National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Kurt Busch crashes during Indy 500 practice

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Kurt Busch wrecked during Monday's practice at Indianapolis, putting him in a backup car for the open-wheel portion of his historic double this weekend.

Busch spun coming out of the second turn on the 2.5-mile oval and slammed hard into the outside wall. It was the biggest crash of the month.

Andretti Autosport said Monday night the car would not be repaired by the Indy 500 and Busch will drive teammate Marco Andretti's backup car. Busch will still start 12th.

Debris flew into the air, there was a small fire and one of the tires rolled dangerously down the track as the car rolled to a stop on the infield grass.

But the hardest part for Busch was contemplating all the work that must be done now as he becomes the fourth driver to attempt completing the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Both races will be held Sunday.

"This created a lot of work for the Andretti guys. I feel bad for that," he said. "As a rookie, there's things you learn and put it up on the edge and get away with and then there's times when it will bite you. It's just tough."

Busch was checked by IndyCar medical director Dr. Michael Olinger at the infield medical center and immediately cleared to drive.

Busch said he was fine and ready to return to racing Friday when the final 1-hour practice sessions will be held. Busch said it wasn't a big deal he had to switch cars because he completed his Indy rookie orientation program earlier this month in a different Andretti Autosport car.

"The ability of the Andretti Autosport team to field the car, it doesn't matter how it starts, or where it comes from, they've been very accurate with everything," Busch said by phone. "I'll get over it quick. I've wrecked cars before."

In the garage area, crew members covered the damaged right side of the car with blankets before moving in into the garage and closing the door. When some fans attempted to take parts from the car, Andretti Autosport team members chased them down and retrieved the parts.

The team then took the car back to its Indy shop to determine whether the car could be repaired.

"We've already worked our crews to death, trying to work with this schedule," said Kyle Moyer, Andretti's director of racing operations. "But we'll get it done."

Initially, officials said Busch would start from the back of the field if he used another car in the race. Series officials later clarified that would not be the case, something that should help Busch.

He qualified 12th, the outside of Row 4 on the 33-car starting grid. No driver has won Indy after starting 33rd.

What happened?

"I was starting to feel comfortable," Busch said. "That's when I made the mistake of just letting my guard down or settling into that long run-type mentality whereas with an Indy car you have to be on edge. You have to keep track of where you are at all times and the adjustments in the car."

Other IndyCar drivers thought Busch may have been done in by his NASCAR roots.

"It looked like he just got loose in two and it looked to me like he overcorrected, like you would in NASCAR," Josef Newgarden said. "The thing looked like it almost snapped straight, but then it went in on its side."

Here are five other things from practice:

NEW LEADER: Though the speed chart from Monday's practice means little because teams were working on race setup in traffic, Newgarden, who drives for Sarah Fisher's team, was the fastest of the day. His best lap was 227.105 mph. Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2000 Indy winner who drives for Roger Penske, was second at 226.532. Scott Dixon, also a previous Indy winner, was third at 226.433 for Target Chip Ganassi, and Russia's Mikhail Aleshin was the fastest rookie at 226.371. Aleshin was fourth.

ACTING PRESIDENTIAL: NCAA President Mark Emmert got a chance to show a different side at Indianapolis. He opened practice waving the green flag and also got a chance to ride around the track with three-time Indy winner Dario Franchitti, who retired last fall. "That was the best ever," Emmert said. "He was always my favorite driver. It was a complete surprise that he was driving it. It was wonderful to chat with him, and of course, ride around the track with him."

MARRIAGE VOWS: Long-time Indianapolis 500 fans Cory and Linlee Patterson of Lafayette, Indiana, were married Sunday in one of the Tower Terrace suites. They met speedway president Doug Boles and pole-winner Ed Carpenter. They have attended the past five 500s together.

OLYMPIC QUEST: Dallas Robinson and Abe Morlu, who worked with the U.S. bobsled and luge team at the Sochi Olympics, were at the track working with Buddy Lazier's team Monday. They met Lazier's engineer, David Cripps, at the Olympics and were reunited at the track. Robinson and Morlu worked with the team and took a ride in the 2-seater driven by Mario Andretti.

THE SWITCHBACK?: NASCAR driver Parker Kligerman started his career in open-wheel cars. Now the 23-year-old is considering a move back. He would replace Busch in the Coca-Cola 600 if Busch doesn't make it back in time. "I have a love for open-wheel cars and it's something that me and my manager Bob Perona have talked about," Kligerman said. "I've been given a bit of a vacation right now, so I'm taking the opportunity as a race fan and a racer to see what's out there and what the possibilities are."

Canadiens goalie Carey Price out for series

BROSSARD, Quebec (AP) Without Carey Price, the run for a first Stanley Cup in 21 years got steeper and longer for the Montreal Canadiens.

Coach Michel Therrien looked grim and even angry Monday in announcing that the goaltender who backstopped Canada to the gold medal at the Sochi Olympics will miss the rest of the Eastern Conference finals.

He gave no details of the injury, a suspected right knee problem, but suggested Price would be back if the Canadiens can get past the New York Rangers and reach the Stanley Cup final.

"Really disappointed. He's our best player," Therrien said. "We need to rally around Carey. We need to give him a chance to play again this season."

Third stringer Dustin Tokarski started Game 2 on Monday night, with Montreal looking to even the best-of-seven series after it was routed 7-2 in the opener.

Backup Peter Budaj has been with the club all season, but has a terrible career playoff record that includes an 0-2-0 record and an .843 save percentage.

Tokarski had never played an NHL playoff game, but the 24-year-old has excelled at every level, winning a Memorial Cup with Spokane in 2008, a world junior championship with Canada in 2009 and an AHL title with Norfolk in 2012.

He was drafted by Tampa Bay in 2008 and acquired by Montreal Feb. 14, 2013 for Cedrick Desjardins in a swap of minor league goalies. He spent most of the season with AHL Hamilton, but played three games for Montreal this season and defeated Buffalo 2-0.

Price clutched his right knee when Rangers forward Chris Kreider crashed into him skates-first at 3:15 of the second period Saturday.

Price got up and finished the period, but didn't look comfortable in allowing two goals in the final 1:01. He was replaced in the third by Budaj, who allowed three goals on eight shots.

After the game, Therrien said he removed Price not because of injury but because there was no use leaving him in with the team playing poorly.

He was angrier the next day when it became clear the injury was worse than first suspected, saying Kreider could have tried to avoid the collision. And he was simmering Monday, pointing out Kreider's history of hitting goalies.

