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grees.I just dont know if Cormier has the tools to

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grees.I just dont know if Cormier has the tools to

Message par lw789 » 17 Avril 2018, 08:47

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- John Gibbons asked for strike-throwers and Drew Hutchison obliged Friday. The 23-year-old right-hander, continuing to make a strong case to become Torontos fourth starter, threw 4 2/3 strong innings in the Blue Jays 3-1 exhibition loss to the Boston Red Sox. Hutchison, who was tagged with the loss, gave up one run on four hits with seven strikeouts and no walks. He retired the first eight Red Sox he faced and threw 71 pitches with 51 strikes. "An outstanding outing," said Jays catcher Dioner Navarro. "A great performance," echoed Gibbons, who nevertheless was coy on what might lie ahead for Hutchison. Pressed by reporters, Gibbons allowed: "Hes doing everything he needs to do." Hutchison returned from Tommy John surgery last fall, pitching in the Arizona Fall League. He seems on top of his game this spring. Hutchison showed his mettle in the fourth inning Friday, striking out Mike Napoli to end the inning after a lengthy at-bat that saw the Red Sox hitter foul off a number of pitches. The Jays pitcher hit 95 miles per hour during the confrontation. "Hes got more than I thought he did," said Gibbons. "And he can pop it up pretty good -- with command. Which makes the guys that are really good really good." This spring Hutchison has given up three runs and seven hits in 9 2/3 innings while striking out 16 and walking one. Opposing batters are hitting just .200 against him. Hutchison made 11 starts for the Jays in 2012 (going 5-3 with a 4.60 ERA) before injuring his arm while warming up in the bullpen for a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Throwing strikes is his modus operandi. "Thats what he does. He was good when he was here the first time before he got hurt," said Gibbons. "Thats how he pitches. The key is just being healthy." The same can be said for J.A. Happ, another would-be starter who returned Friday from an ailing back. The six-foot-six left-hander pronounced himself happy with a three-inning performance in a minor-league game. He gave up one hit, walked one and struck out two. "It was good. Exciting," said Happ. "I felt normal out there which is really nice." Said Gibbons: "I heard he pitched really well." A gaggle of pitchers is trying to join R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow in the Jays rotation. Barring a trade, Nos. 4 and 5 will come from Hutchison, Happ, Ricky Romero, Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond, Kyle Drabek, Marcus Stroman and Sean Nolin. Of the three main contenders, Hutchison appears to have pitched his way into the rotation. Romero is turning heads with his improved performance this spring. But Happ has had an uneasy pre-season. In two starts, he has given up six runs in just 1 1/3 innings. The back issue has further muddied the waters. Gibbons, who had yet to speak to Happ following the minor-league outing, said the major issue was making sure Happs back was healthy. Happ, in speaking to reporters, said the back was fine. The lines of communication within the Jays on Happ seem a little blurry in general. The pitcher seemed unhappy with GM Alex Anthopoulos answer late last week on whether there were one or two spots open in the starting rotation. "There could be two," Anthopoulos said at the time." I think were going to take the best team north. Especially right now, we have J.A. (Happ) and the back, the performance, things like that, we have to get him on track, stay healthy. "Obviously R.A., Mark and Brandon. Again, we expect J.A. to be in the rotation but at the same time the backs flared up on him twice. I just dont know. Look, if guys perform well and they force our hand, well take the best team." Asked on Friday if he had something to prove in the wake of those words, Happ replied: "I dont have any comment on that. My comment is no comment. "That was probably disappointing to hear but theres nothing I want to say about it." Happ has campaigned to be a starter since arriving here via trade and the issue appears to have left a chip on his shoulder. Last spring he found himself on the outside of the rotation looking in, until Romero pitched his way out of it. Happ eventually went 5-7 with a 4.56 ERA in 18 starts last year in a season disrupted by a nasty setback. Hit in the head by a ball off the bat of Desmond Jennings in a May game with the Tampa Bay Rays, he was out for three months with a skull fracture and a sprained right knee from when he toppled to the ground. While the Red Sox didnt bring all of their starters