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Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez open to Bryce Harper leading off

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Batting leadoff … Bryce Harper?

Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez is open to the idea.

“Maybe,” Martinez said on Thursday, one week before Opening Day. “We’ll talk about it, play with it. Before I do it, I’ll definitely have a conversation with him.”

That’s exactly what Martinez did last Saturday, when Harper hit leadoff in a Grapefruit League game against the New York Mets, his only time batting first this spring.

“I said, ‘How would you like leading off?'” Martinez said. “He looked at me and he goes, ‘Yeah, I wanna do it.'”

One of the game’s most powerful hitters, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Harper spent most of last season batting third. Despite missing six weeks due to a knee injury, he hit 29 home runs in 111 games. In 2015, when he became the youngest player ever to be voted unanimous MVP, he led the National League with 42 homers. That year, he made 94 starts from the 3-hole and hit cleanup 59 times.

For his career, Harper has made 16 starts out of the leadoff spot, with all 16 of them coming during the 2013 season. A .274 hitter that year, Harper posted a .317 average as the leadoff hitter and had a .419 on-base percentage.

Although he has batted second 151 times in his career, he has only done so 34 times since his rookie season, including 10 times last year under former Washington skipper Dusty Baker. As for Baker’s replacement, he likes the idea of one of the game’s premier hitters getting as many chances to bat as possible.

“What if he got up there five times in one game?” Martinez said of Harper. “You look at all those things. When you feel like you’re going to have a low-scoring game, why not have one of your better hitters have a chance? All of a sudden you’re in the ninth inning and you have one of your best hitters on deck that doesn’t get up. I always think about that.”

He also likes the idea of Harper putting pressure on the opposing pitcher right from the outset.

“Maybe you want to try to create something early, create some excitement. What better excitement than having Harper lead off with a homer?” Martinez said. “We’ll preach a lot about scoring first. Teams that score first, it puts a lot of pressure on the other team, especially with the lineup that we have.”

Martinez, who’s in his first year managing, comes to D.C. with a reputation for being analytically minded. The 53-year old former outfielder spent the past 10 seasons serving as bench coach for Joe Maddon, who’s known for having one of the game’s most innovative minds. The last three of those seasons came in Chicago, where sluggers Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant were used increasingly toward the top of the Cubs‘ lineup.

Rizzo, who hit 30-plus home runs in each of the past four seasons and had never batted leadoff prior to 2017, served as the Cubs’ No. 1 hitter 14 times last year. Bryant, who clubbed 39 homers during his 2016 MVP season, made 110 starts last season as Chicago’s No. 2 hitter.

Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton, who missed most of last season with an ACL injury, is projected to be team’s regular leadoff hitter this season, with speedster Trea Turner expected to be the primary candidate to bat second.

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Josh Donaldson (calf) not on Minnesota Twins roster for AL Wild Card Series

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Minnesota Twins third baseman Josh Donaldson is not on the club’s roster for the American League Wild Card Series against the Houston Astros because of a calf injury.

The reigning AL Central champion Twins released their 28-man roster Tuesday, hours before their series opener in Minnesota against the defending league champion Astros.

Donaldson missed Minnesota’s last two games of the regular season this past weekend because of cramping in his right calf. But the former AL MVP took batting practice Monday at Target Field, providing optimism that he would be in the lineup for Tuesday afternoon’s game.

Donaldson, 34, is listed on Minnesota’s taxi squad, meaning he could rejoin the Twins for this best-of-three series as a replacement for an injured player.

Twins utility man Marwin Gonzalez will start at third base Tuesday and bat ninth against his former club.

Donaldson struggled through an injury-plagued first season with the Twins, batting .222 with six home runs and 11 RBIs in just 28 games. The three-time All-Star is in the first year of a four-year, $92 million deal with Minnesota.

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A case for Francisco Lindor as the MLB Latino Face of the 2020s

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With the MLB postseason here and Hispanic Heritage Month underway, ESPN found the timing ideal to tackle one of the bigger debates among one section of baseball’s fandom: With so many superstar candidates, which one is most worthy of being labeled the current Face of Latino Baseball?

Our friends at ESPN Deportes and FiveThirtyEight devised a formula using on-field performance, social media popularity, feedback from 30 ESPN analysts and fan votes to get to the answer. The results produced a ballot that stands at four candidates: the Atlanta BravesRonald Acuña Jr. from Venezuela, Dominican players Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres, and Puerto Rico’s Francisco Lindor of the Cleveland Indians. All are young, charismatic, popular and have enough accomplishments in their short careers to be considered for the honor.

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2:38

Francisco Lindor’s greatest victory didn’t come on the baseball field. Check out this excerpt from E:60’s Francisco Lindor: La Gran Victoria.

