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Update on the latest in sports:

March 20, 2019


Ichiro cheered at Tokyo Dome, Mariners top A’s 9-7 in opener

TOKYO (AP) — Ichiro Suzuki drew the loudest ovation back home in Japan and Domingo Santana delivered the biggest hit, launching a grand slam that led the Seattle Mariners over the Oakland Athletics 9-7 Wednesday in the Major League Baseball opener.

The game at the Tokyo Dome marked the earliest opening day ever — the summer sport actually started on the last day of winter. No doubt, most fans in North America were sound asleep when Oakland’s Mike Fiers threw the first pitch at 5:36 a.m. EDT.

At 45, Ichiro became the second-oldest position player to start an opener, only a few months younger than Julio Franco was for Atlanta in 2004.


Rookie Lowe agrees to $24 million, 6-year contract with Rays

UNDATED (AP) — Rookie Brandon Lowe, who made his big league debut last August, has agreed to a $24 million, six-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Lowe’s deal, announced Wednesday, includes club options for 2025 and 2026 with escalators that could make the agreement worth $49 million over eight seasons.

The 24-year-old infielder and outfielder has just 58 days of major league service.

Lowe joins Evan Longoria, Matt Moore and Chris Archer as players with less than one year of major league service when they long-term deals with Tampa Bay.

In other baseball news:

— Don’t expect AL MVP Mookie Betts to agree to a long-term contract with the Boston Red Sox before he can become a free agent in late 2020. Despite Mike Trout’s pending $432 million, 12-year agreement with the Los Angeles Angels, Nolan Arenado’s $260 million, eight-year deal with the Colorado Rockies, Betts says he expects test the market.

— Right-hander Ryan Pressly and the Houston Astros have agreed to a $20.4 million, three-year contract, a deal that adds $17.5 million over an additional two seasons. Pressley would have been eligible for free agency after this season.

— Outfielder Matt Joyce has reached agreement on a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants following his release by Cleveland. Joyce spent the past two seasons across the bay with Oakland. He played in just 83 games last season while dealing with a lingering back injury, batting .208 with seven home runs and 15 RBIs.

— The Chicago White Sox are nearing a $43 million, six-year contract with highly regarded outfield prospect Eloy Jimenez, a person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press. Jimenez’s deal would nearly double the previous high for a player with no major league service. Jimenez was a key part of the trade that sent pitcher Jose Quintana to the Cubs during the 2017 season.

— Bryce Harper finally got his first spring training hit with the Philadelphia Phillies after an 0 for 9 start. The slugger lined a 97-mph fastball to center on a 2-1 pitch from Detroit Tigers right-hander Spencer Turnbull in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s game. It was Harper’s 16th plate appearance over six exhibition games.

— The Cincinnati Reds’ first African-American player has died at the age of 94. The team says Charles “Chuck” Harmon died Tuesday, nearly 65 years after he made his debut against the Braves in Milwaukee on April 17, 1954. It did not provide details. Harmon had remained a familiar figure in Cincinnati as a regular participant in fan and community events.


Bucks’ Nikola Mirotic out with left thumb injury

UNDATED (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks forward Nikola Mirotic (NEE’-koh-luh MEER’-uh-tihch) is out indefinitely after an examination of his left thumb revealed a sprain and a fracture.

Since being acquired by the Bucks on Feb. 7, Mirotic has played in 14 games with three starts. He is averaging 11.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 22.9 minutes per game for the NBA-leading Bucks.

In other NBA news:

— Milwaukee superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo (YAH’-nihs an-teh-toh-KOON’-poh) will miss his second straight game with a sprained right ankle. He will sit out the game against the Cavaliers as the Eastern Conference-leading Bucks try to clinch their first Central Division title since 2001.

— Memphis Grizzlies guard Avery Bradley will miss at least a week because of a bruised shin. The Grizzlies say the condition of Bradley’s shin was revealed after their 135-128 loss to the Washington Wizards on Saturday. Bradley had collected 21 points and five assists in that game. The Grizzlies say Bradley will be evaluated again in a week. Bradley came to the Grizzlies at the trade deadline last month The 28-year-old has averaged 16.1 points and 4 assists in 14 games with Memphis.

— The Detroit Pistons have assigned Khyri Thomas and Svi Mykhailiuk to Grand Rapids, the team’s G League affiliate. Mykhailiuk played in three games with the Pistons and appeared in 39 for the Lakers before that. Thomas has appeared in 23 games with the Pistons, averaging 2.7 points.

— NBA Summer League is going international this year. The Chinese and Croatian national teams will join all 30 NBA clubs at this year’s tournament in Las Vegas, taking place from July 5 through July 15. China sent a team to Summer League in 2007, and Croatia will play in the event for the first time.


Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi out indefinitely

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury.

The team announced Girardi’s status Tuesday before visiting the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. Girardi has missed the past five games.

Tampa Bay also is without defenseman Anton Stralman, who has missed the past six games with a lower-body injury.

The Lightning have wrapped up first place in the NHL and home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs and still have nine games left.


Bears re-sign punter O’Donnell to 2-year deal

UNDATED (AP) — The Chicago Bears say they have re-signed veteran punter Pat O’Donnell to a two-year contract.

O’Donnell has spent all five of his seasons with Chicago and is the franchise’s leader with a 44.9-yard career gross average.

’Donnell averaged 45 yards per punt last season and tied a career high with 28 punts inside the 20.

The Bears also agreed to a one-year contract with backup quarterback Tyler Bray. He spent most of last season their practice squad.

In other news:

— Quarterback Trevor Siemian and the New York Jets have agreed to terms on a one-year deal, making him the backup to second-year quarterback Sam Darnold. A person with direct knowledge of the contract says it is worth $2 million, with a maximum value of $3 million with incentives.

— Safety Clayton Geathers has agreed to a 1-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts. Geathers started 12 games for Indy last season and finished third on the team with a career-high 86 tackles. He also had 19 tackles in the Colts’ two playoff games.

— The Minnesota Vikings have signed former Tennessee right guard Josh Kline for their thin offensive line. Kline’s three-year deal is valued at $15.75 million. Kline’s streak of 46 games started is the longest active run among all NFL guards. He played three seasons with the Titans.


Alabama approves several contracts for football staff

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Alabama has approved new contracts for several members of the football staff, including offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Pete Golding.

Sarkisian, who was hired last month, has a three-year contract worth an average of $1.6 million annually. Golding, who was promoted from within the staff, also has a three-year deal. He will be paid $1.1 million this year and $1.2 million in each of the next two years.


Alliance football league moves title game to Frisco, Texas

UNDATED (AP) — The Alliance of American Football is moving its championship game from Las Vegas to Frisco, Texas.

The new eight-team spring league, which plays its seventh set of games this weekend, said that the April 27 title match will switch to The Ford Center at the Star, which is owned by Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys.′


AP source: American Athletic makes 12-year TV deal with ESPN

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The American Athletic Conference and ESPN have reached agreement on a new 12-year television contract that will increase revenue to the league’s schools but is far less than the money provided to their Power Five counterparts.

An official with knowledge of the negotiations says the conference will receive about $1 billion over the next dozen years and in exchange ESPN will get the rights to AAC games, many of which will be broadcast on ESPN-plus, the company’s a la carte digital platform.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the contracts have not been signed, said the deal will provide the conference with about $83.3 million per year, with each member school receiving an average of just under $7 million a year.

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