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CHICAGO (AP) — Well-traveled pitcher Bruce Chen announced his retirement Monday night after 17 seasons in the major leagues.
Chen, who pitched for 11 teams, revealed his decision on Twitter and it was confirmed by the Cleveland Indians, who designated him for assignment Saturday.
Indians manager Terry Francona had said Chen wanted to speak with his family about whether he should try to continue pitching.
In a series of tweets, the 37-year-old lefty from Panama thanked his family, the teams he played for and the fans for support during his career.
Chen broke into the majors in 1998 with Atlanta and also pitched for Philadelphia, the New York Mets, Montreal, Cincinnati, Houston, Boston, Baltimore, Texas and Kansas City. He was 82-81 with a 4.62 ERA.
Chen spent parts of the past six seasons with Kansas City before joining the Indians this year and going 0-1 with a 12.79 ERA in two starts.
His final outing was Friday when he allowed three runs and seven hits in 2 1-3 innings of an 8-3 loss to Texas. He gave up first-inning homers to Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) – The University of Arkansas band program has hired a new director for the Razorback Marching Band.
Benjamin Lorenzo will direct the 335-plus-member marching band, conduct the symphonic band and teach in the music department.
The band program said Monday that, since 2012, Lorenzo has been the assistant director of bands at Oklahoma State, where he also assisted with the Cowboy Marching Band and Spirit Band. He previously worked at Texas Tech and at high schools in Florida and Texas.
He has degrees from Florida International and the University of Texas.
At Arkansas, Lorenzo will be the associate director of bands and the director of athletic bands.
Arkansas band director Chris Knighten said Lorenzo has a record of creative show design for college marching bands.
By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
South Carolina understands what’s at stake this week in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
The Gamecocks (32-24, 13-17 SEC) head into their first-round game Tuesday with Missouri (29-26, 15-15) at Hoover, Alabama, knowing they need a productive week to reach the NCAA Tournament for a 16th consecutive season. An early elimination likely means they’ll be left out of the NCAA field for the first time since 1999.
“I don’t know exactly what we have to do, but we certainly have to win some games down here, that’s for sure,” South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook said. “We certainly can’t lose (Tuesday), I don’t believe, and be in the conversation, and we probably need to make a pretty darn good run down here to solidify ourselves.”
South Carolina isn’t the only SEC team with much at stake.
Now that it already has won an SEC regular-season title and likely wrapped up one of the eight NCAA Tournament national seeds, LSU (46-9, 21-8) is chasing its third consecutive SEC Tournament crown. Defending national champion Vanderbilt (39-17, 20-10), Texas A&M (43-10, 18-10) and Florida (40-15, 19-11) also remain in contention for national seeds.
Other teams must play well this week just to get an NCAA bid at all.
Tuesday’s single-elimination games feature Ole Miss (30-25, 15-14) facing Alabama (30-26, 12-18), Kentucky (30-24, 14-15) meeting Auburn (34-22, 13-17) and Arkansas (33-20, 17-12) battling Tennessee (24-25, 11-18) as well as the South Carolina-Missouri matchup. Tuesday’s winners advance to the double-elimination portion of the tournament that begins Wednesday.
“I think we’re like the majority of the clubs that will be playing (Tuesday),” Kentucky coach Gary Henderson said. “We need to win.”
A look at some things to watch in the SEC Tournament.
TOURNAMENT TOUGH: LSU is seeking its third straight tournament title and sixth in the last eight years. LSU leads the SEC in batting average (.322), runs scored (395), stolen bases (104) and ERA (2.91). LSU coach Paul Mainieri said he tries to look at the SEC Tournament as a reward for his team after the grind of the regular season. “If you feel like you’re already going to be in the NCAA Tournament, there’s not the pressure that some of the schools are going to have this week probably, that they have to win or their season is over,” Mainieri said. “That feeling hasn’t been with us. We already know we’re in the NCAA Tournament. We can just relax and go out and enjoy the competition and enjoy the experience of playing there.”
