– The Mets have officially signed LHP Jon Niese to a 5-year/$25M contract extension with club options for 2017 and 2018. Niese posted a 4.40 ERA and 138/44 K/BB ratio over 157 1/3 innings last season, winning a career-high 11 games. He is guaranteed $25.5195M over five years, with club options that could push the total value of the contract to $46M. It’s a cost-certainty move for the Mets, especially if Niese continues to pan out as projected.
– The Tigers have placed RHP Doug Fister (left costochondral strain) on the 15-day DL. The injury occurred in the fourth inning of Fister’s Saturday debut against the Red Sox. It’s not clear how long the 28-year-old will be out.
– Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez said 3B Chipper Jones (knee) will “definitely” be ready to return by Friday, and “maybe even sooner than that.” Friday is the Braves’ home opener, and Jones, who is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, has set that as a goal from the beginning. He took about 15 swings and ran the bases Friday, saying afterwards that he felt “real good.” Gonzalez added that it’s possible Chipper could be used as a pinch-hitter the first couple games if he’s not quite ready to play third base.
– Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington said RHP A.J. Burnett (eye) is likely to rejoin the rotation “before the month is over.” Huntington said shortly after Burnett was diagnosed with an orbital fracture that he didn’t expect the Burnett back before mid-June. He pitched 4 2/3 innings during a rehab start with High-A Bradenton Friday and will likely need only a couple more outings before he’s ready.
– Rays’ manager Joe Maddon doesn’t expect OF B.J. Upton (back) to return until the April 20-22 series against the Twins. Upton will begin a rehab assignment Monday with High-A Charlotte and is expected to stay there for 10 days. The Rays have a road trip from April 10-19, and Upton should be ready to play when they come back home. The 27-year-old has been dealing with soreness in his back since colliding with teammate Desmond Jennings during a mid-March Grapefruit League game.
– The Padres have placed RHP Dustin Moseley (strained right shoulder) on the 15-day DL. Moseley had been slated to make his first start on Thursday.
– Check out this fan at a Rangers game, giving his young son chewing tobacco:
– Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson said that he doesn’t expect F Amare Stoudemire (back) to come back anytime soon, and that he remains out indefinitely. Marc Berman had reported that Stoudemire was targeting an April 15 return. “At this point, I’m not counting on Amare right now to come back.” Woodson added that Stoudemire won’t be in uniform “for a while,” and with the big man also mum on his injury, his outlook remains very murky for the rest of the season.
– The Blackhawks have signed G Ray Emery to a 1-year/$1.15M contract extension. Emery, 29, has a 15-9-4 record and 2.81 GAA in 34 appearances for the Blackhawks this year, his first season in Chicago.
– According to Radio-Canada, Serge Savard has been appointed the club’s senior VP of hockey operations. The Hall of Fame defenceman was handpicked last month by Canadiens owner Geoff Molson to help find a replacement for fired GM Pierre Gauthier. Radio-Canada says the new general manager, who has yet to be named, will report to Savard. The 66-year-old was the Canadiens’ GM between 1983 and 1995 and led the team to its last two Stanley Cups. The Habs are coming off a disastrous season that saw them finish last in the Eastern Conference.
– The contract extension for Flyers’ D Nicklas Grossman is a 4-year/$14M deal worth $3.5M annually. The 27-year-old was acquired by the Flyers from the Stars on February 16 in exchange for a 2nd-round pick in the 2012 entry draft and a 3rd-round pick in the 2013 entry draft. In 74 games this season split between the two clubs, Grossman has 11 assists and a plus-five rating.
– Canucks’ F Daniel Sedin (concussion) is rumoured skating on his own. Sedin was reportedly seen at the arena and working out in a gym. Sedin was injured March 21 when he took an elbow in the head from Blackhawks’ D Duncan Keith. Stay tuned.
– Don Cherry spoke out against Penguins’ F Sidney Crosby on Saturday during his weekly “Coach’s Corner” segment on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada. He joined the critics who claim Crosby is a cheap player who whines to the referees.
“A long time ago when Crosby was coming out I tried to warn him ‘quit diving, quit whining,’ I was the worst guy in the world … and all I was trying to do was help him.”
“All I said was stop whining, stop diving and snapping the head back.”
