Bolt promises more antics for his fans

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Bolt promises more antics for his fans

From Comcast SportsNet Thursday, August 25, 2011
DAEGU, South Korea (AP) -- Usain Bolt promises more antics and more amusement when the always entertaining sprinter takes the track at the world championships. As for more records, well, even the Jamaican sensation thinks that might be a bit of a stretch. Bolt isn't anywhere near his record-setting form of 2009, when he shattered his own marks in the 100 and 200 meters. Calling this his "comeback season," Bolt downplayed expectations at a Jamaican-themed event Thursday. He's contending with nagging injuries, which have hampered his training. Tip-top shape or not, Bolt has a clear path in the 100, especially with Asafa Powell withdrawing because of a lingering groin injury and American rival Tyson Gay already sidelined due to a surgically repaired hip. Once again, Bolt's only real competition may be against the clock, even if he doesn't think he can lower his time of 9.58 seconds set at the worlds in Berlin two years ago. "I don't think I'm in 9.5 shape," Bolt conceded. "But I definitely think I will be able to run fast." When hasn't he? It's all part of his plan to become a "legend" in the sprint game. Defend his title in Daegu, claim another next year at the London Olympics, and his place among the track greats will be etched. "A lot of people have their own goals. My goal is to become a legend," the 25-year-old Bolt said. "I'm working on it." Bolt certainly knows how to make a grand entrance. He was the guest of honor at a get-together Thursday, strolling in with reggae music blaring in the background. He did a little shuffle before lounging on a couch set in the center of an auditorium to answer questions from a moderator. "I've been working hard in training to get everything right for this one moment," said Bolt, who donned a hat with his initials "UB" interlocked. "I think I'm ready. I'm focused and going to take everybody seriously." But it's a watered-down field with all the injuries and no-shows because of doping issues. Powell had the best time in the world this season and was going to provide the biggest threat before suddenly pulling out, a move that even caught Bolt by surprise. "Asafa's out? That's the first I heard of it," Bolt said. Now, Bolt's top challenger just may be Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago, whose best time came this season at 9.85 seconds. Bolt's top mark this year is 9.86. In a promotional appearance earlier in the day across town, Gay picked Bolt to win the 100. That's hardly going out on a limb. Still, Bolt appreciated the nod. "I guess he knows what he's talking about," Bolt said. "At the championships, I'm much more focused. I really want it really bad." Bolt has been contending with back issues, which forced him to shut down his season early in 2010. He's still attempting to round into the form that led to a sensational showing in Berlin, when he not only broke his world record in the 100 but also his mark in the 200 (19.19) as well. "I think people expect a lot from me," Bolt said. "Personally, I'm just focused on winning. The pressure is always there. Even before I won my first gold medal, it was always there." His way of coping with the stress is by clowning around. Like record-setting performances, his antics are almost expected at big meets. "That's just who I am. I like to have fun, like to make people laugh," Bolt said. "The fans like seeing me being me and trying to enjoy the championships as much as possible." But, for once, Bolt was rattled. So calm and cool on the track, he didn't know how to answer a question lobbed at him. Someone asked about his longtime girlfriend and when he was going to marry her. He squirmed and sank into the couch before quickly recovering. "Presently, I don't want to talk about personal life," he said as he tried to stifle a laugh. "It's all about business at this championships. Let's keep it business." Sitting in the back of the packed auditorium was former Olympic gold medalist Maurice Greene, intently listening to Bolt's every word. Greene said this kind of personality, this kind of talent, was exactly what track needed. "Anytime you can get the interest built up like this and have people come out and talk good things about the sport, it's great," Greene said. "He's very important. He's making a name for (track) right now. That's a good thing." Even as he dominates on the track, Bolt is already planning his next line of work -- football. If the Manchester United wanted him on the field for his speed, he would definitely go to the English Premier League. But that's for a later time, maybe when he's 28 and contemplating retirement, he said. Until then, Bolt's interested in only one thing: making his name stand out above track's greatest stars. "A lot of people have said that I'm a legend," Bolt said. "I don't look at it like that. But I'm working on it."

A's spring training Day 43: Shore K's Trout in surprise big league start

A's spring training Day 43: Shore K's Trout in surprise big league start

TEMPE, Ariz. — Rather than join his minor league teammates for workouts like usual, Logan Shore got word Tuesday morning he would take the ball for the A’s against the Los Angeles Angels.

A few hours later, Shore was striking out Mike Trout to highlight his impressive four-inning outing. What an experience it was for Shore, a right-hander drafted last summer in the second round out of the University of Florida.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “There’s not really any words to describe that.”