WHO’S SURGING: LSU has won 23 of its last 27 games and 16 of its last 19. … Arkansas hasn’t lost an SEC series over the last eight weeks and has gone 16-7 in league competition during that stretch. … The SEC team with the longest current overall winning streak is Tennessee, which has won four straight. Before last week, the Volunteers hadn’t won more than three consecutive games all season.
WHO’S SLUMPING: Missouri has lost 12 of its last 15 games. … Auburn has dropped five of its last seven.
WHO’S MISSING: Mississippi State (24-30, 8-22), a College World Series runner-up in 2013, failed to reach the conference tournament for the first time since 2010. Thirteen different Mississippi State players missed a total of 272 games due to injury. … Georgia (26-28, 10-19) lost eight of its last 12 conference games and also got left out of Hoover.
UNRELIABLE INDICATOR: If last year’s SEC Tournament offers any indication, this week’s results don’t necessarily have much bearing on how SEC teams will fare the rest of the postseason. LSU and Florida met in last year’s SEC Tournament final and both ended up losing in regional competition. Vanderbilt went 1-2 in the SEC Tournament and was outscored 18-3 in its two losses, yet the Commodores went on to win the national title.
by Dave Skretta, AP
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Everyone in the Royals dugout was hanging on the top step when Mike Moustakas stepped to the plate Friday night. He had already accomplished three legs of the cycle, and all that was missing was a home run.
Yankees reliever Jose Ramirez delivered the pitch, one that the left-handed Moustakas could only try poking to right field. He nearly got enough of it anyway, the ball floating through the air for what seemed like an eternity before bouncing halfway up the outfield wall.
It wound up being a double, capping a 4 for 4 night. But while Moustakas may have come up short of the cycle, he still made a big statement: These days, he can go the other way.
You see, the Royals third baseman has struggled the past couple years to deal with teams shifting on him. In fact, only nine other players watched an opponent slide its own third baseman to the right side of the infield more often last year than Moustakas, whose natural tendency to pull the ball resulted in a career-worst .212 batting average.
So this past offseason, Royals hitting coach Dale Sveum asked Moustakas what he wanted to accomplish before spring training. The answer was quite simple.
“Beating the shift was obviously a priority,” Moustakas said.
That may seem like a “no-duh” answer, but in reality it’s quite rare. First, many power hitters view the shift as an affront – their ego dictates that they would rather power balls over it than spray a single the other way. Second, making the necessary mental and mechanical adjustments often takes months of hard work, often requiring two steps backward for each step forward.
It can be humbling process, leading to humiliating results. But if Moustakas was ever going to live up to expectations as a former first-round pick, he knew it was necessary.
The work has paid off. This season, he’s hitting .319.
“We always though Mike would have the capacity at the big league level to hit somewhere between .260 and .280, would be a reasonable number, with 20, 25 home runs and 80 to 100 RBIs,” Royals manager Ned Yost explained. “Then you saw the shift and the way he was going about it, and we said, `OK, maybe we need to lower our expectations here. The kid is going to hit .220.”
Moustakas is hardly alone in having to deal with the shift.
According to Baseball Info Solutions, the number of shifts used in Major League Baseball rose from 8,180 two years ago to 13,296 last season. That translated to an estimated 195 runs saved.
By comparison, there were only 2,464 shifts used during the entire 2010 season.
Even among the AL champion Royals, Moustakas was not alone. First baseman Eric Hosmer and outfielder Alex Gordon have had to deal with teams sliding to the right against them, though both of them are proficient enough at going the other way to make opponents pay for it.
It took countless hours of work for Moustakas to do the same thing. And while he doesn’t like to discuss the details – his slight change in hand position, his altered stride, balance and weight shift – he is willing to give Sveum the credit for helping him to change.
“Just going up there and hitting the baseball in general is tough,” Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain said, “but to put in the work this offseason, to come into spring training with the goal in mind that I’m going to hit the other way, bunt sometimes, make them play me in a normal defense – he’s stuck to it, sticking to it, and I’m definitely happy for him.”
