by Arnie Stapleton, AP
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) — Watching a state trooper find weed in his car just four days before the NFL draft sent Shane Ray’s heart sinking and his stock plummeting.
He owned up to his mistake and chose to attend draft festivities in Chicago nonetheless.
A top-10 talent, Ray slipped all the way to No. 23, where the Broncos traded up to grab the SEC defensive player of the year.
So, Ray is heading to Denver, where recreational pot shops are almost as common as 7-Elevens.
Is that a problem just waiting to happen?
Not at all, suggested general manager John Elway, noting that while cannabis is cool in Colorado, “it’s still illegal in the NFL.”
Ray, who will be subject to random drug testing from the get-go, insisted he’s no pothead.
“I haven’t failed a drug test. When I was cited, I wasn’t under the influence,” Ray said. “And I don’t think that weed is something that controls my life, nor has it controlled my life or been an issue. So, I think that’s really not a concern at all.”
The Broncos moved up five spots to select Ray, whom Elway had rated 10th on his draft board. Elway said he spoke with Ray before the draft and “he was very remorseful, realized he made a mistake … and guaranteed it wouldn’t happen again.”
Elway said he trusts the team’s support system and locker room leadership, so he swapped first-round picks with Detroit and also sent the Lions veteran offensive lineman Manny Ramirez, a fifth-round draft pick this weekend and another fifth-rounder in 2016.
The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Ray slipped down draft boards after he was issued a misdemeanor citation Monday morning when a trooper in Missouri found a small amount of marijuana in his car after pulling him over for speeding.
Ray, who led the SEC in sacks last season, sounded chastened after his selection.
“I’m so grateful and indebted to the Denver Broncos for giving me the opportunity to redeem myself,” he said.
Elway said Ray’s owning up to his mistake “showed a lot of maturity to me. He didn’t duck out of going to Chicago. He stayed in Chicago and he owned up to that mistake. And to me, that showed a lot about what he’s about and I was impressed with that.”
Elway said he couldn’t believe Ray was falling to him and felt he had to move up to make sure he got him.
“We got a guy that plays with his hair on fire and rushes the passer and loves the game of football,” Elway said. “He’s competitive and is going to be a great fit for us.”
Added coach Gary Kubiak: “He made a mistake, but he’s also done a lot of great things, too. So, I don’t think you just throw somebody out the window for one mistake.”
Ray promised to put his marijuana mistake behind him.
“I’m ready to move past that in my life. I’m not going to let that define me as a person and all the good I’ve done,” Ray said. “I’m not going to let it define my character. This is a great opportunity for me. Coming to Denver, I will not have any off-the-field issues. I’m not a person that has off-the-field issues. I plan on once again giving everything I can to the program.”
Elway also took a chance in the first round last year, selecting Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby, who slipped after a couple of run-ins with the law. That selection worked out great for both parties, and Roby said this week he considers himself a bargain at No. 31 a year ago.
Ray said the Broncos just landed themselves another first-round steal.
“All teams that passed on me, that were in the top 10, I felt like they made a huge mistake,” he said. “As a Denver Bronco, I plan on showing them about the mistake they made. I’m so indebted to the Broncos for giving me the opportunity. I can’t wait to learn from guys like Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware and be a force.”
by Jake Krinenberg, AP
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Asked how to raise attendance at sporting events, new Missouri athletic director Mack Rhoades said simply, “Win games.”
“That’s just human nature,” Rhoades said. “People want to be associated with a winning program. They want to be associated with the next great thing.”
Four days into the job, Rhoades answered a range of questions Thursday. Describing himself as a “high- energy” person, the 49-year-old Rhoades wants to invigorate the school’s fundraising efforts and enhance its presence in Kansas City and St. Louis.
Under Rhoades the past six years, the University of Houston raised nearly $100 million and built $160 million worth of facilities, including a football stadium. One of his stated first priorities will be overseeing plans to build a football complex connecting to Memorial Stadium that will contain office and training space.
