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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Roger Clemens insists Hall of Fame ‘doesn’t really make a difference in my life’ 07.24.15 at 8:17 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: Tigers at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Nationals at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
Cycling: Tour de France, 7 a.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Roger Clemens stopped by the NESN booth during Thursday night’s Red Sox-Astros game in Houston and continued to claim that he played the game the right way despite evidence that he used performance-enhancing drugs, adding he does not need the validation of the Hall of Fame to feel complete.

“Congratulations to the guys that go,” he said of the Hall, which will welcome fellow Sox legend Pedro Martinez this weekend. “It doesn’t really make a difference in my life, not that it would matter.”

The seven-time Cy Young Award winner has never received more than 37.6 percent of votes (75 percent is needed for induction) despite his 354 wins and 4,672 strikeouts for the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees and Astros. He said he appreciates those who have written his name on the ballot but claims it’s not a big deal to him.

“It’s not something that I went to, to play — play the game to make the Hall of Fame. It was the furthest thing from my mind. I played the game because I loved to play it,” Clemens said.

“I knew early in my career that once I seized that moment that I could make a little money and take care of my family. Then it started to get to a World Series and playoffs in Boston and the history that came along with it. That’s really it.”

— Another player likely to be kept out of the Hall is Alex Rodriguez, who continues to have a stellar comeback season, helping the first-place Yankees to a 9-3 victory over the Orioles on Thursday for a sweep of their three-game series.

Former Yankees manager Joe Torre credits Rodriguez for turning things around after missing last season while on suspension for his role in the Biogenesis PED scandal.

“I think what’s surprising is Alex,” Torre said from a charity golf tournament in New York on Thursday. “I’m happy for him. Miss a whole year at that age — there was never an issue of his ability to work at it. But with all the physical problems that he’s had and missing a year, it’s been, I think, remarkable how consistent he’s been and his power numbers.”

Torre, now an MLB executive, said Rodriguez called him in January as he reached out to people in baseball trying to mend fences before his comeback. Torre, in his autobiography “The Yankee Years,” was critical of A-Rod, but he says they now are “friendly.”

“I had heard that he was calling some people, so I really wasn’t surprised,” Torre said of their offseason conversation. “Actually, it started out with a text and he asked me if it would be all right to call me. I said, ‘Sure, anytime.’ I’m there for any player who wants to pick my brain over anything and for any team. He had some issues with what he thought I said in the past. I think he just wanted to make sure that all the air was clear. He asked about some advice and I said, ‘Just go play baseball.’ ”

Added Torre: “He paid his debt. He was suspended. He did that. Hopefully he learned something from it. He’s been determined to come back and play the game that he’s loved. I know baseball’s been a huge part of his life. He just craves it. He’s been a force, no question. People in New York love it. That’s what’s important for us. Once people pay their penalty, you can’t root against them. It’s not the right thing to do.”

— Outgoing ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd drew the ire of Blue Jays star Jose Bautista for a disparaging comment he made about Dominican players Thursday.

During his midday show, Cowherd was trying to make a point that baseball is a relatively easy sport to manage. He went on to say:

“The game is too complex? Like, I’ve never bought into that, ‘Baseball is just too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has not been known in my lifetime as having world-class academic abilities A lot of those kids come from rough backgrounds and have not had opportunities academically that other kids from other countries have. Baseball is like any sport, it’s mostly instincts.”

After Cowherd’s comment made it around the web, Bautista, a Dominican native, tweeted: Dear Mr. @ESPN_Colin before i rip you a new one i would like for you to explain what u meant to say about baseball and dominicans, please.

Cowherd is headed to Fox Sports when his contract with ESPN expires later this year. He discussed his departure during Wednesday’s show, crediting ESPN for taking a chance on him in 2003 and calling his stint with the company “the best 10 years of my life.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On July 24, 2004, Jason Varitek fought with Alex Rodriguez as the Red Sox and Yankees played an intense game at Fenway Park. The Red Sox got the last laugh when which player hit a three-run home run off Mariano Rivera for an 11-10 Red Sox victory?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The results haven’t been nearly good enough. We’re responsible for that and we have to get better quickly.” — Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, during a Thursday morning appearance on Dennis & Callahan, on the team’s struggles

STAT OF THE DAY: 8 — Consecutive losses by the Red Sox, a season high, following Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Astros on Jose Altuve’s walkoff home run in the ninth inning

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez makes a diving stop behind second base and throws the ball with his glove to get the out against the Indians.