Nobody is happier than Yost. Not only is his third baseman hitting over .300, Moustakas has also succeeded in doing something that the manager never could while he was a player.
“Of course, I wasn’t as talented as Mike Moustakas,” Yost said. “But I could never do it. I was a dead-pull hitter and I could never adjust my swing. Hard as I tried, I never could do it.”
The numbers demonstrate the progress.
Last season, Moustakas hit 106 groundballs to the right side of the infield and just 15 to the left, according to STATS. This season, he’s hit 33 to the right and six to the left. Even more pronounced are line drives, which Moustakas hit 45 times to right field last season and 10 to left. He’s hit just three liners to right and 13 to left this season.
His batting average on balls in play was just .220 a year ago, in part due to lousy luck and in part due to constantly hitting into the shift. This season, that same average is a robust .333.
In other words, Moustakas is getting better at going to all fields. It’s exactly what he set out to do when Sveum approached him in the offseason, asking what he wanted to accomplish.
“Every hit is gratifying. It doesn’t matter if it’s a single or a double. A hit’s a hit,” Moustakas said. “It’s just gratifying to be able to help the team win a ballgame.”
NEW YORK (AP) — Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins of Minnesota is the only unanimous selection for the NBA’s All-Rookie first team.
Wiggins received all 130 votes Monday from a panel of sports writers and broadcasters in the U.S. and Canada. He averaged 16.9 points, tops in the class, and his 36.2 minutes per game ranked fourth in the NBA.
The rest of the first team was Chicago’s Nikola Mirotic, Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel, Orlando’s Eldrid Payton and Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson.
The second team included Boston’s Marcus Smart, Minnesota’s Zach LaVine, Brooklyn’s Bojan Bogdanovic, Denver’s Jusuf Nurkic and New York’s Langston Galloway.
The panel chose five players for the first team and five for the second, regardless of position. Two points were awarded for first-team votes and one for a second.
by Dave Skretta, AP
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Mitch Morse would have been hard-pressed to find a better opportunity.
Start with the fact that the rookie offensive lineman was drafted by the Chiefs, just down the road from where he played in college at Missouri. Throw in the fact that he was picked well before most experts anticipated – and what that meant for his first contract.
Then consider this: The Chiefs watched their starting center sign with the Oakland Raiders in free agency, leaving a gaping void in the middle of their offensive line.
Suddenly, the second-round draft pick could be counted on by a playoff contender.
Talk about some heady stuff for Morse, who a year ago was finishing up classes in hospitality management and preparing for his final season with the Tigers.
“I’m feeling really fortunate, man. It’s the most blessed in my life I ever felt,” Morse said. “I get to stay close to home, my whole dad’s side – my dad was born in Kansas City. I had no freaking idea (the Chiefs would draft him) but I was really fortunate.”
Morse played several positions along the offensive line in college, but his physical tools lend themselves to playing on the interior. That’s why coach Andy Reid moved him between guard and center during the Chiefs’ three-day rookie minicamp, which wrapped up Monday.
The only other center with much of a shot at making the team is Eric Kush, a former sixth-round draft pick. The Chiefs are high on Kush, but a little competition never hurt.
“I thought Mitch did pretty well,” Reid said. “Most of his work was at center but he had a chance to play guard. He seems to be handling it. He seems to be doing pretty well.”
Morse wasn’t sure that he would get a look at center until he arrived in Kansas City. But as soon as Reid filled him in on the plan, Morse got right to work with his snapping. Playing his QB was 6-foot-5, 303-pound offensive tackle Charles Sweeton, who was in town trying to catch Reid’s eye and happened to be Morse’s roommate during the minicamp.
The two big fellas – Morse is 6-6, 305 pounds – spent time rehearsing the quarterback-center exchange in their modest room at Chase Suite hotel in suburban Kansas City.