“I think we’re in the best conference in the country,” Rhoades said. “The competition is at an extremely high level. We’ve got to continue to make sure that we give our student-athletes and coaches the best chance to do that.”
He needs to hire a deputy athletics director. Rhoades hoped he could bring assistant Hunter Yurachek with him from Houston, but the Cougars promoted Yurachek on Tuesday to their top spot.
“I had a moment there where I wasn’t really happy,” Rhoades said. “And I kind of lost perspective. I’m supposed to be happy for a dear friend, and I wasn’t. But then I quickly said, `You know what? Things happen for a reason.’”
Since Missouri announced his hiring March 9, Rhoades continued to work during the day for Houston before transitioning to the Tigers each night. He thanked predecessor Mike Alden for helping him with the move and involving him in discussions surrounding football coach Gary Pinkel’s contract extension that was announced Friday.
While Pinkel is entrenched at Missouri after 14 seasons and consecutive divisional titles in the Southeastern Conference, basketball coach Kim Anderson faces more pressure after leading the Tigers to a 9-23 record in his first season. Rhoades promised to go “in the trenches” with Anderson to determine how to turn around the program.
“I never want to point a finger at anybody,” Rhoades said, “but I think we all realize that what Kim inherited wasn’t a perfect situation. It just wasn’t. I think we all can call it what it is, and that’s exactly what it was.”
Rhoades also expressed interest in restarting the rivalry with Kansas and has already talked to Jayhawks athletic director Sheahon Zenger, but offered no specifics about the chat.
(West Plains) – The West Plains Lady Zizzer head basketball coach has received national recognition.
Coach Scott Womack was given the National High School Basketball Coaches Association National Girls Coach of the Year award for the State of Missouri.
The award was presented during the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Academic All-State Banquet at the University Plaza in Springfield this past Sunday.
Womack has been the girl’s high school basketball coach for 24 years, and has a winning record of 439-220.
(West Plains) – Plans are in place for the annual West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce Caddyshack Classic Golf Tournament, which will be held Friday, May 8 at the West Plains Country Club, with a rain date of May 15 at 12 PM.
The three-person scramble begins with a shotgun start at 12 PM. Chamber members, prospective members and guests will meet to enjoy an afternoon of golf, networking and fun. A golfer’s lunch, sponsored by Burton Creek Medical Clinic/Ozarks Medical Center/Westgate-Carol Jones Realty, Inc., begins at 11 AM. Gift bags will be given out to each golfer.
Every golfer will have the opportunity to try their skill at shooting a hole-in-one on number 8 for a Mega Motorsports 2015 Polaris Sportsman ACE 570 valued at $8,500. Prizes for a hole-in-one on the other par three holes include $500 Visa Gift Card, a set of Nike clubs, and a Kindle Fire HDX, compliments of Community First Banking Company, Ozark Radio Network and Schultz, Wood & Rapp, PC. The Chamber will also award tournament prizes for first, second, and third place in three flights. Other contests include; Great Rivers Distributing “Closet to the Pin”, Ozark Electrical Solutions “Longest Putt” and Quality Floors “Longest Drive”.
The Caddyshack Classic Golf Tournament is the chamber’s largest non-dues fundraiser. Proceeds supplement member dues for chamber programs and seminars, economic development initiatives and community events.
For more details, or to register a team, contact the chamber office at 417-256-4433.
by RB Fallstrom, AP
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Peter Bourjos’ well-rested legs made all the difference both at the top of the batting order and in center field for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Bourjos made just his second start of the season count by hitting a game-tying RBI triple and scoring the go-ahead run by beating the throw home on an infield tapper to fuel a four-run fifth inning in a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.
“Any time you get a chance to start and play, it’s a lot of fun,” Bourjos said. “It’s a tough role, but when you can get some hits and help the team win, it makes it even more special.”
Carlos Martinez (3-0) allowed two runs in six innings and Matt Adams doubled twice with an RBI.