Each day this week, we will present the case for each of the four superstars, with our winner to be revealed Friday. We started Monday with Acuña, and continue today with Lindor, the Indians’ charismatic shortstop.

Stats

Since his MLB debut in 2015, Lindor ranks first among all shortstops in WAR (28.4), home runs (138) and extra-base hits, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. He also ranks second in RBIs (411) and runs (508), and fifth in OPS (.835) and slugging (.485), while batting .285. At 26, the native of Caguas has earned four All-Star nods, two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers to go with a World Series appearance in 2016 and a second-place finish in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2015.

Social media popularity

Lindor is the third-most popular Latino player on Instagram with more than 767,000 followers. Only fellow Puerto Ricans Javier Baez and Carlos Correa have higher numbers. Lindor has posted 34 times in 2020, generating more than 2.8 million views, the second-highest number for any Latino player behind Correa.

Web searches

Although Lindor is one of baseball’s most popular players, he ranks 10th among Latino stars in average Google Trends index since the start of the 2019 season. With the Indians out of the playoffs in 2019, Lindor missed the usual spike in search popularity for baseball stars during the postseason, and his search index average places him behind other Latino players such as Baez, Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres and 2019 AL Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez.

Experts

Lindor, a key player in Puerto Rico’s runner-up finish at the most recent World Baseball Classic in 2017, garnered four first-place votes and 16 top-3 votes from our panel of ESPN experts. He appeared on 23 of the 30 ballots.

“Lindor is at a perfect moment in his career,” ESPN staff writer Alden Gonzalez said. “Lindor has talent, youth, energy and a magnetic smile. He’s the complete package.”

Special category: Fan vote

Between Aug. 26-28, you, the fans, had a hand in deciding who should be the Latino Face of Baseball through four tightly contested polls.

Lindor finished last in all of the polls, registering 12% on ESPN Béisbol, 10.7% on ESPN Deportes, 15.6% on ESPN Mexico and 12.6% on SC Español.



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Ahead of the presidential election, America’s sports stadiums and arenas become polling centers

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Ever stepped inside a ballpark or football stadium and marveled at how many people can fit inside?

Now those spaces are going to be put to another good use, with many arenas and stadiums across professional sports slated to be turned into polling centers on and before Election Day on Nov. 3.

In the 2016 election, according to Pew Research Center, just 55% of eligible Americans voted — could the intersection of sports and politics lead to more voter turnout, even during the coronavirus pandemic?

“The potential for this kind of creativity is very high. People already trust brands like sports teams — they have identity connections with them. That makes them trusted messengers in a way,” Dr. Jonathan Metzl, director of Vanderbilt University’s Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, told ESPN.

Further, Metzl noted that stadiums are safer than traditional polling places right now, “because you can social distance, there’s good airflow, you’re not crammed in there. And so, from a public health perspective, stadiums are also potentially much safer.”

Also, stadiums and arenas are usually close to public transportation systems, making it easier for voters to get to the location, Metzl added.

Here are the arenas and stadiums across professional sports being turned into polling and voting centers:

NFL

Atlanta Falcons

  • Mercedes-Benz Stadium, 1 AMB Dr. NW, Atlanta, GA 30313.

  • Capacity: 71,000.

  • Details: Unknown.

Carolina Panthers

  • Bank of America Stadium, 800 S Mint St., Charlotte, NC 28202.

  • Capacity: 75,412.

  • Details: From Oct. 15-31, Mecklenburg County voters can cast their ballots ahead of Election Day at the stadium.

Detroit Lions

  • Ford Field, 2000 Brush St., Detroit, MI 48226.

  • Details: Ford Field will not be a place to cast ballots, but rather to check them. The building will host 8 of 12 of Detroit’s receiving boards, which ensure integrity of results and ballots from precincts.

Green Bay Packers

  • Lambeau Field, 1265 Lombardi Ave., Green Bay, WI 54304.

  • Details: Johnsonville Tailgate Village — a 13,432 square foot building on site — will be a polling location on Nov. 3.

Houston Texans

  • NRG Park (NRG Stadium and NRG Arena).

  • Details: NRG Park has been designated as the election headquarters for the Harris County Clerk’s Office and for the 2020 presidential election. Early in-person voting will be held Oct. 13-30 in Hall D at NRG Arena. Drive-thru early voting will be held Oct.13-30 in NRG Park’s Blue Lot 16. On Nov. 3, in-person voting will be held at NRG Arena (Capacity: 8,000) and drive-thru voting will be in NRG Park’s Blue Lot 16.

Indianapolis Colts

  • Lucas Oil Stadium, 500 S Capitol Ave., Indianapolis, IN, 46225.

  • Capacity: 70,000.

  • Details: Vote in-person on Nov. 3 between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Arrowhead Stadium, 1 Arrowhead Dr., Kansas City, MO 64129.

  • Capacity: 76,416.

