It's the "S" word no player likes to hear. Joe Mauer had a stiff neck Thursday and missed his 60th game of the season. So afterward I said to him: "The perception some people have is that you're soft. Does that tick you off when you hear that?" The question startled the Twins catcher. "Oh, really. Well, who's saying that?" Mauer said. Just about everybody is saying it, but instead of startling him again with a blast of the truth, I soft-pedaled it and said, "When you've been injured so much, that's the perception a lot of people have." His hackles were up, even with the soft-pedal approach. "You ask anybody in here, anybody in this organization, and they'll tell you different," Mauer said. ... "If I could have been out there [Thursday], I would have been," he said. (St. Paul Pioneer Press) Comment
All things considered, there are worse ways to spend the lockout than trying to improve a flaw in one's game. In his quest to become a better free-throw shooter, Dwight Howard has turned to a man who bills himself as the "Shooting Surgeon General" and the "Free-Throw Master." Howard is working with shooting coach Ed Palubinskas, an Australian sharpshooter who played in the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics and is the career free-throw percentage leader at LSU. ... A photograph of Palubinskas working with Howard on Thursday was posted on Facebook by Bright House Sports Network's David Baumann. Palubinskas had attempted to work with Howard for at least a year. (Orlando Sentinel) Comment
Jim Harbaugh is trading convention for preparedness. Whereas most teams will play their starting units into the third quarter this weekend, Harbaugh said he intends to insert key back ups -- including quarterback Colin Kaepernick -- into the game much earlier, perhaps after starter Alex Smith has played two series. "I want to see the guys be able to compete against the other team's starters in that type of competitive environment," Harbaugh said. "Just looking forward to what's going to happen during the season. I'd rather have Colin ready and experienced with the starters, against the starters in a National Football League setting before we have to get to that point. So that's the idea and that will be the idea with other players as well." (Sacramento Bee) Comment
Recreational swimmers in Romania escape the summer heat. (AP)
American hopes at the U.S. Open.
Canadiens put together big comeback to beat Senators 5-4 in OT
Bruins get their eighth straight victory with win over Hurricanes