Kemba Walker Injury: Celtics Guard Misses Practice After Hard Workout — NESN.com

Should Boston Celtics fans be worried about Kemba Walker? The team insists the All-Star guard is fine, but… Walker missed Wednesday’s practice at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex following the previous day’s “hard” workout, according to the team. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters that Walker is on an every-other-day workout schedule…

Kemba Walker Injury: Celtics Guard Misses Practice After Hard Workout — NESN.com

Astros reliever Joe Smith opts out of 2020 season — HardballTalk | NBC Sports

Smith has been a key part of the Astros bullpen over the past couple of seasons, posting a 3.06 ERA in 84 appearances in 2018 and 2019.

Astros reliever Joe Smith opts out of 2020 season — HardballTalk | NBC Sports

By Craig CalcaterraJul 15, 2020, 9:04 AM EDT1 Comment

Jim Bowden of The Athletic reports that Astros reliever Joe Smith has opted out of 2020 season. Previously, Smith had cited “concerns about the health and safety of his family” as his reasoning for not reporting to Astros summer camp, and those concerns no doubt are the reason for his decision to forego the 2020 campaign.

Smith has been a key part of the Astros bullpen over the past couple of seasons, posting a 3.06 ERA in 84 appearances in 2018 and 2019. He was particularly important last season, as he posted a 1.80 ERA in 28 appearances after returning from a torn achilles tendon, after which he appeared in 10 of Houston’s 18 postseason games. His absence will be especially felt given that Houston is already dealing with the absence of Jose Urquidy who has yet to make it to Astros Summer Camp.

Smith is the 14th player to opt out so far this year.

Follow @craigcalcaterra

AP sources: About 10 MLB umpires opt-out over virus concerns — www.elizabethton.com

BY BEN WALKER AP BASEBALL WRITER About 10 Major League Baseball umpires have opted out this season, choosing not to work games in the shortened schedule because of concerns over the coronavirus. Two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press about the decisions on Tuesday. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because […]

AP sources: About 10 MLB umpires opt-out over virus concerns — www.elizabethton.com

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher David Price, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, and Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman are among a dozen or so players who won’t participate this year because of health issues. The 60-game, virus-abbreviated season begins July 23.

There are 76 full-time MLB umpires and more than 20 of them are age 55 or over. Joe West and Gerry Davis are the oldest umps at 67.

Umpires who are deemed at risk — either for their age, health situation, or other issues — and opt-out will continue to get paid. Umps get their salaries over 12 months and have already been paid through April.

A deal between MLB and its umpires reached during the virus shutdown ensured that if even one regular-season game was played this season, the umps were guaranteed 37.5% of their salaries.

Umpires recently began working intrasquad and simulated games at big league camps to sharpen up for the season. Teams are set to start exhibition games this weekend in preparation for opening day.

Minus 10 or more MLB umpires, many Triple-A umps will work the two-month season. Most of them have previously called games in the majors as a fill-in for umpires who have been injured or are on vacation.

“It gives guys an opportunity,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Some younger guys are going to get to be major league umpires for a season. That’ll be fun.”

Just as MLB redrew the schedule amid the virus outbreak, umpires are certain to see a shift, too. Crew assignments, travel arrangements, and schedules were still under review at the start of the week.

Red Sox Adding Temporary Dugouts In Stands To Social Distance During Games — NESN.com

Baseball is pretty friendly to social-distance measures compared to other sports, but with expanded rosters for the first month of the season, the Boston Red Sox don’t want too many guys crowding into the dugouts and bullpens. In trying to prevent that, the team is adding temporary wood structures or tents to serve as extra seating…

Red Sox Adding Temporary Dugouts In Stands To Social Distance During Games — NESN.com

Baseball is pretty friendly to social-distance measures compared to other sports, but with expanded rosters for the first month of the season, the Boston Red Sox don’t want too many guys crowding into the dugouts and bullpens. In trying to prevent that, the team is adding temporary wood structures or tents to serve as extra seating for home and visiting players at Fenway Park.

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke on Tuesday told reporters on a Zoom call that only nine players and three coaches will be allowed in the real dugouts at the same time. He said two extra dugouts will be added in the stands between home plate and each home and away dugout. The team also has discussed adding a structure behind the bullpens.

“Whether it will be tents or whether it will be a structure, I know they need to get going on that. And then in the bullpen, same thing. There’s another structure we’ve talked about behind the bullpen that both the visiting and home team can go back there,” Roenicke said. “And some taller chairs so we can have more guys in the bullpen. As it is right now, you can’t see (over the right-field wall) in the lower chairs. So you’ve got to get a higher chair and we can spread them out enough. I don’t know if we can have all the guys. If we go with eight to 10 guys (relief pitchers), I don’t know if we could have them all in there, but it is a process on how we’re going to do this during the game,” Roenicke said. Fenway saw other alterations as batting cages and weight rooms were added to the concourses while players utilized suits as locker rooms

Read more at: https://nesn.com/2020/07/red-sox-adding-temporary-dugouts-in-stands-to-social-distance-during-games/

NBA Rumors: ‘Multiple’ Tips Already Made About COVID-19 Rule Violations — NESN.com

The NBA has a strict set of new health and safety protocols surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, including an anonymous hotline for players to report any violations they come across on campus. And apparently, that hotline already has been put to good use. “Multiple” tips already have been reported regarding rule violations, The Athletic’s Shams Charania…

NBA Rumors: ‘Multiple’ Tips Already Made About COVID-19 Rule Violations — NESN.com

Blue Jays’ Cavan Biggio looking for fast start to season in which “anyone can win” — Toronto Sun

If you saw Bo Bichette blast the first pitch in Tuesday’s intrasquad game deep into the Rogers Centre seats, you certainly got the feeling that he’s ready. Read More

Blue Jays’ Cavan Biggio looking for fast start to season in which “anyone can win” — Toronto Sun