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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Alex Rodriguez ‘having fun’ as he closes to within 1 home run of Willie Mays

04.27.15 at 7:43 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Blue Jays at Red Sox, 6:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Nationals at Braves, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
MLB: Giants at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Bucks at Bulls, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA playoffs: Grizzlies at Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
NHL playoffs: Lightning at Red Wings, 7 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Islanders at Capitals, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Alex Rodriguez closed to within one home run of tying Willie Mays for fourth place on Major League Baseball‘s career list with his first-inning shot off Mets starter Jon Niese on Sunday night, although the Yankees continue to downplay his accomplishments.

The team has made it clear it will fight to avoid paying Rodriguez the $6 million bonus he is due for tying Mays, based on his use of performance-enhancing drugs that led to his season-long suspension in 2014. And the Yankees have not promoted Rodriguez’s pursuit of the home run title this season.

Asked about the situation Sunday night, Rodriguez said: “I don’t have a marketing degree. I’m just focusing on playing baseball.”

Fans at Yankee Stadium continued to be supportive of Rodriguez, who had a double in Sunday’s game, helping the Yankees rally for a 6-4 victory that puts them at 11-8 and tied for first in the American League East.

“It was energizing,” he said of the fans’ support Sunday. “The buzz was incredible. To feel that energy was pretty cool.”

Added Rodriguez: “I’m excited about the win today, the home run, and I’m having fun.”

— Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright might miss the rest of the season with the ankle injury he suffered while batting in Saturday’s game against the Brewers.

Wainwright was placed on the 15-day disabled list after stumbling out of the batter’s box on a fly out in the fifth inning and being helped off the field.

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Thinking Out Loud: Kris Dunn not done at Providence

04.25.15 at 1:49 am ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering how to channel my inner Clark Griswold this week.

— We’ve maintained here from Day 1 — whenever that was — that Kris Dunn was a strong lean toward returning for his senior academic season at Providence College next year. Getting his degree from Providence is important to Kris, and to his family, and the realization that his game still needs improvement is a big reason why he’ll wear the black and white for one more season.

— That, and next year’s NBA draft class is already expected to be quite a bit leaner than this year’s class. Dunn, with the proper improvement to his overall game (shooting, decision-making, turnovers) could very well be a top-five pick in the 2016 draft. Just sayin’.

— Preseason Player of the Year in the Big East? Should be a slam dunk. But that kind of expectation puts pressure on a player that isn’t normal — which is one more thing that Dunn needs to learn before taking his game to the professional level. How he plays, leads and performs under pressure will go a long way toward determining his athletic future, and figuring out what kind of team the Friars will have next year.

— Teams will key on taking Dunn out of every set. They’ll put bigger defenders on him. They’ll sag and let him shoot. They’ll throw junk defenses at him. They’ll deny him the ball. Or, they’ll make him score everything and shut everyone else down. Now you can see how important his growth will be for his own success, as well as PC’s success next season.

— Congratulations to PC associate head coach Bob Simon, who is leaving Ed Cooley’s staff to join Avery Johnson’s new staff at Alabama. It’s not the head coaching position that he deserves, but it is another step toward getting where he wants to go, working in another high-profile league (SEC) and especially working with a coach with an NBA pedigree. It’s also undoubtedly a big raise, and where Big Football Dollars win over everything else. Coach Simon is one of the real good, smart, knowledgeable guys in this business, and he can’t help but be successful.

— Names to consider as a potential replacement for Simon, who was with Cooley for a total of nine years, on the PC staff? God Shammgod will get plenty of consideration, but this position likely will require someone with already-firm recruiting ties. Former Wake Forest coach Jeff Battle is a close friend of Cooley’s. Onetime PC director of basketball operations Carmen Maciarello — who left to take a floor coaching position at BU before Cooley’s staff ever coached a game and now is at George Washington ‘€“- also would be a consideration. Would former BC and URI coach Al Skinner, now assisting Tim O’Shea at Bryant, be interested? Additionally, former Holy Cross coach Milan Brown, who traveled with the Friars this past postseason, and current DBO Mike Jackson also should receive plenty of run. It would be an upset for the new coach to not come from this group.

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Niners OL Alex Boone says ex-coach Jim Harbaugh ‘might be clinically insane’

04.21.15 at 7:15 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
NBA playoffs: Celtics at Cavaliers, 7 p.m. (CSNNE, TNT)
NHL playoffs: Lightning at Red Wings, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Capitals at Islanders, 7:30 p.m. (USA)
NHL playoffs: Predators at Blackhawks, 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Canucks at Flames, 10 p.m. (USA)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Paris at Barcelona, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

Jim Harbaugh‘s breakup with the 49ers wasn’t pretty, and it’s getting uglier.

Harbaugh, now at the University of Michigan, alienated some players in his final season in San Francisco, leading at least one to question the coach’s sanity.

“I think he just pushed guys too far,” offensive lineman Alex Boone told HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.” “He wanted too much, demanded too much, expected too much. You know, ‘We’ve got to go out and do this. We’ve got to go out and do this. We’ve got to go out and do this.’ And you’d be like, ‘This guy might be clinically insane. He’s crazy.’ ”

Added Boone: “He does a great job of giving you that spark, that initial boom. But after a while, you just want to kick his ass. … He just keeps pushing you, and you’re like, ‘Dude, we got over the mountain, Stop. Let go.’ He kind of wore out his welcome.”

Boone, who attended Ohio State, was one of Harbaugh’s most vocal supporters in the fall. Now he says Harbaugh will be a better fit at the NCAA level.

“I think he’s a better college coach than he would be as an NFL coach,” Boone said. “It’s different for college kids than pro players. I don’t think college kids can say, ‘Hey, Jim, you’re pissing me off today.”

Asked by HBO if he has a problem working with others, Harbaugh said: “It must be true. Because I’d wear out my welcome. People just don’t want to be around you for a while.”

— The Trail Blazers confirmed a report that they had a laminated card in their locker room before Sunday’s Game 1 of their series against the Grizzlies that included the line, “We don’t lose to Spanish players,” but they insisted it was not meant to be offensive.

The sign, which apparently was posted while the media was in the locker room before the game (it was referenced by The Oregonian’s John Canzano), included messages such as, “We will be tougher,” “Nobody can beat us eight times in one year,” and “Staying together through adversity.”

“First of all, that wasn’t the only thing that was on that [card],” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts, adding that the card should have been taken down when the media was in the room. “I wouldn’t classify that as the only message of the day. But that being said, it was a motivational thing, and I think the Spanish thing was a little lighthearted. It was the things we needed to do to win the series.”

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Lelisa Desisa wins Boston Marathon men’s race, Caroline Rotich wins women’s

04.20.15 at 12:41 pm ET
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Ethiopia’€™s Lelisa Desisa won his second Boston Marathon men’€™s race on Monday, finishing with a time of 2:09:17. Desisa also won the race in 2013. The top American finisher was Dathan Rizenhien in seventh. Last year’€™s winner, Meb Keflezighi, finished eight.

On the women’€™s side, Kenya’€™s Caroline Rotich (2:24:55) beat Ethiopia’€™s Mare Dibaba by four seconds in an exciting finish that featured multiple lead changes in the final mile. Desiree Linden was the top American finisher, coming in fourth. Marblehead’€™s Shalane Flanagan finished ninth.

Monday’s Morning Mashup: Tim Tebow reportedly set to sign 1-year deal with Eagles

04.20.15 at 7:07 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Orioles at Red Sox, 11:05 a.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Yankees at Tigers, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Rangers at Penguins, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Blues at Wild, 8 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Ducks at Jets, 9 p.m. (NHL Network)
Road racing: Boston Marathon, 7 a.m. (WBZ-TV), 8:30 a.m. (Universal Sports Network)

AROUND THE WEB:

Tim Tebow apparently is going to get another chance at the NFL, as multiple reports out of Philadelphia indicate the Eagles will sign the quarterback to a one-year deal.

According to ESPN, Tebow flew to Philadelphia on Sunday night and will sign a minimum-level contract and join the team for its offseason program that starts Monday.

Tebow worked out for the team last month, and there has been speculation that coach Chip Kelly would be willing to give the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner an opportunity to play in his high-octane offense. Kelly later said at the NFL meetings, “I’ve always been a fan of Tim.”

The Eagles already have four quarterbacks on their roster: Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and G.J. Kinne. With Tebow they will have three QBs who rank in the bottom five in QB rating over the last five years: Tebow (33.4), Sanchez (40.4) and Bradford (40.7).

Tebow, 27, last played in an NFL game in the 2012 season with the Jets, who acquired him from the Broncos. He participated in training camp with the Patriots in 2013 but was cut at the end of the preseason. He was an analyst for ESPN and the SEC Network last season.

Tweeted Tebow after his release from the Patriots: I will remain in relentless pursuit of continuing my lifelong dream of being an NFL quarterback.

— The names change, but the troubles continue for football players in Florida. On Saturday night, University of Florida defensive back J.C. Jackson was arrested for allegedly participating in an armed robbery in Gainesville.

Jackson, who redshirted as a freshman this past season, is accused of setting up the robbery by going to the victim’s apartment with two friends, then leaving while the friends committed the robbery at gunpoint.

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Read More: Josh Hamilton, Tim Tebow,

Thinking Out Loud: Providence hockey’s national championship should have lasting impact

04.17.15 at 9:16 pm ET
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Rooke_JohnThinking out loud … while wondering how many national titles have actually been won by Rhode Island schools?

— Could there have been a worse trophy presentation in sports history? At TD Garden last Saturday, it seemed as if the NCAA championship ice hockey trophy had been predetermined to belong to Boston University. Either that, or the NCAA representative was just plain dumb. “I’d like to present the trophy to the Boston, excuse me, Providence College Terriers?” You had one job, dude. It’s the moment of a lifetime for the winners, and for their fans. Maybe even for you, and you blew it. Stupid is as stupid does.

— I’m not certain a national title win can be accurately quantified, at least not right away. Perhaps in sports like football and basketball, and maybe even baseball where big money is involved, there’s an almost-immediate return on investment. For Providence College to win a national title, undoubtedly the kickback will come down the line — in increased interest in the team, the athletic program, maybe even in enrollment. It also may come in interest shown to your coaches, by bigger schools looking to cash in themselves.

— PC’s Nate Leaman is the youngest head coach in 22 years to win a national hockey championship, since the late Shawn Walsh won at Maine. He did it at PC in four years, which is extraordinary enough, until you realize he was also the architect of the national title won at Union College last season as well, before moving to Providence. Former Friars star Rick Bennett guided that Union team to the finish line in 2014, after Leaman had built the foundation.

— That’s now nine championships for Hockey East schools, since the league was formed in 1984-85, in case you were wondering. And I was. Providence is the fourth school in the conference to win one (with BC, BU and Maine). For a program that has its share of history — and names like Lou Lamoriello, Brian Burke, Ron Wilson and Chris Terreri associated with it — this championship feels like it belongs. What took so long?

— And it didn’t take very long for some PC students to show they’re really no different than students at places like West Virginia — where they regularly burn couches and set fires — and join in the absent-minded mayhem following a championship win. You’d like to think there’s an ability to rise above the ridiculousness, but sadly, that’s not the case. They’re just blowing off steam? They can’t blow off steam and celebrate without violence and vandalism? The school had to apologize to Providence police for the trouble (more than 60 officers were called in to keep the peace), and the fact that an officer was hit in the head with a vodka bottle. Stay classy, PC.

— Jon Gillies did just that. On his way to Vancouver to join the Calgary Flames — who drafted him in 2012 — Gillies left a classy note of thanks behind for Friartown. Included in his letter: “I am forever a Friar, and that makes me one of the luckiest people in the world.” Jon, we’re pretty lucky to have seen you play, and develop into an outstanding person, too. On Wednesday he signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Flames.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Frustrated Senators seek revenge on Canadiens’ P.K. Subban

04.17.15 at 7:55 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Orioles at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: White Sox at Tigers, 1:08 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Yankees at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL playoffs: Senators at Canadiens, 7 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Islanders at Capitals, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Blackhawks at Predators, 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Flames at Canucks, 10 p.m. (CNBC)

AROUND THE WEB:

— A day after P.K. Subban was ejected for slashing Senators rookie Mark Stone, the Sens voiced their frustration with the player and the league’s decision not to suspend him.

Subban will avoid further punishment from the NHL for his two-handed slash in Wednesday’s Game 1 that the Senators said left Stone with a microfracture in his right wrist. Stone is doubtful for Friday’s Game 2, and his availability for the rest of the series is uncertain.

Senators general manager Bryan Murray claimed Thursday that Subban twice threatened Stone before the slash, as he questioned why the league would not suspend the defenseman.

“The disturbing part from our point of view is that there was a threat made before by Subban to Stone,” Murray said. “There were two attempts on faceoffs to slash him, one connected. Then he two-handed him across the wrist in front of the net. [Stone] has been one of the top five players in the league the last two months of the year. It’s huge loss.

“I thought the officials made the right call on the ice, but I thought also, after knowing the extent of the injury, that something further would be considered.”

Subban, however, indicated he thinks the matter has been overblown. He said he has no plans to reach out to Stone, adding: “I’ve been slashed a lot harder than that.”