Kreider left Ottawa's Craig Anderson with a knee injury when he crashed the crease during the regular season. He also elbowed Marc-Andre Fleury's head in Game 6 of the conference semifinals, although the Pittsburgh goalie was not hurt.

Therrien called it a "reckless play."

"That's the truth," he said. "And Kreider, that's not the first time he's going at goalies. So we end up losing our best player. But our group faced a lot of adversity throughout the course of the season. We have the attitude to respond really well and that's what I'm expecting."

Kreider said his main regret was missing the net with his shot as he went in on a breakaway and lost his footing.

"Obviously, I was trying to score a goal," the 6-foot-3, 226-pound forward said. "I'm here to play my game and play hard and I think I'm a clean player. I don't go out with the intent to hurt anyone, ever, so I'm going to continue to try and get to the net and score goals."

In the third period, Montreal's Brandon Prust slashed and cross-checked Kreider, earning two minor penalties and a misconduct. But Therrien said the Canadiens were more concerned with trying to win the series than with vengeance.

"We know what happened with Kreider, we know his history, we know a lot of things," Therrien said. "But our main focus is to make sure we play a solid game. Make sure we play hard, we play with passion, that we be disciplined, and play the way we are capable of playing."

The Canadiens are now in the same predicament as Tampa Bay, their first-round opponent that was missing injured goaltender Ben Bishop. Montreal swept the series.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said it won't change their game plans against Montreal.

"Prior to the series, we had prepared for three possible goaltenders, obviously, spending more time on Price," he said. "It's very unfortunate what happened to him. But for us, it's business as usual."

Bears strike 3-year deal with WR Brandon Marshall

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The Chicago Bears and Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall agreed to a three-year contract extension through the 2017 season on Monday.

Marshall announced on Twitter that the extension is worth $30 million and that he's donating $1 million to the "mental health community." He signed the deal during an appearance on ABC's "The View" talk show.

In 2011, Marshall disclosed that he had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Marshall has a history of off-field problems, but the Bears have had no complaints.

In two seasons in Chicago, Marshall has been selected to the Pro Bowl twice and ranked second in the NFL during that time in receptions (218), fourth in receiving yards (2,803), fifth in touchdown receptions (23) and tied for second in 100-yard receiving games (13).

General manager Phil Emery did not indicate that an extension was imminent during an interview with WSCR-AM 670 Monday morning but had high praise for his star receiver.

"A great player," he said. "Obviously a player we'd like to have here for the long term. He is healthy. He feels great."

The extension for Marshall is just the latest move in a busy offseason for the Bears. Most of their energy has focused on overhauling a defense that ranked among the league's worst after they missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years. They let Julius Peppers go and signed Jared Allen, replacing one accomplished pass rusher with another, and addressed every other area on that side.

But they haven't ignored the offense, either. They locked in quarterback Jay Cutler with a seven-year contract after the season and now have his favorite target in the fold for four more years.

Marshall has basically set the standard for Chicago receivers since his arrival from Miami in a trade. His 118 receptions in 2012 and 100 last season are the top two totals in franchise history, and with the emergence of Alshon Jeffery (1,421 yards) last season, the Bears have one of the best receiving tandems in the league.

Blues re-sign Elliott to 3-year contract

ST. LOUIS (AP) The St. Louis Blues have re-signed goalie Brian Elliott to a three-year contract and will not pursue a new deal with Ryan Miller.

General manager Doug Armstrong said Monday the team took a calculated risk acquiring Miller from Buffalo, hoping he could lead the franchise to its first Stanley Cup. But the Blues were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

"Certainly, it's not all reflected on Ryan, it's a team game," Armstrong said. "We've gone this direction and we're excited about the tandem we have."

Armstrong said the 29-year-old Elliott will compete for the starting job with Jake Allen, the team's top goalie prospect. He said the team met with Miller at the end of the season and again last week before deciding to move on.

"Brian wanted a chance to compete for the No. 1 job," Armstrong said. "He has that now."

Not re-signing Miller also gives the Blues financial flexibility for upgrades elsewhere.

The Blues sent Buffalo goalie Jaroslav Halak, forward Chris Stewart, prospect William Carrier, a 2015 first-round pick and a conditional 2016 third-round pick. The third-rounder would have been a first-round pick this year if the Blues reached the Western Conference finals or re-signed Miller to a new contract before the draft.

"We gave up quite a bit," Armstrong said. "We took a swing. It certainly was a lot to give up for 20-some odd games and six playoff games."

Elliott was 18-6-2 with four shutouts, a 1.96 goals-against average and .922 save percentage. He shared the starting job with Jaroslav Halak before the Miller deal.

In three seasons with St. Louis, Elliott has an NHL-high 16 shutouts - tied for second in franchise history.

Man United hires Van Gaal as manager

MANCHESTER, England (AP) Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal was hired as Manchester United manager on Monday, tasked with repairing the damage from David Moyes' disappointing 10 months in charge and reviving the fortunes of one of the world's biggest clubs.

The 62-year-old Dutchman has signed a three-year contract and will take over at Old Trafford after the World Cup in Brazil, becoming the first United manager from outside Britain and Ireland. United great Ryan Giggs will be his assistant.

"To work as a manager for Manchester United, the biggest club in the world, makes me very proud," Van Gaal said in a United statement. "This club has big ambitions; I too have big ambitions. Together I'm sure we will make history."

Van Gaal has experience of coaching - and winning league titles - at some of the world's top teams, but even spells at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich may not prepare him for the rebuilding job required at United.

The club has been in a state of flux since the retirement of Alex Ferguson last May after nearly 27 years in charge. Moyes, Ferguson's successor, was dismissed last month before the team went on to finish seventh - its lowest placing since the Premier League's inception in 1992.

United also failed to qualify for European tournaments for the first time in 24 years.

Van Gaal is likely to be handed considerable funds to strengthen the squad to get United back in the Champions League, something the club's American owners - the Glazer family - weren't prepared to give Moyes. A return to Europe's top competition will likely be the priority, followed by a desire to play the kind of attacking, dynamic brand of soccer expected at United but unable to be delivered by Moyes.

United has broken the mold by appointing Van Gaal.

In the club's 136-year history, no previous manager has come from outside Britain or Ireland, a common occurrence at England's other big clubs in recent years.

