Mariano Rivera discusses A-Rod situation

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Mariano Rivera discusses A-Rod situation

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Sitting on a stage with their manager and GM during a fundraiser, Mariano Rivera and Mark Teixeira vowed to welcome Alex Rodriguez back to the New York Yankees following the latest drug allegations against the New York Yankees star.Rodriguez is recovering from hip surgery expected to sideline him until at least the All-Star break. The Miami New Times reported last week that Rodriguez is included in records the paper claims show he bought performance-enhancing drugs from a defunct Florida anti-aging clinic. Rodriguez denied the charges."We have to embrace him. He's our teammate," Rivera said.Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said the team will wait for Major League Baseball to determine the truthfullness of the allegations, and manager Joe Girardi said there's no way to tell whether the All-Star third baseman will regain his offensive production following him surgery."This involves some very nasty facts," Cashman told about 150 fans at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. "There needs to patience here as they thoroughly investigate this to determine the accuracy or inaccuracy, or where are there accuracies or inaccuracies in the story, and see if we can come up with what is fact and what are provable facts.""Everybody, they deserve due process and right now you have just a very nasty story," Cashman added. "We'll just have to wait and let it all play out."Rodriguez was among a half-dozen major leaguers accused in the report by the alternative weekly and could face a 50-game suspension. He admitted four years ago that he used PEDs while with the Texas Rangers from 2001-03, before MLB and the union started their joint drug program. He has denied using PEDs since."He wears that uniform, that New York Yankees uniform, and I have to go out and be there for him," Rivera said. "Besides, he's my friend and I will respect and wait for him to give you the answer that you want."Teixeira echoed Rivera's thoughts."Just like Mo said, you support your family," the first baseman said.Teixeira spoke out against PEDs when asked about the rejection of all candidates in this year's Hall of Fame vote, a group that included seven-time MVP Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens."As a sport, we've stood up and said enough is enough because there is no place for steroids in sports," Teixeira said to applause. "It's a little bit embarrassing to go up to somebody and have people talk about baseball, and the first thing they talk about is steroids. And I'm tired of it, frankly. So for the Hall of Fame, the No. 1 highlight of anyone's career and what we all strive to become, for Hall of Fame voters to stand up and make a stand, I think that is a positive thing."Even before last week's report, Rodriguez had lived through a tumultuous offseason following his repeated benching for lack of production during last year's playoffs. A-Rod, who turns 38 in July, has not played a full season since 2007 because of injuries. It's not clear whether he will report to spring training with the Yankees in Tampa, Fla."I'm not sure exactly where he'll be from a rehab standpoint and where they feel the best place for him to be," Girardi said.He will watch Rodriguez's progress from surgery but won't predict whether A-Rod will regain the offensive form that led to three AL MVP awards and 647 home runs -- 115 shy of tying Barry Bonds' career record."We're hopeful and we're confident that he's going to come back healthy but you've got to find out," Girardi said. "There's no guarantees when they cut you."Rivera, the career saves leader, missed most of last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while tracking down a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. Now 43, he expects to be on his normal spring training routine. He joked about his disdain for exhibition road games in Florida."For me it's a challenge, but I can't wait to get there," he said. "I'm going to start sweating and running and doing all that stuff, getting in the outfield. You won't see the last of me there."NOTES:Working out at the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa, Fla., captain Derek Jeter deferred on publicly discussing the charges against Rodriguez. "I don't comment on anyone until they speak first," Jeter said. "Let him address his situation before I comment on it. Let him speak first and then we'll talk about that." ... Girardi has not ruled out moving Brett Gardner to center and Curtis Granderson to left, but says for now he hasn't decided to make a switch. ... Girardi and Cashman said Chris Stewart and Francisco Cervelli are likely to compete for the starting catcher's job. After missing most of last season because of a back injury, Austin Romine has only an outside chance. ... An auction raised money for Carlos Silva, a producer and engineer for Yankees games on WCBS radio since 2006, who is fighting esophageal and stomach cancer.

NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

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NCAA TOURNAMENT: Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

SAN JOSE, Calif. - Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 points while orchestrating Gonzaga's efficient offense, and the Zags finally shook their overrated tag by routing Xavier 83-59 on Saturday to reach the Final Four for the first time.

Gonzaga (36-1) has been dogged by criticism through the years despite winning consistently, in part for playing in a weak conference but also for never making the Final Four.

On the cusp of history, the Zags took it head on with a superb all-around game to give coach Mark Few the one missing piece of his resume.

Gonzaga found the range from the perimeter after struggling the first three NCAA games, making 12 of 24 from 3-point range. The defense, a soft spot in the past, shut down the underdog and 11th-seeded Musketeers (24-14) to win the West Region.