  • Details: Arrowhead will serve as Election Day polling place for people who live within the city limits of Kansas City in Jackson County.

Los Angeles Chargers and Rams

  • SoFi Stadium, 1000 S Prairie Ave., Inglewood, CA 90301.

  • Details: A voting center outside the stadium will open Oct. 30.

Seattle Seahawks

  • CenturyLink Field, 800 Occidental Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98134.

  • Capacity: 72,000.

  • Details: Was open for the August primary as a voting center for ballot drop-off, a way to get a replacement ballot or to register to vote. CenturyLink will be open on Nov. 3 for day-of voting.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Raymond James Stadium, 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa, FL 33607.

  • Capacity: 65,890.

  • Details: An early voting site, from Oct. 19-Nov. 1.

Washington Football Team

  • FedEx Field, 1600 FedEx Way, Landover, MD 20785.

  • Details: Any registered Prince George’s County voter can go on Nov. 3, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. to vote at the third-floor club level of the stadium.

NBA

Atlanta Hawks

  • State Farm Arena, 1 State Farm Dr., Atlanta, GA 30303.

  • Capacity: 21,000.

  • Details: The arena will open Oct. 12 in advance of Election Day, and a portion of the building also will be set aside for counting mail-in-ballots. It is the largest voting location in the state’s history.

Brooklyn Nets

  • Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217.

  • Capacity: 19,000.

  • Details: Barclays Center will serve as a polling site for both early voting from Oct. 24-Nov. 1 and on Nov. 3. Barclays Center will be the largest voting space in Brooklyn.

Charlotte Hornets

  • Spectrum Center, 333 E Trade St., Charlotte, NC 28202.

  • Capacity: 20,200.

  • Details: Spectrum Center will host early voting from Oct. 15-31.

Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, 1, Center Court, Cleveland, OH 44115.

  • Capacity: 20,562.

  • Details: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse will serve as a polling location on Nov. 3. Only registered voters residing in precincts I, L and Q in Cleveland’s Ward 3 will be able to cast their in-person ballot at the FieldHouse.

Dallas Mavericks

  • American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave., Dallas, TX 75219.

  • Capacity: 20,000.

  • Details: American Airlines Center will serve as the largest polling place in Dallas county for early voting from Oct. 30-Nov. 3. Comerica Center, 2601 Avenue of the Stars, Frisco, TX 75034. Capacity: 7,000. Details: The Comerica Center, home of the G League team the Texas Legends, will be a polling site for Collin County on Nov. 3.

Detroit Pistons

  • Henry Ford Performance Center, 690 Amsterdam St., Detroit, MI 48202.

  • Capacity: 54,000-square-feet.

  • Details: The training facility will allow people to register and vote on-site on Nov. 3.

Golden State Warriors

  • Kaiser Permanente Arena, 140 Front St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060.

  • Oakland Facility, 1011 Broadway, Oakland CA 94607.

  • Chase Center, 1 Warriors Way, San Francisco, CA 9415.

  • Details:: The team’s Oakland Facility and Kaiser Permanente Arena will both serve as polling sites and ballot drop-off locations Nov. 3. Thrive City, the outdoor area outside of Chase Center, will serve as a ballot drop-off location for San Francisco County voters from Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

Houston Rockets

  • Toyota Center, 1510 Polk St., Houston, TX 77002.

  • Capacity: 18,300.

  • Details: Toyota Center will be open to any registered voter in Harris County from Oct. 13-30 and on Nov. 3.

Indiana Pacers

Los Angeles Clippers

  • The Forum, 3900 W Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, CA 90305.

  • Capacity: 17,505.

  • Details: Voters will be able to vote in person or drop off mail-in ballots at The Forum (which Clippers owner Steve Ballmer bought in March) from Oct. 24-Nov. 3.

Los Angeles Lakers

  • Staples Center, 1111 S Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90015.

  • Capacity: 20,000.

  • Details: L.A. County residents can vote in person Oct. 30-Nov. 3. Staples Center will also act as a vote by mail drop box location.

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Fiserv Forum, 1111 Vel R. Phillips Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203.

  • Capacity: 17,341.

  • Details: Voters can cast in-ballot ballots Oct. 20-Nov. 1.

New York Knicks

  • Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10001.

  • Capacity: 20,789.

  • Details: Madison Square Garden will serve over 60,000 eligible voters, making it the largest polling site in New York City. Manhattan voters who are assigned to Madison Square Garden can vote early from Oct. 24-Nov. 1, and voting booths will be located at Madison Square Garden’s Chase Square. Voters can also vote on Nov. 3.

Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Chesapeake Arena, 100 W Reno Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73102.

  • Capacity: 18,203.

  • Details: The Thunder will hold voter registration drives inside Chesapeake Energy Arena every Saturday from Sept.12-Oct. 4 until the Oct. 9 deadline to register to vote in the general election.

