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Voit thought ‘broken jaw’ when hit by Bettis pitch



NEW YORK — When first hit by a pitch from Colorado’s Chad Bettis, Yankees slugger Luke Voit was scared. He remembered when Giancarlo Stanton‘s jaw was broken by Milwaukee’s Mike Fiers five years ago.

“I thought broken jaw. My teeth were going to be all scattered everywhere,” Voit said Sunday. “I grabbed my face. So I was like, `Oh, oh.’ … But then, it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Just a scary thing.”

Voit was back in the New York Yankees‘ lineup at first base for Sunday’s series finale against Colorado. His jaw was “super sore” when he awoke, but after icing there was only a little swelling. He said it felt as if he had been punched, and there was a slight cut on his chin. Concussion tests were negative.

Part of the force of the 91 mph pitch was absorbed when the ball grazed Voit’s shoulder. He also was able to turn his face slightly.

“I dodged a bullet, got lucky,” said Voit, who planned to try a protective chin strap on his helmet before the game.

Left fielder Brett Gardner was scratched from the lineup because of a knee that was “barking,” according to manager Aaron Boone, and he replaced by Mike Tauchman. Boone said he expects Gardner will be available for Monday night’s trip opener at Minnesota.

Stanton, limited to nine games this season, is not close to returning from his latest injury. He strained his left biceps on March 31 in his third game, strained a shoulder and calf during his rehabilitation and returned June 18. In his sixth game back, he strained the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during an awkward headfirst slide into third base against Toronto on June 25.

“Better, but still slow. Not baseball activities yet,” Boone said. “He feels like he is making some progress, where I think the first couple of weeks was a little frustrating in that it was slow moving.”

Stanton is hitting .290 with one home run and seven RBI, pretty much a non-factor in the Yankees’ season.

Outfielder Cameron Maybin, sidelined since straining his left calf on June 21, is to start a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre on Tuesday.

Ace Luis Severino and setup man Dellin Betances, both sidelined since spring training by lat injuries, started throwing on flat ground last Monday but are not yet ready to begin bullpen sessions, making returns before late August unlikely.

“I would say sometime in early part of next month they should be on the mound if everything continues to go well,” Boone said.

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Orange Coast College opens season 2 days after coach John Altobelli’s death



COSTA MESA, Calif. — John Altobelli’s team knew there was only one way to honor its late coach — by playing on his favorite day.

Altobelli’s Orange Coast College baseball team opened its season as scheduled on Tuesday against Chula Vista Southwestern. The game occurred two days after Altobelli, his wife and their 13-year-old daughter were killed in the helicopter crash that also took the life of Kobe Bryant and five others.

“They didn’t so much ask me. They told me,” athletic director Jason Kehler said about the team’s decision to play.

The game at Wendell Pickens Field was a celebration of Altobelli’s life and the 27 years he devoted to his program. More than 2,000 people were on hand on a sunny day at a field that seats 500. Fans were lined up and down the first- and third-base lines.

Altobelli’s son J.J., a scout with the Boston Red Sox, and his 16-year old daughter Lexi watched from an area reserved for family along the first-base line near the Pirates dugout.

After the game — which Southwestern was leading 7-6 when it was called due to darkness in the ninth inning — the team lined up to hug J.J. and Lexi.

“I went down and hugged Lexi probably every single inning because she needs it,” interim manager Nate Johnson said. “I told the team they need us.”

Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and their daughter Alyssa were among the eight passengers killed along with the pilot Sunday morning when the helicopter chartered by Bryant plowed into a cloud-covered hillside in Calabasas.

The Altobellis, Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who was also killed in the crash, were on their way to a youth basketball tournament in which Alyssa and Gianna were to play.

There was a banner with Altobelli’s uniform number, 14, on the left-field fence as well as flowers and cards honoring the family on a wall behind home plate. Many fans were wearing No. 14 T-shirts that read “Forever A Pirate.”

“This is a fraction of the impact that John had. Today speaks to that,” Kehler said. “We couldn’t ask for more than this. We want to make sure that John and his family get the recognition they deserve. He deserves to have his story be told.”

Kehler, Johnson and Altobelli’s brother Tony spoke during a pregame ceremony. Johnson paused a couple times as he reflected on his former boss and his family.

