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GATORS PODCAST: Waylaid in Lexington, Gators pick up pieces after Kentucky no-show (Ep. 189)

GATORS PODCAST: Waylaid in Lexington, Gators pick up pieces after Kentucky no-show (Ep. 189)

04/10/2023, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31451387

The No. 22 Gators hit the road to Kentucky and ran into the Big Blue Wall during the most troubling performance during Billy Napier’s two seasons. Nothing went right during the Gators’ 33-14 loss, raising continued concerns with the offense and special teams while also spotlighting deficiencies on a much-improved defense. The performance has many wondering about the program’s direction. During the latest Swamp Things, Edgar and Mark shed light on a path forward and serve as a voice of reason during a tense time in Gator Nation.

  • Where do you go from here? (:20)
  • Billy Napier needs to change his philosophy (7:50)
  • Worst case scenario for Napier (13:54)
  • Special teams debacle (25:48)
  • Defense stumbles (32:35)
  • Predictable offense (40:16)
  • Napier needs to look in the mirror (46:47)
  • Players eyeing the portal? (58:25)
  • Napier’s messaging (1:00:00)
  • Jeremy Foley’s Corner (1:03:45)
Mother of Lowe brothers battling cancer, misses Rays-Rangers series

Mother of Lowe brothers battling cancer, misses Rays-Rangers series

04/10/2023, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31451401

ST. PETERSBURG — The focus when the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers met earlier this season was on brothers Josh and Nathaniel Lowe as they played against each other for the first time in their major-league careers.

Monday, as their teams got ready to face off in the American League Wild Card Series, the brothers’ focus was on their mom, who is battling brain cancer and will not be watching from the stands.

“She’s going through chemo right now, and she won’t be able to make it,” Josh said before Monday’s workout at Tropicana Field. “But I asked her if it’s OK if I said something, and she said yes, because the more people that know, the more prayers that can be said for her.”

Wendy Lowe had been hard to miss back in June, when her sons — Rays outfielder Josh and Rangers first baseman Nathaniel — faced off for the first time in the big leagues. Wendy wore a custom-made jersey that was divided between the teams’ colors and had “Lowe” across the front.

Tuesday, however, she remained at home so she can stay on track with her chemotherapy schedule.

“Chemo, radiation and doctor appointments get in the way of her coming to the game,” Nathaniel told the Dallas Morning News. “Objectively speaking, that’s what it is. It’s a lot. It’s the only way I know how to say it. It’s just a lot.”

It’s been a heavy three months for the family.

About a month after that first meeting between the Rays and Rangers, Josh Lowe said Monday, his mother suffered a seizure. That was when they found out she had cancer. At the time, Josh was placed on the family medical leave list as Wendy underwent surgery.

Josh and Nathaniel returned to play the second half of the season while their minds remained on their mother.

Rangers general manager Chris Young said Monday he was all too aware of how difficult that balance was for the brothers.

“On a personal level, I lost my dad this time of year eight years ago, and I know how hard it is to play a game and constantly be thinking about a sick family member,” the former MLB pitcher said. “So, certainly our thoughts and prayers are with the Lowe family and, you know, for for Josh and Nate.

“I can sympathize and empathize with how hard this is for them. It’s really hard. These are human beings, and to compartmentalize and go out and play a game we’ve worked our whole life to be on the stage, and meanwhile you’re suffering at home, it’s really, really challenging.”

It would have been hard to tell that Josh’s focus had been anywhere other than on the field. He had an impressive first full season in the big leagues, hitting .292 with 20 home runs and 32 stolen bases. He might have been even better in the second half, batting .311 with a .835 OPS.

“Anything that involves a loved one I feel, like, has got to be unbelievably difficult,” injured Rays infielder Brandon Lowe said. “But for it to be so close to home, having it happen to your parent. …. He took some time away when it first kind of started happening and then came back, and you wouldn’t know any better the way that he carried himself with it. He was in the clubhouse, and you didn’t know what was going on. So the way that he’s handled things, it’s pretty incredible.”

The brothers credited their teammates, managers, and staff with helping them through the grind of the baseball season while dealing with worry and concern about their mother.

It is the first thing they think of when they wake up in the morning and stays with them throughout the day.

Nevertheless, she remains their driving force, Nathaniel told the Morning News.

“I think and pray about her every day,” he said. “I don’t know what the next weeks and months and years look like. She’s given everything to me. And I think that requires a standard of performance out of me. And when I can’t do that, the very least I can do is be positive and grateful for where I am at.”
A closer look at Andrei Vasilevskiy’s injury, recovery and prognosis with Lightning

A closer look at Andrei Vasilevskiy’s injury, recovery and prognosis with Lightning

04/10/2023, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31451402

TAMPA — The Lightning have long leaned on goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. His teammates call him the best goalie on the planet, and NHL player polls agree.

But through at least the first two months of this season, Vasilevskiy will be sidelined as he recovers from surgery to repair a herniated disc in his lower back.

Early in the 2018-19 season, Vaslievskiy missed a little more than a month with a fractured foot, and backup Louis Domingue did a good job of carrying the load in his absence. The Lightning went 12-3-0 without Vasilevskiy. When he returned, they led the Atlantic Division with a 24-7-1 record on their way to the Presidents’ Trophy before losing in the postseason’s first round to Columbus. That was the last time Vasilevskiy missed a significant amount of game action.

