From Comcast SportsNetPHOENIX (AP) -- Manny Ramirez arrived at the Oakland Athletics training facility Friday amid a curious group of reporters and players to begin his return to baseball. After taking batting practice, in which he hit at least seven home runs off A's coach Mike Gallego, Ramirez addressed the media accompanied by his wife, Juliana, and two sons, Manny Jr. and Lucas. "I made some mistakes and I want to show my children I can correct them," Ramirez said. "Every Thursday morning my wife and I went to church, kneeled down and prayed. I am blessed to have this opportunity again." The 12-time All-Star signed a minor league deal with the A's on Monday that's worth 500,000 if he's added to the big league roster. He will be allowed to participate in spring training games and the exhibition games scheduled in Japan, but must serve a 50-game suspension for his second positive drug test before he can play in the regular season for Oakland. Ramirez had retired from the Tampa Bay Rays last season rather than serve a 100-game suspension. "I'm thankful that I have a job," Ramirez said. "At least I can still play baseball in the minor leagues and work on things." Ramirez said he has no expectations other than to "show people I can still play." A's manager Bob Melvin said someone of his stature could influence the rest of the team. "He can be a great example with his work ethic," Melvin said. "We have some young kids and, who knows, maybe something will rub off." Ramirez is 14th on baseball's all-time home run list with 555 and 18th on the all-time RBIs list with 1,831. He's a career .312 hitter. "I think guys are excited to see what Manny Ramirez is all about," Melvin said.
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics moved one step closer towards trimming down its overcrowded roster with the waiving of John Holland.
The 27-year-old would have gone into training camp with a very slim shot at making the roster. He signed a two-year deal that would have been worth $874,636 for the 2016-2017 season.
However, the contract was non-guaranteed and would have more than likely been used as part of a potential trade.
But no such deal materialized.
So rather than have the 6-foot-5 guard/forward in training camp with the odds heavily stacked against him making the team, Boston waived him now so that he has enough time to either go to training camp with another NBA team or sign with a team overseas.
Holland, who starred at Boston University, has already played overseas in France, Spain and Turkey in addition to having played with the Development League’s Canton Charge last season.
He played in one game for the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics now have 18 players in training camp, 16 of which have guaranteed contracts.
FOXBORO -- Not long after Cre'Von LeBlanc made a hard-to-fathom, one-handed interception in New England's preseason opener against the Saints, Patriots coach Bill Belichick labeled the play "special." Then he delved a little more deeply into LeBlanc's practice performances with the team to that point.
"Day in and day out, he's been pretty consistent for us going all the way back to the spring," Belichick said at the time. "I'd say his instinctiveness, his ability to be around the ball, his anticipation and ability to recognize routes maybe offset some of the testing numbers that aren't elite . . . Knowing how to play -- he has got some of that. He finds the ball. Or the ball finds him. However you want to look at it."
LeBlanc has seen more preseason targets (20) than any other corner in the NFL thus far, according to Pro Football Focus, and he's allowed nine receptions for 95 yards. His percentage of targets caught (45 percent) is the third-best of any corner with at least 15 targets, and he's allowed a quarterback rating of 38.5 when targeted.
The undrafted rookie out of Florida Atlantic has one pass breakup to go along with his eye-popping pick, and his ability to make plays on the football -- something he flashed in one-on-one drills throughout training camp -- is something that may allow him to earn a spot on the team's 53-man roster.
When asked to explain the value of a player who seems to have a knack for finding the football, Belichick said it can be a difficult skill to assess. It may seem, at times, like a player is fortunate to make those kinds of plays at first. But if they happen again, and again, you might just have something.
"It's a valuable skill," Belichick said. "Logan Ryan is another guy that did it in college. He has done it here. Some guys have a real knack for that, other guys not as much. Sometimes it's a little bit acquired, sometimes it's just instinctive.
"The best example I ever had was [former Giants corner] Everson Walls. He didn't technically do hardly anything right from a fundamental standpoint. You would never take another player and say, 'Look, do it the way Everson's doing it. This is the way you would want to do it.' But in the end [he had], I don't know, whatever it was, 56 career interceptions. It was a lot. It was over 50. He did things, but he could find the ball and he had a great instinct for quarterbacks, routes, pattern combinations and so forth. Certainly it wasn't a speed and measurable thing. You would have released him on those measurable. That's whyhe wasn't drafted. But as a football player he's productive.
"When I was in Detroit, Lem Barney . . . same kind of thing. Lem probably had better measurable skills coming out, but at that point he made a lot of plays and he made them on his instinctiveness, ball skills, awareness, etc.
"Ty [Law], I mean Ty was a first-round pick, but Ty had that too. There are a lot of first-round picks that don't have that and he had that.
"It's definitely an important skill, and it really probably separates good from great players or average to good players. It's not the easiest thing to evaluate, and sometimes some of those plays are circumstantial more than they are great instinctive plays. They're fortunate the way they happen. But when a guy starts making enough of them then you know it's something a little special."
Time will tell as to whether or not the Patriots believe LeBlanc has that something special. Final roster cuts are due on Sept. 3. He's been included in our latest 53-man roster projection, but he's competing in what appears to be a deep positional group that includes second-year players Justin Coleman and Darryl Roberts as well as fellow undrafted rookie Jonathan Jones.
The NBA’s 38 rookies had their annual photo shoot and were polled by NBA.com with a couple of questions about their class. When asked which rookie was the most athletic among them, the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 pick overall last June, won in a landslide.
Here are the results of that question:
1. Jaylen Brown, Boston -- 38.7%
2. Brice Johnson, L.A. Clippers -- 16.1%
3. Marquese Chriss, Phoenix -- 9.7%
T-4. Malik Beasley, Denver -- 6.5%
Kay Felder, Cleveland -- 6.5%
Gary Payton II, Houston -- 6.5%
Providence guard Kris Dunn, No. 5 pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves was the freshman class’ pick to win rookie of the year honors, with 29 percent of the vote, followed by No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram of the Lakers and No. 1 pick Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers.