B.J. Upton finds himself a new team

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B.J. Upton finds himself a new team

From Comcast SportsNetATLANTA (AP) -- Free-agent outfielder B.J. Upton and the Atlanta Braves have agreed to a 75.25 million, five-year contract, a person familiar with the deal said Wednesday night.The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been completed. It is expected to be announced Thursday once Upton passes his physical.Upton's deal would be the biggest free-agent contract of the offseason so far and the largest in Braves history.The 28-year-old Upton hit .246 with 28 homers, 78 RBIs and 31 stolen bases for Tampa Bay last season. He will replace free agent Michael Bourn as the Braves' center fielder and provide a needed right-handed power bat for the lineup.Upton made his debut with Tampa Bay in 2004. His first full season was 2007, when he hit a career-best .300 with 24 homers and 22 stolen bases.The speedy outfielder's home run totals have increased in each of the last three seasons, but he has hit below .250 with more than 150 strikeouts in four straight years.Bourn was the Braves' leadoff hitter, but Upton is not expected to fill that role. The Braves might shop for a left fielder to hit leadoff, with Martin Prado expected to move from the outfield to third base following Chipper Jones' retirement.Young shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who hit .289 with a .335 on-base percentage as a rookie, could be an option to bat leadoff. Prado was the normal No. 2 hitter.The deal with Upton comes only five days before the start of baseball's winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn.Upton is an expensive addition, but the big move is not a surprise.General manager Frank Wren said after the season he would have funds available to make a notable offseason acquisition. Jones had a 14 million base salary last season and Bourn's was 6,845,000.Wren said he entered the offseason with "a pretty narrow focus" because he only had to replace Bourn and Jones."Beyond that, our club is pretty solid," Wren said after the Braves' wild-card playoff loss to St. Louis.Upton adds to what Wren said is a "dynamic young core" of players. He will join first baseman Freddie Freeman, right fielder Jason Heyward, catcher Brian McCann and second baseman Dan Uggla as power hitters.McCann's status for the start of the season is uncertain. He had surgery on his right shoulder in October. The rehabilitation could carry into the first month of the season.Gerald Laird signed a two-year, 3 million deal with Atlanta earlier this month to serve as McCann's backup. Laird, who hit .282 with AL champion Detroit, could open the season as the starter if McCann is not ready.

Warriors, Cavs to square off in ultimate NBA Finals trilogy

Warriors, Cavs to square off in ultimate NBA Finals trilogy

The Trilogy has arrived.

The Warriors. The Cavaliers. Facing each other in the NBA Finals for the third consecutive postseason. The series begins June 1 with Game 1 at Oracle Arena.

With a 135-102 victory over the Celtics Thursday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs advance to face a Warriors team riding the wave created by being the first club in NBA history to start the postseason with 12 straight wins.

With the teams splitting the first two Finals, the Warriors winning in 2015 and the Cavs prevailing last June, this one is to break the tie.

In the meantime, both teams have done some significant retooling.

The Warriors last summer added four-time scoring champion Kevin Durant, along with veterans JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia and David West.

Though LeBron James remains the hub of the Cavs, the team made several in-season changes, most notably adding veterans Kyle Korver and Deron Williams.

The Warriors came into the playoffs having earned the No. 1 overall seed by virtue of their NBA-best 67-15 record. They’re 27-1 since March 11, having ended the regular season by winning 15 of their last 16 games before taking out Portland, Utah and San Antonio in four games each to reach The Finals.

The Cavaliers (51-31) held the top seed in the East for most of the season before staggering over the final six weeks, going 9-12 over their final 21 games, including four consecutive losses to end the season.

Cleveland seems to have recovered from its late-season slump, sweeping Indiana and Toronto in the first two rounds before ousting the Celtics in five.

The Warriors and Cavs split two games in the regular season, each team winning on its home floor. Cleveland took a 109-108 decision on Christmas Day, while the Warriors came back for a 126-91 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Oakland.

The NBA Finals schedule can be seen below. 

Game 1 – Thu  June  1  Cleveland at Golden State          6:00PM  

Game 2 – Sun  June  4  Cleveland at Golden State          5:00PM  

Game 3 – Wed  June  7  Golden State at Cleveland          6:00PM  

Game 4 – Fri  June  9  Golden State at Cleveland             6:00PM  

Game 5 * Mon  June 12  Cleveland at Golden State          6:00PM  

Game 6 * Thu  June 15  Golden State at Cleveland          6:00PM  

Game 7 * Sun  June 18  Cleveland at Golden State          5:00PM    

Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres

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USATSI

Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres

WASHINGTON — Dusty Baker will miss the Washington Nationals weekend series against the San Diego Padres to attend his son Darren’s graduation.

Baker said he will rejoin Washington when it begins a three-game series in San Francisco on Monday, near Baker’s offseason home. Bench coach Chris Speier will assume managerial duties against the Padres.

Baker’s son Darren is graduating from Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California. He’s committed to play college baseball at Cal.

As a 3-year-old bat boy, Darren was rescued from a potential home plate collision by J.T. Snow in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series between Baker’s Giants and the Angels.