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The Sports Report: Lakers feel ready to restart the season

Kyle Kuzma of the Lakers reacts after making a three-point shot.
Kyle Kuzma
(Getty Images)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell and we turn our attention to the NBA.

Tania Ganguli takes a look at the Lakers: The Lakers will travel to Florida his week for the resumption of the coronavirus-suspended NBA season, which will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World. They will stay in the Gran Destino Tower of the Coronado Springs Resort, which will be closed to the general public, with a goal of emerging from this bizarre situation as the victors. Tuesday concluded a week of mandatory individual workouts that the team used as a way to sharpen their players in advance of their return to action. The warmup is over.

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“I feel like it’s a brand new season,” third-year forward Kyle Kuzma said. “I just feel like you know, zero-zero, no wins, no losses. Some players are shutting down and have to regain their bodies. It’s interesting like my fourth year. I kinda look at it like that.”

July 1 was the first day teams were allowed to require workouts of their players. The league only allowed individual workouts under strict protocols to protect participants’ health and safety. With potential injuries to consider, Lakers coach Frank Vogel also wanted to ease his players back into the habit of workouts.

“Our coaches have been pushing these guys, not overdoing, but pushing their conditioning, getting a lot of shots up, getting their reps back to where they were throughout the season,” Vogel said. “And all the work that they’re doing throughout the week strengthens our ability to hit the ground running when we begin next week.”

Vogel has said the part of the restart nobody likes is spending so much time away from their families. Despite an imperfect scenario, the Lakers are grateful they will have a chance to finish the journey they began more than one calendar year ago. They firmly believed they had a chance to win a championship when their team was built, and that belief hasn’t changed.

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“I’d rather be playing here, with the fans, but I think we’re just all excited to be playing again,” guard Danny Green said. “Doesn’t matter where. Obviously the bubble has rules, the things we’ve seen and read obviously aren’t the most exciting thing to be looking forward to, but to this point I think we’re ready.”

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DODGERS

Jorge Castillo on some players not in camp: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed Tuesday that three additional players haven’t reported to training camp at Dodger Stadium since the operation opened last Wednesday: top catcher prospect Keibert Ruiz, right-handed pitcher Tony Gonsolin and left-handed pitcher Scott Alexander.

In a conference call with reporters, Roberts explained he couldn’t disclose the reason for the players’ absences.

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The three join closer Kenley Jansen, outfielder A.J. Pollock, infielder Gavin Lux and right-hander Pedro Báez as players Roberts has confirmed haven’t joined the team without an explanation for their statuses.

The situation is bound to generate speculation. Did the players test positive for COVID-19? Are they still waiting for test results? Are they contemplating not participating this season?

It is an unparalleled predicament the Dodgers and the other 29 major league clubs have encountered in the first week of MLB’s shaky attempt to launch a season in the middle of a global pandemic.

ANGELS

Maria Torres on the Angels: Shohei Ohtani had a tough day Tuesday, when he failed to impress in an intrasquad game at Angel Stadium. Over three lackluster innings in a controlled environment, Ohtani walked seven batters and struck out one. He gave up one hit.

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In spite of his struggles with command, Ohtani was not discouraged.

“Obviously it felt a lot different from my bullpens,” he said through an interpreter. “I wasn’t familiar with pitching to my teammates [in a game], so that kind of threw me off a little bit. But I still got three or four more days to recover and get back out there.

“I was able to throw all my pitches today. So I’m going to try to build on that, going to try to get all my pitches again my next outing with a little better command.”

Ohtani, who was limited to facing three batters per inning in the Angels first intrasquad game of training camp, was not sharp. He struggled to establish his tempo. The problem was especially obvious when he threw his breaking pitches, which spun into the dirt on occasion. In one sequence in the first inning, Tommy La Stella walked and stole second base. La Stella then reached third on a wild pitch.

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“There’s nothing to be concerned or alarmed with,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He just did not have, from where I was standing, good rhythm with his delivery. A lot of balls in the dirt, pulling some pitches too. He’s healthy, he walked away well, he felt good. He just did not have one of his better outings.”

MLS

Kevin Baxter on the MLS Is Back tournament: Five Nashville players received confirmations of positive coronavirus tests Tuesday, forcing MLS to postpone the second opening-day match of its MLS Is Back tournament.

The MLS made-for-TV tournament, to be played behind closed doors at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., is scheduled to open Wednesday with Orlando City facing Inter Miami. Nashville vs. Chicago was to be the second game of a doubleheader.

Four other Nashville players have received inconclusive test results and will require further testing. Nashville players have been confined to their rooms since shortly after arriving at the hotel last week, which has prevented them from training.

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The decision, another blow to the league’s attempt to become the first major U.S. sports league to return to play during the COVID-19 pandemic. comes the day after the league withdrew FC Dallas from the 54-game competition after 10 players tested positive. Although the league is quarantining all its players and staff at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin resort in Orlando, at least 17 players and some staff members have tested positive after checking into the hotel.