Orlando Magic

  • Amway Center, 400 W Church St #200, Orlando, FL 32801.

  • Capacity: 20,000.

  • Details: Orange County registered voters will be able to vote early from Oct. 19-Nov. 1 inside the Disney Atrium.

Phoenix Suns

  • Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 1826 W McDowell Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85007.

  • Capacity: 14,870.

  • Details: Vote in-person on Nov. 3 or drop off your ballot early.

Sacramento Kings

  • Golden 1 Center, 500 David J Stern Walk, Sacramento, CA 95814.

  • Capacity: 17,608.

  • Details: From Oct. 24-Nov. 3., any Sacramento County resident can drop off a completed ballot, get a new ballot printed to take home, vote in person, register to vote, update voter registration, receive language assistance or use an accessible ballot marking device to vote.

San Antonio Spurs

  • AT&T Center, 1 AT&T Center Parkway, San Antonio, TX 78219.

  • Capacity: 18,581.

  • Details: Residents can vote in person early from Oct. 13-30 and on Nov. 3.

Utah Jazz

  • Vivint Arena, 301 S Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101.

  • Details: Voters can vote on Nov. 3 in-person instead of mailing in their ballot.

Washington Wizards

  • Capital One Arena, 601 F St. NW, Washington, DC 20004.

  • Capacity: 20,356.

  • Details: The arena offers D.C. voters the opportunity to register, cast their ballot or drop-off mail-in ballots both early, and on Election Day.

MLB

Baltimore Orioles

  • Camden Yards, 333 W Camden St., Baltimore, MD 21201.

  • Details: Camden Yards voting will be held inside Dempsey’s Brew Pub and Restaurant, according to the city election board.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Dodger Stadium, 1000 Vin Scully Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

  • Capacity: 56,000.

  • Details: For the five days leading up to the Nov. 3 election, all registered voters in Los Angeles County will be able to park for free and vote at the stadium.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Miller Park, 1 Brewers Way, Milwaukee, WI 53214.

  • Details: City of Milwaukee residents can drive through and vote early Oct. 20-Nov. 1.

Washington Nationals

  • Nationals Park, 1500 S Capitol St. SE, Washington, DC 20003.

  • Capacity: 41,313.

  • Details: D.C. residents can vote from Oct. 27-Nov. 3 for the upcoming general election at the park.

NHL

Los Angeles Kings

  • Staples Center, 1111 S Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90015.

  • Capacity: 20,000.

  • Details: L.A. County residents can vote in person Oct. 30-Nov. 3. Staples Center will also be a vote-by-mail drop-box location.

New Jersey Devils

  • Prudential Center, 25 Lafayette St., Newark, NJ 07102.

  • Capacity: 19,500.

  • Details: The week leading up to the Nov 3., Prudential Center will serve as a satellite office of the Essex County Clerk. Residents who want to drop off their ballot or want to vote in-person can do so on Election Day as well.

New York Rangers

  • Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10001.

  • Capacity: 20,789.

  • Details: Madison Square Garden will serve more than 60,000 eligible voters, making it the largest polling site in New York City. Manhattan voters who are assigned to Madison Square Garden can vote early from Oct. 24-Nov. 1, and voting booths will be located at Madison Square Garden’s Chase Square. Voters can also vote on Nov. 3.

Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Dr., Tampa, FL 33602.

  • Capacity: 20,500.

  • Details: Hillsborough County voters can partake in early voting from Oct. 19 to Nov. 1, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. During that time, the elections office will also set up curbside tents outside each site for voters who want to drop off their mail ballot.

Washington Capitals

  • Capital One Arena, 601 F St. NW, Washington, DC 20004.

  • Capacity: 20,356.

  • Details: The arena offers D.C. voters the opportunity to register, cast their ballot or drop off mail-in ballots both early and on Election Day.

MLS

Los Angeles FC

  • Banc of California Stadium, 3939 S Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90037.

  • Capacity: 22,000.

  • Details: L.A. County residents can vote in-person or drop off mail-in ballots at the venue. Further, L.A. County will also conduct additional election support operations at the stadium.

Seattle Sounders

  • CenturyLink Field.

  • Details: Was open for the August primary as a voting center for ballot drop-off, a way to get a replacement ballot or to register to vote. CenturyLink will be open on Nov. 3 for voting.

WNBA

  • The Indiana Fever, Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury all share arenas with their NBA counterparts that are serving as polling centers. The Dallas Wings are part of the initiative launched by the Dallas Mavericks, though they don’t play at American Airlines Center. After a push from players, the Washington Mystics’ home at Entertainment and Sports Arena in Southeast D.C. will be a voting center on Election Day. Like Capital One Arena and Nationals Park, will be open from Oct. 27-Nov. 2 for early voting and again for in-person voting on Nov. 3.



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