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New York Mets first-year manager Mickey Callaway won’t name a closer for the start of the season, opting instead to use a committee approach to close out games.

Callaway, in a recent interview with MLB.com, said he’s planning to rotate Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos, Anthony Swarzak and left-hander Jerry Blevins in save situations to start the season.

“I don’t think we’re going to name a closer to start the season,” Callaway told MLB.com. “If there are three left-handers coming up in a row, we can use Blevins. We want to make sure everyone is pitching when they have the best chance to be successful. I think we have four options to close games.”

Callaway did not indicate whether he would change his approach and name a full-time closer at any point later in the regular season.

Callaway also said that the Mets plan to have Familia throw multiple-inning relief outings in spring training in order to get him ready for extended outings in the regular season. Familia had a franchise single-season 51 saves in 2016 but missed most of last season because of a blood clot in his pitching shoulder.

Ramos, an All-Star closer with the Miami Marlins in 2016, has 99 saves over the past three seasons. He was expected to compete for the closer role with the Mets after New York acquired the right-hander in a trade with Miami last July.

Swarzak signed a two-year deal with the Mets last month after posting a career-best 2.33 ERA in 70 combined appearances last season with the White Sox and Brewers.

Blevins, an 11-year veteran with five career saves, went 6-0 with a 2.94 ERA in 75 appearances last season, his third with the Mets.

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LOS ANGELES — Clippers coach Doc Rivers became the latest in a long line of players and coaches to voice his displeasure with the referees this season after a 126-118 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.

After watching his team rack up four technical fouls in the fourth quarter, which included the ejections of Rivers and assistant coach Mike Woodson, the head coach sounded off in frustration.

“Listen, we don’t want to get fourth-quarter techs,” Rivers said. “My tech, by that time, the game was over. I literally got thrown out of the game for saying, ‘You guys gave us some tough calls tonight.’ That was it. No swear words. Nothing. And the point I make all the time, if I earn a tech, I’m fine with it, but just like players can lose their composure, officials can lose their composure, as well.”

What drew the Clippers’ ire was the discrepancy in free throws. The Timberwolves shot 39 free throws, including 16-of-17 in a career-high performance from point guard Jeff Teague, while the Clippers went to the line just 22 times.

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Wiggins carries Timberwolves to 126-118 win over Clippers
Andrew Wiggins scored a season-high 40 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves hung on to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 126-118 on Monday night, snapping their four-game road skid.

Doc, Thibs want All-Star Game draft televised
LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers and Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau believe the NBA should expand its All-Star rosters to 15 players on each side and would like to see the All-Star Game draft televised.
“Mainly, up until the very end of the game, Teague had more free throws than our entire team,” Rivers said. “I thought we were driving and just as physical as them. It’s rare when you’re the home team and the free throws are 39-22. And a lot of their fouls came down the stretch, when the game was over; it wasn’t even as close as that.”

Clippers big man Blake Griffin was whistled for a technical foul with 4:50 left in regulation, with his team hanging onto a two-point lead. It shifted some momentum back toward the Timberwolves and upset Rivers and his staff.

“Whether it was or wasn’t, I can’t be the one to get a tech there in the fourth quarter,” Griffin said. “That put us in a hole and kind of started the whole onslaught, for lack of a better word, of technicals we got throughout the last four or five minutes, whatever it was. So I got to be better. But there’s a reason why there’s so much disparity and so much back and forth and so much tension right now [between players and officials].”

Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell got another technical foul a few minutes later, before Rivers and Woodson were kicked out of the game right before its conclusion.

“Sam got a tech for saying, ‘Three seconds,’” Rivers said. “Blake got a tech for saying, ‘Over my back.’ One ref told me I couldn’t talk. I thought I was the head coach. As long as I’m respectful, I can say whatever I want. That’s not why we lost the game.

“Why we lost the game is because the rebounding, the offensive rebounding; they destroyed us. And they got to the free throw line. It’s rare where you lose a game and you shoot 56 percent, and we lost that game. So I thought overall our guys played extremely hard. We made a lot of defensive mistakes that we can get better in, but overall, I liked the spirit of our team, I liked how we played. I just didn’t like the results.”

Clippers sharpshooter Lou Williams echoed similar sentiments regarding the officiating.

“Not a great officiated game, but it happens,” Williams said. “It happens in the NBA every once in a while. I just thought they were the more aggressive team, played harder down the stretch, got some calls that went their way. That kind of shifted the momentum of the game; it happens.”
This was Rivers’ first ejection of the season but the 16th of his career, according to ESPN Stats and Information data.

“It is what it is,” Rivers said of the officiating. “I don’t have any control over that. With our guys, what I always tell them is to keep our composure. No fourth-quarter techs. I honestly — I heard what Blake and Sam said. I guess you can give a guy a tech for anything. I didn’t think either one of them really earned it. But you still can’t get ‘em.”

