Blue Jays player at mall where gunshots fired

783164.jpg

Blue Jays player at mall where gunshots fired

From Comcast SportsNet
TORONTO (AP) -- Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie said Sunday that he narrowly missed being in the area where a gunman fired shots in a crowded food court in one of Canada's busiest malls, killing a man and injuring seven others. Police said the shooting on Saturday at Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto targeted one individual and there were a number of innocent bystanders in what they think might be a gang-related shooting. Police said seven people were shot in all, including a 24-year-old man who was killed in a hail of bullets and a 23-year-old man who remains in critical condition. Det. Sgt. Brian Borg said a 13-year-old boy who was visiting Toronto and shopping with family members was shot in the head but has been upgraded to stable, but critical condition. He said a 28-year-old pregnant woman who went into labor after being trampled in the rush to get out of the mall has not yet given birth. He said she is doing well. Borg said they believe the dead man, identified as Ahmed Hassan of Toronto, had gang affiliations and was targeted. He was known to police. Police think they know who the suspect is but Borg declined to provide a name at this point. Borg said security footage has been particularly helpful. He said there was one gunman and no exchange of gunfire. "I'm very confident we are going to make an arrest very soon," Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said. Police removed Hassan's body early Sunday morning. Lawrie was one of the first to break the news on Twitter on Saturday evening. He had gone to the mall with a friend shortly after the Blue Jays lost to the Boston Red Sox in a Saturday afternoon game. "Pretty sure someone just let off a round bullets in eaton center mall ... Wow just sprinted out of the mall ... through traffic," Lawrie tweeted. "People sprinting up the stairs right from where we just were ... Wow wow wow." He later tweeted that he was "Rattled right now." On Sunday, Lawrie said he felt lucky because he left the food court 10 seconds before the shooting. "It was instant panic," Lawrie said before Sunday's game against the Red Sox. "It was as if you stepped on an ant hill and then everyone just flooded out of the place. ... I just got out of there as fast as possible. I was the first person out of there." Lawrie said he wanted to get the news out fast. "I just thought I'd give it out there just to anybody that could have been in the mall or anybody that needed to get there ASAP, I thought I could give them a good piece of information," he said. Lawrie, a Canadian, said he never thought something like that could happen at the Eaton Centre, a Toronto landmark that is popular with tourists. Toronto prides itself on being one of the safest cities in North America. Many Canadians have long taken comfort in the peacefulness of their communities and are nervous about anything that might indicate they are moving closer to their American counterparts. Marcus Neves-Polonio, 19, was working in the food court when he saw a man pull out a gun and start firing. At least two people were on the ground, he said. Erica Solmes, who manages the McDonald's in the mall's food court, said she heard about 15 shots ring out before a stampede of people made a dash for the exits. "Any place for discharging a firearm in Toronto is dangerous. In the food court of the Eaton Centre on a Saturday evening, it's not only dangerous, it's outrageous," Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said. "I believe every Torontonian is shocked and appalled by this crime." In 2005, a 15-year-old girl was killed during the Christmas holidays just north of the mall in a shooting that shocked the city during a year of record gun deaths in Toronto. In that case, Toronto teen Jane Creba was shopping with family on busy Yonge Street when she was caught in the crossfire of a shootout between rival gangs. "Today harkens back to that terrible moment," Blair said. "I am very sadly reminded of that. That was one of the most tragic and shocking events that ever took place in Toronto." The major and acting Deputy Police Chief Jeff McGuire called it an isolated incident. "One idiot with a gun on a Saturday afternoon in downtown Toronto does not speak to the state of affairs of the city of Toronto," he said. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement that "such depraved and monstrous acts will be met with the full force of the law" and expressed confidence police will make an arrest. Officials said the mall and its parking garages will remain closed Sunday while police continue the investigation. Rachel Kennedy was two hours into her shift at The Gap on Saturday when someone ran into the store and reported hearing gun shots, said she remains on edge. "It's a little bit nerve-racking," Kennedy said.

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

Does uncertainty for Carson Smith mean Red Sox need bullpen help?

BOSTON — Tyler Thornburg’s gone for the season and there’s really no telling when the other set-up man the Sox expected to help in 2017, Carson Smith, will be back.

The Sox have already made inroads, if minor ones, in bolstering their third-base situation and rotation. Smith’s situation leaves a question of whether the Sox will need to pursue help in the bullpen as well.

There's not an easy answer to settle on at this point.

For one, the timetable with the right-hander Smith — whose shoulder has bothered him on the way back from Tommy John surgery — isn’t clear.

“He's in a no-throw [time] through the weekend,” Sox manager John Farrell said Friday afternoon at Fenway Park. “He'll be reevaluated on Monday to hopefully initiate a throwing program. He's responding favorably to the treatment. He continues to rehab as he's been. We have not closed the book in a sense on anything Carson can contribute this year.”

What does this year mean, though? Will they be able to know by July, by the trade deadline?

“Still too early to tell,” Farrell said. “We thought he was days from starting his rehab assignment after his last live BP session in New York [on June 6]. Unfortunately, that was put on hold for the time being. To get into any kind of timeframes, timetables, I don't know that any of us can predict that right now.”

The Sox relievers have done extraordinarily well without either Thornburg or Smith. Can that continue without reinforcements? The bullpen’s ERA entering Friday was 2.94, the second best mark in the majors. Its innings total, 217, was the second. lowest in the majors. 

So it’s not like the entire group is about to collapse from fatigue. But a guy like Joe Kelly, for example, isn’t someone the Sox want to use back to back.

It’s a young group and ultimately an inexperienced group. But Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has already fallen into the trap of trading for premium set-up men twice, and that’s a dangerous road to pursue again. Perhaps a smaller trade makes more sense.

“Well, at this point, we’re open minded to help,” Dombrowski said when asked if he was targeting either third-base or relief help. “I’m not going to get into specifics at this time on what else we’re looking for. Keep an open mind on a lot of ways on which we can improve. We have guys coming back and both the spots, I think Carson Smith is very important to us and our bullpen has pitched great. The other day, we struggled but that was one of the few times we really struggled all year. 

“I think Carson still has a chance to come back and help us this year.”

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

Blake Griffin opts out of Clippers contract, becoming free agent

According to multiple reports, Blake Griffin has opted out of his contract with the Clippers, making him a free agent. 

Griffin is considered one of the top free agents in a class that will also include Utah’s Gordon Hayward. The Celtics have been reported as possible suitors for both players. 

The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, the 28-year-old Griffin is a five-time All-Star, though injuries have limited him over the last three seasons. 

Over 61 games, the 6-foot-10 power forward averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last season. Between numerous injuries and a suspension for hitting a member of the Clippers’ equipment staff, Griffin was limited to just 31 games in the 2015-16 season. 

Adrian Wojnarowski said recently that Boston’s reception for Clippers teammate Paul Pierce made a very strong impression on Griffin. Though there might not necessarily be a connection between the two, Griffin said on Barstool Sports’ “Pardon My Take” that Boston is on his Mt. Rushmore of NBA cities.