Terry Francona’s feeling more fit and a little feisty. That’s welcome news for the Cleveland Indians. After missing most of this past season with significant health problems, the 61-year-old Francona said Monday that he’s stronger physically and looking forward to managing again in 2021, his ninth season with the club and 21st in the majors. “I feel good. I’ve spent the last six weeks really working hard,” Francona said on a call from his home in Arizona. “I told [Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti] I needed to do that. I said, ‘Hey, give me until Thanksgiving just to make sure I’m OK.’ We’re coming up on Thanksgiving now and I’m doing pretty well. I’ve been active, lost some weight and feel like I’m putting myself in a better position to succeed physically over the course of a long season.” One of baseball’s best and most well-liked managers, Francona was in the dugout with the Indians for only 14 games this year due to a gastrointestinal issue requiring several surgeries. He also suffered some blood-clot complications that landed him in the hospital for several days. Francona has assembled his coaching staff for 2021, and for the first time in a long time it won’t include close friend and bench coach Brad Mills, who opted out last season for personal reasons and will be back with the Indians in another capacity. Francona said Mills recently visited him to explain his decision to not be in uniform. “He just needs to be home,” Francona said. “I don’t think it was a hard decision, but I think it was difficult, because he loves baseball. But I think he knew where he needed to be.” Francona will replace Mills with DeMarlo Hale, who worked with him in Boston and spent the past two seasons with Atlanta. Hale was on Francona’s staff with the Red Sox from 2006-2011, serving as bench coach in 2010 and 2011, when Mills left Boston to manage in Houston. Hale has also been with Texas, Baltimore, and Toronto . . . The New York Mets have abandoned their search for a president of baseball operations and will instead focus on hiring a general manager. Team president Sandy Alderson returned to the team Nov. 6 when Steven Cohen completed his $2.42 billion purchase of the team and that day fired general manager Brodie Van Wagenen. Alderson said then he wanted to hire a president of baseball operations but said he had been thwarted in attempts to gain permission to speak with officials on other teams and another possible candidate had family issues that prevented a move. Alderson said Monday he will have a greater role in baseball operations than originally planned. He told Luis Rojas he will return for a second season as manager. Alderson turned 72 on Sunday. He was the Mets’ general manager from October 2010 until he left in July 2018 following a recurrence of cancer.
Blackhawks hire Northeastern’s Coyne Schofield as player development coach
The Chicago Blackhawks hired Kendall Coyne Schofield as a player development coach, making her the first woman to hold that position in the organization’s 94-year history. Coyne Schofield, 28, will work with the coaching staff of Chicago’s top minor league affiliate in Rockford, Ill., and serve as a youth hockey growth specialist. The captain of the US women’s national team previously held broadcasting jobs with NBC Sports and the San Jose Sharks. She won the 2016 Patty Kazmaier Award as the top player in women’s college hockey following her senior season at Northeastern. Chicago also added former NHL forward Erik Condra as player development coach, hired Juan Gonzalez from USA Hockey to be a minor league strength and conditioning coach, and promoted Meghan Hunter to director of hockey administration and amateur scout. Coyne Schofield joins a slowly growing list of women working in hockey operations for NHL teams. Retired Canadian star Hayley Wickenheiser is assistant director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs, while the expansion Seattle Kraken hired Hall of Famer Cammi Granato as a pro scout and Alexandra Mandrycky as director of hockey strategy and research . . . With coronavirus cases surging and travel restrictions being placed on member states, the New England Hockey Conference has decided to cancel the 2020-21 hockey season for both men and women. The conference announced in July that all contests through 2020 were canceled, but had hoped an abbreviated season could begin in early 2021.