The notion of United hiring coaches in a bid to create a dynasty - something Ferguson uniquely achieved - also appears to have ended. After spending six years at Ajax, where Van Gaal guided a talented young team to the pinnacle of European soccer by winning the Champions League in 1995, he joined Barcelona in 1997 for the first of two spells - the first lasting three seasons and the second barely half a year. He has since coached AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch league and Bayern between 2009-11.

So he may not be the long-term manager many at United crave - Giggs, United's interim manager for last season's final four games and one of the club's greatest players, is thought to be being groomed for the seat in the future - but the fact that Van Gaal has won league titles with every team he has worked makes him one of Europe's most-respected coaches.

He has been coach of the Netherlands since 2012, his second spell with the national team following a stint from 2000-02.

"Everyone is very excited about this new phase in the club's history," United vice-chairman Ed Woodward said. "His track record of success in winning leagues and cups across Europe throughout his career makes him the perfect choice for us.

"People know him as a larger-than-life character but I have also been extremely impressed by his intelligence, thoughtful approach to the role and his diligence."

He can be spiky and provocative with journalists and hardly lacks in self-belief, a trait which can often spill over to make him appear arrogant. But after the failed tenure of Moyes, United needed a manager who commanded respect and had a strong track record.

His job won't be easy. While United has regressed since landing its record-extending 20th English championship last year, rival Liverpool has improved greatly under Brendan Rodgers and finished second in the Premier League this season. Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal are established members of the top group and showing no signs of being on the slide.

The appointment of Giggs as Van Gaal's No. 2 will satisfy those eager for some continuity at the club following the trophy-filled era of Ferguson.

The 40-year-old Giggs, British soccer's most decorated player, announced his retirement from playing on Monday.

"I know I will learn a lot about coaching from being able to observe and contribute at such close quarters," Giggs said. "Manchester United has been a huge part of my life and I'm delighted to be able to continue that relationship in such a key role."

Nationals place Gio Gonzalez (shoulder) on DL

WASHINGTON (AP) The Washington Nationals placed Gio Gonzalez on the 15-day disabled list Sunday because of inflammation in his pitching shoulder.

The 28-year-old left-hander had an MRI on Sunday that Nationals manager Matt Williams said showed "no structural damage."

"He's got some inflammation," Williams said. "He'll be shut down for four to five days. No throwing, no nothing. Then we'll start him back on a program."

Gonzalez (3-4) dropped his third straight start in Saturday's 5-2 loss to the New York Mets. He lasted only three innings, allowing five runs and seven hits, which raised his ERA to 4.62. Gonzalez gave up seven runs and nine hits in his previous start at Oakland.

General manager Mike Rizzo said before the MRI that Gonzalez would miss two starts after getting the MRI, in which dye is injected.

"The tests came back great," Williams said. "We'll build him back up. Love to have him when he's ready."

The Nationals recalled Ryan Mattheus from Triple-A Syracuse.

Gonzalez left a start in late April because of shoulder tightness.

"He passed a strength test. Combined having a little soreness (Saturday) with a little soreness a month ago, we thought this was a prudent way to do it," Rizzo said before Sunday's series finale with the New York Mets.

Gonzalez side-stepped questions about his health Saturday, but spoke with Rizzo following his latest loss.

"I don't have a great concern level for it right now just because the way Gio said he felt after the game," Rizzo said.

Gonzalez lost command of the strike zone Saturday, falling behind in the count and throwing 84 pitches in three innings.

"I thought he looked fine," said Rizzo about whether he saw an injured pitcher on the mound. "His arm speed was good. His spin was fine. As good as it's always been on his breaking ball. His fastball velocity was good. The command part of it, which sometimes comes and goes with Gio anyway, was the thing that was causing him an issue."

Gonzalez went 32-16 during his first two seasons with the Nationals after a trade with the Oakland A's. He made at least 32 starts in each of his previous four seasons.

"He's a big key to the ball club," Rizzo said. "We'd like to get him back. We're going to take our time with him and be careful with him because he's vital to the ball club."

Mattheus has 140 career appearances with the Nationals, including two this season. He has not allowed a run in three innings.

Pacers pull away from Heat 107-96 to take 1-0 lead

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Paul George scored 24 points, David West had 19, and the Indiana Pacers protected their home court with a 107-96 victory over the Miami Heat on Sunday to take a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Indiana led wire-to-wire and never even gave the Heat a chance to tie the score after starting the game with a 5-0 lead.

Game 2 is Tuesday in Indiana. The home team has won all five meetings this season.

Dwyane Wade scored 27 points and LeBron James had 25 for the two-time defending NBA champions, who lost for only the second time in 10 playoff games.

Indiana extended the lead to 19 in the third quarter and Miami couldn't get closer than nine the rest of the way.

Crawford leads Blackhawks past Kings 3-1 in Game 1

CHICAGO (AP) Corey Crawford made 25 saves, Jonathan Toews had a big goal in the third period and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 in Game 1 of the Western Conference final Sunday.

Brandon Saad added a goal and an assist for Chicago, which remained perfect in seven home playoff games this year. Duncan Keith had a tiebreaking score in the third period.

Playing just two days after a Game 7 victory over Anaheim, the Kings got a second-period goal from Tyler Toffoli and outshot the Blackhawks 26-20. But Crawford made a couple of solid stops in another terrific performance.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night.

Ovechkin sustains leg injury at hockey worlds

MINSK, Belarus (AP) Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin was taken to a hospital with a right leg injury Sunday after colliding with an opponent during Russia's game against Germany at the ice hockey world championships.

Ovechkin took a hit to his right knee from forward Marcus Kink midway through the third period and stayed on the ice for several minutes before he needed assistance to leave the ice.

Ovechkin struggled to put weight on his right leg and did not return to the game, which Russia won 3-0.

Kink was not penalized for the incident.

Russia coach Oleg Znarok said he couldn't "share any information now" about the injury, and that more details would be disclosed after Ovechkin was examined.

The Capitals said in a statement their medical staff was "working with Ovechkin and Team Russia to gather additional information."

Ovechkin has scored three goals and added six assists for Russia in the tournament.

"It's an unfortunate incident and we hope he's OK," Germany coach Pat Cortina said. "He's a great player and a great ambassador for the game of ice hockey. We need players like that and hopefully he will be fine and we'll see him back on the ice soon."

Russia is waiting for the arrival of another star forward, Evgeni Malkin, who agreed to join the team at the worlds after his Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated from the NHL playoffs by the New York Rangers. Malkin could be available for Tuesday's final group-stage game against Belarus.

Russia is the only unbeaten team in the tournament.