Williams didn’t want to comment further when pressed on the outcome.

“It happens,” he said. “I’m not donating my money to the NBA tonight.”

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Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis seemed to have an eye on the future before the 2017 season was even over. He said he told Teryl Austin to “stay in touch” prior to the Bengals’ game against the Detroit Lions on Christmas Eve.

Even though Lewis and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther had expiring contracts, Lewis seemed to be keeping an eye on Austin just in case. Now, Austin will take over Guenther’s duties as the Bengals’ defensive coordinator.

Austin ran a 4-3 base scheme in Detroit that had 32 takeaways last season, ranking third in the NFL. He promised to bring an aggressive style of play to Cincinnati.
New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on joining the Bengals: “… When you have an opportunity to work with good people, good players, good teams, you have to take that chance.” AP Photo/John Minchillo
“We are going to try and play on their side of the line of scrimmage. We’re going to play without fear,” Austin said. “We’re going to play really physical and strong. I guess that’s what I mean by aggressive. We aren’t going to sit back and let somebody dictate what we do. That’s what I mean by aggressive. Aggressive is not fighting and talking and all that other stuff — it’s how you play the game. That’s what I want the people to see.”

Though the Bengals were able to force 28 turnovers in 2015, that production tailed off to just 14 in 2017. Austin said the Lions were so good at taking the ball away because he made it a point of emphasis.

“It’s like anything else in coaching: You get what you emphasize,” Austin said. “I know for a few years, our first year, we were really good. Then, we kind of fell back a year. We talked about it and tried to emphasize [takeaways]. This past offseason, I really dove into making sure we emphasized it more. We ran more takeaway drills, and we kept that going throughout the entire year. I think it paid off, because what our guys saw was tangible results early, and they kept building off of that. And that’s why I think we were able to get as many turnovers as we did this past year.”

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Though Austin will put his own touches on the defense, a sweeping change to a 3-4 style of defense doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon. Lewis said he didn’t want the Bengals’ players to have to “relearn the wheel.”

“I thought it was important to have somebody that would stay within in our structure because of the personnel we have returning and that we didn’t have to make a drastic change,” Lewis said. “There are things that Teryl did the last few seasons in Detroit that are very compatible with what we do. He can shape [our defense] now with his hands, and with the rest of the coaches. Obviously when you take over a similar situation, as I did years ago from when I left Pittsburgh, you inherit some coaches, schemes and players. You have to adjust the coach a little bit, more so that the players don’t have to take too much of a sideways step, and we can keep pushing forward with their knowledge.”

 

Austin and Lewis conceded that his stay in Cincinnati wouldn’t be for long if everything worked out. Several of Lewis’ former coordinators and assistants, including Hue Jackson, Mike Zimmer, Jay Gruden and Vance Joseph, have gone on to become head coaches. Both hope the same thing for Austin, who has interviewed for several head-coaching positions over the years.

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“Obviously the big thing was his opportunity to possibly to become a head coach in the NFL,” Lewis said. “I was waiting for that to break, and I know that will occur in his future, and that’s the exciting thing. Hopefully we have great success immediately and he gets that opportunity.”

Said Austin: “The best selling point is that you have a chance to work with a quality person and a quality team. That’s the biggest selling point. At some point, you have to put all that other stuff [aside] — that other stuff will take care of itself. You can’t control that, so when you have an opportunity to work with good people, good players, good teams, you have to take that chance. That’s what I was looking for more than, ‘Hey, I have a chance to work with Marvin and possibly become a head coach.’ That’s not what I’m looking for. What I’m looking for is an opportunity to coach some men, get better, work with a good group of guys, and try to make them successful.”

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BIDDEFORD, Maine — Thirty-eight letters penned by Hall of Fame baseball player Ted Williams, including one in which he described crash-landing a fighter jet with “holes all over” it, are going up for auction.

The letters written to his mistress show another side to Williams, who played for the Boston Red Sox, describing his second hiatus from baseball for military service, his bombing missions in Korea and his feelings on war and his father’s death.

“They’re his innermost thoughts during the Korean conflict,” said Troy Thibodeau, of Saco River Auction, which is putting the letters up for auction.

The letters were written to Evelyn Turner, a flight attendant, from 1952 to 1954, a period in which Williams trained in the U.S. and served in Korea as a Marine combat pilot. During the time, Williams served as wing man for future NASA astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn.

He wrote to Turner the day after he crash-landed his burning F9F Panther after a mission. He only sprained an ankle, but it could’ve been far worse.

“I had holes all over the plane and I was riding on all the prayers people say for me ’cause I was awfully lucky. My plane was burning like hell when I crash landed. Everybody around here now is calling me lucky. Anyway, I’m missing you,” he wrote .

Another letter written after his father’s death described Williams’ anguish and regret over having not spent more time with him.