“It seems like light years ago,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “We’re just going to have to play really well defensively and buckle things down a little bit, but it’s going to be tough. Any time you’re without a really important player, you just try to stay afloat until that guy gets back and try to push from there.

“We have a really good group, we know that. But it’s going to be difficult. We’re going to have to find a way”

Vasilevskiy’s long-term health has long been a concern, especially as he draws closer to 30, which he turns next July, and considering that no goaltender has played more hockey over the past four years than him. Medical experts, however, say he can return to his old form.

It is unclear how Vasilevskiy initially sustained a herniated disk in his lower back, but it happened in August well before training camp started. Initially, an injection alleviated the issue, but Vasilevskiy felt pain again during his first practice of camp; a second injection, treatment and rest didn’t work.

“I always say the best analogy is like a car tire getting a tear and the air is leaking out,” said Dr. Neel Anand, professor of orthopaedic surgery and director of Spine Trauma at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“In this particular case, there is a jelly in the disk … and that jelly comes out through a tear in the disk. But unfortunately when it comes out, the nerves are right behind, so it starts pinching up on the nerve and it can create pain going down the leg. … Many times it gets better on its own at some point, but if not, you have to do surgery.”

The microdiscectomy procedure Vasilevskiy had Sept. 28 is a minimally invasive surgery that removes the portion of the disk that is putting pressure on the nerves and generally, the disk itself remains largely intact.

“We have a lot of athletes with microdiscectomies who are in major professional sports who have gone back doing what they do, but then unfortunately, it is genetics to a large extent that ultimately will determine, and his disk, just where that will go,” Anand said. “Being a goalie, the load on the spine from squatting up and down is tremendous and actually even more than your regular hockey player.

“But he’s a professional athlete and extremely gifted and motivated and he can get back to normal. I feel confident that, as long as the surgery went well, he can get back to where he is and get back to the level he was at, as most professional athletes do.”

The injury Vasilevskiy had is more common in a football offensive lineman than hockey goaltenders, said Dr. Robert Volk, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports injuries at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics in Washington, D.C.

“For a goalie, in particular, with just some of the way they make kick saves and some of the things that they have to do to contort their body in order to tend the goal, [they] have stresses that they can put on their back,” said Volk, who has served as a team physician for the Tampa Bay Bucs, Miami Dolphins and Florida Panthers. “It’s not a super common injury, but it does happen.”

Vasilevskiy likely would be able to keep working out with cardiovascular training like cycling or swimming shortly after the procedure, but wouldn’t be able to do much weight training until about four to five weeks after the surgery. Exercises like lifting weights overhead from a seated position or doing weighted squats would put pressure on the disc.

“He’ll be able to bounce back relatively quickly, which is why you’re hearing projections of eight weeks after surgery,” Volk said. “A lot of times after surgery, it’s a couple months.”

“It’s rare for someone in their 20s to have this type of injury,” he added. “It’s not super rare, but it does happen more commonly in the third or fourth decade of life. But it’s actually maybe a good thing for him that he’s a little bit younger, and, obviously genetically, very gifted. So he should bounce back much quicker than the average 40-year-old who has this type of injury.”

The Lightning said Vasilevskiy is expected to miss the first two months of the season. If that is in fact the case, he wouldn’t return until the 30th game of the season in mid-December. Anand said that two months is an average, but sometimes it can take up to three months to fully recover.

As far as a long-term prognosis, Volk said that studies predominantly focusing on NFL players who have had the same injury saw that they can return to form for several years after surgery.

“Those research studies suggest that on average, players are able to return to their same level of sport for an average of two and a half to three and a half — or an outlier of four — years after their surgery,” Volk said. “And one of the best prognostic indicators we found in the study is the number of games played at that level prior to injury. So the prognosis is good for [Vasilevskiy] to make a good recovery given the amount of time he’s already played at a high level. …

“Obviously, as you get a bit older through professional sports, you’ve got to spend that much more time on things like conditioning and core stretching, things like that. And I’m sure he’ll take a professional work ethic towards this and get himself back to where it needs to be.”
Rockies’ Nolan Jones named NL Rookie of the Month for September/October

Rockies’ Nolan Jones named NL Rookie of the Month for September/October

04/10/2023, USA, Multi Sports, USA Publications, Article # 31451313

Nolan Jones capped off his first year with the Rockies in marvelous fashion, winning the National League Rookie of the Month award for September and October.

The 25-year-old rookie outfielder slashed .349/.461/.651 in his final 29 games with seven home runs, 23 RBIs, five doubles and three triples. In that span, he was tops among rookies in on-base percentage, OPS (1.112), hits (37) and total bases (112). On Sunday, in the final game of the season, he became the first Colorado rookie to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in a season after doing one of each against the Twins to reach the mark.

On the season, Jones slashed .297/.389/.542 and was second on the team in both homers and stolen bases, and fourth in RBIs (62) despite appearing in just 106 games.

Jones was originally drafted by Cleveland in the second round of the 2016 MLB amateur draft. He was acquired by the Rockies last November in exchange for minor-league infield prospect Juan Brito.

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