Carpenter wins Indy 500 pole for 2nd straight year

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Local driver Ed Carpenter has made himself at home on the Indianapolis 500 pole.

The last of nine qualifiers to take the track, Carpenter bumped James Hinchcliffe from the top spot, posting a four-lap average of 231.067 mph to win the 500 pole for the second straight year.

"I felt that it was harder," Carpenter said. "It was just a different position because when I made my run last year, we didn't really have anything to lose. This year, being the last guy to go out, I think there was a little bit of pressure to not mess it up."

He didn't mess it up, not at all.

Carpenter's No. 20 Chevrolet was the car to beat all weekend, and the hometown favorite showed no signs of rust in his first IndyCar Series race of the season. He owns Ed Carpenter Racing and decided in November to run only on ovals, where he excels. He turned his car over to Mike Conway on road and street courses, and skipped the first four races of the season.

He knew he had the pole secured when he nailed the final two corners on the last lap.

"I could really just kind of enjoy it knowing that we were going to be on the pole for the second year," he said.

Hinchcliffe will start second after sustaining a concussion last weekend in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Will Power will join them on the front row.

Three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves was fourth followed by Simon Pagenaud and Marco Andretti. Carlos Munoz, Josef Newgarden and J.R. Hildebrand will be on the third row.

Carpenter, the stepson of former speedway executive Tony George, was 10th in last year's Indy 500. He is 11th driver to earn consecutive 500 poles and the first since Castroneves in 2009-10.

"It's all about the race," the 33-year-old Carpenter said. "Hopefully, we can close the deal this year."

As a single-car team last year, Carpenter was unable to get help on data and much-needed setup information. He didn't want a repeat this May, so he hired Hildebrand to drive a second car at Indy for Ed Carpenter Racing. Hildebrand nearly won the Indy 500 as a rookie in 2011, but he crashed exiting the final turn and was passed for the win by the late Dan Wheldon.

"I wish we could have got him up on the front row with us, but the shootout's tough," Carpenter said. "The conditions were hard today, but having him go first today also helped me because we were able to make an adjustment."

Carpenter thrived in the first year of a new Indy 500 qualifying format. He posted the top qualifying speed Saturday when the fastest nine drivers advanced to Sunday's shootout for the pole.

Juan Pablo Montoya had the fastest four-lap average (231.007 mph) among drivers ineligible to win the Indianapolis 500 pole and will start 10th.

"We have a pretty quick car," Montoya, the 2000 winner, said. "Hopefully, my guys can learn something for the Fast Nine. I think that will put us in a good spot to start the race."

Montoya was followed by reigning series champion Scott Dixon and former NASCAR champion Kurt Busch.

Busch is set to race 1,100 miles in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on May 25. Busch raced in NASCAR's All-Star race the night before and flew back from Concord, North Carolina, on Sunday morning.

Busch was humbled when he said he'd never be able to duplicate a weekend like this one - "except for maybe next week."

Defending 500 champion Tony Kanaan will start 16th.

Hinchcliffe appeared to have no problems in the car days after he was cleared to return for his concussion. He paced as he watched Carpenter make his final run, then his chance at the pole end when Carpenter found more speed on his final lap.

He was injured last weekend in Saturday's Grand Prix when debris from Justin Wilson's car flew into the cockpit, striking Hinchcliffe in the head. He was taken away from the track on a stretcher, transported to a hospital and diagnosed with a concussion.

The 27-year old Canadian was cleared to drive Thursday, and took the wheel back from pinch-driver E.J. Viso.

"I had to kind of pretend that I had been here all month and take the feedback my teammates had given me at face value," Hinchcliffe said. "I knew what to expect from the car and that was a huge part of it."

For the first time, IndyCar awarded points based on qualifying runs. The top qualifier on Saturday earned 33 points, second place got 32 and so on, all the way to one point for the 33rd-place entrant.

The pole winner earned another nine points Sunday, decreasing to one point for the ninth-place starter.

Carpenter, a Butler University alum, is an avid Indiana Pacers fan and couldn't wait to watch them play the Miami Heat in the playoffs.

"Racers and Pacers right now," he said. "So go Pacers, beat the Heat."

McMurray pulls off surprise win in All-Star race

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) Jamie McMurray, a 40-1 long shot, had a $1 million payday Saturday night with an upset victory in the Sprint All-Star Race.

McMurray was second on the restart for the 10-lap sprint to the checkered flag. Lined up outside of pole-sitter Carl Edwards, McMurray waged a door-to-door battle with the leader for a lap around Charlotte Motor Speedway, with McMurray surging slightly ahead several times.

The two cars appeared to touch more than once, and McMurray finally cleared Edwards for the lead two laps into the fifth segment.

"A million bucks, that's what I kept telling myself," McMurray said.

McMurray then easily pulled away for his first victory in the event.

"For me, in the car, that was as much fun as you can have, a 10-lap shootout, me and Carl going side by side," said McMurray, who scored the first victory of his career in 2002 at Charlotte. "Carl and I were just going for it. That's awesome."

Kevin Harvick finished second, Matt Kenseth was third and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who complained earlier he was driving a dump truck, was fourth.

Edwards faded all the way to fifth.

Kurt Busch was 11th after qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 earlier in the day.

"Really happy to see Jamie win, it's always nice to see good guys win," said Kenseth, a former teammate of McMurray's at Roush Fenway Racing.

It seemed to be a popular victory as several drivers made a point to congratulate McMurray in their post-race interviews as the driver took his Chevrolet to Victory Lane. He was met there by team owners Felix Sabates and Chip Ganassi, who flew into North Carolina before the race after Indianapolis 500 qualifying.

It was a tough day for Ganassi in Indianapolis, where none of his five cars made it into the Fast 9 qualifying round and Scott Dixon was his fastest driver at 15th.

Kyle Busch won the first segment, but his night ended early in the second 20-lap segment when he used an aggressive move in a fast attempt to avoid running into the back of older brother, Kurt.

"His brother forced his hand," Clint Bowyer said of the accident that nearly collected his car. "Hell, I don't know how I didn't wreck."

The Busch brothers were running together when Kurt was too close to the outside wall and Kyle tried to dart into the middle lane to avoid hitting him. Instead, Kyle hit the back of Bowyer as he tried to swing around Bowyer into a third lane. Bowyer clipped him as Busch surged ahead, and it began a spin that sent Busch into the path of Joey Logano.

Busch failed to finish the All-Star race for the fifth time in nine years.