Senators enforcer Chris Neil, who did not play in Game 1 but could take Stone’s spot in the lineup Friday, suggested his team could get revenge on Subban simply by delivering solid hits on him.

Said Neil: “If [Subban] is skating up the ice with his head down, you finish your check on him. That’s how you get him back.”

— ESPN suspended reporter Britt McHenry for one week after video emerged of her berating a parking lot attendant while paying to retrieve her car after it was towed.

McHenry said her car was towed while she was at dinner last week — by a towing company with a long list of complaints for its allegedly questionable business tactics. In the video, shot inside the towing company’s trailer, a clearly agitated McHenry makes a number of obnoxious comments, even after being warned that she was being videotaped. Among them: “I’m on television and you’re in a [expletive] trailer, honey. Lose some weight, baby girl.”

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Senators want suspension for ejected Canadiens D P.K. Subban after slash

04.16.15 at 8:14 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL playoffs: Penguins at Rangers, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Red Wings at Lightning, 7:30 p.m. (CNBC)
NHL playoffs: Wild at Blues, 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Jets at Ducks, 10:30 p.m. (CNBC)
MLB: Brewers at Cardinals, 1:45 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Marlins at Mets, 7:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Diamondbacks at Giants, 10:15 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Draft, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Soccer: UEFA Europa, Napoli at Wolfsburg, 3 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban has infuriated the Bruins with his dramatics as he attempts to draw penalties. On Wednesday night in the opening game of Montreal’s first-round playoff series against Ottawa, Subban acted as the aggressor, and it cost him in the form of an ejection. Subban received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct after he slashed Senators rookie Mark Stone midway through the second period.

As Stone skated in front of the Montreal goal, Subban chopped his stick down on Stone’s right wrist, sending the 22-year-old to the ice in pain. Subban immediately raised his hand to protest the call against him and appeared shocked that he was being punished. Stone, the Sens’ leading scorer, skated to the dressing room. He returned before the end of the period, left again and then was back for the last half of the third period.

The Senators scored twice on the power play, although they allowed a shorthanded goal as well — one of four goals Montreal scored in the second period en route to a 4-3 victory.

Afterward, the Senators called for Subban to be suspended.

“I think it’s quite simple — it’s a vicious slash on an unprotected part of the body,” Ottawa coach Dave Cameron said. “You either do one of two things. I think it’s an easy solution. You either suspend him, or when one of their best players gets slashed just give us five [minutes].”

Said Stone: “It’s up to the league. Obviously it was a pretty big hack. It looked like he wanted to hurt me. He had been doing it a couple of times, he tried targeting me a couple of times in the first period off faceoffs.”

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, however, didn’t even think Subban deserved a major penalty.

“I agree it was a slashing penalty, but I don’t agree that it deserved five minutes,” he said.

— A day after Paul Pierce questioned Deron Williams’ ability to handle the pressure and said Williams “didn’t want” to be an MVP candidate, the Nets guard insisted the criticism doesn’t bother him.

“Being here, I got pretty thick skin,” Williams said Wednesday. “He has his opinions, and that’s fine.”

Added Williams: “It’s what it is. I can’t change his opinions. So just leave it at that.”

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Read More: Derek Jeter, Deron Williams, P.K. Subban, Paul Pierce

Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Paul Pierce details icy relationship with Ray Allen, criticizes ex-Nets teammates

04.15.15 at 8:15 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Nationals at Red Sox, 1:35 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Angels at Rangers, 2:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Yankees at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Mariners at Dodgers, 10 p.m. (ESPN2)
NBA: Celtics at Bucks, 8 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Hornets at Raptors, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Pacers at Grizzlies, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Senators at Canadiens, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
NHL playoffs: Islanders at Capitals, 7 p.m. (USA)
NHL playoffs: Blackhawks at Predators, 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Flames at Canucks, 10 p.m. (USA)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Barcelona at Paris, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Exhibition, Mexico at United States, 9 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— There have long been indications that Ray Allen‘s relationship with his Celtics teammates was icy during their time in Boston, and on Tuesday Paul Pierce explained just how strained it was.

In an interview with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, Pierce offered some details about the Big Three’s time together. He said he has not talked to Allen since Allen left Boston as a free agent to sign with the Heat in the summer of 2012 — not because he’s angry, but more because there wasn’t that much depth to the relationship.

