batted over .300 in every season until dipping last year. The only thing missing on Suzuki's resume is an appearance in the World Series, and he may get a chance with the Yankees. Suzuki was the AL MVP and rookie of the year in 2001 after a stellar career in Japan, and the Mariners reached the AL championship series that season before losing to the Yankees. Seattle has not been back to the playoffs since then. He said he hasn't played in left field since those 2001 playoffs. In the final year of a five-year contract that's paying him 18 million this season, Suzuki's return to a young Seattle team next year was not assured. Suzuki put an end to any speculation about what would happen in the offseason when he approached management around the All-Star break and asked to be traded. "Several weeks ago, Ichiro Suzuki, through his long time agent, Tony Attanasio, approached (team president) Chuck Armstrong and me to ask that the Mariners consider trading him," said Howard Lincoln, the team's CEO. "Ichiro knows that the club is building for the future, and he felt that what was best for the team was to be traded to another club and give our younger players an opportunity to develop." The Yankees certainly hope this trade with the Mariners works out better than the previous big deal between the teams. New York sent prized young catcher Jesus Montero to Seattle before the season for All-Star pitcher Michael Pineda, who was later injured and is out for the year. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has long admired Suzuki, saying, "he's been consistent throughout his career." "They're been a lot of guys that have come here over the years, starting my first year with Cecil Fielder," he added. "It's been unexpected, sort of out of the blue. That's why you don't ever listen to rumors. Getting someone like this is unbelievable." Said Suzuki about playing with Jeter: "I noticed that he's not only a guy who has performed for a long time but consistently performed for a long time. And for a team that has the highest expectations of demand to win. To do what he has done there makes me see that he's exceptional, not just potential wise as a talent but also as a human being." Suzuki, usually stoic on and off the field, became emotional at times during the news conference, especially when talking about his admiration for the Mariners fans. "When I think about this long period, it is difficult to express precisely my feeling," Suzuki said of his time in Seattle. "When I imagined taking off a Seattle Mariners uniform, I was overcome with sadness. That made it a very difficult decision to make."

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Rearranging priorities helped make 2015 Redskins more successful

Rearranging priorities helped make 2015 Redskins more successful

RICHMOND—Redskins training camp gets underway tomorrow here at the Bon Secours Training Center. The team has high expectations after winning the NFC East last year. The priorities have shifted since Jay Gruden took over as the head coach in 2014.

“I want to make sure we make the right decisions on players, No. 1,” he said during a press conference during his first training camp. “We have to make sure we get a good look at all the young guys, all the free agents, all the undrafted free agents, the draft picks, the veteran free agents, and make sure when we make our final cut-down we make the right choices and hopefully these players will make it very difficult on us in making those decisions.”

That all sounds great but what about winning games? Where was that in the pecking order or priorities? The young guys and undrafted free agents can help you out here and there. But if you miss on a couple of them it’s not going to kill you. Failure to make preparing to win games during the coming season the top priority will kill you. The Redskins went 4-12.

Gruden was singing a different tune when he was asked what the priorities were as the team started camp a year ago.

“We’re trying to improve as a football team, number one,” he said near the start of training camp in 2015. “That’s all we’re trying to do every day is improve a certain area of our game. Then, we’re also trying to critique our players and find out who our best 53 are.”

So the emphasis on improving the team seemed to work as the Redskins went 9-7 and were surprise NFC East winners.

Sure, there’s an element of coach speak in all of this. But don’t underestimate the importance of what the head coach is focused on. If the coaches spend an inordinate amount of time in meetings trying to sort out the last half dozen players on the roster there is less time to prepare the starters for Week 1 and beyond.

I expect Gruden to order his priorities the same way this year. Focusing on the play at the top of the roster will bear more fruit that worrying about which fifth cornerback or tenth offensive lineman to keep.

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Wizards owner Ted Leonsis says Bradley Beal grew 'almost an inch'

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis says Bradley Beal grew 'almost an inch'

The Wizards annouced officially re-signing Bradley Beal will appropriate fanfare. The team rolled out the whole gang, including owner Ted Leonsis, general manager Ernie Grunfeld and new coach Scott Brooks. 

After Beal's media availability, Leonsis tweeted that the shooting guard had grown nearly an inch. He also shared a selfie with Grunfeld and the man of the hour. 

It's unclear the time period in question, whether Leonsis means since last season ended or perhaps over the past year.

Fans might expect a 23-year-old had stopped growing, but while it's not the norm, continuing to grow into the early 20s certainly happens. 

Some examples? Paul George started his rookie year with the Pacers at 6-8. He returned for his sophomore season 1.5 inches taller. And while the team still lists his height at 6-9, outside reports peg him closer to 6-10 or 6-11. 

Bulls great Scottie Pippen and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo are other notable examples. 

So back to Beal. He was listed as 6-5 last season. It will be interesting to see whether his official height is updated to 6-6 this year. 

When asked about his growth spurt during his press conference, Beal estimated he's gained "about an inch." 

"One is better than none," he said smiling. 

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Cousins on contract: 'Don't think we really did' get close to a deal

Cousins on contract: 'Don't think we really did' get close to a deal

In his first time speaking out since officially being franchise tagged on July 15, Kirk Cousins confirmed what most who followed his negotiations thought to be true: He and the Redskins weren't exactly on the same page.

"I don't think we really did," the quarterback said on 106.7 The Fan's Grant & Danny show Wednesday when asked if the two sides ever got close to a deal. As he talked more about his contract situation, however, he made it clear that he's harboring no hard feelings against his team despite the fact he didn't receive a new extension.

"I always said going back to the end of last season that I wanted to play where I’m wanted," Cousins explained. "The franchise tag showed that I am wanted. Now, maybe not beyond this year, but I am wanted."

That relaxed outlook is something the 27-year-old has maintained all offseason. He pointed out that a few other players around the league were tagged as well, and thinks it's something that can easily be handled in the future. But don't let Cousins' steady demeanor totally fool you.

He's still going to do whatever he can to show his doubters that he's deserving of a long-term deal — and the massive dollar amount that'll come with it.

"I feel good about having this one season to prove myself and see what I can do," he said. "I think I do relish the opportunity to prove to people I’m capable of playing well and being here for a long time."

The end of that quote makes it sound like Cousins does still envision a future in Washington. His performance in 2016 will go a long way in determining whether that feeling is mutual.

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