Yet another alluded to a military radioman sabotaging his plane to keep it grounded for repairs in Florida so he could spend extra time with Turner.

The letters and other items from Turner’s estate will be auctioned Jan. 3 along with other baseball and celebrity memorabilia. Included are photos of Williams in Turner’s home, along with newspaper clippings and Turner’s writings about Williams.

Williams was married to his first wife, Doris Soule, during the romance with Turner. Their affair lasted a decade, said Turner’s son, Al Christiano. Williams and Soule divorced in 1954.

Turner and Williams broke up after he told her that she’d take third place — behind baseball and fishing — if they were to marry, Christiano said.

“She wishes every day that she’d said yes. But that was a decision she made at the time, and she had to live with it,” he said.

Their relationship is recounted in Ben Bradlee’s book, “The Kid.” Williams met her on a flight when she worked for the now-defunct National Airlines.

Williams’ flings come as no surprise, said Dick Johnson from the New England Sports Museum. “Ted was a lady’s man, certainly,” he said.

This isn’t the first auction of Williams’ love letters. Six letters to another mistress, Norma Williamson, fetched several thousand dollars in 2011, according to Chris Ivy, director of sports collectibles at Dallas-based Heritage Auction.

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TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan spent his New Year’s Day watching basketball history and making some, too.

DeRozan scored a franchise-record 52 points, and the Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 131-127 in overtime on Monday night, matching the team record with their 12th consecutive home victory.

DeRozan said he spent some time earlier in the day watching the final few minutes of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, in which Hall of Famer Michael Jordan beat the Utah Jazz with a late jump shot, giving the Chicago Bulls their sixth title in eight seasons.

“I remember being a kid and wishing to be in moments like that,” DeRozan said. “When you come out here and you’re in those moments, you’ve got to make the best out of them.”

DeRozan sure did, becoming the third player in Raptors history to score 50 or more in a single game. The others are Vince Carter and Terrence Ross, who each had 51.

“I for sure wanted to beat T-Ross,” DeRozan joked about eclipsing his former teammate.

DeRozan scored the first nine points of the game and had 21 in the first, the most by a Raptors player in a single quarter this season.

“He was playing with a lot of juice,” coach Dwane Casey said. “You could see the bounce in his step. Tonight, DeMar DeRozan played like a superstar.”

DeRozan made 17 of 29 field-goal attempts and went 13 for 13 at the free-throw line. His five 3-pointers were one shy of his career high.

“He’s dangerous any time he puts on a uniform,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “Now to be able to expand his range out to the 3-point line just makes the game easier for him.”

Kyle Lowry had 26 points and Serge Ibaka added 11 for the Raptors, who also won 12 straight at Air Canada Centre between Jan. 18 and March 6, 2016. Toronto is an NBA-best 14-1 at home.

Eric Bledsoe scored 29 points, including 11 in overtime, and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 26 for the Bucks, who had won their previous two. Khris Middleton finished with 18 points in the entertaining rematch between first-round playoff opponents from last season, a series Toronto won in six.

Fred VanVleet gave Toronto the lead for good with a 3-pointer at 3:51 of overtime, and DeRozan followed with a jump shot, making it 121-117 Raptors.

DeRozan made a pair of free throws to tie it at 114 with 37 seconds left in regulation, and Toronto got the ball back when Lowry stripped Matthew Dellavedova. Lowry’s 3-point attempt with the shot clock winding down missed the rim, giving the Bucks 3.2 seconds to try to win it. With DeRozan defending him, Malcolm Brogdon couldn’t get a shot off before the buzzer sounded, sending it to overtime.

“We were looking at Khris and Giannis,” Kidd said. “We had two options and Malcolm was the safety. We knew they were going to switch, we just didn’t make the right read.”

TIP-INS

Bucks: Milwaukee assigned F Jabari Parker to their G-League team, the Wisconsin Herd. Parker, who also practiced with the Herd last month, has not played this season as he recovers from left knee surgery. … Brogdon had 15 points. … Dellavedova had a season-high 10 assists.
Raptors: Lowry holds the Raptors record for points in a quarter, scoring 22 in the fourth during a win at Atlanta on Dec. 2, 2015. … Toronto has won nine straight against Eastern Conference opponents.

SIGN OF THE TIMES

A smiling Jonas Valanciunas interrupted DeRozan’s postgame scrum by standing behind his teammate and holding up a hand-lettered sign reading “52.”

ON POINT

After blocking Bledsoe’s fast-break layup attempt in the first, Ibaka celebrated by pointing at the Milwaukee bench.

UP NEXT

Bucks: Host Indiana on Wednesday. It’s the first of four meetings this season between the Central Division rivals.

Raptors: Visit the Bulls on Wednesday. Toronto has lost six straight in Chicago, last winning there on Dec. 31, 2013.

More NBA basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

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