Ryan Howard hit his 20th career homer against St. Louis, 11 coming in his hometown, and Odubel Herrera had two hits and an RBI. Aaron Harang (2-2) surrendered five runs in six innings, ending a career-best run of eight consecutive quality starts dating to last September.
Bourjos entered 7 for 15 against Harang with a homer and four RBIs, no doubt factoring into his starting considering he was just 1 for 10 on the season.
“He’s got pretty good stuff, but for some reason I have pretty good at-bats against him,” Bourjos said. “It’s just something I can’t explain.”
Neither could Harang.
“There’s just guys that have your number and it always seems to be the leadoff hitter, those pesky guys, that get me more often than the big guys,” Harang said.
Bourjos made a nice running catch to rob Chase Utley of extra bases and an RBI to end the seventh.
“His speed plays big,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “I don’t know if any other center fielder, might be one, catches Chase’s ball.”
Howard’s throw home on Matt Carpenter’s grounder to first base was not quick enough to catch Bourjos, who slid in ahead of catcher Carlos Ruiz’s tag. The Phillies unsuccessfully challenged the call, believing that Bourjos might have been late getting his foot on the base.
Adams and Jhonny Peralta added RBIs later in the inning. Kolten Wong had a two-out RBI single in the second to give St. Louis the early lead.
Howard hit his fourth homer in the fourth, a drive just over the fence into the home bullpen in right that gave him 39 RBIs in 33 career games in St. Louis. He grounded out his other three at-bats against an over-shifted defense, each time to Wong, the second baseman, standing in shallow right field.
“No, I don’t like it at all,” Howard said. “That’s four hits. I’m hitting the ball hard, it’s just that guys are playing shifts.”
Howard batted fifth behind Jeff Francoeur and hedged at first when asked whether he thought he should be back at cleanup, ultimately saying it was up to Sandberg.
“I feel like I’m a four-hole guy,” he said. “I’ve been there most of my career. That’s his call.”
Trevor Rosenthal earned his eighth save in eight chances for the NL Central leaders.
Phillies: David Buchanan has lost all four starts this year and was 0-3 in his last nine starts last season with his last win on Aug. 6. During the 13-game drought he’s thrown seven quality starts.
Cardinals: LHP Tim Cooney takes injured Adam Wainwright’s spot in the rotation and will be making his major league debut. The 24-year-old Cooney, who grew up in a Philadelphia suburb rooting for the Phillies, is 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in three starts at Triple-A Memphis.
Phillies: OF Domonic Brown reported to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after the end of a rehab assignment for a left Achilles injury.
Cardinals: OF Randal Grichuk, on the DL since April 17 with a lower back strain, has participated in pre-game activities all three games in the series.
Phillies pitchers entered the game with a major league-high 86 walks, but they issued just two on Wednesday – both to Matt Holliday.
Harang made a rough slide into third advancing on a wild pitch in the fifth inning. He had thought it would be easy taking the bag but also respected catcher Yadier Molina’s arm.
“That was one of those ones where you’re running thinking `Let’s slide. No I don’t need to slide. Yeah, I need to slide. No I’m not going to slide. Yeah, let’s slide.’” Harang joked.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar suffered a bruised left cheek when he was hit in the head by a pitch from Cleveland’s Danny Salazar in the fifth inning on Wednesday.
Escobar was hit in the left side of the helmet and dropped to the ground immediately as two Royals trainers rushed on the field.
Escobar stayed down for several moments before being moved into a sitting position. He walked to the dugout with help from the trainers and was taken to the clubhouse.
The Royals said Escobar was removed for precautionary reasons and further evaluation.
Salazar was upset over the incident and patted his hand in his glove as Escobar left the field. Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas, the on-deck hitter, knelt down while several Indians in the field looked on in concern.
Kansas City pitcher Yordano Ventura, who was ejected from his last two starts and is facing a seven-game suspension, didn’t retaliate in the bottom of the inning.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The president of a youth baseball charity being sued by the St. Louis Cardinals over alleged scalped tickets says it has used funds properly.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Nicholas Mahrt, president of the Lewis & Clark Baseball League disputed the baseball team’s allegations Tuesday, stating money involved in the ticket transactions was used for charity.
Last week, the team filed a lawsuit against the nonprofit accusing it of breaching a contract and committing fraud by selling hundreds of tickets over face value.
The Leagues of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which runs the charity, last year was allotted 3,500 tickets at a discounted price through the team’s Cardinals Care program. The suit claims the charity sold tickets for high-demand games online, instead of selling them for up to face value in fundraisers to support youth baseball.
The lawsuit seeks to recover $40,475 in profits.
NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Soccer suspended Chicago Fire midfielder Matt Watson, Sporting Kansas City midfielder Servando Carrasco and Real Salt Lake midfielder John Stertzer on Wednesday for one game each and fined them undisclosed amounts.
Watson was penalized for a serious foul play in the 27th minute of Chicago’s game against New York City on Friday night, Carrasco for violent conduct in the 52nd minute against Houston on Saturday night, and Stertzer for serious foul play in the 10th minute against New England on Saturday night.
Toronto FC defender Damien Perquis also was fined an undisclosed amount for simulation in the 83rd minute of a game against Orlando City on Sunday night.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Juggling the batting order paid off for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Facing a pitcher making his major league debut did not hurt either.
The Cardinals scored seven runs off Severino Gonzalez in the first three innings and beat the Philadelphia Phillies 11-5 on Tuesday night. St. Louis finished with a season high in runs and hits (15) to win for the first time in three games.
Trying to jolt his offense, manager Mike Matheny moved Matt Carpenter out of the leadoff spot for the first time in nearly two years. Jason Heyward was dropped from second to sixth and Jon Jay took over at the top of the order. All three contributed in their new places in the order.
Carpenter tripled and scored in the first, had an RBI double in the fifth and walked and scored in the eighth. The double was his 12th, most in the majors and the most in franchise history after 19 games.
“It’s hard to argue with the team’s 15 hits and 11 runs,” Heyward said of the changes. “Our lineup’s flexible and that’s what is awesome about it.”
Heyward reached base four times and scored twice and Jay added two RBI singles.
“We like what we saw,” said Matheny, who said he switched the order because Heyward had been struggling and he wanted to put Carpenter in a better position to drive in runs. “They were clicking pretty good. We like the way it went.”
Matt Holliday, hitting in his usual third spot, and Matt Adams each added three hits for the Cardinals. Holliday also scored three runs and had an RBI as every player in the Cardinals’ starting lineup finished with at least a hit, run or RBI.
Michael Wacha (4-0) drove in two runs and pitched 5 2/3 innings to win for the fourth time in four starts. He gave up a season-high four runs and six hits.
“My command just wasn’t where I wanted it to be,” Wacha said. “But those guys putting together great at-bats made my job easier.”
Gonzalez (0-1) yielded seven runs and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings.
“He left some balls over the plate and we capitalized,” Jay said.
Added Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg: “He didn’t really establish both sides of the plate with his fastball. It seemed like most of the balls were out over the plate and they had good swings at them. It was an experience for him.”
Freddy Galvis singled three times and scored twice for Philadelphia. Rookie Odubel Herrera doubled and had two RBIs.
Phillies: OF Domonic Brown was eligible to return to the majors after finishing a 20-day rehab assignment, but after being removed from the disabled list, the 2013 All-Star was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Brown was on the disabled list because of left Achilles tendinitis. After he went 5 for 42 in the last part of his rehab assignment, the Phillies decided not to bring him to the majors. Manager Ryne Sandberg said Brown would stay in the minors until “he’s ready to come here and help us.”
Cardinals: If RHP Adam Wainwright had not been injured, he was scheduled to make his next start on Thursday. Instead, he will be undergoing surgery on his left Achilles that day and LHP Tim Cooney will start in his place. Cooney, 24, will be making his major league debut.
A FIRST FOR PANAMA
For the first time in major league history, a pitcher born in Panama (Gonzalez) started a game throwing to a catcher born in Panama (Carlos Ruiz).