"I saw Kurt get really bottled up ad about get in the wall, so he had to check-up real hard and my shot was in the middle, to go across three lanes and underneath Bowyer," Busch said. "But Bowyer blocked it and when he did, I got into him. Those are the opportunities you have to take in the All-Star."

Kasey Kahne went on to win that segment, and the third segment.

"I say just leave the car for now, felt pretty good right there," Kahne radioed after the third segment as his crew debated pit strategy.

But his night fell apart in the fourth segment when he hit the wall to damage his Chevrolet.

"I hit it hard. I blew it bad," he radioed. "Sorry, guys. I can't believe that happened. We had the best car here by far. Great, great car."

Kahne wound up 14th.

Arizona hires La Russa to run baseball operations

PHOENIX (AP) Tony La Russa has never missed the managing part of baseball since retiring in 2011. He did miss the competition and, most particularly, the winning.

That's what drew him back to the big leagues.

Bolstering their front office, the Arizona Diamondbacks hired La Russa as their chief baseball officer on Saturday, hoping the Hall of Fame manager can help turn around the team after one of the worst starts in franchise history.

"It's the first day I woke up and I felt a difference," La Russa said. "Because for the first time since then you're back with an organization and at the end of the day you're going to be judged by how well your contribution is to the organization's competition. That's how I grew up."

La Russa last worked as a manager in 2011, walking away after leading the St. Louis Cardinals to their second World Series title with him at the helm.

He spent time working for Major League Baseball as a special assistant to Commissioner Bud Selig and was itching to get back into baseball on a day-to-day basis, appearing at Diamondbacks games a few times the past few weeks.

La Russa will report to Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall and oversee the entire baseball operations department. He will work with general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson in shaping the future of the Diamondbacks, who were 16-28 heading into Saturday night's game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"It is going to take time, but I think having him here and helping us lead this department, it looks good for us," Hall said. "Any decisions that are going to be made personnel wise, he's going to have final say."

La Russa won three World Series titles and six league championships and was a four-time manager of the year in 33 seasons before retiring in 2011. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in July and is third with 2,728 wins as a manager and second with 70 postseason wins.

La Russa played parts of six seasons in the majors before starting a managerial career that began in 1979 with the Chicago White Sox and took him to Oakland and St. Louis, where he won World Series rings in 2006 and 2011. He also won a title with the A's in 1989, joining Sparky Anderson as the only two managers to win World Series in both leagues.

"I understand the levels of decision making," La Russa said. "And all I'm saying here is that you include everybody in the process. But I think the advantage that we hope to have is that everybody on the competitive side is working from the same thought philosophy."

California Chrome wins Preakness; Triple try next

BALTIMORE (AP) California Chrome repelled one challenger and then put away another in the stretch to win the Preakness on Saturday, setting up a Triple Crown try in three weeks.

The chestnut colt with four white feet will attempt to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, something that hasn't been done since Affirmed in 1978. Since then, 12 horses have won the first two legs and failed to complete the sweep; the last was I'll Have Another, who was scratched on the eve of the Belmont two years ago.

Maybe the horse with the modest pedigree and average Joe owners is the one.

California Chrome defeated Ride On Curlin by 1 1/2 lengths at Pimlico, covering 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.84. He's now won six straight races by a combined 27 1/2 lengths for 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman.

"You have to have a very good horse to win these three races," Sherman said. "I'm hoping I've got one right now."

California Chrome's co-owner Steve Coburn shed tears after his colt crossed the finish line, dabbing them away with a blue-and-white bandanna.

"I don't mean to be bold or cocky or arrogant," Coburn said. "I saw this baby when he was a day old, I told my wife, "Carolyn, this horse is going to do something big. I don't know what it is, but we're going to stay in the game to make sure this colt gets to be the best that he can be."'

Quite a statement from a guy with a one-horse stable.

Coburn and partner Perry Martin bred an $8,000 mare to a $2,500 stallion to produce California Chrome. Based on the colt's humble breeding, he probably shouldn't be on the verge of making history.

His mother, named Love the Chase, won just one race.

The owners were long shots to get this far, too.

Coburn and Martin named their operation DAP Racing, which stands for Dumb Ass Partners. Their silks include an image of a donkey. Coburn and Perry who live on each side of the California-Nevada border get up early for their jobs - Coburn working as a press operator and Martin running a lab that tests high-reliability equipment.

"We just hope that this horse is letting America know that the little guy can win," Coburn said.

Sent off as the overwhelming favorite by a record crowd of 123,469 on a sunny and cool day, California Chrome bounced out of the gate running, with jockey Victor Espinoza moving the colt into the clear. Pablo Del Monte, a 34-1 shot, charged to the lead and was soon joined by filly Ria Antonia.

Espinoza tucked California Chrome into third, an ideal spot behind the leaders. They stayed there until making their move approaching the final turn.

"I had so many cameras in my face that I actually couldn't see the race," Coburn said.

California Chrome made a move for the lead, catching Pablo Del Monte while Social Inclusion joined the chase. Pablo Del Monte soon dropped back along the rail, and California Chrome sprinted away from Social Inclusion at the top of the stretch.

But there was one more challenge to come.

Ride On Curlin, next-to-last in the 10-horse field, ranged up and briefly appeared ready to overtake California Chrome. Once again showing his class, California Chrome denied the threat.

"It's an awesome feeling," Espinoza said. "Today it was just a crazy race. I got more tired mentally than physically. I see another horse go to the front. I was going to sit second. .. I sit back, as soon as the other horse got clear of me, it worked out perfect."

California Chrome paid $3, $3 and $2.40. Ride On Curlin returned $5.60 and $3.80, while Social Inclusion was another 6 1/2 lengths back in third and paid $3.40 as the 5-1 second choice.

General a Rod was fourth, followed by Ring Weekend, Pablo Del Monte, Dynamic Impact, Kid Cruz, Bayern and Ria Antonia.

Espinoza will get another crack at trying to complete the Triple Crown, after missing with War Emblem in 2002. He finished eighth in the Belmont that year.

"You have to be a super horse to win," the jockey said. "Hopefully, California Chrome comes back good, and he's the one that hopefully can do it."

Bob Baffert trained War Emblem, one of his three Triple tries that ended in failure. He missed with Silver Charm in 1997 and again the following year with Real Quiet, who lost the Belmont by a nose.

"California Chrome is something. He's a cool customer," Baffert said after the race. "He does everything right. He's fast enough to stay out of trouble."

