MLB slugger is changing his name

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MLB slugger is changing his name

From Comcast SportsNet
JUPITER, Fla. (AP) - His mom calls him Cruz. Teammates call him Bigfoot. Most baseball fans know him as Mike Stanton, precocious slugger for the Miami Marlins, but his first name is actually Giancarlo. "The man of a million names," Stanton said. He likes them all, but with spring training cranking up and Stanton touted as a future home-run champion, he said Wednesday he prefers Giancarlo. For the first time, that's the way he's identified on the Marlins' roster. That's also the name on his paycheck and above his locker. That's what team owner Jeffrey Loria calls him. But Stanton's dad calls him Mike, and many of his relatives call him Mikey. "I respond to many names," he said. "It's all good." The Marlins expect to see his surname in a lot of headlines this year. He has 56 career home runs, and in the past 40 years only Ken Griffey Jr. (60) and Alex Rodriguez (56) have hit at least that many before their 22nd birthday. Stanton turned 22 in November. "This kid has potential that's unbelievable," new manager Ozzie Guillen said. The Marlins' cleanup hitter and right fielder is thickly built at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds - thus the nickname Bigfoot, which dates to his year at Single-A Greensboro. In two major-league seasons he has developed a reputation for mammoth homers, and his batting-practice sessions tend to draw a large audience of teammates and opposing players. Guillen said he's not interested in tape-measure homers. "I told Stanton, I hear you hit balls 700 feet. Don't give me 700 feet. Just give me 40 that barely make the wall,'" Guillen said. Stanton said he doesn't care how far his homers travel. Last season he hit 34 while batting .262 with 87 RBIs. This year he'll play in a new ballpark for a team with a much higher profile - and a new name. So the timing of a name change for Stanton makes sense. His full name is a sonorous mouthful: Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton. He's not Italian, and Giancarlo isn't a family name - his parents just liked it. In school, the California native went by Giancarlo (pronounced JEE'-ahn-cahr-loh) until the fifth grade. "No one could pronounce it right," he said. "Everyone thought it was two words. Gene-carlo, Juan-carlo, Gionne-carlo. You have seven periods in school, so seven times a day: No, that's not the name.'" So he switched to Mike. "It was just easier," he said. "If you can't pronounce that, then there's something wrong with you." Many friends still call him Giancarlo, however. He uses that name for his legal signature, while on baseball paraphernalia he signs "Mike Stanton." But he notes that his scrawl is such that his "M" looks a lot like a "G." And teammates are starting to call him Giancarlo more often. "I told him he needs to have longer hair," catcher John Buck said. "When I think of Giancarlo, I think of someone with long, flowing hair, like Fabio. But if he keeps hitting homers, I'll call him whatever he wants me to call him."

Backes doesn't back down from criticism of those who ripped Team USA

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Backes doesn't back down from criticism of those who ripped Team USA

BRIGHTON -- He may not get the chance, since he's now 32 and has thrown (and taken) plenty of hits during his 11-year NHL career, but new Bruin David Backes said he hopes to play for Team USA again to “have a nice taste in my mouth”.

Clearly, his last experience left a bad taste: The Americans finished dead last in the World Cup of Hockey, which is winding down now with Team Europe and Team Canada playing for the championship.

What also left a bad taste for Backes were the passive-aggressive Tweets sent out by U.S.-born players like Phil Kessel and Bobby Ryan after the Americans lost all three games they played in the World Cup. And he isn't about to back down from the pointed criticism he directed at them.

“I was one of the guys called upon to go to the rink on a day off after we were eliminated . . . . one of four to stand up and answer the questions,” said Backes, who certainly showed his personal accountability by showing up to answer questions after Team USA had flopped on the world stage. “Rather than defer and plead the Fifth, I thought it was something we needed to address. I think it’s easy to sit back and sling mud . . . when you’re not a part of it.

“[You can] kind of make yourself feel good about it (by criticizing Team USA) for a second, but if I wasn’t selected for the team, or if I’m not selected to the Olympic team in two years, I’m still American, I’ve still worn that jersey, and I’m going to root for those guys and hope everything goes well. If it doesn’t, I’m going to be crushed like I was on the team. That’s how I think as a team guy and as a guy that’s worn that jersey proudly and how much it means to me.

"I just hope and wish the other guys had those same feelings. If you’ve got some vindication not being on the team, and the team failing or not accomplishing the goal, then you should internalize that and use it as motivation going forward. You don’t need to join in with the chatter that’s negative and keeps piling on. Those are my visceral thoughts on the subject.”

Backes was a healthy scratch for Team USA’s final game against the Czech Republic, a listless defeat that dropped the U.S. to the bottom of the World Cup standings. That’s a bitter pill to swallow for a competitor who clearly understands the importance of representing one’s country.

So it’s no surprise the Bruins center hopes he gets a chance to redeem himself by making the 2018 Winter Olympics team. Backes has skated for the U.S. in each of the last two Olympics.

“I hope (the World Cup isn't the last time I play for my country), but that’s out of my control,” said Backes. “If my services seem like I can help a team be successful, I’d love to put that jersey on and have a nice taste in my mouth for the last time I use it, or the next time I use it. But there are a lot of great players that are Americans, and the next GM, or whoever it is constructing the team, will have decisions to make. Whoever they pick, I hope [the team] goes and puts us back on top of the pedestal for whatever competition it is.”

Clearly the Bruins hope that as well, since it would be a clear indicator Backes is performing at an elite level a couple of seasons into his five-year, big-money contract with Boston.

Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

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Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

The Patriots opened a roster spot by waiving defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, but they won't be adding a quarterback to take his place. 

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the team has swapped one defensive tackle for another by adding former Browns big man John Hughes, a 6-foot-2, 320-pounder who played under former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi when Lombardi was Cleveland's general manager in 2013. 

Hughes was released last week after spending just over four years with the team that drafted him in the third round in 2012. He signed a four-year extension with the Browns last season that was worth $12.8 million. 

With the Patriots, Hughes figures to work in as part of the rotation on the interior of the defensive line along with Malcom Brown, Alan Branch and rookie third-round pick Vincent Valentine. Unlike Johnson, who was more of a penetrating pass-rusher, Hughes should factor in as more of a space-eating type. He has 5.5 career sacks in 53 games. 

Johnson is the latest in a long line of Browns who played under Lombardi to end up in New England. The two most notable Patriots who spent 2013 in Cleveland are defensive end Jabaal Sheard and running back Dion Lewis. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo, who arrived in New England in a trade this summer, was drafted by Lombardi's front office as the No. 6 overall pick in 2013.