Even though Wainwright’s season-ending injury happened while batting, he is not ready to see the National League adopt the designated hitter. “Baseball is a National League game,” Wainwright said. “I wish both leagues would convert to National League baseball. You can’t point to another instance that the pitcher has hurt on Achilles (batting). The game in the National League is just a better game.”
RHP Aaron Harang, who has made more starts against the Cardinals than any active pitcher, will start for the Phillies on Wednesday night. In 27 starts against St. Louis, Harang is 7-15 with a 4.27 ERA. He has not beaten the Cardinals since 2009. RHP Carlos Martinez, 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA, will start for the Cardinals.
CLEVELAND (AP) — The defending American League champions took a hit Tuesday night, but they weren’t down for long.
Kendry Morales’ three-run homer capped a six-run seventh inning and the Kansas City Royals pounded out a season-high 18 hits to beat the Cleveland Indians 11-5 .
Kansas City’s big inning came after Cleveland had taken a 5-3 lead on Brandon Moss’ three-run homer in the sixth, but these Royals are playing like a team that plans on doing big things again this season.
“The whole vibe is not to give up,” Morales said through a translator. “The vibe on the bench and in the locker room is not to give up.”
Not only did the Royals respond immediately after falling behind, they quickly put the game away.
“The offense came right back and put a big six-spot on the board, which was great to see,” manager Ned Yost said.
While there were plenty of smiles on the Royals’ side, the mood was much different in the Indians’ clubhouse. Cleveland manager Terry Francona met with his team for a pep talk following Monday’s defeat, but the Indians, who have dropped four straight, lost for the eighth time in 11 games.
Cleveland (6-13) has the worst record in the American League and the worst home mark (1-6) in the majors.
“Something has to change real soon,” said Trevor Bauer, who allowed three runs in six innings after missing his last start because of food poisoning.
Alcides Escobar’s two-run double off Scott Atchison (0-1) tied the game. Escobar scored the go-ahead run from second on Mike Moustakas’ infield hit and Morales later hit his third homer of the season to dead center off Bryan Shaw.
Brandon Finnegan (1-0) picked up his first career win despite allowing Moss’ home run.
Alex Gordon homered and drove in two runs for the Royals. .
Bauer was in line for his third straight win, but Cleveland’s bullpen gave up eight runs over the final three innings.
Gordon’s leadoff homer in the second gave Kansas City the lead. Michael Bourn’s two-run single in the bottom of the inning put Cleveland ahead. Omar Infante’s single tied the game in the fourth before Gordon’s single in the sixth put the Royals ahead.
Kansas City’s go-ahead run in the seventh came after Escobar’s double tied the game. Escobar then showed off his speed by scoring from second on an infield hit.
“It’s a great piece of hitting and a tremendous piece of baserunning after that,” Yost said.
Finnegan, who pitched well down the stretch for the Royals last season after being called up from the minors, allowed one run in one inning. Chris Young, Jason Frasor and Yohan Pino all worked a scoreless inning.
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie allowed four runs in five-plus innings.
Young will start Friday against Detroit, taking the turn of suspended RHP Edinson Volquez. The 35-year-old Young has worked exclusively in relief, posting a 1-0 record and 2.08 ERA in four appearances.
Royals: RHP Greg Holland (right pectoral strain) could be activated off the DL when he is eligible on May 3. The two-time All-Star closer threw 15 pitches off a mound before the game. Holland played catch Sunday and Monday with no pain.
Indians: Nick Swisher (surgery on both knees) continued his minor league rehab at Triple-A Columbus with two hits and two RBIs as the DH on Tuesday. He could rejoin the Indians next week.
Royals: RHP Yordano Ventura, who is appealing his seven-game suspension for his involvement in a brawl against the White Sox last week, makes his fifth start of the season.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar will try to match a career-high three-game winning streak. He struck out a career-best 11 and held Detroit to one run in seven innings on Friday.