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Mets won’t waste time starting Francisco Lindor

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PORT ST. LUCIE — The Mets are wasting no time in getting their first look at Francisco Lindor in a game.

The star shortstop, who was the big prize of the Mets’ strong offseason, is expected to be among the starters who will hit the road Monday to play in the club’s Grapefruit League opener against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium.

Manager Luis Rojas also said he anticipated having Pete Alonso, Brandon Nimmo and potentially J.D. Davis, Kevin Pillar and Jonathan Villar in action for the first of the Mets’ 24 spring exhibitions.

“We talked this morning about our identity and some of the things we’re going to establish from early in spring training,” Rojas said Sunday. “Lindor, a guy like Pillar that might be there as well, and the rest of the guys that are coming back, all those guys just watching each other performing out there, I’m really excited. I can’t wait to see the first pitch of the game [Monday].”

Right-hander Harol Gonzalez will start the game on the mound with Sean Reid-Foley, Ryley Gilliam, Trevor Hildenberger, Stephen Tarpley and Thomas Szapucki also set to pitch in the seven-inning game.

More than the results of his hitters and pitchers, though, Rojas indicated that he would be most focused on the Mets’ base running and defense, which have been heavily emphasized as areas of needed improvement during the week of full-squad workouts to open camp.

Francisco Lindor
Francisco Lindor
Corey Sipkin

“I do want to see us being a better baserunning team, aggressive, going first to third, scoring on doubles from first, being aggressive, stealing, and being better at some areas that we haven’t been in the past,” Rojas said. “Also defensively, seeing guys get their experience at different positions. Those are the goals I look at. Once again, I wish we win every game in camp. That’s the mentality of the guys as well, I know. It’s part of that, but we know there are also the priorities in play.”

As part of a revamped spring training schedule to limit travel, the Mets will play the Marlins and Nationals six times each. But Rojas said the extra games against their NL East foes won’t make them adjust which arms are facing which teams, at least not yet.

“We’re really not thinking that [far] ahead right now,” Rojas said. “We want the guys to get their at-bats, we want the pitchers to get their innings and build up. We’re not thinking past that right now. We’re not overthinking it. If we get at some point that we think it’s going to be a competitive advantage, we can make a decision.”

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Bulls’ Zach LaVine called cops on ‘obsessed’ fan at his home

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Zach LaVine had an unwanted visitor.

The Chicago Bulls star had to call the police after an “allegedly obsessed” woman showed up to his Chicago home and refused to leave on Thursday night, according to TMZ. 

The woman reportedly traveled from out of state, demanding to speak with the first-time All-Star, who was home at the time.

Police took her a local hospital for mental evaluation, and she has not been formally arrested or charged with a crime.

LaVine, 25, wrapped up first-half action with the Bulls on Wednesday and was drafted to Kevin Durant’s All-Star side for Sunday’s festivities in Atlanta.

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Blake Griffin a free agent after Pistons buyout

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Blake Griffin will be free to sign with the Nets or another interested NBA team after agreeing to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons.

The six-time All-Star forward “has interest from most of the NBA’s top playoff contenders and is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams,” ESPN reported.

The Nets, Lakers, Heat, Warriors and Clippers – his former team — are among those that have expressed interest, according to the New York Times. ESPN.com added that the Blazers are interested

The 31-year-old Griffin hasn’t played since Feb. 12 while the Pistons attempted to trade him before the March 25 deadline, but they found no takers due to the remainder of his $36.6 million salary for this season and the $39 million he’s owed for 2021-22.

Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
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Griffin is averaging a career-low 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20 games this season. He was dealt by the Clippers to Detroit in 2018, during the first season of a five-year extension worth $171 million.



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Broncos send a pretty strong warning to Drew Lock

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Drew Lock is no lock to remain the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2021.

General manager George Paton and coach Vic Fangio both said Thursday that the team expects to bring in competition for Lock, possibly with the ninth pick in the NFL Draft.

“Obviously we’re always looking to bring in players at all positions that can raise the level of competition, and the quarterback is no different in that regard,” Fangio said, according to the team’s website.

“Until we get or until Drew proves to be the next great quarterback, like the ones that the Denver franchise has been used to in years past or certain teams around the league … are used to, we’re going to always try and bring in competition. But I have confidence that Drew can continue to improve.”

Lock made 13 starts in 2020 and tied with Carson Wentz for the league lead with 15 interceptions. He finished 32nd in the league among qualifying quarterbacks with a 75.4 passer rating, ahead of only Dwayne Haskins, Wentz and Sam Darnold.

Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
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“Very talented, was inconsistent at times, has a lot to work on,” Paton said Thursday. “But I’ve spoken with Drew, I see him every day. He’s here early. He’s working. He really wants to be great. And we’re always going to try to bring in competition at every position, and quarterback as well. But I like the track that Drew’s on.”

Lock, the Broncos’ second-round pick in 2019 out of Missouri, had started five games as a rookie, winning four of them. Denver went 4-9 with him as the starter last season.

“I’m confident that Drew’s going to continue to improve,” Fangio said. “Drew’s had a great offseason up to this point. There’s not a lot you can do, but he’s working hard on his own, coming over here and getting workouts, and I know he’s doing a lot at home by himself, watching video by himself. He’s got a good setup over there. And he’s doing anything and everything he can to improve, even in February and now in March.”

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