The Zags will face the winner between South Carolina and Florida in next week's Final Four in Arizona.

J.P Macura led the Musketeers with 18 points.

The Musketeers brought their turn-the-page jar of ashes to the NCAA Tournament, where they burned through a string of upsets to reach their third Elite Eight and first since 2008. They beat Maryland, Florida State and took down No. 2 Arizona in the regional semifinals, setting up a matchup of small Jesuit schools seeking their first Final Four.

The Final Four was the only thing missing on Few's resume, which includes 18 straight NCAA Tournaments, eight trips to the Sweet 16 and a third Elite Eight after surviving West Virginia's constant pressure in the regional semifinals.

The Zags struggled to find an offensive rhythm against the Mountaineers - who doesn't? - but had it flowing against Xavier.

Gonzaga came into the Elite Eight hitting 29 percent of its 3-point shots after making 37 percent during the season. The Zags found the range early against Xavier, hitting 8 of 13 from the arc in the first half, mostly against the Musketeers' zone or on kick-outs from center Przemek Karnowski.

Xavier got off to a good start offensively by working the ball around, but hit a dry spell and made 1 of 5 from 3-point range as Gonzaga stretched to lead to 49-39 by halftime.

Halftime did little to slow the Zags, who pushed the lead to 59-42 on 3-pointers by Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews. Gonzaga kept the machine rolling in the second half, continuing to make shots while its defense prevented the Musketeers from making any kind of run.

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

Blakely: Despite their spot in East, consistency remains a problem for Celtics

BOSTON –  Devin Booker went on a scoring binge for the ages against the Boston Celtics on Friday night, the likes of which won’t be seen anytime soon at the TD Garden.

The performance was so great, even the most die-hard Green Teamers had to give the 20-year-old props for dropping 70 points – 70 points! – on the Celtics who still wound up winning, 130-120.

And as Booker continued to pour on the points and the Celtics’ double-digit lead remained just that, a double-digit lead, the narrative of what we witnessed was a lot deeper than just some young kid getting hot.

The Suns are trying lose as many games as they can, while throwing youngsters out there like Booker to play major minutes and predictably make their share of mistakes with the goal being to learn from those miscues and get better.

But the true lesson in what went down Friday night had little to do with Booker’s big night or some Celtics being a little salty about it afterwards.

Lost in all of the hoopla surrounding Booker’s big night was the repeated revelation by Celtics head coach Brad Stevens after the game about his team’s play and their record not being on one accord.

“That’s why, like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”

And Booker’s historic night is the latest example to illustrate Stevens’ point.

Not having Avery Bradley (sickness) was a factor, obviously.

But that’s no excuse for the way they allowed Booker to do anything and everything he wanted to on the floor, allowing a really good shooter to gain confidence to the point where there was literally nothing the Celtics could do to cool him off.

The Celtics looked casual for three-plus quarters defensively against the Suns and still managed to win which says more about Phoenix and its desire to lose as much as possible, than Boston’s ability to find success and overcome a player with a hot hand.

It was another case of Boston getting away from what works while settling into what felt good and easy.

Most of the guys Phoenix played on Friday weren’t players you would consider big-time scoring threats, so the Celtics defensively didn’t play with a defensive edge other than the first six minutes of the game.

In that span, Phoenix didn’t make a single shot from the field while Boston bolted out to a 16-3 lead.

From there, the Celtics didn’t play with the same sense of urgency.

Fortunately for them, they were playing a team that didn’t want to win.

That’s not going to be the case in these remaining games, a mixture of playoff-bound clubs, wannabe playoff-bound crews and a few others with rosters full of players fighting to stay in the league who will use these remaining games essentially as an audition for next season.

If Boston plays like this in any of their remaining games, they’ll most likely lose.

And that’s why Brad Stevens continues to harp on this team not being as good as their record.

Because when you’re in the same class record-wise with teams like Golden State, San Antonio, Cleveland and Houston, there’s a certain expectation of consistency you should play with most nights.

The Warriors and Rockets have explosive scorers; the Spurs play elite-level defense most nights and the Cavs have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

Those factors form the basis of their consistency in terms of winning and overall play.

But the Celtics are very much a wild and unpredictable bunch, able to knock off Cleveland and Golden State, but get blasted by Denver and lose to Philadelphia.

If inconsistent play is a hallmark of this team, their potential for having a great season will be remembered as just that, potential.

Because games like the one they played on Friday against Phoenix on more nights than not, will result in a loss which could put the Celtics very much in the crosshairs for an early playoff exit.