A’s right fielder Josh Reddick races into foul territory to make a diving catch against the Blue Jays.

A Japanese high school baseball player puts on a show in the batter’s box with a series of creative and artistic movements.

Spurs guard Tony Parker gets up close with a tiger during an appearance on a French game show.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Bill Mueller

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Former Extreme drummer Paul Geary was born on this day in 1961.

Read More: alex rodriguez, Colin Cowherd, Joe Torre, Jose Bautista
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez gracious despite All-Star snub 07.07.15 at 8:03 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: Marlins at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Cardinals at Cubs, Game 1, 1:20 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Cardinals at Cubs, Game 2, 8:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
WNBA: Shock at Dream, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Gold Cup, Honduras at United States, 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
Tennis: Wimbledon, 8 a.m. (ESPN, ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

Alex Rodriguez might be winning back some respect in New York with his productive season and exemplary behavior, but it appears the rest of baseball isn’t giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Despite having an impressive comeback season after missing 2014 on an MLB suspension for his involvement with Biogenesis — he leads all American League designated hitters with 16 home runs to go along with 47 RBIs and a .903 OPS — Rodriguez was not among the reserves named to the All-Star Game on Monday night.

Rodriguez, who finished fifth in fan balloting (Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz, another admitted PED user, will be the starting DH), took the latest slight in stride, consistent with his humble public approach this year.

“As I’€™ve said all season, my No. 1 goal is helping the Yankees win a championship,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I’m excited that we’re in a good position to get there. Of course it would have been an honor to represent the American League next week, but I’€™ll have fun cheering on the guys who were put on the team and watching them protect home field.”

Rodriguez, who is stuck on 14 All-Star appearances, having not earned a spot since 2012, was under consideration, AL manager Ned Yost of the Royals told ESPN.

“We talked about A-Rod a lot,” Yost said. “You look back at this five-man vote [for the final roster spot] and we have three infielders, two outfielders, and we felt that it was important that we don’t — we have Brock Holt that can play anywhere in the infield, but any other position we have a starter and a backup. In the outfield we have three starters and three backups.

“So I just felt very strongly that if we could get another infielder or another outfielder out of that five-man vote it would help us. That’€™s what went into that decision.”

Yankees co-owner Hank Steinbrenner, who last week reached an agreement with Rodriguez in which the team will donate $3.5 million to charity rather than pay A-Rod his $6 million bonus for his latest home run milestone, said the 39-year-old is having “an amazing comeback year” with or without the All-Star nod.

“The bad hips, all the other stuff, the more than a year off, at his age as well, and then to come back and do what he’s done is pretty amazing,” Steinbrenner said.

— Florida State freshman quarterback De’Andre Johnson was dismissed from the team Monday after security video was released of him hitting a woman in the face during a confrontation at a Tallahassee bar two weeks ago.

Johnson, a standout high school player in Jacksonville, had been indefinitely suspended by the team last month after he was charged with misdemeanor battery.

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Read More: alex rodriguez, De'Andre Johnson, Floyd Mayweather, Hank Steinbrenner
Yankees make deal to acquire ball from Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit 07.03.15 at 1:47 pm ET
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After a couple of weeks of negotiations, the Yankees will hold a press conference before Friday’s game against the Rays at Yankee Stadium in which they will receive the ball Alex Rodriguez hit into the right-field bleachers for his 3,000th hit last month.

Zach Hample, the fan who caught the ball, agreed to relinquish it in exchange for a $150,000 donation to his favorite charity, Pitch In For Baseball, along with some memorabilia, tickets and other perks, according to reports out of New York.

Hample, who claims to have caught thousands of baseballs during games and batting practice over the years, was not cooperative with the team when first contacted during the June 19 game against the Tigers after Rodriguez recorded his historic hit.

Hample answered some critics of his decision to settle with the team when he tweeted Friday morning: So let me get this straight — I was “disrespecting the game” when I kept the ball & now I’m an “idiot” for giving it back? Ha, whatever.

