Bryce Harper and Wilson Ramos both hit mammoth home runs in the first inning, and the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros 8-5 Friday.
Harper, who said he has felt no pain in his surgically-repaired left knee this spring, hit a two-run homer off Astros starter Brett Oberholtzer in the first inning.
“I’ve felt great,” Harper said. “I’ve had zero pain on it. I’ve been able to do everything I’ve wanted to do. It’s felt really good. I’m excited about that.”
That it came against a left-hander is a good sign for the lefty swinging Harper, who struggled against them last year. He has a career .229 average against left-handers as opposed to a .292 mark against righties.
“I hit lefties pretty good,” Harper said. “I always have. Last year, my knee killed me. I couldn’t stay back on lefties. I was killing myself on that. It’s going to be a little bit different this year.”
Ramos followed three batters later with a three-run drive that went over 400 feet and might have gone out of Space Coast Stadium. The wind was blowing at 16 mph but Ramos didn’t need help with this shot.
“I heard it (but) I couldn’t even see it,” Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark said. “I saw a guy in the beer deck look behind him and I went, `Wow.”
Nationals right-hander Doug Fister was scratched from his scheduled start because of inflammation in his elbow. Manager Matt Williams says he’ll “push him (back) a couple of days, just to make sure; get it out of there.”
Washington closer Rafael Soriano saw his first action of the spring and gave up two runs on three hits in one inning. (more…)
Hanley Ramirez returned to the lineup and hit his first homer this spring, a two-run shot in the first inning that sent the Los Angeles Dodgers over the Texas Rangers 2-1 Friday.
Ramirez was pulled in the sixth inning Thursday as a precaution after he was hit by a pitch in his right triceps. The All-Star infielder, who hit .345 with 20 homers in 86 games last season, is batting .167 this spring.
Carl Crawford drew a walk from Martin Perez, and Ramirez homered to center field.
Ramirez’s return from thumb and hamstring injuries on June 4 last season helped spark a 46-10 run that carried Los Angeles from last place to first in the NL West.
“I think Hanley is getting his timing,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s not one of those guys I worry about.”
Despite the home run, Perez was mostly happy with his three innings of work in his second spring start. He gave up two hits, walked three and struck out two.
“I feel pretty good,” said the 22-year-old Perez, who broke his forearm last spring but came back to go 10-6 with a 3.62 ERA. “I still need to attack more with my fastball. My other pitches are good. The only thing I have to work on is my fastball. A couple of hitters, I was behind in the count.”
Los Angeles starter Zach Lee worked two innings, giving up two hits. (more…)
By Todd Archer | ESPN.com
IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys are under the salary cap.
The Cowboys released center Phil Costa and reworked the contract of right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau on Friday to get under the $134.55 million salary cap, according to sources. The Cowboys trimmed roughly $20 million in cap room during the week by cutting Costa, reworking Bernadeau’s deal and restructuring the contracts of Tony Romo, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick.
With free agency set to open next week, the Cowboys now have roughly $2 million in cap room.
There is a chance they could gain more space if they reach a new deal with DeMarcus Ware or release the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks.
According to a source, the Cowboys approached Ware this week about taking less money to remain with the club. Ware is set to make $12.75 million this year in salary and workout bonus, and will count a little more than $16 million against the cap.
The Cowboys would like to keep Ware at a lower price, which could give them a chance to add pieces in free agency or keep their own free agents, such as Jason Hatcher and/or Anthony Spencer. If the Cowboys cut Ware, they would save $7.4 million against the cap.
Ware is coming off a six-sack season in 2013 and turns 32 in July, but after undergoing right elbow surgery, he told ESPN.com he expects to return to Pro Bowl form.
“I’m going to shut my mouth and be quiet and let my work on the field characterize who I am,” Ware said last month. “I’m not going to sit here and talk about what I’m going to do. I’m going behind the scenes and do what I need to do and get the job done, and at the end of the day there’s going to be a bandwagon everybody needs to jump back on.” (more…)
Dirk Nowitzki says he wasn’t thinking about the last time the Dallas Mavericks blew a 30-point lead and lost.
The biggest collapse in franchise history was a long time ago, and he was too busy trying to make sure it didn’t happen again.
Nowitzki scored 22 points, Devin Harris hit the go-ahead shot in the final minute and the Mavericks rallied in the fourth quarter after blowing their huge first-half lead, beating the Portland Trail Blazers 103-98 Friday night.
“You’re just out there battling,” Nowitzki said. “They’re a very, very good team. They came back a lot quicker than we wanted it to be, but we kept fighting and got the win.”
LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 30 for Portland, including 18 in the third quarter when the Blazers went in front for the first time at 69-67 after trailing 44-14 early in the second quarter.
But Nowitzki didn’t pause to remember Dec. 6, 2002, when the Mavericks lost at the Los Angeles Lakers 105-103 after leading 66-36 early in the third quarter.
Rick Carlisle wasn’t dwelling on the blown lead either. (more…)
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
New Miami Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s comments about the Boston Red Sox, his former team, sounded familiar Thursday. But there was nothing serious about them.
“I hope they go 0-162,” Saltalamacchia told reporters during spring training yesterday. “Now they’re all sleazeballs.”
Saltalamacchia, of course, was joking and had a smile on his face as he said it.
The comments were taken from the ESPN The Magazine story on Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, who made the statements in regards to the Texas Rangers and general manager Jon Daniels in a story published earlier this week.
Kinsler said he hoped the Rangers went “0-162” and called Daniels a “sleazeball,” blaming him for pushing Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan out of the organization. Kinsler has said the comments were “taken a little bit out of context,” but that he had no plans to reach out to Daniels.
Saltalamacchia, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Marlins this offseason, is a former teammate of Kinsler’s as the catcher came over to the Rangers as part of the Mark Teixeira deal at the trade deadline in 2007.
Saltalamacchia was part of the world champion Red Sox last year and is close to many of his former teammates there.