Thursday Sports in Brief

January 17, 2020 - 3:39 am
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MLB

NEW YORK (AP) — Carlos Beltrán is out as manager of the New York Mets before managing even a single game, the latest fallout from the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal that has rocked Major League Baseball.

The Mets announced the decision Thursday in a news release, saying Beltrán and the team “agreed to mutually part ways.” The move came two days after Boston cut ties with manager Alex Cora, who was Houston’s bench coach in 2017 when Beltrán played for the Astros.

A day before that, manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired by Houston soon after they were suspended for the 2020 season by Commissioner Rob Manfred for their roles in the cheating scheme.

Next to fall was Beltrán, the only Astros hitter mentioned by name Monday when MLB issued its findings from an investigation into the club’s conduct. No players were disciplined, but the nine-page report said Beltrán was among the group involved in the team's illicit use of electronics to pilfer signs during Houston's run to the 2017 World Series championship.

HOUSTON (AP) — George Springer, the World Series MVP of the tainted 2017 Houston Astros, and the team settled on a $21 million, one-year contract Thursday.

Springer had asked for $22.5 million in salary arbitration last week and the Astros offered $17.5 million. He made $12,150,000 last year.

The 30-year-old outfielder set career highs last season, hitting 39 home runs with 96 RBIs while batting .292. He was an All-Star for the third straight season.

Springer led Houston to its first World Series title in 2017, hitting five homers in the seven-game win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He connected in the final four games of the matchup.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Alyssa Nakken became the first female coach on a major league staff in baseball history Thursday when she was named an assistant under new Giants manager Gabe Kapler.

Major League Baseball confirmed Nakken is the first woman coach in the majors. Nakken is a former softball standout at first base for Sacramento State who joined the club in 2014 as an intern in baseball operations. She and Mark Hallberg, who was also named as an assistant Thursday, will work to promote high performance along with a close-knit team atmosphere.

Kapler said during the winter meetings that he would hire some coaches for nontraditional roles.

The team said Nakken has been responsible for “developing, producing and directing a number of the organization’s health and wellness initiatives and events."

NFL

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey has pulled out of the Pro Bowl after a memorable season.

McCaffrey isn't injured. Rather, he decided not to play in the Pro Bowl because Carolina's spring workouts have been moved up two weeks after the team hired a new head coach in Matt Rhule. The team can open camp as early as April 6. The third-year running back wanted enough time to allow his body to recover and be ready for the workouts.

McCaffrey joined Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk this season as the only players in NFL history to record 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in the same season.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch won the Pro Football Writers of America Executive of the Year award on Thursday.

Lynch was honored for his role in helping transform the 49ers from a four-win season in 2018 to a 13-3 record this past season. San Francisco earned the top seed in the NFC for the first time since 1997 and is playing Green Bay in the NFC championship game on Sunday.

The Niners are just the sixth team to make the conference title game in the Super Bowl era a year after winning four or fewer games. Their nine-game improvement was the best in franchise history.

Lynch was hired along with coach Kyle Shanahan in 2017 and has played a part in rebuilding the franchise with trades for players such as Jimmy Garoppolo, Dee Ford and Emmanuel Sanders; the drafting of players Nick Bosa and George Kittle; and free agent signings such as Richard Sherman.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Baylor hired LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda as its new head coach Thursday, three days after the Tigers completed their undefeated national championship.

Aranda, a head coach for the first time, takes over a Big 12 program in much better shape than it was when Matt Rhule got there more than three years ago.

Rhule became head coach of the NFL's Carolina Panthers on Jan. 7, six days after the Bears finished an 11-3 season with a loss to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Baylor was ranked 13th in the final AP Top 25 poll.

The 43-year-old Aranda, who was the highest-paid college assistant at $2.5 million a season, was a Power Five defensive coordinator the past seven seasons. He was at Wisconsin from 2013-15 before spending four years at LSU, capped by a win over Clemson on Monday night for a 15-0 record.

WOMEN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu had a career-high 37 points to become Oregon's all-time leading scorer, and the sixth-ranked Ducks handed No. 3 Stanford its first conference loss with an 87-55 victory Thursday night.

Ionescu went into the game needing 24 points to match Oregon career leader Alison Lang, who had 2,252 between 1980-84. When the record was announced on the video scoreboard, the crowd gave the senior guard a standing ovation.

Her previous career high was 36 points, set against Stanford on March 4, 2018. She also had 11 rebounds and seven assists for her ninth double-double of the season for the Ducks (14-2, 4-1 Pac-12). Satou Sabally added 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Kiana Williams had 15 points for Stanford (15-2, 4-1), which trailed by as many as 30 points. Lexie Hull added 10.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota leading scorer Destiny Pitts said Thursday she is transferring after the Gophers suspended her for unspecified “conduct unbecoming a member of the team.”

Pitts tweeted that she is leaving "to further my academic and athletic journey in an environment that will support me, while I develop into the person I want to become.”

Pitts said she was informed last Friday that she was suspended indefinitely for her “body language” during a game against Northwestern. The junior guard said she was “blindsided and shocked by the suspension,” which she said was the first discipline of her career at Minnesota or as a basketball player at any level.

COLLEGE SWIMMING

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dave Salo will retire as Southern California men's and women's swimming coach after 14 years when the season ends in late March, but he will continue coaching Olympic hopefuls who train on the school's campus.

Salo said Thursday that after the Tokyo Games end in August he will continue with Novaquatics Swim Club, where he worked from 1990 to 2006 before taking over at USC.

Salo served as head U.S. women's coach at the 2013 and 2015 world championships, and head men's coach at the 2005 worlds and last year's short course world meet. He was an assistant on U.S. Olympic staffs in 2000, ‘04 and ’12.

Among the top swimmers he coached at USC were Olympians Haley Anderson, Amanda Beard, Katinka Hosszu, Lenny Krayzelburg, Jason Lezak, Ous Mellouli, Vladimir Morozov, Aaron Peirsol, and Rebecca Soni.

COURTS

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A misdemeanor simple battery warrant has been issued for Cleveland Browns wide receiver and former LSU star Odell Beckham Jr., police in New Orleans said Thursday.

The warrant comes as video posted on social media appears to show Beckham swatting a security officer's buttocks during LSU's locker room victory celebration after Monday night's college national championship game in the Superdome.

“We are aware of the incident and have been in touch with Odell and his representatives on the matter,”the Browns said in a statement. "They are cooperating with authorities to appropriately address the situation.''

LSU players were seen smoking cigars — forbidden in the Superdome — in pictures from the Monday night celebration. Authorities reportedly warned them they could face arrest.

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