Friday, their lineup did included Mike Carp, Napoli and Jonny Gomes in the meat of the order. Boston finally got to Hutchison in the fifth. Gomes singled and came home on Corey Browns double to deep centre. The relay throw by Ryan Goins was a little high, allowing Gomes to score. The Red Sox added two more in the eighth before Jonathan Diaz scored on a Kevin Pillar double in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead to 3-1. Boston starter Clay Buchholz was also impressive, holding the Jays scoreless on two hits in four innings. After giving up two singles to open the first inning, he retired 11 straight for the win. The 29-year-old right-hander went 9-0 with a 1.71 earned-run average ERA in his first 12 starts last season before going on the disabled list for more than three months with shoulder and neck problems. He returned in September, finishing with a 12-1 mark and 1.74 ERA. The loss was the third straight for Toronto, which slipped to 6-9. Boston improved to 7-8. The game drew a sellout of 5,519 on a sunny 20 C day at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Luis Aparicio Jersey . Jeff Carter had two goals and an assist as the Kings stretched their streak to seven wins in a row with a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. Paul Konerko Jersey . Bryce Harper? He also came into Wednesday without a long ball and hadnt driven in a run. He was hitting .160, had nearly three times as many strikeouts as hits and was dropped to seventh in the batting order. ... ersey/.com) - The St. Jeff Keppinger Jersey . Though the 26-year-old said he was able to participate, coach Dwane Casey kept Johnson out as a precaution. Alejandro De Aza Jersey . -- Top-ranked Stacy Lewis birdied the last three holes and five of the final six Thursday for an 8-under 64 and a share of the lead with Mi Jung Hur in the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic.LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Two days before putting his title on the line, UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon (Bones) Jones took in a Justin Timberlake concert in the same arena where he will fight Saturday night.Most people would be freaking out in their hotel room, a relaxed Jones said.Apprised of his opponents pre-fight plans, challenger Daniel (DC) Cormier smiled.No concerts in my future, he said. Again I one-up him. I got to watch Justin Timberlake go through his whole concert a couple of days ago with nobody in the arena. So go ahead, enjoy yourself with 20,000 people. I did it with 100.The UFC 182 main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena has been marked by such one-upmanship since the matchup was announced last July.Were both so competitive, we dont want to give the other guy anything, said Cormier. I dont want to let him beat me at anything. So if he makes a joke, I want to try and make a funnier joke.At times, the rivalry has boiled over. The two fighters came to blows at a Las Vegas photo-op in August, tumbling off the stage in a sea of bodies that left one security official with a broken rib and netted the two combatants fines and community service.An exchange over a satellite feed later that day, as both fighters sat in separate rooms at the UFC offices for an ESPN interview, offered a private look at the animosity between the two.I wish they would let me next door so I could spit in your face, Cormier, adding an F-bomb, said after the two traded insults.You know I would absolutely kill you if you ever did something like that, replied Jones (20-1).Such vitriol is manna from heaven for the UFC, which had a tough year in 2014 due to a spate of injuries to frontline fighters.While the fight wasnt a sellout as of noon Friday — tickets were available from US$170 in the top row to $2,500 cageside — the UFC still expects a gate of $3 million-plus as well as a bumper pay-per-view audience of 750,000-plus buys.In the fight game, especially in MMA, its fun when you get this because its very rare, UFC president Dana White said of the bad blood.In a weight class that was once the rock star division of the UFC, the Jones-Cormier fight is probably the biggest news since the trilogy between Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell and Randy (The Natural) Couture in 2003, 2005 and 2006.Jones became the UFCs youngest ever champion at 23 when he dethroned Mauricio (Shogun) Rua at UFC 128 in March 2011. He has defended the 205-pound title seven times since, replacing former middleweight champion Anderson Silva as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.The lone blemish on Joness 21-fight record was a loss by disqualification in 2009 against Matt (The Hammer) Hamill, who was beaten and broken before the illegal elbow was called.Joness legacy is already