“They made everyone feel like an Altobelli or a Pirate. That’s why so many people are wearing 14 today,” Johnson said. “I know if [Keri] were here she would be judging me on everything I’d be doing. [Keri] really ran this team.”

“If you heard Alyssa laugh she would make you laugh. She lit up any room she went into. John loved his family and was so proud of his team. We’re going to do our best to honor him in everything we do moving forward.”

Johnson said Alyssa’s goal was to attend Oregon, because her favorite basketball player was Sabrina Ionescu. J.J. attended Oregon after playing for his father at Orange Coast.

Tony Altobelli — who is also Orange Coast College’s sports information director — said his younger brother’s death was emotional for everyone, including umpires.

“It was touching. The only thing that could come to my mind is could you imagine my brother making an umpire cry? I know he would have loved it,” Altobelli said.

Despite dealing with his own grief, Altobelli announced the game and carried on his usual duties.

“In days like this I wasn’t John’s brother, I was the SID at Orange Coast College doing something for my brother. That was the only way I could get through today,” he said.

John Altobelli, 56, won more than 700 games at Orange Coast. The American Baseball Coaches Association named him its coach of the year last year after he guided the Pirates to their fourth state title.

He also managed the Brewster Whitecaps for three seasons in the Cape Cod Summer League. Among the players he coached there were New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and New York Mets infielder Jeff McNeil.

McNeil told ESPN that Altobelli took a chance on him and credits him with being drafted.

Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, who lives in Newport Beach, attended the game and watched from the Orange Coast dugout for an inning. Johnson said his team was trying too hard early. The Pirates committed three errors the first five innings and fell behind 7-1 in the sixth. They scored four times in the sixth and added a run in the seventh.

“It was a good day. It stinks that we didn’t finish it,” Johnson said. “It still doesn’t feel real to me. When I was making in-game decisions, I kept a seat open. You’re making decisions that the man who mentored you made the last seven seasons.

“Today, this team ran themselves. I put the guys out there that I thought Alto would want to see and I felt like were playing with emotion for him.”

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Thurman Munson’s widow — Support after tragic death key



CANTON, Ohio — The widow of Thurman Munson, the New York Yankees‘ catcher killed in 1979 while flying his plane in Ohio, spoke about the similar death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant — saying the response to her husband’s tragic death helped her get through it.

Diana Munson was in the Plain Township home she shared with her husband when she received the news that the Los Angeles Lakers‘ icon had died Sunday, the Canton Repository reported.

“My first thought was, ‘This can’t possibly be true. We’re not supposed to lose heroes like this,”’ Diana said. “And obviously it brought up our day, with the memories of how it hit everyone.”

Thurman Munson was 32 when he died in a plane crash at the Akron-Canton Airport in August 1979. His Cessna twin-engine crashed short of the runway and burst into flames. He left behind his wife and three daughters.

Bryant died alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna on Sunday when their helicopter crashed outside of Los Angeles, killing all nine aboard. Bryant also leaves behind his wife and three daughters.

Like with Munson’s death, Bryant’s death prompted a nationwide outpouring of sadness and disbelief from fans and fellow players.

“We have something that other people don’t have, because people lose people they love every day, but they don’t have that outpouring of love and support,” Diana Munson said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Brewers’ Luis Urias recovering from surgery on left hand



MILWAUKEE — New Brewers shortstop Luis Urias could miss the start of the season after he had surgery Tuesday to repair a broken bone in his left hand.

Urias will be sidelined for about eight weeks. He is expected to make a full recovery with no lingering effects, but general manager David Stearns said he is questionable for opening day March 26 against the Chicago Cubs.

The 22-year-old Urias was acquired in a multiplayer trade with San Diego on Nov. 27. Milwaukee sent right-hander Zach Davies and outfielder Trent Grisham to the Padres for left-hander Eric Lauer and Urias, who made his big league debut in 2018. The Brewers also were slated to receive a player to be named or cash in the swap.

Urias got hurt while playing winter ball in Mexico. He was expected to compete with Orlando Arcia for the shortstop job during spring training.

Urias split 2019 between the Padres and Triple-A El Paso. He had two stints with the Padres, batting .223 with four homers and 24 RBI.

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