Read More: alex rodriguez,
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: NHL plans move to 3-on-3 OT 06.24.15 at 8:10 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: Orioles at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Phillies at Yankees, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Dodgers at Cubs, 8:05 p.m. (ESPN2)
College baseball: World Series, Virginia vs. Vanderbilt, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Awards show, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLS: Revolution at Crew, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE)
MLS: Timbers at Galaxy, 11 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Good news for Bruins fans: There should be fewer shootouts next season.

NHL general managers and players agreed Tuesday to change the overtime format from four-on-four — which it has been since 1999 — to three skaters per side. Now the proposal needs approval from the Board of Governors during Wednesday’s meeting in Las Vegas.

“We’ve already seen that it works in the AHL,” Flames GM Brad Treliving said. “And when you translate that to the skill level of the NHL players, I think it’s going to be very exciting.”

The AHL starts with four minutes of four-on-four, then goes to three minutes of three-on-three. The NHLPA opposed that format last year, apparently preferring to avoid extending games, but supported this year’s proposal.

“I think management preferred what they’ve done in the American league,” Reds Wings GM Ken Holland said. “But management wanted a higher percentage of games decided in overtime, and three-on-three is going to do it. We think it’s going to be a much higher percentage.”

The shootout still remains should teams stay tied after the five-minute overtime. The Bruins had just four wins in 14 shootouts last season, tied for the third-worst percentage in the league.

Also agreed to Tuesday: Coaches will be able to challenge goals based on goalie interference and offsides, and the salary cap was set at $71.4 million.

— The fan who caught Alex Rodriguez‘s 3,000th hit — a home run to the right-field bleachers — has softened his stance somewhat on making a deal to return the ball.

Zack Hample, who claims to have caught thousands of baseballs over the years, initially was uncooperative when approached by Yankees management. And a day before he caught the ball, he tweeted that if he did come up with it he would “give [Rodriguez] the finger and a dummy ball. That man deserves favors from no one, least of all a fan.”

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Pete Rose,
Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Ravens LB Terrell Suggs surprisingly supports Tom Brady, plays down Deflategate 06.17.15 at 8:08 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: Red Sox at Braves, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Rays at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. (ESPN2)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Mexico vs. France, 4 p.m. (Fox)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, England vs. Colombia, 4 p.m. (FS1)
Soccer: Women’s World Cup, Costa Rica vs. Brazil, 7 p.m. (FS1)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs rarely misses an opportunity to take a shot at Tom Brady — on and off the field. However, Suggs was surprisingly supportive of the Patriots quarterback when asked about Brady’s legacy following the QB’s four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate and his failure to cooperate with the league’s investigation.

“The guy is a winner,” Suggs said Tuesday (via The Baltimore Sun). “He’s won with whatever kind of personnel that he’s had. So I don’t think it really tarnished it. You need something to write about. Everybody needs something to write about, needs something to talk about, I guess. There’s is that. Ours was the deer antler [controversy involving Ray Lewis three years ago]. It’s always something.”

Last month, Suggs was spotted by TMZ leaving a Beverly Hills restaurant and was a little more willing to tweak the Pats over Deflategate, noting, “The last coach that got caught cheating got suspended for a whole year. So …”

This time, however, the normally outspoken Suggs said he didn’t want to wade into this controversy.

“I’m not stepping into that,” he said Tuesday. “I’m leaving that alone.”

— Michael Sam remains on the suspended list of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes after leaving the team over the weekend, with no immediate resolution in sight.

Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team, reportedly was struggling in Montreal’s training camp, leading to speculation that he left because he was afraid he would be cut.

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Michael Sam, Terrell Suggs, Tom Brady
Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Alex Rodriguez takes high road after ex-Yankees teammate Jorge Posada says he doesn’t belong in Hall 05.14.15 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:
MLB: Red Sox at Mariners, 10:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Twins at Tigers, 1:08 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Yankees at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Cavaliers at Bulls, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Rockets at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA: Draft combine, 3 p.m. (ESPN2)
Hockey: IIHF World Championship, Canada vs. Belarus, 9 a.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey: IIHF World Championship, Sweden vs. Russia, 11:30 a.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey: IIHF World Championship, Finland vs. Czech Republic, 11:30 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

— Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, making the rounds to promote his new autobiography, said players who use performance-enhancing drugs — including former teammates Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemensshould not be allowed in the Hall of Fame.