“A few of us guys came in a little earlier, got acclimated with the team, the environment, how things go around here,” Morse said. “It’s good, the learning process. The playbook is a challenge, but it’s something you have to learn. You have to make it up as fast as possible.”
Morse is hardly the only rookie who could earn a starting job.
First-round draft pick Marcus Peters finally got back to practice after getting kicked off his team at Washington last season. The cornerback made some impressive plays during the light workouts, potentially the first step in earning the job opposite Sean Smith.
Wide receiver Chris Conley, one of the Chiefs’ third-round picks, could join free-agent signing Jeremy Maclin in the starting lineup. Ramik Wilson was a fourth-round pick out of Georgia who could earn time alongside Derrick Johnson at inside linebacker.
In other words, there was more at stake than usual during the rookie minicamp.
“Initially, when you look at the totality of it, it can be overwhelming,” Conley said. “It’s something you have to break down into smaller pieces. When you break it down into smaller pieces, you look at personnel groupings and the way you put these plays together – it’s similar to some of the stuff we ran in college. You just have to let it marinate on a couple concepts.”
The marinating can resume for a while. The Chiefs are not back on the field until the rest of the squad reports in a couple weeks for organized team activities, which are optional.
Of course, those rookies trying to win a job wouldn’t be anywhere else.
“Football is our job, our school, our work,” Conley said. “We spend our whole day here, spend time away from here in our books. you have to put in the time and effort to learn it.”
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) – The Southeastern Conference head baseball coaches have selected a University of Arkansas outfielder as the top player in the league.
The conference announced Monday that sophomore Andrew Benintendi picked up the honor. He is the first player in program history to win SEC Player of the Year and the first Razorback baseball player to take home a major conference award since 2006.
The Cincinnati native finished the season as the conference leader in batting average, home runs, on base percentage and total bases. He led the nation with a .771 slugging percentage.
Benintendi is the first player in Arkansas’ history with 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases in a season and was the only power five conference player to do so this year.
by RB Fallstrom, AP
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Kolten Wong had been paying attention in the dugout, so he was sitting on the fastball. He doesn’t mind those big moments, either.
“The guys before me all got pitched the same way,” Wong said after hitting the tiebreaking home run in the sixth inning of the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday night. “I was trying to keep my eyes open.”
The Tigers never knew quite what to expect from Lance Lynn, who kept them off balance and got his fifth career RBI, too, helping St. Louis avoid a three-game sweep.
“Anytime you can keep them to one run, that’s a pretty good lineup,” Lynn said. “So, I’m happy with that. We won and we didn’t get swept at home, so that’s good.”
Wong hit a game-winning homer in the 14th to beat the Pirates two weeks ago. Unlike that time, he said he wasn’t swinging for the long ball.
“Honestly, in that situation I don’t try to do too much,” Wong said. “I know what’s at stake and I know if put a good swing on the ball I have a chance of driving the ball out.”
Miguel Cabrera’s RBI double in the first was the only damage against Lynn (3-3), who gave a weary bullpen a break before walking the last two batters he faced – Ian Kinsler and Cabrera – on eight straight balls at the end of his 7 1-3 innings.
Seth Maness’ only pitch resulted in a double-play ball by J.D. Martinez to end the eighth and Trevor Rosenthal finished for his 13th save in 14 chances.
Matt Carpenter added two hits and Peter Bourgos tripled and scored on Lynn’s single in the third. The Cardinals improved to a major league-best 25-12 despite having two players thrown at the plate – the last on a relay from left fielder Yoenis Cespedes that caught Jhonny Peralta and left them with nothing to show for three hits in the seventh.
“That would have been a big run for them, you’ve got to test him,” Tigers catcher James McCann said. “You’ve got to go for it and thankfully we made a great play.”
St. Louis had three late-inning gaffes on the bases in Saturday’s 4-3, 10-inning loss.
Cabrera has four homers and nine RBIs the last four games, including his 400th homer on Sunday.
Alfredo Simon (4-2) gave up two runs in six innings for the Tigers, whose three-game winning streak ended.
