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Update on the latest in sports:

December 27, 2018

MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

He promised: LeBron James is the AP’s male athlete of 2018

UNDATED (AP) — LeBron James went to the NBA Finals for the eighth consecutive year. He changed addresses again, leaving his Cleveland home for the second time to join the Los Angeles Lakers in the biggest move of free agency over the summer. He remained arguably the dominant player in the basketball, adding even more glitz on a legacy that reached epic status long ago.

It was, by any measure, a fantastic year for James.

And even without a title, it may have been his most significant year.

For the third time, James has been selected as The Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year — after 2018 saw him continue to excel on the court, open the “I Promise” school for at-risk children in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and further use his voice as an activist who bristled at being told to “shut up and dribble.”

James received 78 points in balloting by U.S. editors and news directors announced Thursday, while Boston Red Sox star Mookie Betts was second with 46. Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals was third, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was fourth and Triple Crown winner Justify was fifth.

NHL NEWS

Matthews, McDavid, Ovechkin earn ‘C’ for All-Star weekend

NEW YORK (AP) — Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will be two of the four team captains at the NHL All-Star weekend next month in San Jose.

McDavid (Pacific Division), Matthews (Atlantic), Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (Central) and Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin (Metropolitan) won fan votes to earn the captaincies and the first roster spots for the event, Jan. 25-26.

Matthews will make his third All-Star appearance and first as captain, while McDavid will captain the Pacific Division for the third time in as many appearances.

MacKinnon is heading to All-Star weekend for the third time, while Ovechkin makes his eighth appearance.

The rest of the All-Stars will be determined by the NHL’s hockey operations department.

The head coach of the team with the highest points percentage (points earned divided by total possible points) in each of the four divisions at the halfway point of the regular season will guide the respective All-Star rosters.

All-Star weekend will feature a three-game tournament in a 3-on-3 format.

MLB NEWS

Nationals again boost rotation, agree to deal with Sanchez

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Nationals have agreed to terms on a two-year contract with right-hander Anibal Sanchez.

The deal, announced Thursday by the Nationals, includes a team option for 2021.

The 34-year-old Sanchez will add depth to Washington’s new-look rotation after boosting his appeal with a comeback season for NL East rival Atlanta. The Nationals signed Patrick Corbin to a six-year deal earlier this month.

Sanchez, a native of Maracay, Venezuela, was perhaps the Braves’ most consistent starter as he posted a 2.83 ERA in 25 games, including 24 starts. He was 7-6 and had 135 strikeouts in 136 2/3 innings. It was a remarkable turnaround after Sanchez struggled in 2017 with a 6.41 ERA with Detroit.

NFL NEWS

Redskins place Jordan Reed, Colt McCoy on injured reserve

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — The Washington Redskins have placed tight end Jordan Reed and quarterback Colt McCoy on injured reserve.

Reed (strained toe muscle) and McCoy (broken leg) already had been ruled out for Washington’s season-ending game against Philadelphia on Sunday.

The Redskins signed defensive end Marcus Smith and defensive back Alex Carter to their active roster.

Reed leads the Redskins with 54 catches for 558 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games.

McCoy played in three games, including two starts, and completed 34 of 54 passes for 372 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.

WTA NEWS

Serena welcomes rule change on players back from pregnancy

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Serena Williams has welcomed the extra protection given to new mothers when they return to the women’s tennis tour.

The WTA rule changes were agreed on this month and are meant to ensure players are not penalized after they return from pregnancy or an injury that causes a long absence.

The changes were prompted in part by the experiences of former No. 1 players Williams and Victoria Azarenka, both of whom returned to competition after giving birth.

The WTA announced that players returning to the tour may use a special ranking for up to three years after the birth of a child, and the exemption can be used for seedings at big events.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion said Thursday in quotes published by BBC Sport. “Women that are younger can go out there and have kids and not have to worry about it, and not have to wait until the twilight of their years to have children.”

Williams was unseeded at the French Open in her first major since the birth of her daughter — despite having won the previous major she played, the 2017 Australian Open. Williams was seeded 25th at Wimbledon and 17th at the U.S. Open, and she reached the finals and lost at both of those majors.

RUSSIAN DOPING

Russian anti-doping seeks Putin’s help to release lab data

MOSCOW (AP) — The head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency has asked President Vladimir Putin for help in getting key doping data released to World Anti-Doping Agency inspectors.

WADA reinstated the suspended RUSADA in September on the condition Russian authorities hand over lab data, which could help confirm violations uncovered during an investigation that revealed a state-sponsored doping program designed to win medals at the 2014 Olympics and other major events.

WADA officials said this month they left Moscow empty-handed after Russian authorities prevented them from accessing data. Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov, however, told local media the WADA team would return.

In an emotionally charged letter released on Thursday, RUSADA chief Yuri Ganus appealed to Putin to reverse the decision and allow the data to be given to WADA inspectors. Ganus warned that refusal to do so would hurt Russia’s efforts to clean up its sports from doping.

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