OBIT

New Times sports reporter Emmanuel Morgan, on the death of Brad Pye Jr.: Brad Pye Jr. was only 12 years old in 1943 when he paid a friend $5 to drive him from his home in Plain Dealing, La., to Los Angeles. For the next four years, he lived alone on Central Avenue until his mother joined him.

The uncertainty in front of the preteenager gained clarity while he attended Thomas Jefferson High School, where he found a love for sports and journalism. He completed odd jobs as a shoe shiner, a gas station attendant and a factory worker, but his passion for telling stories burned bright.

And though he didn’t know it at the time, that passion over the span of decades would manifest itself in real change — not only for himself, but for others who looked like him.

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Pye, the first Black sports broadcaster in Los Angeles who rose through the ranks as a leader and administrator at news agencies, sports organizations and city services, died in his sleep on Sunday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 89.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

A new feature for this newsletter, compiled by John Scheibe:

After four months of shabby play on the PGA Tour, Long Beach’s Paul Goydos turned his season around when fired a 59 on this date in 2010 in the opening round of the John Deere Classic at Silvis, Ill.

Goydos’ 59 was the first on the tour since David Duval’s memorable final round in the 1999 Bob Hope Classic. Al Geiberger was the first player to shoot a 59 in the second round of the 1977 Memphis Classic. And Chip Beck became the second player to join Club 59 when he fired the same score in 1991 in the third round of the Las Vegas Invitational.

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Goydos, who had only two victories in 18 years on the PGA Tour, shot a 28 on the front nine. “I have been very good at playing poorly now for the last 10 tournaments or so. I don’t know where it came from,” he said after the round.

Defending champion Steve Stricker was just one shot back with a 60 and just missed tying Goydos on the 18th hole.

Here is a look at memorable games and outstanding sports performances on this date:

1939 — Amateur Bobby Riggs, 21, beats fellow American Elwood Cooke in five sets 2-6, 8-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to win the men’s singles title at Wimbledon. Riggs, who is the No. 1 player in the world at the time, takes the first of his three major championships. Defending Wimbledon champion Don Budge is ineligible after he turns professional in 1938.

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1941 — Ted Williams, 22, of the Boston Red Sox hits a three-run, two-out home run in the ninth inning off Claude Passeau of the Chicago Cubs that gives the American League a 7-5 victory in the All-Star Game at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. Williams, who is in the midst of hitting .406 for the 1941 season, says the walk-off home run is the “most thrilling hit of my life.”

1967 — Billie Jean King gets a Wimbledon trifecta when she wins three championships at the All-England Club. First, she beats Britain’s Ann Hayden Jones in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 for the women’s singles title, teams with Rosie Casals to top Maria Bueno and Nancy Richey 9-11, 6-4, 6-2 in the final of the women’s doubles and finally pairs with Australian Owen Davidson for a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Bueno and Ken Fletcher in the mixed doubles final.

1994 — Boston shortstop John Valentin pulls off the 10th unassisted triple play in baseball history in the sixth inning of a 4-3 win over the Seattle Mariners. With runners going from first and second, Valentin catches a line drive off the bat of Marc Newfield, steps on second base to double up Mike Blowers, then trots a few steps to tag out Keith Mitchell. It is the first unassisted triple play since Mickey Morandini made one for Philadelphia against Pittsburgh on Sept. 20, 1992.

2000 — Venus Williams, 20, is the first Black women’s Wimbledon champion since Althea Gibson in 1958 when she beats Lindsay Davenport 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the singles final for her first Grand Slam title. She joins her sister Serena as the first pair of siblings in tennis history to each own a Grand Slam singles championship. Serena won the French Open in 1999.

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2000 — Pitchers Dwight Gooden and Roger Clemens team up to defeat the New York Mets twice and give the New York Yankees identical 4-2 victories in the first double-ballpark doubleheader in baseball since 1903. After the opener at Shea Stadium, many in the sellout crowd of 54,165 immediately head for Game 2, which draws 55,821 at Yankee Stadium. Game 1 had been rescheduled after a rainout on June 11.

2012 — Roger Federer of Switzerland spoils a British Centre Court party when he ties Pete Sampras’ record of seven men’s singles titles at Wimbledon by beating Scotland’s Andy Murray in four dazzling and tense sets, 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. The victory is also Federer’s 17th Grand Slam title and he reclaims the No. 1 ranking for the third time in his career.

2012 — Na Yeon Choi of South Korea, who starts the final round with a six-shot lead, survives a triple bogey and a few more shaky moments on the back nine to win the U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis. Choi, 24, shoots a one-over-par 71 to finish four strokes ahead of fellow South Korean Amy Yang. It is her first major title and sixth victory on the LPGA tour.

2014 — Germany hands Brazil its worst World Cup defeat with a shocking 7-1 smashing in the semifinals that stuns the host nation at Rio de Janeiro. Miroslav Klose scores a record-setting 16th goal, surpassing Brazil’s Ronaldo as the tournament’s all-time scorer during a five-goal spree in the first 29 minutes. Germany advances and beats Argentina in the final 1-0.

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AND FINALLY

John Valentin record an unassisted triple play. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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