Wong had been 1 for 8 in the series before hammering Simon’s fastball an estimated 434 feet to right with one out in the sixth.
“I just throw a split when I strike him out, so I just tried to confuse him,” Simon said. “If I throw too many splits they looking for that.
“You know, they got a good swing on that so there’s nothing you can do.”
Lynn entered the game a career .071 hitter and has three hits this year, all singles. He sliced a pitch down the right-field line to tie it at 1 in the third.
“A blind squirrel finds the egg, or something like that,” Lynn said. “Squirrel, nut … I don’t know.”
Tigers: Justin Verlander (elbow) is scheduled for a 45-pitch bullpen session Monday, which could lead to a simulated game. … Victor Martinez fouled out pinch hitting in the seventh in his first appearance of the series. Manager Brad Ausmus said Martinez (knee) had been unavailable the previous three days.
Cardinals: GM John Mozeliak said it’s too soon to consider a demotion to the bullpen for 23-year-old Carlos Martinez, 3-2 with a 4.73 ERA and struggling to go deep, especially with lefty Marco Gonzalez scuffling in the minors.
Tigers: Kyle Lobstein (3-3, 4.33) faces the Brewers and Mike Fiers (1-4, 5.00) to start a seven-game homestand. Lobstein was knocked out in the third his last time out, surrendering six runs against the Twins.
Cardinals: John Lackey (2-2, 3.22) is the scheduled starter to open a seven-game trip against the Mets’ Matt Harvey (5-1, 2.31). Lackey is 0-1 with a 5.82 ERA in three road starts.
Cabrera is the third youngest player to hit 400 homers at 32 years, 28 days. He trails only Alex Rodriguez (29 years, 316 days) and Albert Pujols (30 years, 222 days). … Matt Adams is in a 2-for-33 slump.
by RB Fallstrom, AP
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Cardinals are giving lefty Jaime Garcia his first start of the season Thursday, and general manager John Mozeliak said there’s no rush to make a trade for veteran pitching.
“Let’s just see how Jaime does,” Mozeliak said Sunday. “Let’s give him a chance to see if he can be that answer. If we can’t do it from within then we may have to look externally, but we’re not at that point where we feel we have to do something.”
Garcia had a setback in spring training from thoracic outlet surgery, performed to alleviate numbness and tingling in his pitching arm and hand. He threw six innings in a minor league rehab start on Friday, and St. Louis needed a starter after Tyler Lyons faltered Saturday.
Marco Gonzales also is on a rehab assignment, coming back from a shoulder injury, but is coming off a sub-par outing in Colorado.
So the Cardinals appear to have some time while searching for somebody to help fill the void after ace Adam Wainwright’s season-ending Achilles injury. Wainwright was a 20-game winner for the second time in his career last year and always has carried a heavy load, totaling 243 innings last year counting the postseason.
The 28-year-old Garcia appeared in just 16 games and 99 innings combined the last two seasons. He was a 13-game winner each of his first two seasons in the rotation in 2010 and 2011.
“Everything seems to be good and responding well, so he’ll be given that opportunity,” Mozeliak said. “I’m optimistic, most importantly because of what he’s telling us or specifically telling me on just how he’s feeling.”
Garcia will be starting against the Mets in New York.
“Great reports on his last start, and we need somebody to step up,” manager Mike Matheny said.
St. Louis also added bullpen depth Sunday, recalling right-hander Sam Tuivailala from Triple-A Memphis. For the time being, they’ll stick with 13 pitchers.
“I’ve been really concerned about our arms in the pen,” Matheny said. “If we’ve got guys who can soak up some innings, I think it’s going to pay off in the long run rather than having that extra guy on the bench.”
Lyons, who made three starts in the slot formerly held by injured ace Adam Wainwright, was optioned to Memphis, a day after lasting just 3 2-3 innings in a loss to Detroit. A fourth minor leaguer, Tim Cooney was the first to be used as a fill-in and threw a one-hitter Saturday for Memphis.