Cherry says that Crosby is being targeted by opponents because they don’t respect him. The former Bruins coach said that Crosby has to learn to rise above the physical play of his opponents, or he will get injured.
“If you want to survive in this league, he’s got to suck it up and stop getting stupid penalties and going back at guys.”
“Listen, I admire him, but he should be like (Montreal great) Guy Lafleur. All you have to do is look at (Tampa Bay star Steven) Stamkos, he gets more abuse than anybody. You cannot be the greatest player in the world and expect to get a free ride. And what you’ve done, you’ve turned the league and teams against you.”
Meanwhile, Crosby responded to Rangers’ head coach John Tortorella and NBC’s Mike Millbury’s comments about him following the Rangers / Penguins game:
“I don’t know what he’s talking about. If you want you can put a camera on us all game, and put a camera on (Rangers F Ryan) Callahan all game, you’ll see who’s over there more. He should worry about his own players.”
“I’ll be the first one to admit it: my first couple of years I was pretty hard on the refs. But I’ve come a long way since then.”
“To get those kinds of remarks every day is uncalled for and not warranted. I don’t really know what I can say. I don’t need to sit here and defend myself for something that’s not going on, but if they want to try that garbage, try it.”
“A lot of it (is gamesmanship). I don’t know when this all started, if this is part of a new tactic heading into the playoffs, but it’s garbage.
“If anything, they’re trying to persuade officials from not making calls or second-guessing things. It doesn’t affect us, but I really hope (refs) are not listening to that because it’s nonsense. They’re trying every way to gain an advantage; so be it, try it but we’re not paying a lot of attention to it.”
– Jets’ D Mark Stuart has won the first Dan Snyder Memorial Award to be presented since the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg. The award is named after the Ontario-born Thrashers’ forward killed in a car accident in 2003. It goes to the player who “best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed.” The Jets told the Snyder family they wanted to keep handing out the award to honour Dan’s memory. Snyder’s father Graham and other family members were in Winnipeg for the presentation at the last game of the season.
– Check out these great moves by Blackhawks’ F Patrick Kane on Red Wings’ G Jimmy Howard during the shootout:
– Ducks’ F Teemu Selanne will decide soon whether or not to play another season. ”I really do think that I can play well. But, same hand, I don’t know if you always have to play as long as you can. You know that it’s going to end somewhere.”
– Wild’ G Niklas Backstrom (ankle) will undergo surgery next week. Backstrom has been affected by the injury since mid-December. He should be fine for training camp.
– The Canucks became the first consecutive President’s Trophy winners since the Stars accomplished the feat 13 years ago. In addition, F Henrik Sedin led the NHL in assists for the third straight season with 67.
– Jaguars’ NT Terrance Knighton (eye) required surgery after an “incident” that occurred Sunday morning. The Florida Times-Union reports that Knighton sustained the injury at a nightclub. The Jaguars released a statement Sunday saying that they’re “gathering information” and “their concern is for Knighton’s recovery.” The extent of his injuries are unknown.
– The Kansas City Star believes the Chiefs “haven’t seemed sold” on QB Matt Cassel based on their offseason actions. Head coach Romeo Crennel suggested that Cassel’s “consistency” is a concern, and the Star suggests Kansas City as a possible destination for QB Ryan Tannehill if he gets by the Browns and Dolphins in the top ten. In Cassel’s last 11 starts, including the 2010 playoffs, he’s completed only 180-of-320 passes (56.2%) for 1,898 yards (5.93 YPA) with ten touchdown passes and 16 turnovers.
– Eagles’ coach Andy Reid envisions new MLB DeMeco Ryans as a three-down player. Ryans lost his job in passing downs in Houston last year, but should have bo problem staying a full-time player given Philly’s defensive struggles last season. Ryans should be a solid run-stopper in the new 4-3 defence. Reid also insists Ryans has a “pretty good feel” for the nickel.
– Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano envisions DE Dwight Freeney in a role that mirrors what LB Terrell Suggs does for the Ravens. Pagano was Baltimore’s DC in 2011. “Suggs’ hand is in the dirt way more than he is standing up. I’d be crazy to have those guys dropping more than rushing.” Pagano estimates that Freeney will drop into coverage only 5-10% of the time.