“It was a weird relationship,” Pierce said. “We were all good friends on the court, but Ray always did his own thing. That’s just the way Ray was. Even when we were playing together, we’d be having a team dinner and Ray wouldn’t show up. We’d go to his charity events, but Ray wouldn’t show up to somebody else’s. I called him on it. I said, ‘Man, Ray, we support all your stuff but when we ask you, you don’t come to ours.’

“I remember when [Rajon] Rondo re-signed with Boston, we had a little dinner at a restaurant and Ray didn’t show up. I know Ray probably didn’t like Rondo that much, but it wasn’t a fact of not liking somebody. You don’t have to like everybody you play with — it’s a matter of showing support. Rondo probably didn’t like Ray either, but he came to Ray’s functions to show, ‘Hey, we’re together in this.’

“It’s not a bad thing with Ray. We had a great relationship on the court. But even the year we won it, after a game we’d say, ‘Let’s go have something to eat and have a night with the older guys.’ We’d get there and it would be me, Kevin and Sam [Cassell], but no Ray. In a lot of ways, me, Sam and Kevin were our Big Three.

“It just got to the point where it was, ‘That’s Ray.’ No hard feelings. Everyone made such a big deal of us not talking after we left, but there really wasn’t much there.”

As for Rondo, Pierce said he’s trying to convince Wizards stars John Wall and Bradley Beal that they have to show up to play every single night if they want to be great, something he wasn’t able to convince Rondo to do.

“That was Rondo’s problem, too,” Pierce said. “Some days he did, some days he didn’t. I think it’s more this generation. A lot of these players have been catered to since the sixth grade. The NBA is changing so much. It’s not like when I came up, with that old-school mentality that practice really mattered. You’ve got these 24-, 25-year-old guys who sit out of practice now to rest. It’s hard for me to understand, but I’m trying.”

Pierce also discussed his “horrible” 2013-14 season in Brooklyn, criticizing the team’s players for not caring enough despite the efforts of Pierce and Kevin Garnett to fire them up.

“It was just the guys’ attitudes there. It wasn’t like we were surrounded by a bunch of young guys. They were vets who didn’t want to play and didn’t want to practice. I was looking around saying, ‘What’s this?’ Kevin and I had to pick them up every day in practice,” Pierce said. “If me and Kevin weren’t there, that team would have folded up. That team would have packed it in. We kept them going each and every day.”

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Read More: Deron Williams, Mark Reeds, Paul Pierce, rajon rondo

Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Cubs P Jon Lester finally makes pickoff attempt, throws ball into right field

04.14.15 at 8:05 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

TUESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Nationals at Red Sox, 6:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Yankees at Orioles, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Mariners at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Raptors at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
NBA: Wizards at Pacers, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Clippers at Suns, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Soccer: UEFA Champions, Real Madrid at Atletico Madrid, 2:30 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Much has been made about Jon Lester‘s issues throwing to bases. On Monday the Cubs left-hander made his first pickoff attempts since 2013, and it didn’t go well — although it had a happy ending for the Cubs.

With Reds baserunner Zach Cozart at first in the second inning of a 3-3 game Monday night in Chicago, Lester thew a soft but relatively accurate throw to keep Cozart honest. However, when Lester tried it a second time he threw it well over first baseman Anthony Rizzo‘s head.

Fortunately for Chicago, right fielder Jorge Soler retrieved the ball and made a strong throw to third base to get Cozart.

“When you’re not used to doing stuff like that, I got a little overexcited and threw the ball too soon,” Lester explained. “Once again, [Soler] picks me up.”

The Cubs won the game, 7-6, as Soler hit a game-tying home run in the eighth inning (his second two-run homer of the game) and Arismendy Alcantara hit a walkoff single in the 10th inning.

While the Cubs improved to 4-2, there is concern about Lester, who allowed six runs on 10 hits in six innings and saw his ERA climb to 7.84.

“He’s still at the end of spring training right now,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the former Red Sox ace, who missed some time in the spring with an injury. “He’ll be fine. I have no doubt about that.”

Said Lester: “I don’t want to use anything as a crutch. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

— Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips, serving a 31-year sentence in a Central California prison, is suspected of killing his cellmate, according to prison officials.

The 39-year-old Phillips, who starred at Nebraska in the 1990s and played for the Rams, Dolphins and 49ers but struggled with off-field issues, is suspected of killing Damion Soward, a 37-year-old who was imprisoned for first-degree murder. Soward was found lifeless early Saturday and later pronounced dead, a prison spokesman said.

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Read More: Jon Lester, Jorge Soler, Lauren Hill, Lawrence Phillips