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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The first man to bat against San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner Sunday hit a wind-aided, opposite-field home run. Bumgarner was overpowering after that in his spring training debut against the Chicago Cubs, even if he was lacking some sharpness.

The 2014 World Series MVP got all five outs with strikeouts and allowed two earned runs on four hits in 1β…” innings in the Cubs’ 12-10 win over the Giants. He left the game with two runners on base and both scored, inflating his final line.

“Felt good physically, that’s really all I’m looking for,” Bumgarner said after his outing. “Every time I tried to get on game speed, I just missed. I was just a touch off of that, which is to be expected I guess, this time of year. Stuff felt fine, besides that, just command. Stuff was a little off. Getting that dialed in, that’s why we’re here.”

Bumgarner shook off Ian Happ‘s solo shot on a full count and struck out the side in the first inning. In between strikeouts he gave up a Kyle Schwarber single and watched Schwarber steal two bases on him, but a called third strike on the outside corner to Efren Navarro ended the inning.

“I thought it was going to be an out coming off the bat. Guess he hit it harder than I thought,” Bumgarner said of the homer. “Doesn’t matter to me either way.”

Catcher Buster Posey said Bumgarner might have been a little too “amped up.” But the pitches looked crisp.

Bumgarner reached his pitch limit in the second inning and was removed.

“Location-wise, it wasn’t what you would expect out of him, but first outing of the spring, it’s going to happen,” Posey said.

Bumgarner’s 2017 season was interrupted by a dirt bike accident during an off day in Colorado on April 20. He suffered bruised ribs and a sprained AC joint, and missed nearly three months.

After six straight seasons with double-digit wins, more than 200 innings and 30-plus starts, Bumgarner went 4-9 in 17 starts and threw just 111 innings in 2017.

“Last year wouldn’t change how I felt about doing that,” Bumgarner said of getting back to his typical innings and starts counts. “I always want to do that.”

Bumgarner said he’d be fine pitching three times in the first nine games of the regular season, which could be the case based on him getting a normal four days’ rest in between starts. That would include the season opener in Los Angeles — for which he has already been named the Opening Day starter — then the Giants’ home opener against Seattle and after that, a home game against the Dodgers on April 8.

“I don’t think it’s being pushed,” Bumgarner said. “Whatever they think’s best. There’s no difference throwing on four days’ rest or five days’ rest, to me.”

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MLB, players’ union meet for 1st CBA talks, sources say

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Leaders from Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association met Tuesday for their first official negotiating session a little more than six months before the sport’s collective bargaining agreement lapses, sources told ESPN.

The long-anticipated meeting between the sides marked the first foray into what many in the sport fear could be a contentious and protracted negotiation, with the possibility of a work stoppage upon the Dec. 1 expiration of the current deal. Relations between the league and players have grown combative in recent years, with both sides accusing the other of operating in bad faith amid multiple failed efforts to reach deals.

The league and union declined to comment on the discussions.

At the same time, baseball has found unprecedented economic success amid more than a quarter-century of labor peace, and players and officials likewise continue to express hope that the differences between the sides can be bridged during the next half-year of discussions. Owners and players both understand that the $10 billion-a-year industry could be gravely harmed by a labor dispute.

The meeting, held over videoconference, included dozens of people, including player leadership. It was the first negotiating session between the sides since the union turned down MLB’s offer for a paused-and-shortened season with full pay that included expanded playoffs. Between those discussions and the failed negotiations about when to resume the delayed season in 2020 that led to commissioner Rob Manfred implementing a 60-game season, mistrust between the sides deepened and fostered the pessimism about the chances of an on-time agreement that percolate around the game.

Negative feelings on the players’ side have festered since the last basic agreement was instituted Dec. 1, 2016, and further tilted the sport’s economics in favor of the teams. Player salaries have dropped for three consecutive seasons — and are expected to fall in 2021, too. While the best players in the sport continue to reap massive windfalls — from the $300 million-plus contracts of Mookie Betts, Fernando Tatis Jr., Francisco Lindor and Gerrit Cole to the $40 million salary this year for Trevor Bauer — MLB’s middle class has contracted significantly.

An overhaul of baseball’s core economic system is highly unlikely, sources said, citing the limited amount of time to strike a deal and keep labor peace uninterrupted since 1995. The union nevertheless intends to target spending and competitive integrity — particularly the promotion of competition by all teams — among its priorities with a new deal. Players are also in favor of funneling money to players earlier in their careers, the potential for free agency before six years of service and a solution to — or at least remedy of — service-time manipulation.

MLB, whose efforts to tie an expanded postseason to a pause this season were rebuffed by the union this spring, is expected to pursue a larger playoff field than the 10 teams that will participate this October. The league has also spent significant time and effort looking at potential rule changes that would help increase action in games and speed them up, measures that could be considered at the bargaining table.

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Derek Chauvin verdict reaction – The sports world responds on social media

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On Tuesday, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty to the charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020, while in Minneapolis police custody. Bystander videos showed that Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, and the county medical examiner ruled the death a homicide. After the release of the video, the Minneapolis Police Department fired Chauvin and the three other officers involved, and Chauvin was charged with the three crimes. He pleaded not guilty to all three.

Last summer, athletes boycotted games in multiple leagues to protest the deaths of Black men and women caused by law enforcement. Here’s what the sports world had to say about Tuesday’s verdict:



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Asked about negotiating a new deal during season with Atlanta Braves, NL MVP Freddie Freeman says it ‘would be a distraction’

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Freddie Freeman, the 2020 National League MVP, indicated Tuesday that he is apparently not interested in negotiating a long-term contract extension with the Atlanta Braves during the regular season. Freeman is eligible for free agency after the 2021 season.

“I don’t know if we could really even talk right now,” Freeman said on a Zoom call before Tuesday’s game at Yankee Stadium. “That would be a distraction, and I don’t like distractions. I don’t think there is going to be much talking any time soon.”

The Braves, who lost to the Yankees, 3-1, in the series opener, drafted Freeman out of high school in 2007 and he reached the majors in 2010 and has been the focal point of the Atlanta offense ever since. A four-time All-Star, he has finished in the top eight of the MVP voting five times. He already signed one long-term deal with the Braves, an eight-year, $135 million contract that ran from 2014 through this season.

Near the end of spring training, Freeman told MLB.com that the Braves, owned by Liberty Media Corporation, had yet to approach him or his agents about a new deal.

“There [are] no negotiations,” Freeman added Tuesday, indicating he was only worried about Jameson Taillon, the Yankees’ starter Tuesday night.

Freeman is hitting .233/.387/.517 after the loss to the Yankees, with five home runs and an NL-leading 14 walks. He turns 32 in September.

He went 1-for-4 on Tuesday.

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