Appearing on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday, Posada stated “No,” when asked about A-Rod and Clemens.

“I don’t think it’s fair,” he added. “I really don’t. I think the guys that need to be in the Hall of Fame need to be a player that played with no controversy.”

Rodriguez, apprised of Posada’s comments before the Yankees‘ game against the Rays, said he considers Posada a friend and had nothing but good things to say about him.

“Jorge’s always worn his heart on his sleeve and that’s fine,” Rodriguez said. “He was a great teammate and a great player for a long time. What I remember the most is sharing and winning a championship in ’09.”

Posada finished third in the voting for the 2003 American League MVP award. It was won by Rodriguez, who later admitted to cheating.

“I was almost there,” Posada said of that honor. “You know what could’ve happened if . . . you know, it’s tough. It’s really tough.”

A-Rod said he had no interested in discussing the past.

“2003 is a long time ago,” he said. “All my energy is focused on 2015.”

— Indians pitcher Corey Kluber began Wednesday night with an 0-5 record. He ended by flirting with history.

Kluber struck out 18 Cardinals — the most K’s by an American League pitcher since then-Red Sox ace Roger Clemens in 1998 — and pitched 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball in Cleveland’s 2-0 win. He was relieved after the eighth inning despite having a shot to break the major league record for strikeouts (20, by Clemens and Kerry Wood).

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Bill Guthridge, Corey Kluber, Jorge Posada
Friday’s Morning Mashup: Yankees fans give Alex Rodriguez standing ovation after HR No. 661 05.08.15 at 8:08 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: Red Sox at Blue Jays, 7:07 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-FM)
MLB: Orioles at Yankees, 7 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Cavaliers at Bulls, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
NBA playoffs: Rockets at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL playoffs: Capitals at Rangers, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
NHL playoffs: Ducks at Flames, 9:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Hockey: IIHF World Championship, United States vs. Denmark, 2 p.m. (NBCSN)
MLS: Revolution at Orlando City, 8 p.m. (Univision)
Golf: The Players Championship, 1 p.m. (TGC)

AROUND THE WEB:

Alex Rodriguez received a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd after hitting home run No. 661 in the third inning of Thursday’s 4-3 victory over the Orioles, moving past Willie Mays for sole possession of fourth place on baseball’s all-time home run list.

The Yankees, who have downplayed Rodriguez’s accomplishment and said they will not pay a $6 million bonus agreed to in his contract due to his use of performance-enhancing drugs, acknowledged the milestone with a statement on the scoreboard: 661 Home Runs. Alex Rodriguez just surpassed Willie Mays for sole possession of 4th place on baseball’s all-time home runs list.

Encouraged by his teammates to take a curtain call, Rodriguez said he first got the OK from manager Joe Girardi and then quickly jumped to the top step of the dugout and raised his hands over his head.

“All of this is pretty crazy,” Rodriguez said. “A year ago today I never thought I would ever get a curtain call or be hitting in the middle of the lineup for the Yankees, helping our team win.”

“When you’re productive you re-earn their respect and they pull for you,” Girardi said of the fans.

Said teammate Brett Gardner: “It’s a lot of fun to be a part of. I know there’s a lot of questions surrounding everything. Still, 661 home runs is a lot.”

Unlike when Rodriguez tied Mays with No. 660 last Friday against the Red Sox and the fan who caught the ball refused to give it up, this time the ball was easily retrieved, as it landed just to the left of Monument Park in center field, in an area off limits to fans.

Rodriguez almost homered in the first inning, but Orioles right fielder Delmon Young reached over the fence to turn it into an out.

— The Cowboys signed LSU offensive lineman La’el Collins and welcomed him to Dallas in an emotional press conference Thursday night.

Collins, projected to be a first-round draft pick, went undrafted after police expressed an interested in talking to him following the shooting death of his pregnant ex-girlfriend. A paternity test revealed Collins was not the father.

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Floyd Mayweather, Ja'el Collins, Manny Pacquiao
Alex Rodriguez on Yankees trying to deny $6M bonus: ‘I’m just happy to be playing baseball’ 05.04.15 at 12:21 pm ET
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After Alex Rodriguez hit the 660th home run of his career on Friday at Fenway Park, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the media that the team would not pay the 40-year-old a $6 million bonus for moving up on the all-time home run list. Rodriguez is now tied with Willie Mays at No. 4.

