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BC-FL--Florida Sports Digest, FL

February 15, 2019

The supervisor is Mike Schneider. All times are in Eastern Time unless otherwise noted. If there are questions about stories, photos or photo contributions please call the Miami bureau at 1-800-824-5498 or 305-594-5825. Ian Mader is the News Editor and can be reached directly at imader@ap.org. If you have other statewide stories or breaking news of interest to AP members in Florida, send them via email to miami@ap.org or fax to 305-594-9265. The AP’s general website is www.ap.org. Reruns are also available from the Service Desk (800-838-4616) or from the Miami bureau.



MIAMI _ Right-hander Sergio Romo and the Miami Marlins have finalized a one-year contract that guarantees the reliever $2.5 million. Romo can earn an additional $250,000 in performance bonuses for games finished as part of the deal announced Friday: $50,000 each for 30, 35, 40, 45 and 50 games finished.


ST. PETERSBURG _ Detroit beat pitcher Michael Fulmer in the last salary arbitration case this year, leaving players with a 6-4 final record in decisions. Fulmer was awarded a raise from $575,200 to $2.8 million by Matt Goldberg, Robert Herzog and Elizabeth Neumeier, who heard the case Wednesday. Fulmer had asked for $3.4 million.


BRADENTON _ Francisco Liriano had a handful of offers during free agency that were basically the same. Teams wanted him to come to spring training on a minor league contract. Realizing he was not getting a major league deal, he returned to the team where he had his best run during his 13-year career. The 35-year-old left-hander agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Feb. 4, one week before spring training.


FORT MYERS _ The Minnesota Twins have talked a lot about how much they like their young core of players. They proved that Friday by locking up a pair of them, signing both right fielder Max Kepler and shortstop Jorge Polanco to five-year contracts. By Ken Powtak.


NEW YORK _ Right-hander Luis Severino avoided an arbitration hearing with the New York Yankees, agreeing Friday to a $40 million, four-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. Severino’s deal includes a team option for 2023 that could make the agreement worth $52.25 million for five seasons. If the option is not exercised, Severino would be eligible for free agency after the 2022 season. By Ronald Blum.


WEST PALM BEACH _ Roberto Osuna will close for the Houston Astros. “I can pretend and create some false competition, and that doesn’t gain any credibility,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “Transparency goes a long way, and maybe the closer question can be put to rest.” By Chuck King.


TAMPA _ Danny Farquhar wore a specially designed protective cap Friday during his first spring training bullpen session with the New York Yankees. Farquhar collapsed in the Chicago White Sox dugout last April 20 after pitching in the sixth inning against Houston. He was diagnosed with a ruptured aneurysm and brain hemorrhage, had surgery the next day and was hospitalized until May 7. Farquhar was not cleared to pitch again in 2018, became a free agent after the season and signed a minor league contract with the Yankees. By Mark Didtler.


LAKELAND _ It’s another spring and another chance for Daniel Norris to make the Detroit Tigers’ pitching rotation. This time, the 25-year-old left-hander is trying a more aggressive, mixed-martial arts approach to his training that includes tae kwon do, jiujitsu and kickboxing. By Dick Scanlon.


CLEARWATER _ With spring training underway, Philadelphia Phillies president Andy MacPhail is certain his team is built to win right now. As for adding someone like outfielder Bryce Harper or third baseman Manny Machado, he’s not fueling any speculation.

College Basketball:


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. _ This hasn’t been a typical season for Southeastern Conference women’s basketball, and the league could feel the consequences when the NCAA Tournament bracket comes out. When the Division I Women’s Basketball Committee offered its early projections of the top 16 NCAA Tournament seeds this week, No. 5 Mississippi State (22-2, 10-1 SEC) and No. 11 South Carolina (18-6, 10-1) were the only SEC teams included. If that’s how the bracket ends up, it would mark the first time since 2011 the SEC had only two of the top 16 seeds. By Steve Megargee.


RALEIGH, N.C. _ A look at the upcoming week around the Atlantic Coast Conference: GAME OF THE WEEKEND. By Joedy Mccreary.


Here are some things to watch in Southeastern Conference basketball this week: GAME OF THE WEEKEND. By Steve Megargee and David Brandt.



NAPLES _ Playing partners Sandy Lyle and Stephen Ames matched the course record at 8-under 63 to share the first-round lead Friday in the PGA Tour Champions’ Chubb Classic. Lyle topped a leaderboard for the first time in 155 career starts on the 50-and-over tour. The 61-year-old Scot won the 1985 British Open and 1988 Masters.


LOS ANGELES _ Matt Kuchar has apologized for what he says where insensitive comments about his caddie at the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico and says he will give him the $50,000 the caddie requested. Kuchar’s regular caddie couldn’t make the trip to Mexico in November, so he used David Ortiz from the El Camaleon Golf Club. Kuchar won the tournament and earned $1,296,000. Ortiz received $5,000. By Doug Ferguson.


LOS ANGELES _ J.B. Holmes made a hole-in-one on the sixth hole at Riviera on his way to an 8-under 63 and a one-shot lead over Jordan Spieth after one round of the rain-soaked Genesis Open. Spieth played six holes Friday morning to complete his round at 64. By Doug Ferguson.



DAYTONA BEACH _ Joe Gibbs was in the second season of owning his eponymous race team when the stress of a tight race at the Daytona 500 hit him. His relatively inexperienced son was working in the pits and driver Dale Jarrett was leading the race. Sure enough, Jarrett pulled in to his stall and tire changer J.D Gibbs would have to rise to the performance of his career. By Dan Gelston.


DAYTONA BEACH _ Kyle Busch had been sprayed with champagne and hoisted his winner’s trophy last July at Pocono Raceway when fans sitting high above the stage shouted his name so they could snap a quick photo. Busch craned his neck to oblige the requests and the signage on the premium seating structure was impossible to miss: the Richard Petty 200 Victory Circle. By Dan Gelston.


DAYTONA BEACH _ The Daytona 500 is shaping up to be a snoozer of a showcase. Three exhibition races produced lackluster racing and little excitement beyond a pair of crashes Jimmie Johnson triggered. Now expectations are sinking in anticipation of Sunday’s season-opening race and NASCAR has no plans to tweak the rules package, either. By Jenna Fryer.


DAYTONA BEACH _ There has been a string of goodbyes at Daytona International Speedway in recent years, from Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick. There is another one on tap Sunday: The Daytona 500 will be the final NASCAR race for restrictor plates, the horsepower-sapping devices reduce speed and were intended to improve safety at the nation’s fastest tracks. By Mark Long.


DAYTONA BEACH _ Among those trying to win the Daytona 500 this year are a Florida watermelon farmer, a short-track champion from New England, a television analyst and a 22-year-old whose career nearly was derailed by a brain tumor. The front row is the youngest in Daytona 500 history and it will be William Byron, a Liberty University student who had his wisdom teeth removed in the offseason, leading the field to green in Sunday’s showcase race to kick off the NASCAR season. By Jenna Fryer.


The 40 drivers competing in the 2019 Daytona 500, in order of starting position: By The Associated Press.


The AP, Miami