impressive. His reign as champion when he enters the cage Saturday will measure 1,386 days, the longest in UFC light-heavyweight history.His run of 11 straight wins is the longest active streak in the UFC.While Cormier (15-0) comes from an elite wrestling background, he has outstruck every UFC or Strikeforce opponent he has faced.The challenger has said he plans to press Jones from the get-go, a strategy the champion seemed to welcome. Hes a wrestler at heart. Im a martial artist ... I think when I pop him with some of the things I plan on popping him with, I think hes going to say OK, that hurt and Im not moving in on him again like that. And I think when that starts to happen, Ill pull away with the fight.While Jones has consistently been victorious in the cage, he has not won over all the fans and remains a polarizing figure.In 2012, a drunk-driving conviction put a dent in the image of a scriptures-quoting family man. But he does not shy away from his faith, telling rreporters this week he rang in the New Year with a family prayer session.ddddddddddddhristians are not perfect people, he said. We are just people ... At the end of the day, a Christian is not someone that does everything right. Christians are ultimately sinners who recognize that theyre sinners and they try to do things a little bit better. But perfect, I never claimed to be.Joness self-confidence and desire to march to his own drum has turned off some, including White at times.He definitely rubs people the wrong way, said White.Hes the champ and hes annihilated the whos who in this division and people are always rooting for the challenger.While Jones has been an occasional thorn in Whites side — UFC 151 was cancelled when Jones refused to accept Chael Sonnen as an injury replacement for Dan Henderson — the UFC boss says the champion has been very good to deal with recently.While some athletes choose to avoid social media to ignore the negativity of some fans, Jones embraces it. He knows every one of his 971,000 Twitter followers makes a difference to potential sponsors.Jones, a native of Ithica, N.Y., who trains in Albuquerque, N.M., is clearly at ease in his own skin and with his chosen occupation.This really is my comfort zone, he said with a smile. Fighting scary guys, guys that most people would be like crapping their pants (to challenge). This is my lane. I live in this lane.The 27-year-old Jones offers opponents a unique challenge thanks to his size and array of weapons. A former junior college champion wrestler, he stands six foot four with an 84-inch reach.The five-foot-11 Cormier, a former Olympic wrestler who came fourth at the Athens Games in 2004, will be giving up 12 inches in reach. He knows he will have to get in close to have a chance.If I stand on the outside, I will tell you right now, I will lose that fight. So its no secret that I need to get close, said Cormier, who trains in San Jose and works as a UFC analyst on Fox when hes not competing.Punches to the body may also play a part for Cormier. They worked for No. 1 contender Alexander (The Mauler) Gustafsson, whose five-round war with Jones in Toronto at UFC 165 in 2013 proved that the champion is human.Cormier, who has stuffed all 11 takedown attempts in his four UFC fights, knows staying off his back is also a key. Jones, whose 50.9-per cent takedown accuracy leads all active light-heavyweights, finishes opponents when he gets on top of them.Jones believes his age, speed and versatility will count in his favour against the 35-year-old Cormier.Every round starts on its feet and Im very aware I have a much larger array of techniques on my feet than he does.Jones also points at his record.Hes 4-0 in the UFC. Im 15-0 in the UFC, he said. I really feel like Im the aggressor in this fight, like Im the predator. I dont feel Im defending my belt at all, I feel like Im getting ready to attack this challenger.Lightweight Donald (Cowboy) Cerrone, a Jones teammate who fights Myles (Fury) Jury in Saturdays co-main event, agrees.I just dont know if Cormier has the tools to beat him.The bookies think enough of Cormier, however, to keep the odds low. Jones is less than a 2-1 favourite.Cormier, ranked second among light-heavyweight contenders, is No. 14 on the UFCs pound-for-pound ranking list — separated from Jones by a line of current or former champions.This fight has proved to be a twisted road to the cage.Jones was originally due to meet Gustafsson in September at UFC 178, a card originally slated for Toronto before being shifted to Las Vegas. Cormier stepped in when Gustafsson injured his knee.The fight was then pushed back to January after Jones suffered a leg injury of his own.———Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter. 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