Browns QB Johnny Manziel: 'I'm just a rookie'

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Johnny stretched. Johnny ran. Johnny passed. Johnny talked.

With all eyes - well, at least the ones allowed to watch him - on quarterback Johnny Manziel, the most hyped college player to enter the NFL in years took his first steps with the Browns, who haven't promised Johnny Football anything other than a chance to win a starting job.

And that's cool with him.

"I'm a rookie," Manziel said. "I need to earn my place. I need to earn my keep. Nothing here needs to be handed to me. I don't need to be treated based off what I did in the past, because that doesn't mean a thing at this level."

The former Texas A&M quarterback, who oozes swagger every moment he's on the field, is participating in Cleveland's rookie minicamp this weekend along with its other draft picks and unsigned free agents. Browns first-year coach Mike Pettine restricted access to Saturday's workout, which was held inside because of rainy weather, to local media members. Sunday's practice is closed.

Pettine was on the Jets' coaching staff when popular quarterback Tim Tebow joined the team and wants to control "Manzielmania" as best he can.

"We're well aware of the persona. We're well aware of what it brings," Pettine said. "We're excited about it. It's something that we're very willing to have come here, knowing that he has a chance to make us a better football team and a better franchise."

Pettine added that he knows the decision to limit access will "ruffle some feathers."

"I'll apologize in advance for that, but what we're tasked as a staff to do is do what's best for the football team," he said.

Wearing a red No. 2 jersey, Manziel stretched with his teammates as Jay-Z's "Public Service Announcement" boomed through the speakers in the field house. With Browns owner Jimmy Haslam on the sideline, Manziel made a few handoffs and threw three short passes before the session was closed after 15 minutes.

Manziel later answered questions for 10 minutes before the interview was stopped by a member of the team's media relations staff.

Manziel tried to clear up one story about how he wound up with the Browns, whose long-suffering fans hope his arrival can turn around their woeful franchise. Cleveland passed on him earlier in the draft before trading up to take him at No. 22.

On Thursday, quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains revealed during a radio interview that Manziel sent him a text message during last week's draft, urging the team to pick him. Loggains claimed the text read: "Hurry up and draft me because I want to wreck this league together."

Manziel confirmed he exchanged texts with Loggains, but said the one in which he claimed he would "wreck this league" may have been exaggerated.

"I don't know if that's exactly word for word," he said. "It was something along those lines."

He explained he didn't mean he was going to dominate as a rookie, just that he wanted to help the Browns win games.

"Whenever it is I get a chance to play, I don't want to come in and be mediocre," he said.

As for his desire to join the Browns, Manziel said that was true.

"This was a place I felt comfortable with," he said. "I liked the situation here and I wanted to come here, and if they wanted to take me and were trying to get me earlier, I said, `Let's do it.' I don't know what kind of influence that had or what exactly that did."

Pettine told Manziel that if he wants to start he's going to have to beat out Brian Hoyer, who made three starts last year before a knee injury ended his season.

Manziel said he understands he's nothing special - not yet.

"I was completely OK with hearing that from everybody," he said. "I don't want to come in and have anything handed to me that I don't deserve."

Manziel was humbled long before the Browns took him.

"I got passed up 21 times, so that says something," he said.

As for meshing with his new teammates, Manziel is fitting right in.

Offensive lineman Joe Bitonio, a second-round pick, said there was a moment of awe when he walked into the locker room and realized his locker was next to Manziel's.

"At first I was like, `Man, that's Johnny Manziel,"' Bitonio said. "And then once you get to know him, he's a normal guy."

On the field, Manziel has already made an impression.

"Amazing," running back Terrance West said. "He's Manziel, right? Everybody knows Johnny Manziel. He makes plays. He makes big plays. He's a great player."

But right now, he's only Johnny Rookie.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Rangers rout Canadiens 7-2, take 1-0 lead

MONTREAL (AP) Martin St. Louis started the scoring and Henrik Lundqvist posted his first win in Montreal in more than two years and the New York Rangers routed the Canadiens 7-2 to open the NHL Eastern Conference final on Saturday afternoon.

St. Louis, who is scheduled to attend his mother's funeral with his teammates on Sunday, got the opening goal before Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Brad Richards, Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan and Rick Nash also scored for the Rangers. New York had scored only four goals in its past nine regular-season visits to the Bell Centre.

Rene Bourque and Lars Eller scored for Montreal, which saw star goalie Carey Price apparently injure his right leg when he was run over early in the second period. Price was replaced by Peter Budaj after the second period but it was not clear if it was because of an injury.

It was Montreal's worst playoff defeat since losing 8-2 to Carolina in 2002.

Selanne says farewell to Anaheim after Ducks' loss

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Teemu Selanne took one last tour of the Anaheim rink after the final horn, waving his stick at cheering fans while players from both teams banged their sticks on the ice.

Despite the melancholy look on his face, the Finnish Flash said he has no regrets about returning to the Anaheim Ducks for one last season, even after they fell well short of another Stanley Cup title.

Selanne's 21-season NHL career likely ended Thursday night with a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 of their second-round series.

The 43-year-old forward has maintained he'll retire this summer, keeping to his plan even after starring in his sixth Olympics and playing a significant role during the best regular season in franchise history in Anaheim, his home for parts of 15 seasons.

"I've been flirting with this decision for a long time, but the passion and the fun always brought me back," said Selanne, who didn't score in the finale. "I still love this game, and I still know I can play, but it is better this way than having different situations, and that's why I think it is the right time."

The crowd chanted "Let's Go Teemu" in the final minutes, with even Kings fans joining in. After the final horn, Selanne accepted congratulations and eventually made it to the dressing room, where his famed composure slipped.

"I tried, but when I came in here, I couldn't hold myself anymore," Selanne said. "I didn't know what to do out there."

Selanne kept returning to the Ducks for seven straight years after he first contemplated retirement following their only Stanley Cup championship in 2007, each time hoping the Ducks would make another title run. He kept moving up the NHL's career scoring chart, currently sitting 15th with 1,457 points and 11th with 684 goals.

Selanne's ice time with the Ducks dwindled this year while coach Bruce Boudreau worked younger players into key roles. He still played a dependable role in Anaheim, bottling his frustration for one more run at a Cup.

"The 2007 Stanley Cup has to be the biggest crown for my career," Selanne said. "To be honest, the most proud I am is I have been able to play so many years and at this age. You all know when you get older, it's not going to get any easier. But to be able to compete against these young guys and still enjoy this and play well, that has been the greatest thing in my career. I'm really thankful for that."

