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Yankees, Boone react to facing A.J. Hinch after cheating drama

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TAMPA — The Yankees will see A.J. Hinch in a major league dugout for the first time Monday since the sign-stealing scandal that aided Houston’s World Series-winning team in 2017 became public.

The controversy cost Hinch his job — and has caused the Yankees to wonder what might have happened if the Astros didn’t cheat, since the Yankees lost to Houston in seven games in the ALCS that season.

Aaron Boone, a friend of Hinch’s, said the two have spoken since news of the garbage-can banging scandal broke, most recently in “the last several weeks.”

“I have beyond moved on from it,’’ Boone said following the Yankees’ 6-4, seven-inning loss to Toronto at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Sunday. “Our focus is on getting ready to hopefully go out and play in a championship season. I’m not gonna get caught up in looking back to a couple years ago.”

Whether his players have gotten beyond it is another story.

Asked if he planned on saying anything to Hinch — who was banned by MLB for all of last season before getting hired by the Tigers this offseason — Aaron Judge cleverly dodged the question.

“I’ve got the day off [Monday], so I don’t think with COVID protocols I’ll be out on the field,” Judge said. “So I think I’ll be missing that one.”

Aaron Boone and A.J. Hinch in 2019.
Aaron Boone and A.J. Hinch in 2019.
Paul J. Bereswill

Hinch managed his first game with the Tigers on Sunday, a 10-2 win over St. Louis, and tackled the issue afterward.

“I’ll just address it directly, like I have,’’ Hinch said of the narrative. “It is part of my past and I’m keeping the Tigers out of it. It has nothing to do with the Detroit Tigers. I understand it’s personal with me, but I’ll handle it. I highlighted my name for making the trip. We’re all going to go over there and I’m not going to do anything different than I’ve done in answering these questions or addressing it and apologizing and moving forward.”

Hinch has said he regrets his actions with Houston, when he destroyed a monitor the team used to cheat, but did not directly try to stop the teams use of a video system to see what pitches were being thrown.

“Certainly, I’m not going to tell people how to believe or what to believe,’’ Hinch said. “But I continue to be sorry that it was part of the game and the wrong things that we did, and then get to focusing on the Tigers.”

He added he would address the questions “by focusing on my job.”

Yankee fans likely won’t let Hinch forget about what happened, as they proved Sunday, when some appeared to boo Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel, Jr., mistaking him for his brother, Yuli, who played for that Astros team.

There won’t be any cases of mistaken identity Monday.

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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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