From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Alex Rodriguez and his potentially bruised ego might be the least of the New York Yankees' problems this offseason.Ace CC Sabathia is going to have his left elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews. Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera are aging stars dealing with major injuries. Hiroki Kuroda, Ichiro Suzuki and Nick Swisher are headed for free agency. The list is a long one for the ballclub that was handed one of its most embarrassing exits from the postseason: a thorough four-game sweep by the Detroit Tigers in the AL championship series."Sometimes quiet's a bad thing, right?" manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. "There's been other years here that have been extremely -- a lot of stuff going on in the offseason. Some injuries and other things we've had to deal with, and we've done just fine."While the Yankees will have plenty of decisions to make this offseason, the one that will garner the most headlines and create the biggest stir is what -- or what not -- to do with A-Rod. He returned from a broken hand in September and struggled down the stretch and right into postseason. The 37-year-old third-baseman's regular-season numbers were the lowest they've been in his career for a full season, finishing with 18 homers and 57 RBIs.Still, Girardi is planning for A-Rod to be in his lineup next year."I expect Alex to be our everyday third baseman. I do," Girardi said. "What does he have to show me? That he's healthy and ready to go."Even if the Yankees would like to trade the three-time MVP, it will be extremely difficult: they owe him at least 114 million over the next five seasons.Taking some time off after the team's early exit, Girardi hasn't spoken to Rodriguez since he benched the fading slugger three times in nine games this postseason and pinch hit for him on three other occasions. But he's prepared to deal with any of the fallout from decisions he insisted were well thought out."I'm always worried about whatever move I make, how it affects the club, how it affects a player, anything. I think it's something that, sure, I possibly might have to deal with more than I expected, but I possibly might may not have to deal with it at all," Girardi said. "As we move forward, I'll get a temperature on it, keep track of it and see how it's going."Girardi had less to offer on a myriad of possible issues that could affect the team next season.-- He felt confident that Sabathia will be ready for spring training even though the left-hander is going to have his elbow examined by the doctor who is renowned for performing elbow-reconstruction surgery known as Tommy John surgery. Sabathia went on the disabled list this August because of swelling in the elbow -- his second trip of the year to the DL after a groin strain."He pitched very well down the stretch, which made me feel very good about what's going on," Girardi said, "but at times people have to be evaluated to make sure everything is OK."-- Girardi also expects Jeter back on opening day. The captain had surgery Saturday after breaking his ankle on Oct. 13 during the ALCS. "Whenever a guy goes through something there are concerns because sometimes a player could rush it and tweak something else because he's rushing it and he's anxious to get out there ... so I think there's always a concern," Giradi said, "but, I mean, really in our hearts we believe that he's going to be ready for us."-- Giradi could not give a definitive answer on whether closer Mariano Rivera, out since tearing a ligament in his knee shagging flyballs in early May, will return next season. The closer, who will be 43 on Nov. 29, has been going through a rigorous rehab and has said he wants to return. But Girardi said he's never asked directly if he would come back. "I don't think you go through a rehab like he went with the intensity if you don't have some inkling that you want to come back," Girardi said.Rivera's status will certainly affect Rafael Soriano. He saved 42 games in place of No. 42 and now has the option to walk away from a 14 million salary for next year, terminate his contract and become a free agent.-- On Andy Pettitte: Girardi is not sure the 40-year-old lefty will be back. Pettitte went 5-4, 2.87 ERA in his return from a one-year retirement, a season interrupted when he broke a bone in his lower leg. "There's a lot of hunger and fire there," he said. "Every year as you get a year older you have to ask yourself and your family am I ready to give up eight months of my life."-- Girardi is entering the final year of a three-year contract but doesn't expect to discuss it until after next season. "I understand how it works here and I'm OK with that," Girardi said.
SACRAMENTO -- The new-look Sacramento Kings stunned the Denver Nuggets Thursday night in their first game without DeMarcus Cousins. They look to make it two straight Saturday afternoon when Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets drop by Golden 1 Center for a 2pm matinee.