The A’s scratched No. 5 starter Raul Alcantara, opting to throw him in a minor league game rather than let a division opponent get another look at him for scouting-report purposes. That presented Shore with a surprise opportunity.

He responded with four innings of one-run ball, holding the Angels to two hits. The game would take an ugly turn as the A’s bullpen got lit up in a 14-3 loss. But Shore’s outing was a glimpse of what Oakland might have to look forward to with the 22-year-old. The righty didn’t come out of college with the same hype as Florida teammate A.J. Puk, who the A’s drafted sixth overall last June. But he’s thought to be more polished than Puk at this stage.

Shore went 0-2 with a 2.57 ERA in seven starts with short-season Vermont in his pro debut. This spring, he’s been grouped with high Single-A Stockton, but he hasn’t received his official regular-season assignment yet.

“That’s the kind of lineup that gets your attention a little bit,” manager Bob Melvin said. “I thought he threw the ball really well. He had great command of his fastball, a backdoor sinker, good changeup, good slider. He probably got a little bit tired at the end, but he was very impressive. That’s the first time I got to see him throw.”

Shore pitched in relief for the A’s earlier this spring as a minor league extra, so that helped him keep his nerves in check Tuesday. Still, it was a different challenge tackling what closely resembled the Angels’ regular-season lineup, which features Trout and Albert Pujols in the meat of it.

Trout struck out and flied to right against Shore. Pujols flied to right and singled.

“I grew up watching all those guys, so it’s kind of cool to get to pitch against them,” he said.

HEALTH UPDATES: Left fielder Khris Davis and third baseman Trevor Plouffe, both nursing minor injuries, won’t return to the field until the Bay Bridge Series which starts Thursday night at AT&T Park, Melvin said. Plouffe has missed the past few games with a groin injury and Davis has a right quad issue.

“We’ll just bubble wrap them right now and send them home,” Melvin cracked.

Right-hander Chris Bassitt took another step in his Tommy John recovery with a 30-pitch session that included two sets of 15 pitches, simulating two innings with a break in between.

NOTEWORTHY: The A’s play their Cactus League finale Wednesday on the road against the Cubs, but most of the game will feature minor leaguers. All of the players who are heading north to face the Giants will be leaving for the airport sometime in the latter stages of the game.

On that topic, the A’s announced the 43 players that will make up their Bay Bridge roster. It includes 30 players from the 40-man roster, six non-roster invitees and seven extras from minor league camp. Oakland officially has 36 players still in camp, with Saturday the deadline to cut down to the final 25-man roster.

ODDS AND ENDS: After Shore left the game, the Angels struck for five runs in the fifth against Liam Hendriks. … The next inning, highly touted prospect Grant Holmes gave up five runs (four earned) in two-thirds of an inning. Holmes was one of three righties acquired from the Dodgers in the Rich Hill/Josh Reddick trade. Jharel Cotton and Frankie Montas were the others.

 

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

Goodell reacts to suggestion Kaepernick is being 'blackballed'

PHOENIX – NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday he does not believe quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being “blackballed” in his attempt to continue his career.

“I haven’t heard that from our clubs in any way that that’s an issue,” Goodell said during his press conference to conclude the NFL owners meetings.

“My experience in 35 years is that our clubs make independent evaluations of players. They work hard to try to improve their teams. But if they think a player can help improve their team, they’re going to do that.”

Kaepernick remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent after opting out of his 49ers contract earlier this month. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman this week was asked on ESPN’s "First Take" whether he felt Kaepernick was being blackballed.

"I'm sure he is," Sherman answered. "It's difficult to see because he's played at such a high level, and you see guys, quarterbacks, who have never played at a high level being signed by teams. So it's difficult to understand."

General manager John Lynch on Tuesday said the 49ers have not had any contact with Kaepernick since he and coach Kyle Shanahan met with Kaepernick on Feb. 22 in Santa Clara. The 49ers signed free-agent quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley have shown no interest in re-signing Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, 29, created a controversy last season when he opted to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem to protest racial inequality in the United States. Kaepernick has decided to stand for the national anthem this season.

Earlier in the day, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said it was “stupid” and “intellectually lazy” to think teams have colluded to keep Kaepernick out of the league. Last week, former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, John’s brother, said Kaepernick is still an outstanding player and can win championships.

“I absolutely think he’s going to get signed,” John Harbaugh said. “I agree with Jim. He can win games for people.”