Selanne has a full life in Southern California waiting for him after retirement. He opened a successful steak house in Laguna Beach last year, and his four children are comfortable in their year-round home in Coto De Caza, an Orange County community on Selanne's beloved golf course.

Yet in classic Selanne fashion, he didn't slam the door completely shut on the possibility he could play elsewhere next season. Speculation has been rampant in Finland and Russia about the possibility of luring Selanne to Jokerit, the Helsinki-based club that's joining the Kontinental Hockey League in the fall.

"I don't know, and I don't think so," Selanne said a potential move to Jokerit. "I know there is a lot of interest for that, but I always said I was going to retire here. To be honest, I really don't have to play anywhere anymore. I could if I want, but right now I don't want to."

Selanne began his pro career with three years in Jokerit's junior development program, and he played three seasons with the big-league club before joining the Winnipeg Jets for his record-setting NHL rookie year in 1992-93.

The game also might have been a finale for Saku Koivu, Selanne's fellow Finn and longtime friend. The 39-year-old Koivu was the Montreal Canadiens' captain before moving to Anaheim five years ago.

"I really don't have an answer for you," Koivu said. "Usually after the season, the last three or four years, I've been signing one-year contracts. And I'm going to go the same road, just to get away from the game for a couple of weeks and really take a good careful look at what happened, how the season went, and if there is enough left to come back and push for another year."

LA Kings eliminate rival Ducks 6-2 in Game 7

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Justin Williams, Jeff Carter and Mike Richards scored in an overwhelming first period, and the Los Angeles Kings advanced to their third straight Western Conference finals with a 6-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 of their second-round series Friday night.

Anze Kopitar, Marian Gaborik and Tanner Pearson also scored, and Jonathan Quick made 25 saves to help the Kings claim the first postseason Freeway Faceoff series in thrilling style, winning back-to-back elimination games over their top-seeded Southern California rivals.

The Kings improved to 6-0 when facing elimination this spring, shredding rookie goalie John Gibson for four goals in the first 23 minutes in Game 7.

The defeat likely ended the career of 43-year-old Teemu Selanne, who intends to retire.

The Kings advanced to a conference finals rematch with the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Game 1 is Sunday in Chicago.

The Kings added the victory to their 7-1 record in elimination games over the past two years, showing off the remarkable poise that has led to eight playoff series victories in three seasons. The 2012 Stanley Cup champions took charge in the first period and led 5-0 late in the second, never allowing the Ducks to get close in their own building.

Los Angeles, which chased Gibson on Kopitar's goal early in the second period, hung on to win its second straight seven-game series. The Kings rallied from an 0-3 deficit to stun San Jose in the first round.

Kings fans' chants of "This is our house!" echoed through Honda Center, where the Ducks were one of the NHL's best home teams during the best regular season in franchise history.

The Kings got stellar performances from their best big-game players. Quick improved to 3-0 in Game 7 in his career, while Williams kicked off Los Angeles' first-period onslaught with his sixth goal in six career trips to Game 7. Williams also has six assists in those deciding games.

Gaborik scored six goals in the series' four games in Anaheim, giving him an NHL-best nine goals in his first postseason with the Kings. Gaborik, Williams and Richards are unbeaten in six career trips to Game 7, while Carter improved to 4-0.

The 20-year-old Gibson was overmatched, yielding four goals on 18 shots before getting pulled 2:02 into the second period for Jonas Hiller, the dependable veteran who was twice benched by coach Bruce Boudreau in the season's final weeks. Boudreau dropped to 1-5 in his six career trips to Game 7 with Washington and Anaheim, losing all five times at home.

After winning his first two playoff starts in impressive fashion, Gibson took his second straight loss - but Gibson didn't deserve all the blame behind a team that made innumerable mistakes in its biggest game of the season.

Corey Perry scored early in the third period, but also missed a penalty shot and got denied on a second-period breakaway on his 29th birthday. Kyle Palmieri scored late in the second period after Anaheim already trailed by five goals.

The game was an unsightly farewell to Selanne, whose 21-season NHL career began in Winnipeg in 1992 and included parts of 15 seasons in Anaheim. The Finnish Flash scored 684 regular-season goals, but had just two goals in 12 playoff games this spring. The crowd chanted "Let's Go Teemu" in the final minutes, and Selanne accepted congratulations from his teammates and the Kings after the final horn.

Game 7 also might have been a finale for Saku Koivu, although the 39-year-old Finnish center hasn't decided whether he'll retire after 18 NHL seasons.

The anti-climactic finale capped the most memorable season in these clubs' 20 seasons spent just 30 miles apart on the I-5 freeway. The Ducks won four of their five regular-season meetings, including a 3-0 victory in January in the clubs' historic outdoor game at Dodger Stadium.

The road team won the first four games of the series, with the Ducks rallying from two opening losses with three straight victories. Los Angeles staved off elimination for the fifth time this spring with a 2-1 victory in Game 6 on Wednesday, helped along when Gibson allowed a soft goal to Trevor Lewis.

NOTES: The Kings again played without two injured veteran defensemen. Willie Mitchell missed his eighth straight game and Robyn Regehr missed his sixth straight. ... Los Angeles is the 17th team in NHL history to win a Game 7 twice in the same postseason run. The New York Rangers also have done it this spring. ... The visiting team has won five of the six Game 7s in the current playoffs.

Colts star LB Robert Mathis suspended for 4 games

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) NFL sacks champion Robert Mathis admits he made a mistake late last season.

Now it's going to cost him - four games and four paychecks.

The Colts' career sacks leader was suspended Friday by the NFL after violating the league's ban on performance-enhancing substances. What exactly Mathis tested positive for remains a mystery but the linebacker said in a statement he was seeking fertility assistance. He acknowledged that he and his wife are expecting a baby.

"I am deeply saddened that this situation will prevent me from contributing to my team for four games, and I regret that I didn't cross check what my doctor told me before I took the medication, " Mathis said. "I hope that my fans will understand the unique circumstances involved here and continue to know that I am a man of integrity who would never intentionally circumvent the performance enhancing substance policy agreed to by the NFL and my union."

Mathis said Commissioner Roger Goodell denied Mathis' request to not issue a suspension based on the circumstances.