– According to the Wrestling Observer, given Brock Lesnar’s admitted distaste for WWE’s strenuous road schedule, there is skepticism on the accomplished grappler remaining content for the entire one year duration of his contract with the sports entertainment organization. One veteran wrestler who worked with Lesnar during his prior run with WWE doesn’t think that he will able to handle working for the promotion for an entire year. The wrestler said to Pro Wrestling Torch editor Wade Keller on Monday night following Raw, “I give him four months before he cracks.” Lesnar loathed the travel schedule so much that in 2003 he bought a private plane and hired a pilot to alleviate the stress of going through airports. Even with that and a 7-year contract for a $1M downside guarantee, he ultimately gave notice that he would finish up at WrestleMania XX.
– The Wrestling Observer reported this week that morale is low among members of WWE’s creative team after many of the were not invited to the annual post-WrestleMania party Sunday night in Miami, Florida. Former creative writer Christopher DeJoseph (aka Big Dick Johnson) appeared on the Pro Wrestling Torch Livecast on Thursday and said he has heard from current staff members upset with the snub. He said they felt disrespected since they were a big part of putting WrestleMania XXVIII together.
– WrestleMania 29 will take place one year from now in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Regarding potential weather for the event, the Weather.com forecast today calls for a high of 60 degrees with a low of 39 degrees and winds up to 25 mph.
– Dolph Ziggler took a passive aggressive shot at Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson over The Great One’s limited schedule with WWE via Twitter. A Twitter user wrote to the WWE Superstar this week, “Couldn’t decide which flexforce WWE figure to buy between your action figure and @therock ‘s.. chose the rock in the end!” Ziggler responded, “Typical, just make sure you only play with it 4-5 times a year….”
– WWEDVDNews.com reports that DVD and Blu-ray titles chronicling The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania could be in the works. VideoETA.com has a product listing for WWE: Undertaker Streak and it is scheduled for release in the United States on July 24, 2012.
– Kelly Kelly suggested Friday night on Twitter that she broke up with her boyfriend, Stars’ D Sheldon Souray. “Kharma is a ***** ..have a nice life,” she wrote following SmackDown. Kelly wrote “eww” minutes later after a Twitter user remarked that Souray should bring her to one of his hockey games. Both messages have since been deleted. The WWE Diva then tweeted a quote from The Notebook suggesting the couple remains together.
– TMZ published a story on “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s Texas ranch being hit by a nasty storm this week. His barn was destroyed as violent winds blew the top off. Austin says fixing it “ain’t gonna be cheap,” but he plans to use the opportunity to add more storage space.
– David Otunga, who has never publicly revealed his age, is believed to be 32 years old as he celebrates his birthday Saturday. He graduated from Larkin High School in 1998.
– WWE has a three-hour Raw SuperShow scheduled for June 11 at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut. It is the final show before No Way Out on June 17 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. A three-hour Raw is also scheduled for April 23.
– Episode 61 of Z! True Long Island Story features footage of Zack Ryder at WrestleMania Axxess in Miami, Florida. Also featured is Scott Stanford pitching Dunkin’ Donuts’s “Bronuts” after Eve kicked Ryder below the belt Sunday at WrestleMania XXVIII. Dolph Ziggler and Tommy Dreamer also appear in the episode.
– Live Audio Wrestling says Survivor Series is expected to take place on Sunday, November 18 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
– Rosa Mendes continues to voice her displeasure with herself, Primo and Epico being left off Sunday’s WrestleMania XXVIII pay-per-view broadcast as well as this week’s episode of SmackDown. She wrote on Twitter,
“It’s amazing how “I called my Momma” and she asked me why Brodus Clay and his Mommas were on Wrestlemania when people would rather watch Primo and Epico wrestle and me dancing my salsa instead!!!”
“Epico, Primo with Rosa Mendes not on SmackDown! Funny how nobody is manning up against us! I can’t get angry! It’s pathetic!”
Wrestling Observer reports her Twitter rant is part of WWE’s initiative to integrate storylines on the microblogging website.
– Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s WWE.com profile is now listed among both Raw Superstars and WWE Alumni.
– Damien Sandow made his WWE television debut on Friday’s SmackDown. A promo aired featuring Sandow proclaiming that education and entertainment are closely linked – which doesn’t bode well for today’s society. He says today’s society is entertained by crap and gone are the days when the masses were captivated by the works of Shakespeare and Mozart.