A-Rod responded on Saturday, telling reporters that he is not worried the money and is instead focusing on playing.

“I’m just happy to be playing baseball,” Rodriguez said. “Honestly, I am in a good place. A year ago I wouldn’t be dreaming to be talking to you guys about playing baseball and enjoying the game so much. … I’ve been in a good place for a while now and it’s just fun to be playing baseball.”

The 10-year contract that Rodriguez signed in 2007 promised a $6 million bonus for each time he moved up on the home run list as the Yankees would market the accomplishments. After the veteran’s year-long suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, however, New York no longer believes it is in its interest to market the milestones.

Cashman said that the Yankees “have the right, but not the obligation” to pay the bonuses.

Rodriguez seems to be ignoring the decision instead of disputing it.

“I’ve learned my lesson,” Rodriguez said, discussing his history of publicly going head-to-head with both Major League Baseball and the Yankees organization. “The old [A-Rod] is gone.”

Read More: alex rodriguez, brian cashman, Yankees,
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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Read More: Adam Wainwright, alex rodriguez, Jon Jones,
Tuesday’s Morning Mashup: Bills OL Richie Incognito starts workouts with new team after ‘inner reflection’ 04.07.15 at 8:09 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: Orioles at Rays, 7:10 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Rangers at Athletics, 10:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA: Spurs at Thunder, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Lakers at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Women’s NCAA Tournament final, UConn vs. Notre Dame, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL: Wild at Blackhawks, 8:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
Soccer: Premier League, Queens Park at Aston Villa, 2:55 p.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Richie Incognito

Richie Incognito

— Richie Incognito began offseason conditioning with his new Bills teammates Monday, and the controversial offensive lineman acknowledged that his year and a half in exile following the 2013 bullying scandal with the Dolphins was “humbling.”

Incognito was benched by the Dolphins for the final eight games of the 2013 season, and no team was willing to sign him last year.

“It was definitely difficult sitting out, knowing I could still play, knowing I had talent to contribute,” Incognito said [via ESPN]. “It was a learning process. At first there was a lot of frustration: ‘Why am I not signed? Why am I not on a team?’ It was a time for inner reflection. Kind of a time for growth.

“Then it was an acceptance, and accepting the fact that I’m not going to play this year, that I’m going to have to chalk it up and wait for another opportunity.”

An NFL investigation found that Incognito bullied teammate Jonathan Martin, and there were reports of other incidents of harassment.

“There was a lot of things said and done that I wish I could change,” Incognito said. “But moving forward, you have to accept that there was definitely a learning process and a growing process and a process that I went through to become a better person. Nobody’s perfect. I think the biggest thing is I’ve learned from what I’ve went through, I’ve learned from what went down. I’ve grown from it.”

Incognito added that he’s “very thankful” that the Bills have given him a chance, which came about after he met with team owners Terry and Kim Pegula as well as new coach Rex Ryan.

Rex Ryan spent a lot of time talking about being a good teammate and coming in and putting my best foot forward,” Incognito said. “One of the big things they wanted to make sure was that I could still be myself without having any of the issues.”

Said Ryan: “I just wanted to see the sincerity that he was speaking with and where he was at. He’s got a burning desire to play this game still. I think that’s important. And obviously — hey, look, we’ve all made mistakes. Every single one of us in here has made mistakes. I know I’ve made than you guys. But it’s what we do and how excited he is about getting a new opportunity, and I can’t wait to watch him. But he’s a Bill now. He’s just one of us.”

Alex Rodriguez received mostly cheers from the Yankee Stadium faithful in Monday’s opener, although there wasn’t much else for New Yorkers to cheer about in a 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays.

Rodriguez, in his first at-bat in over a year following his MLB suspension, batted seventh as the designated hitter. He walked in his first plate appearance, then hit a single to right-center fielder in his second and lined out in his final at-bat.

“I have to admit, it definitely felt good. That’s for sure,” Rodriguez said.

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Read More: alex rodriguez, Avery Johnson, Masahiro Tanaka, Rex Ryan