Sports Digest: Long rejoins Girardi as hitting coach with Phillies

Sports Digest: Long rejoins Girardi as hitting coach with Phillies

BASEBALL

The Philadelphia Phillies hired Kevin Long as their hitting coach on Wednesday, reuniting him with both Manager Joe Girardi and star slugger Bryce Harper.

Long spent the past four seasons as the hitting coach for the Washington Nationals, where he worked with Harper, and was part of the staff in 2019 when they won the World Series.

Before joining Washington, the 54-year-old Long spent three seasons as hitting coach with the New York Mets and he served as hitting coach for eight seasons with the New York Yankees. He worked under Girardi for seven years (2008-14) when they were with the Yankees and won the World Series in 2009.

“I have had a long-standing relationship with Kevin and have seen his work up close and in person for years,” Girardi said. “I truly believe he is the best in the business and will have a huge impact on our offense.”

Girardi and Long weren’t quite so cordial during a game at Citizens Bank Park in late June. After then-Nationals star Max Scherzer was checked by umpires for sticky substances, Girardi and Long got into a shouting match.

The Phillies fired hitting coach Joe Dillon on the final day of the regular season. Philadelphia finished second in the NL East at 82-80 and ranked seventh in the NL in runs and ninth in batting average.

• Tampa Bay Rays minor league pitcher David Hess says he is starting chemotherapy to treat a cancerous tumor in his chest.

Hess tweeted that he went to an emergency room about a week ago after experiencing chest tightness and shortness of breath.

The 28-year-old has pitched in the majors for Baltimore, Miami and Tampa Bay, going 6-22 in parts of four seasons. He finished this year with Triple-A Durham, where he was 6-2 with a 3.57 ERA.

SKIING

WORLD CUP: German skier Thomas Dressen will miss the start of the World Cup season as he tries to build his fitness ahead of the Winter Olympics following a knee operation, he said.

Dressen ruled himself out of the first two speed rounds of the season in Lake Louise, Canada, in late November and Beaver Creek, Colorado, in early December, in comments reported by German news agency dpa. He hasn’t set a date for his return and doesn’t want to race if he isn’t competitive.

GOLF

COLLEGES: J.R. Smith stepped into a hornet’s nest in his first college golf tournament and it had nothing to do with his high score.

The 36-year-old two-time NBA champion was literally stung by hornets while completing his round Tuesday for North Carolina A&T on the second day of Elon’s Phoenix Invitational in Burlington, North Carolina.

“To get stung on the basketball court or in an arena, never happens,” said Smith, now a freshman walk-on. “That’s one of the very few things you don’t have to worry about (in basketball) – other animals. When I got stung, I was like ‘No way.’”

The hornets just added to the sting of Smith’s birdie-less round of 8-over-par 79 on the Donald Ross-designed layout. Combined with his two rounds Monday, he finished at 29 over 240 – in 81st place out 84 entries. Still, he made an impact at the event. Well after the round, playing partner Mason Whatley of Presbyterian went to have a photograph with Smith.

“He has made golf cool for people,” Whatley said.

When the hornets attacked, being an ambassador for the game was not Smith’s top priority. It happened on his third hole of the third round at Alamance Country Club. His tee shot went off the fairway and became embedded in pine straw. He found the ball, but his pull cart’s wheel rolled over the the nest.

Smith darted away from that area, waving his arms, before needing treatment. Smith, along with playing partners Florian Blatti of George Washington and Whatley, were granted a 15-minute break as other groups played through.

“I tried to turn it into a positive,” Smith said, referring to suiting up while ill in the NBA. “This might be your equivalent of a flu game.”

Smith had the sixth-best score out of six players on his team. The Aggies finished 11th in the 13-team field, 57 shots off the pace set by tournament champion Elon.

Smith played 16 years in the NBA, winning championships with Cleveland in 2016 and with the Los Angeles Lakers last year in the Florida pandemic bubble.

SOCCER

FIFA INVESTIGATIONS: FIFA opened disciplinary proceedings against the Hungarian, English, Albanian and Polish football federations after condemning disorder involving Hungary and Albania fans in separate World Cup qualifiers.

Hungary is facing a fresh FIFA punishment after its supporters fought with police in the stands at Wembley Stadium just after kickoff against England on Tuesday as officers sought to arrest a spectator on suspicion of racially abusing a steward. A case was also opened into the English Football Association as organizer of the game, which ended 1-1 in London.

Polish fans in London may also have been involved in the disorder. Polish flags were on display in the Hungary sector and some in the crowd which pushed back against police wore clothes with the insignia of Polish clubs. Poland’s own game in Tirana in Group I was suspended for around 20 minutes. Karol Świderski had just scored for Poland in the 77th minute when he was apparently struck by a bottle thrown from the Albania fans. Poland’s players walked off but returned to the field and held on to win 1-0.

Both the Albanian and Polish federations will face sanctions over the incidents.

WORLD CUP: The French football league’s board adopted a motion to oppose plans to play the men’s World Cup every two years, arguing that the tournament is a world heritage that should not be “trivialized” and that such a move would disrupt calendars.

The league’s decision came just weeks after the president of the soccer federation of men’s world champion France said he is not opposed to FIFA’s push for a biennial World Cup, despite widespread European resistance to the plan.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has pushed for a biennial World Cup to give more playing and hosting opportunities to countries that rarely or never qualify. He already oversaw expanding from 32 teams to a 48-nation tournament for the 2026 edition across North America.

TRACK AND FIELD

KENYAN RUNNER FOUND DEAD: Agnes Tirop, a two-time world championships bronze medalist, has been found dead at her home, the country’s track federation said.

Athletics Kenya said it was still working to uncover details of the incident but it had been informed of Tirop’s death. She was 25. The track federation said she was allegedly stabbed by her husband.

“Kenya has lost a jewel,” the federation said.

Tirop won bronze medals in the women’s 10,000 meters at the 2017 and 2019 world championships and finished fourth in the 5,000 meters at the Tokyo Olympics. Last month, Tirop broke the world record in the women-only 10-kilometer road race.

Her career took off when she won the world cross-country title in 2015 at the age of 19 to become the second youngest champion ever.


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