Welcome to the big leagues Willie Cauley-Stein. The second-year big man went off for a career-high 29 points against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets last time out. Highlight reel dunks are becoming the norm for the athletic 7-footer as he tries to fill some of the void left by Cousins’ departure.
The Hornets are on a slide. Losers of 12-of-13, including an overtime stumble against the Pistons on Thursday, Charlotte sits 3.5 games out of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Hornets by 2.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Tyreke Evans vs. Nic Batum -- Evans will likely come off the bench in his second game back in Sacramento. The former top pick of the Kings is still playing himself into game shape after missing most of the first half of the season with a knee injury. He dropped in 15 points, three assists in four rebounds against Denver as a point forward. Batum is a versatile wing that loves to stuff the stat sheet. Walker is the primary scorer, but Batum is the player that make the Hornets go.
WHERE THEY STAND
Kings: 25-33, third place in Pacific
Hornets: 24-33, fourth place in Central
Kings: SG Arron Afflalo (hamstring) out, SG Malachi Richardson (right hamstring partial tear) out, G/F Garrett Temple (left hamstring partial tear) out, F Rudy Gay (torn left Achilles) out for season.
Hornets: C Cody Zeller (quad contusion) questionable, C Miles Plumlee (calf) out, PG Ramon Sessions (knee) out.
The Hornets swept the season series 2-0 last season, but Sacramento came away with a 109-106 win in the only matchup this year. Charlotte holds a 13-11 lead in the all-time series between the two clubs.
“We’ve got a very solid locker room. Even though a couple people aren’t there, guys have an opportunity to step forward in leadership and hug on each other and there’s lots of smiles and hugs right now and [we got] the first one out of the way. That’s a positive vibe to have just to come to work every day. So I think that’s positive.” -Dave Joerger following the win over Denver
MESA, Ariz. — In his heart, Liam Hendriks wanted to pitch for his national team in the World Baseball Classic. In reality, the A’s reliever just couldn’t justify it.
So Hendriks withdrew from joining Team Australia for its first-round games in Tokyo. He becomes the second Athletic to bow out of the WBC after left fielder Khris Davis decided not to play for Mexico. Relievers John Axford (Canada) and Santiago Casilla (Dominican Republic), and starter Sonny Gray (United States) are still slated to play, though Gray wouldn’t join the American squad unless it advances to Round 2 and Casilla still hasn’t reported to A’s camp because of visa issues, so his exact plans aren’t known.
“When I really sat down and thought about it, I’m not quite where I want to be to be pitching in competitive games yet,” Hendriks said Saturday morning. “I’m not hurt or anything like that. There’s no issues, I feel great physically. But it’s one of those things, I’m not quite ready to go into a game, and I know if I get into a situation where if I push it a little bit more, I’m going to overextend myself and I don’t want to do that. And I don’t want to risk this season coming up with Oakland.”
Hendriks told Australian officials he could be available for Round 2, but it will be a joint decision between how he was feeling and whether the Aussie pitching staff needs him.
The right-hander was originally scheduled to pitch in Saturday’s Cactus League opener, in an effort to get him into game shape for the WBC. Now that he’s not playing in the first round, the A’s are slowing him down just a bit. Hendriks will throw on the side a bit more and then throw live batting practice before pitching in an exhibition.
“I could pitch in a game right now … but I’m not confident in all my pitches,” he said. “I’m confident in my spring training pitches, but it’s not midseason form like I’d want to be to be able to perform for that (Australian) team.”
The 30-hour round trip travel to Tokyo also complicated things, with Hendriks saying his throwing schedule would have been thrown out of whack upon his return.
Now 28, Hendriks pointed out that he got to pitch in the 2009 WBC as a wide-eyed 20-year-old, getting his roster spot because a veteran backed out. He’s hopeful another youngster now gets the same opportunity.
Hendriks posted a 3.76 ERA in 53 appearances last season, but pitched particularly well over the second half of the season, setting him up as an important piece of this year’s A's bullpen.
“It’s just a better decision for my career and my season,” he said.