The 22-year-old Tuivailala worked two innings of relief in a 14-inning victory over Pittsburgh on May 3 and appeared in two games last September. He was 2-0 with a 2.13 ERA and three saves in three chances in 12 games at Memphis.
Lyons is 0-0 with a 5.54 ERA, striking out 17 in 13 innings but also surrendering 18 hits.
by Dave Skretta, AP
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Edinson Volquez had such violent movement on his fastball Sunday that Royals manager Ned Yost said catcher Salvador Perez actually turned around to ask plate umpire Chris Guccione whether there was anything he could do to help out.
Slide over a bit to offer Guccione a better view? Perhaps frame the pitches longer?
The Yankees probably wish Perez asked whether he could help them out.
Volquez baffled them with three-hit ball for seven innings, Perez homered and drove in two runs and Kansas City rolled to a 6-0 victory, the first time New York had been shut out this year.
“He was fantastic. He had all kinds of movement and action on his fastball,” Yost said. “For the most part, if Eddie’s executing his pitches, he’s going to be very good.”
Volquez (3-3) struck out five without issuing a walk. He never allowed a leadoff man on base, and just one of his three base runners to reach second all afternoon.
“That’s as good as I’ve ever seen him,” Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said.
The Royals got production from throughout their lineup against Chris Capuano to take the rubber game of their three-game set with the Yankees, whom they face again next week in New York.
Capuano (0-1) made his season debut after rehabbing a quad strain that he sustained in spring training. The veteran left-hander gave up four runs on four hits and two walks, and left New York in a big hole when he was pulled four batters into the third inning.
The loss was the Yankees’ fifth in their last six games.
“It’s certainly not the outing I wanted for my first outing,” Capuano said. “I wanted to try to give the team a little boost heading into the off day, but there were a lot of good things that happened the first three innings to build on for next time.”
Perez gave the Royals all the offense they needed in the second, when he golfed a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left field. For a moment, it looked as if Brett Gardner leaped up to grab it, but a stiff breeze blowing out carried it just far enough.
The Royals put the game away with a big fourth inning.
Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer led off with walks, and Kendrys Morales and Perez followed with back-to-back RBI singles to knock Capuano from the game. Esmil Rogers came in and gave up another RBI double to Omar Infante before getting the Yankees out of the jam.
Paulo Orlando and Alcides Escobar drove in two more runs in the sixth.
Not that Kansas City really needed them.
Working his sinker with a low-90s fastball and paralyzing changeup, Volquez retired the first 11 batters he faced. Alex Rodriguez finally doubled off the wall in the fourth, but the Yankees were unable to get him home. Brian McCann eventually struck out to end the inning.
Volquez also gave up a one-out single to Chase Headley in the fifth, breezed through a perfect sixth, then allowed another single to McCann before finishing off the seventh.
His bullpen tossed two shaky innings to preserve the shutout.
“All my pitches were there today. I was able to throw a lot of strikes, attack hitters, keep the ball down,” Volquez said. “They’re pretty good hitters. I was able to make some good pitches.”
NEGRO LEAGUES SALUTE
The Royals honored the Negro Leagues by wearing throwback jerseys of the Kansas City Monarchs, while the Yankees honored “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks – who began his career with the Monarchs – with a patch on their sleeve. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is located in Kansas City.
Yankees: 1B Mark Teixeira left the game in the seventh inning with a bruised right big toe. X-rays were negative. Asked whether he would play Tuesday, he replied: “That’s the goal. With the day off tomorrow, it’s well-timed.”
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (left flexor strain) threw a side session before the game. “He feels really good,” Yost said. “He doesn’t feel anything getting off the mound.”
Yankees: After its day off, New York heads to Washington for a two-game set beginning Tuesday night. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will take the mound for the Yankees.
Royals: The Reds visit Tuesday night to open a two-game set. Yordano Ventura will pitch the opener and fellow right-hander Jeremy Guthrie will start Wednesday night.