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Monday Sports in Brief

January 26, 2021 GMT

MLB

The Cactus League and Arizona community leaders have asked Major League Baseball to delay the start of spring training due to coronavirus concerns just over three weeks before pitchers and catchers are supposed to report.

The Cactus League made the request in a letter to Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred obtained by The Associated Press on Monday. The letter was co-signed by the mayors of Mesa, Scottsdale, Surprise, Glendale, Goodyear and Peoria, as well as representatives from Phoenix and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

MLB said in a statement that it “will continue to consult with public health authorities, medical experts, and the players’ association whether any schedule modifications to the announced start of spring training and the championship season should be made in light of the current COVID-19 environment to ensure the safety of the players, coaches, umpires, MLB employees and other game day personnel in a sport that plays every day.”

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NEW YORK (AP) — The Yankees made a rare trade with the rival Red Sox, sending struggling reliever Adam Ottavino to Boston on Monday along with minor league right-hander Frank German for a player to be named or cash.

As part of the trade, the Yankees agreed to send Boston $850,000 on July 1 to cover part of the $8 million owed to Ottavino, a 35-year-old right-hander entering the final season of a $27 million, three-year contract. New York remains responsible for Ottavino’s $3 million signing bonus, due next Jan. 15.

NBA

The NBA, the National Basketball Players Association and representatives from historically Black institutions met Monday to discuss how a possible All-Star Game this year could benefit HBCUs as well as COVID-19 relief efforts, said a person with direct knowledge of the conversation.

There are multiple cities being discussed as potential hosts, Atlanta among them, according to the person who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because no details have been publicly announced. The current focus of the conversation is for an All-Star Game only, not the Rising Stars game or the typical All-Star Saturday events such as the skills competition, 3-point contest and dunk contest, the person said.

— By AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds.

NEW YORK (AP) — Natalie Sago and Jenna Schroeder made up two-thirds of the referee crew assigned to the Charlotte at Orlando game, the first time in NBA history that two women were assigned to work a regular-season contest together. Sean Wright was picked to be crew chief, Sago the referee and Schroeder the umpire.

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Sago and Schroeder have worked games together before; they were part of three-woman crews in the G League. But at the NBA level, it’s a first — and it’s a game they’ve been looking forward to since they saw it on the internally distributed schedule a month ago.

NFL

COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — New Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley has started building his staff by naming his coordinators.

The Chargers announced on Monday they have agreed to terms with Joe Lombardi as offensive coordinator, Renaldo Hill as defensive coordinator and Derius Swinton II as special teams coordinator.

All three have worked with Staley before.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Panthers have hired Sean Ryan as quarterbacks coach and Tony Sparano Jr. as assistant offensive line coach, and announced that defensive line coach Mike Phair will not return next season.

Ryan replaces coach Jake Peetz, who left to become the offensive coordinator at LSU. Sparano takes over for Marcus Satterfield, now the offensive coordinator at South Carolina.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers have hired longtime NFL assistant Alfredo Roberts as their new tight ends coach.

Roberts replaces James Daniel, who retired earlier this month after 17 seasons with the Steelers and 27 overall in the NFL. The team made the announcement on Monday.

Pittsburgh is the sixth NFL stop for Roberts.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indianapolis Colts made it official Monday: quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady has been promoted to offensive coordinator.

He will become the NFL’s third Black offensive coordinator, replacing Nick Sirianni who took the Philadelphia Eagles head coaching job last week. The other two Black offensive coordinators are Kansas City’s Eric Bieniemy and Tampa Bay’s Byron Leftwich. Those two teams will meet in the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.

NHL

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville Predators goaltender Connor Ingram is voluntarily taking part in a confidential NHL player assistance program, keeping him away from the team during that time.

The NHL and its union announced Ingram’s decision Monday and said there will be no further comment.

Ingram is Nashville’s third goalie this season behind Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne. The 23-year-old Canadian played 33 games last season with the Predators’ AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. He has yet to appear in an NHL game.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Virginia Tech has indefinitely suspended starting guard Tyrece Radford from all men’s basketball team activities.

In a release Monday school school officials said Radford failed to uphold “the high standards Virginia Tech has for its students and athletes.”

The release also stated there would be no further comment until the matter is resolved.

GOLF

The PGA Championship is headed back to Southern Hills next year, the Oklahoma course that gets its eighth major championship earlier than expected after the PGA of America cut ties with former President Donald Trump.

The 2022 PGA Championship originally was to be played at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey. The PGA voted to terminate that contract, signed in 2014, after the Trump-fueled riot at he U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was certifying the election victory of President Joe Biden.

Southern Hills was not scheduled to host the PGA Championship until 2030.

SOCCER

Major League Soccer will open the next season on April 3 and conclude with the MLS Cup title game on Dec. 11.

Teams will be allowed to start preseason camps on Feb. 22.

But the announcement Monday came amid ongoing uncertainty about the coronavirus pandemic and whether fans will be able to attend games, especially at the start of the season.

As a result, the league has invoked the agreement’s “force majeure” clause to reopen negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement.

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Sounders and head coach Brian Schmetzer have reached agreement on a multiyear contract extension.

Schmetzer, 58, has led the team to four appearances in the MLS Cup finals and two titles since taking over the team in 2016. He has a 67-37-24 regular-season record with Seattle and is 15-4-2 in the postseason during his tenure.

Terms of the extension were not released.

LONDON (AP) — Frank Lampard was fired by Chelsea on Monday halfway through his second season in charge after being unable to replicate his success as the club’s record scorer in his first Premier League managerial job.

Chelsea has lost five of its last eight Premier League games and dropped to ninth place, despite Lampard benefiting from nearly $300 million spent on new players for this season.

OLYMPICS

ROME (AP) — The International Olympic Committee will consider imposing a humiliating probation on Italy’s team for the Tokyo Games this week because of a two-year domestic dispute that it says amounts to government interference.

The IOC has taken issue with the Italian government’s formation of a new organization, “Sport e Salute,” that was created at the start of 2019 to run the country’s sports finances. The money was previously controlled by an arm of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).

Possible punishments from the IOC could include preventing Italian athletes in Tokyo from wearing their national team uniforms and from hearing their national anthem being played.

SPORTS BUSINESS

NEW YORK (AP) — For the first time since 1983, when Anheuser-Busch used all of its ad time to introduce a beer called Bud Light, the beer giant isn’t advertising its iconic Budweiser brand during the Super Bowl. Instead, it’s donating the money it would have spent on the ad to coronavirus vaccination awareness efforts.

Anheuser-Busch still has four minutes of advertising during the game for its other brands including Bud Light, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade, Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer. Those are some of its hottest sellers, particularly among younger viewers.

COURTS

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A federal judge in Florida has ordered the destruction of video that allegedly shows New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft paying for massage parlor sex, according to court documents.

U.S. District Judge Rodolfo A. Ruiz II on Friday ruled that the videos of Kraft and other customers must be wiped from existence, because the Jupiter police surveillance was deemed unlawful, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. Kraft’s attorneys had argued that the billionaire feared the tapes of him in the nude would be publicized on the internet.

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