BC-FL--Florida Sports Digest, FL
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OKLAHOMA CITY _ The Thunder try to beat the Miami Heat without Russell Westbrook, who was suspended for a game after collecting his 16th technical of the season. UPCOMING: 650 words, with photos. Game starts at 8 p.m.
TAMPA _ The NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning try to extend a four-game winning streak when they face the visiting Arizona Coyotes. By Erik Erlendsson. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos. Game starts at 7:30 p.m.
BLUE JAYS-MINOR LEAGUE SALARIES
DUNEDIN _ Union head Tony Clark lauded the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday for giving minor league players a 50 percent raise, and he hopes other clubs do the same. Representatives from the players’ association visited the Blue Jays spring training camp a day after The Athletic reported the team planned to boost pay for all minor leaguers, some making as little as $1,100 a month during the five-month season. By comparison, the major league minimum is $550,000 per year, and the top players make over $30 million annually. By Jake Seiner.
KISSIMMEE _ Atlanta Braves right-hander Julio Teheran is set to make his sixth straight start on opening day. The Braves said Monday that Teheran will face the Phillies on March 28 in Philadelphia.
WEST PALM BEACH _ Among various sheets of paper thumbtacked to the corkboard in Dave Martinez’s spring training office — Florida Kitchen Staff, Important Dates, Pitchers Work Groups — there’s one in the upper-left corner entitled Face Fear Like Bison. The Washington Nationals’ manager came across its three-sentence message this offseason: “When a storm brews on the horizon, most animals run away from it. But bison instinctively run directly toward storms to minimize the amount of time they’re exposed to the elements. So face adversity head-on and power through whatever comes your way.” By Howard Fendrich.
JUPITER _ Jack Flaherty has done the math, and it all adds up. The young St. Louis pitcher is in line to start the Cardinals’ home opener. “Freakin’ cool,” the 23-year-old Flaherty said, sporting a huge grin. “To put it as forward as I can, it would be freakin’ sweet.” By Chuck King.
BRADENTON _ Jung Ho Kang and Erik Gonzalez have won starting jobs in the infield with the Pittsburgh Pirates. General manager Neal Huntington said Monday that Kang has beaten out Colin Moran at third base and Erik Gonzalez has won the shortstop competition over Kevin Newman.
TAMPA _ Jacoby Ellsbury expects to play again following a hip injury, but when that will be is not clear. “It’s hard to say,” the 35-year-old New York Yankees center fielder said Monday. “We’re putting a plan together right now. But definitely headed in the right direction.” By Mark Didtler.
PORT ST. LUCIE _ Dominic Smith honed his defensive skills as a youngster, creating games for himself in his backyard. Now, the New York Mets are finally starting to see the all-around game that made the first baseman a top draft pick out of high school. At his childhood home in Los Angeles, Smith would spend hours practicing by himself by throwing a ball in his barren backyard, firing it repeatedly at a staircase to create an unpredictable grounder or flyball. By Bill Whitehead.
FOOTBALL PLAYERS SHOT
MIAMI _ Authorities say two Texas A&M University-Commerce football players are recovering in a Florida hospital after being shot during a robbery. A Miami police statement says the robbery occurred Saturday morning. The school identified the players as redshirt junior linebackers Jay Bias and Xavier Morris.
GAINESVILLE _ Jalen Hudson sent one text seconds after Florida’s NCAA Tournament pairing was announced. The senior messaged the eyes emoji to close friends, former Amateur Athletic Union teammates and current Nevada standouts Caleb and Cody Martin. By Mark Long.
MIAMI _ Guard-center Chris Reed has signed with the Miami Dolphins, who lost three offensive linemen at the start of free agency. Reed spent the past four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he made eight starts and played in 25 games. He was undrafted out of Minnesota State.
INDY 500-BALLOON BILLBOARD
INDIANAPOLIS _ A billboard urging the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to end its tradition of releasing thousands of balloons before the Indianapolis 500 has been removed. The sign unveiled this week in Indianapolis depicted someone holding a shredded balloon and read, “Balloons pollute and kill,” followed by the hashtag “StopLitteringIMS.” The sign was removed Monday.
DAVENPORT _ New U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter announced an intriguing position change after his first training session with the full American player pool, moving Tyler Adams to right back and DeAndre Yedlin to wide midfield. Yedlin, a 25-year-old who is among the veterans retained after the failure to qualify for last year’s World Cup, has been primarily a right back for the national team and Newcastle in England. By Ronald Blum.
MIAMI OPEN PREVIEW
MIAMI GARDENS _ At the main entrance to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium stands a statue of Dan Marino as a witness to a game-changing completion. A remarkable transformation is done, and the complex is ready for tennis. By Steven Wine.
RORY ON A ROLL
PONTE VEDRA BEACH _ Rory McIlroy managed to block out all the noise, all the distractions, and this was long before he even reached the pivotal three-hole finish at the TPC Sawgrass to win The Players Championship. McIlroy, more than any other player, has been looked upon as golf’s next big thing in the decade since age and injuries began to slow Tiger Woods. By Doug Ferguson.
The AP, Miami