The league issued a statement Friday night about the case:

"As Mr. Mathis's agent acknowledged today, his client failed to follow the protocols in the policy that the NFL and NFLPA agreed upon to address precisely these kinds of claims," the NFL said. "That policy also prescribes the disciplinary consequences of a positive test. The policy does not provide - nor should it provide - for the commissioner to override the policy's procedures and assess discipline on an after-the-fact, ad hoc basis. Here Mr. Mathis actually withdrew his appeal and accepted discipline at the union's suggestion. His hearing took place only after the Players Association requested that the appeal be reinstated.

"The drug for which Mr. Mathis tested positive is not approved by the FDA for fertility in males and is a performance-enhancing drug that has been prohibited for years. Importantly, Mr. Mathis did not consult with the policy's independent administrator, a physician jointly approved by the NFL and NFL Players Association. Nor did he consult with his team doctor, the team's training staff, the NFLPA, the league office or the hotline established under the policy to give confidential information to players. Each of these sources would have warned against using this substance.

"A cornerstone of the program is that a player is responsible for what is in his body. Consistent application of the policy's procedures is critical to the integrity of the program."

If the NFL's decision stands, and they almost always do, Mathis would not be eligible to rejoin the Colts until Sept. 29. He is allowed to participate in the team's offseason workouts, training camp and preseason games.

The Colts quickly issued a statement saying they would support Mathis, one of the team's elder statesmen and most respected leaders. Mathis set a single-season record with 19 1/2 sacks last season and also broke Dwight Freeney's franchise career record for sacks. In 11 NFL seasons, Mathis has 111 career sacks.

"We nevertheless wish to assure Robert and our fans that he remains an honored and cherished member of the Colts family and that we support him as he deals with this difficult challenge," Mathis said.

It's another black eye for a franchise whose owner, Jim Irsay, was arrested near his suburban Indy home in March and preliminarily charged with four felony counts of possession of a controlled substance and a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge. Irsay sought medical help two days later and did not return to the team until last weekend's draft. Irsay has not spoken publicly about what happened.

Mathis was considered an undersized defensive end when the Colts took him in the fifth round of the 2003 draft.

It didn't take long, though, for Mathis and Freeney to form one of the NFL's most feared pass-rushing combinations.

With Mathis developing his own spin moves to match Freeney, and Freeney developing his own tomahawks chop, imitating Mathis, the two close friends not only put quarterbacks on the ground, they forced fumbles at the league's highest rate, too.

Both emerged as perennial Pro Bowlers, but when they were asked to move to linebacker in new coach Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defense, Mathis thrived and Freeney struggled.

When the Colts announced last year that they would not re-sign Freeney, many thought Mathis would struggle.

Instead, he had the best season of his career and became the first winner of the Deacon Jones Award. Defending that title might be next to impossible in 2014 - unless he wins an appeal.

"We are thrilled that we will be welcoming a new (family) member in several months, but I apologize to my teammates, coaches and Colts fans that I will not be able to contribute to my team for the first four weeks of the 2014 season," Mathis said. "I will work extremely hard during that time to stay in top football shape and will be prepared to contribute immediately upon my return."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Oprah's network postpones Sam documentary

The planned documentary by the Oprah Winfrey Network on Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly gay player, has been postponed.

Erik Logan, president of the network, said Friday that the postponement was made after meetings with the St. Louis Rams.

"After careful consideration and discussion with the St. Louis Rams, `The Untitled Michael Sam Project' has been postponed, allowing Michael the best opportunity to achieve his dream of making the team," Logan said in a statement.

"It's clear that we, along with the world, recognize the important opportunity that Michael now has in this moment. We will continue to support him in his journey to earn a spot playing for the Rams."

As a seventh-round draft pick, Sam will face hefty challenges just to make the Rams. Being the subject of a TV documentary could have been a major distraction for the defensive end from Missouri.

"This (postponement) will allow for Michael to have a total focus on football, and will ensure no distractions to his teammates," added Sam's agent, Cameron Weiss. "Everybody involved remains committed to this project and understands its historical importance as well as its positive message."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Marlins ace Jose Fernandez has Tommy John surgery

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) An attorney for Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez said a sharp grounder that struck the right-hander in the thigh before his final start caused him to change his throwing motion and may have contributed to him needing season-ending elbow surgery.

Tampa-based attorney Ralph Fernandez explained the timeline for the pitcher's injury in a lengthy statement to Miami media on Friday. He said the reigning NL Rookie of the Year had to alter his delivery after getting hit on the back of the left leg by a sharp grounder off the bat of Dee Gordon in the Marlins' 5-4 win over Los Angeles on May 4 in Miami.

Fernandez pitched five innings at San Diego on May 9 in his last start before the Marlins announced he would need Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, which he had Friday in Los Angeles.

"Jose did not have a pre-existing condition," Ralph Fernandez wrote in a statement. "While pitching during the recent Dodgers game in Miami he was struck by a ball on his rear thigh. This prompted a completely unanticipated change in delivery which neither the staff nor his coaches could discern.

"After the game we spoke as we always do. Jose was concerned about his arm. Despite many exchanges on the subject in the days that followed he felt that with the Marlins regaining first place in the division he could not let his team down. Apparently the injury was worse than he believed. In San Diego in the third ending he suffered a traumatic event, tossed a couple of more innings and the rest is history."

Marlins manager Mike Redmond said before the Marlins played the San Francisco Giants on Friday night that nobody on the team knew of Fernandez's injury until his start in San Diego.

"I just think if it was bothering him, then he should have said something and we would've obviously shut him down and taken those precautions," Redmond said. "As soon as we found out that he had a sore arm, we shut him down and got an MRI and got everything looked at and got the information that we needed."

Redmond also refuted that Fernandez changed his delivery after getting hit in the thigh against the Dodgers.

"He looked the same to me in that game after that," Redmond said.

Marlins president Michael Hill said in a statement that Fernandez's surgery went well. He said Fernandez would return to Miami and immediately begin his rehabilitation program.

Attorney Ralph Fernandez said in his statement that he, the Marlins, the pitcher and his agent, Scott Boras, all agree that surgery was the proper course of action. Typical recovery time is 12 to 18 months.

The 21-year-old Fernandez was put on the disabled list earlier this week, becoming the latest in a string of major league pitchers this year who have needed Tommy John surgery. Fernandez finished 4-2 with a 2.44 ERA in eight starts this season.

Fernandez made 28 starts last year, going 12-6 with a major league-best .182 opponents' batting average. His 2.19 ERA was second in the majors behind three-time defending ERA champ Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers. Fernandez struck out 187 in 172 2-3 innings.

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