BC-FL--Florida Sports Digest, FL
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MIAMI _ Goran Dragic and Derrick Jones Jr. are on their way back to the Miami Heat rotation. Both practiced Wednesday and are available for Miami’s game at Philadelphia on Thursday. Dragic has played in only two of Miami’s last 41 games, and underwent surgery to clean out his right knee in December. Jones got bone bruises in his right knee after a fall in a game at New York last month.
MIAMI _ Emanuel Terry’s plans to play for his country this weekend have been thwarted, for a very good reason. He’s back in the NBA instead.
MIAMI _ Golden State is still the favorite for a fourth title in five years. Milwaukee, Toronto, Indiana, Boston, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Denver can all go ahead and cancel those mid-April vacation plans if they were foolish enough to have made them in the first place. By Tim Reynolds.
BATON ROUGE, La. _ No. 13 LSU has climbed into first place in the SEC by winning four straight and 14 of 15 as the Tigers host Florida on Wednesday night. Florida has won two straight after dropping three straight competitive games against Kentucky, Auburn and Tennessee, and the Gators could elevate their NCAA tournament credentials with a win at LSU. By Brett Martel. UPCOMING: 700 words, photos. Game starts at 7 p.m.
CLEARWATER _ Andrew McCutchen is ready to boost the Philadelphia Phillies with his bat, glove and brain. Signed to a $50 million, three-year contract, McCutchen said he enjoys his role as the veteran in the outfield and likes what he’s seen from his younger teammates.
BRADENTON _ Having watched the San Diego Padres reach a $300 million, 10-year deal with Manny Machado, Pirates owner Bob Nutting doesn’t think it makes sense Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington to add a pricey free agent. A huge salary could cause the portion paid to one player to be “overweight.”
PORT ST. LUCIE _ The New York Mets uttered that dreaded three-letter acronym for the first time in spring training, and it involved Jed Lowrie: MRI. Starting a $20 million, two-year contract, the infielder noticed the back of his left knee started to hurt last weekend after he was running, an issue he never felt before. He will go for a scan on Thursday. By Bill Whitehead.
LAKE BUENA VISTA _ Finding a job was pretty easy for Josh Donaldson. Proving he can keep it will be the tough part. The former AL MVP didn’t have to wait long for a new opportunity, signing a one-year, $23 million contract with the Atlanta Braves less than a month after the World Series ended. By Dick Scanlon.
JUPITER _ All-Star reliever Andrew Miller wonders whether, by signing Manny Machado, the San Diego Padres are becoming the new face of “Moneyball.” “Zig when you zag, maybe that’s what the Padres are doing right now,” the St. Louis newcomer said. “Maybe that’s what other teams, the teams that do stand out, maybe they’ll find success.” By Chuck King.
TAMPA _ Troy Tulowitzki took a called third strike in his first simulated game of spring training and followed with a drive down the right-field line that would have been over Yankee Stadium’s right-field wall. “Honestly I feel good, ready to go,” he said. “Just excited to play.” By Mark Didtler.
FORT MYERS _ The normally gregarious Rocco Baldelli has been quite tight-lipped about his plans for the closer role, entering his first season as Minnesota’s manager. That’s the biggest unanswered question for the Twins in spring training. The good news for them, and their rookie skipper, is that there is no shortage of options. By Dana Caldwell.
NEW YORK _ Neil Walker’s salary dropped from $17.2 million to $2 million in two years. Greg Holland was cut from $14 million to $2 million this season. Daniel Murphy fell from $17.5 million to $10 million. While Manny Machado agreed to a pending $300 million, 10-year contract with San Diego and Bryce Harper is likely to top Giancarlo Stanton’s record $325 million, 13-year deal, many less-than-superstar veterans have been routed on the free-agent market. By Ronald Blum.
DELRAY BEACH _ Second-seeded John Isner advanced to the third round of the Delray Beach Open on Wednesday night, beating Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-4, 6-3. The 6-foot-10 American set up a match against eighth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France, a 6-2, 7-6 (3) winner over Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan in the outdoor hardcourt event at Delray Beach Stadium & Tennis Center.
AROUND THE NHL
Thomas Vanek remembers waking up in Edmonton, Alberta, and turning on the TV in his hotel room to find out where he was heading. It was March 5, 2014, the NHL’s trade deadline day, and Vanek’s bags were packed. He knew he had played his final game a few days earlier for the New York Islanders after rejecting the team’s bid to sign the pending free agent to a contract extension. By John Wawrow.
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