SEC shuffles weekend schedule
The Southeastern Conference has shuffled its schedule, including pushing back the Arkansas-Missouri and Tennessee-Vanderbilt games which had been set for Saturday. The league postponed the Arkansas-Missouri game because of combination of positive tests, contact tracing, and the resulting quarantining within the Arkansas program. Vanderbilt and Missouri will now meet Saturday to make up a game that was postponed Oct. 17. The SEC is still trying to get in 10 games for all 14 teams, and last week reserved the right to revise the schedule up until 9 p.m. on Mondays. No date has been set for Arkansas-Missouri or Tennessee-Vanderbilt, but Dec. 19 is a possibility for teams not playing in the league championship game . . . Conference USA canceled Louisiana Tech at FIU, while Western Kentucky at Charlotte was pushed back from Saturday to Dec. 1 with the unusual 10:30 a.m. kickoff time on a Tuesday . . . Florida State coach Mike Norvell is standing by the decision to postpone the Seminoles game Saturday against No. 4 Clemson after the Tigers reported a positive player test following their arrival on campus, adding that even though he and his team wanted to play there were safety concerns. “We believe the right decision was made,” Norvell said. The game was called off a few hours before kickoff Saturday when medical teams from both schools could not agree that it was safe to play. Clemson offered Florida State an additional round of testing and delaying the start until later Saturday, or even Sunday or Monday. Tigers coach Dabo Swinney was angered by the decision, saying Florida State administrators were using COVID-19 as “an excuse” not to play. Norvell, who had COVID-19 and missed a game earlier this season, said the decision was entirely based on the coronavirus and the safety of his team. “Football coaches are not doctors, some of us might think that we are,” Norvell said. “There’s a reason why those [medical] advisers are able to make those decisions from the information provided.” Norvell said he tried to call Swinney on Saturday, but the two did not connect and have not talked . . . The Mountain West says it’s canceling the Fresno State-San Diego State football game slated for Friday because of the novel coronavirus. The game has been declared a no-contest and there are no plans to reschedule it.
COVID-19 case keeps Baylor from Mohegan Sun games
Second-ranked Baylor didn’t travel as planned Monday and won’t play two games that had been scheduled in Connecticut to open the men’s college basketball season. The cancellations came a day after Bears coach Scott Drew revealed he had tested positive for COVID-19. The Bears were supposed to play No. 18 Arizona State on Wednesday night, then would have played No. 3 Villanova or Boston College on Thanksgiving Day at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Rhode Island has taken its place in the 2K Empire Classic. Baylor officials confirmed that the team didn’t travel, and those games were listed as canceled on the school’s website. The Bears are still scheduled to play Sunday at Seton Hall. Drew said he was notified of his positive test after team-wide testing Friday, but that the rest of the team had tested negative on Friday and again Sunday. He said his was the team’s first positive test in 12 weeks . . . Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak and eight Utes players have tested positive for COVID-19. He said five players who tested positive were living in the same house and three were living in another. Utah’s women’s basketball team also announced it was pausing basketball activities due to a positive coronavirus case. It’s two opening games scheduled for this week were canceled . . Arizona’s season opener in men’s basketball against Northern Arizona on Wednesday has been canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test in the Lumberjacks’ program. The game was canceled due to contact tracing and mitigation protocols after the positive test . . . Gardner-Webb’s basketball game at Georgia scheduled for Sunday has been canceled. Georgia says the decision followed a positive COVID-19 test in the Gardner-Webb program. The cancellation comes after No. 9 Duke’s scheduled season opener against Gardner-Webb on Wednesday was postponed, also due to coronavirus issues in the Gardner-Webb program . . . Mississippi has canceled four basketball games and suspended team activities until Dec. 7 because of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing. The school in Oxford, Miss., announced that the Justin Reed Ole Miss Classic set for this week is canceled, along with the Dec. 5 game against Memphis.
Tottenham says it has lost $85.4 million during pandemic
Premier League leader Tottenham has reported annual losses of $85.4 million due to the coronavirus pandemic and fans being shut out of stadiums. “We are currently in the midst of one of the most challenging times ever experienced,” Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said, announcing the financial results for the fiscal year ending June 30. In 2018-19, Tottenham made a profit of $91.7 million during its first partial season in its new $1.6 billion stadium. Fans haven’t been allowed in to watch Jose Mourinho’s team at the north London venue since March. If coronavirus restrictions prevent supporters returning this season, which runs through May, Tottenham fears losing out on more than $200 million in revenue . . . There was good news on other English soccer fronts, as up to 4,000 fans will be allowed to attend an outdoor sports event in the lowest-risk parts of England when the current lockdown finishes Dec. 2, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced. The government’s new rules will give hope to soccer fans who haven’t been able to watch their teams play in person since the pandemic began, with many smaller clubs facing financial difficulties. Plans for the return of spectators in October were put on hold due to a spike in coronavirus cases . . . Norwegian musher Thomas Waerner said he won’t defend his title at next year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race because of restrictions and uncertainty over travel during the coronavirus pandemic. “I cannot find a way to get the dogs to Alaska,” Waerner said in an e-mail to the Associated Press. As he learned earlier this year, getting to Alaska is only half the battle: Waerner wasn’t able to return to his wife and five children in Torpa, Norway, until June after winning the world’s most famous sled dog race because travel was restricted as the pandemic took hold. The 1,000-mile race across rugged Alaska terrain is still scheduled to start March 7.