David Freese’s status for Opening Day in question

David Freese’s status for Opening Day in question

David Freese is slated to get an anti-inflammatory injection for his injured back today and time is running out for the Cardinals third baseman to be ready for the season, although general manager John Mozeliak told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that “Opening Day has not been ruled out.” That quote from…

Five potential Ravens targets in the second round of the NFL Draft

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Five potential Ravens targets in the second round of the NFL Draft

The Ravens will be on the clock early again on Friday night, scheduled to pick fifth in the second round, at No.  36 overall. After taking Notre Dame tackle Ronnie Stanley with their first pick at No. 6 overall, the Ravens could turn to the defense in the second round, and there is a lot of defensive talent still on the board.

Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said on Thursday night that the Ravens expect to get a first-round talent with their second pick.

"We love the top 36 players in this draft," DeCosta said. "So we're going to get an outstanding player. ... We're very, very confident that at 36 we're going to get a guy that we feel like is a first-round type talent."

So who might that be? Here, in alphabetical order, are a few candidates that could be in play when the Ravens are on the clock:

CB Mackensie Alexander, Clemson

The Ravens couldn't trade up for Jalen Ramsey, so they remain in the market for cornerback help. Alexander has shutdown capabilities though there are concerns about his height (5-10) matching up with elite receivers on the outside. Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta predicted a run on cornerbacks between picks 25 and 40, and Alexander figures in that equation.

OLB Kamalei Correa, Boise State

An early entry to the draft, Correa had 12 sacks as a sophomore at Boise State and then seven this past season. Correa (6-3, 243) has played defensive end and linebacker but is considered best suited as an edge rusher in a 3-4 defense.

CB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech

Kendall is about to become the fourth Fuller brother to be drafted, and he could find his way back to his hometown Ravens. A knee injury early last season knocked Fuller out of the first round, but he's a first-round talent when healthy and would be a nice fit for the Ravens.  

LB Myles Jack, UCLA

Wait a minute, he's still around? Yes, Jack had been mentioned as a Ravens first-round pick in many mock drafts, but concerns about his knee -- which he exacerbated by mentioning the possibility of microfracture surgery -- sent him tumbling down draft boards. Still, he's a potential top-10 talent who is still available.

DE Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky

Spence is the type of edge rusher the Ravens have said they covet. He had eight sacks as a sophomore at Ohio State. But off-the-field issues remain his biggest question mark; he was booted from Ohio State because of failed drug tests and tried to boost his draft stock by transferring to Eastern Kentucky, where he recorded 11 1/2 sacks last year.

One year since Orioles' fanless game, an anniversary I'd prefer to forget

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One year since Orioles' fanless game, an anniversary I'd prefer to forget

BALTIMORE – This is an anniversary I’d rather forget. Many people are writing about the fanless game that took place one year ago today, and I should be one of them. 

I was there. I saw it. 

I remember the same details everyone else does. Chris Davis throwing balls into the empty stands, Caleb Joseph pantomiming signing autographs, and the fans at the nearby Hilton cheering. 

But, for me, that week was one of the worst experiences of my life. 

As a 36-year resident of Baltimore, I had seen many things, but on the night of April 27, when the Orioles scheduled game with the Chicago White Sox was postponed because of the riots, I tried to get home as quickly as I could. 

My home, in Baltimore’s Bolton Hill neighborhood, is just over a mile from where much of the rioting occurred, and I needed to be home. 

Without traffic, I’m home in 10 minutes, and at the beginning of my trip, I thought I’d easily do that. There was no traffic on the streets, but halfway home, I saw a line of police dressed in riot gear, and I had to make a detour.

A detour past smashed windows and some ransacked stores. 

I sped through a couple of red lights and heard a radio report that stores in my neighborhood had been looted. Just then, I saw some kids walking down the street with boxes, presumably of stolen goods. 

I made it home safely, but later found that my car hood had been damaged. Some kids jumped on it, I guess. 

The next few days were awful. 

While I waited for news on the fate of the scheduled Orioles games, neighbors went to the nearby stores to help them clean up. 

And, after the fanless game was played, the Orioles prepared for their hastily scheduled series in Tampa Bay where they would be the home team.

It would have been interesting to see that, but I was needed at home. 

For several days after the riot, there was a 10 p.m. curfew, and police helicopters continually circled about our house. I can still feel the noise a year later. 

The Fifth Regiment Armory is a few blocks away, and when the National Guard was deployed, that’s where they went. 

It was disturbing seeing armed tanks not only downtown when I went to get a haircut and go shopping, but more upsetting seeing the Guard riding around my neighborhood.

In the last 12 months, crime in our neighborhood and the city is up, but our neighbors, many of whom are close friends, haven’t abandoned their homes. 

It’s a neighborhood with many advantages. It’s close to downtown, restaurants and attractions, full of people who help each other in times of need. 

A year later, the Orioles and Chicago White Sox, the team they faced in that game are playing again tonight. I’ll be happy to concentrate on that game instead of the one everyone remembers. 

Nats see tough road trip as good test for where they're at

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USA Today Sports Images

Nats see tough road trip as good test for where they're at

There is a significant contrast in the quality of teams the Nationals have faced thus far this season through 21 games and the caliber of clubs they are about to see on their upcoming 10-game road trip. It's a major scheduling quirk and as of Friday morning, the Nats are standing right on the middle of it.

Behind them is the second-easiest schedule in baseball to this point based on opponents win percentage. And up ahead are three teams that finished among the four best records in baseball last season. The worst team they will play coming up on this road swing based on their 2015 regular season record is the Kansas City Royals. They led the American League with 95 wins and later won the World Series.

The trip begins in St. Louis against a Cardinals team that led baseball with 100 wins last season. And the journey closes with the Chicago Cubs, a 97-win team that reached the NL Championship Series.

It's an unusually difficult road trip, to say the least.

“It’s one of the tougher trips I think I’ve probably ever been on," first baseman Ryan Zimmerman said.

"There are three or four times on the schedule where you say, 'Hey this is going to be a heck of a road trip,'" manager Dusty Baker said. "It's going to be a test."

The Cardinals and Cubs boast the two highest-scoring offenses in baseball right now. The Cards have a +48 run differential and the Cubs - who have the best record in baseball at 16-5 - are +74. 

The Cubs and Royals rank in the top 10 in MLB in team ERA, the Cubs are second only to the Nats in baseball in the category. The Royals have the seventh-best bullpen ERA and everyone knows they can play defense.

All three teams will present challenges and, if you ask some members of the Nats, that could be a good thing.

"This is going to be a test to see -- a barometer to see how good we are right now," Baker said. "We're not full-forces yet, we haven't been and we've done pretty well, because Ben Revere, one of our igniters, is getting ready… but it's going to be exciting."

"You enjoy the challenge," Zimmerman added. "I think you get to see what we’re really made of. Go out and play three really, really good teams and I think the guys in here are excited for it.”

The Nationals are going to learn a lot about themselves over the next 10 days, that's for sure.