Rangers’ Harrison heads to disabled list with sore lower back
ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Rangers opening day starter Matt Harrison is going on the disabled list after trying to pitch with soreness in his lower back.
The Rangers said Wednesday that Harrison will be put on the 15-day DL after an MRI revealed an inflamed nerve in his back. The left-hander will remain in Texas for treatment instead of going with the team to Seattle, where he was scheduled to start Thursday night.
“It’s about trying to get Harry right. We can’t have him going out there and he’s having issues,” manager Ron Washington said. “We’re going to get those issues taken care of by giving him time down, get it right, and when he comes back we’ve got him for the rest of the year.”
Justin Grimm, who was a candidate for the No. 5 spot in spring training, will be recalled from Triple-A Round Rock and start in Harrison’s spot against the Mainers.
Harrison (0-2, 8.44 ERA) has been dealing with stiffness in his back causing weakness in his left leg since late in spring training.
Braves acquire relief pitcher Ayala from Orioles
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves bolstered their bullpen depth Wednesday by acquiring right-handed reliever Luis Ayala from the Baltimore Orioles for a minor-leaguer
The Braves sent left-handed pitcher Chris Jones to the Orioles. Jones, 24, was pitching at Double-A Mississippi.
Ayala, 35, was 5-5 with one save in three chances and a 2.64 ERA in 66 games with the Orioles in 2012. He had a 2.09 ERA in 52 games with the Yankees in 2011. Ayala is 1-0 this season, allowing two runs in two innings with Baltimore.
Ayala restores experience and depth to an Atlanta bullpen that is expected to be without left-hander Jonny Venters for at least another month. Venters was shut down on April 2 after receiving an injection in his sprained left shoulder.
Venters, on the 15-day disabled list, had been one of the team’s top setup men for closer Craig Kimbrel. Venters received the injection after he was examined by Dr. James Andrews, who performed ligament-replacement surgery on Venters’ elbow in 2005.
Velazquez will ride Verrazano in Kentucky Derby
NEW YORK — John Velazquez will ride unbeaten Verrazano in the Kentucky Derby.
The jockey’s agent, Angel Cordero, confirms Wednesday that Velazquez will be aboard the Wood Memorial winner in the Derby on May 4.
Velazquez also rides Florida Derby winner Orb, but has decided to go with Verrazano, the 3-year-old colt many expect to be the Derby favorite.
Orb also is a top Derby contender, and will now be ridden by Joel Rosario, who was aboard the horse for his first five starts. Rosario was aboard third-place finisher Vyjack in the Wood.
Velazquez, meanwhile, has been sidelined since Sunday, when he fractured a rib and chipped a bone on his right wrist in a spill during a race at Aqueduct.
A news release from the Jockeys’ Guild on Wednesday said Velazquez was examined by Dr. Stephen O’Brien on Monday and cleared to resume riding May 1.
Florida DL coach Bryant Young abruptly resigns
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida defensive line coach Bryant Young is stepping away from football to spend more time with his family.
Young announced at a team meeting Wednesday that he is resigning after more than two decades of college and professional football.
A four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle who spent 14 seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Young joined coach Will Muschamp’s staff in 2011 after one year at San Jose State and another at Notre Dame.
After a stellar collegiate career at Notre Dame, Young was selected seventh overall by the 49ers in the 1994 NFL draft. He was an All-Pro selection in 1996 and was later named to the 1990s All-Decade Team.
Top-seeded Wawrinka rallies to win Hassan opener
CASABLANCA, Morocco — Top-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland rallied to beat 85th-ranked Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 on Wednesday in the second round of the Grand Prix Hassan II.
The 17th-ranked Wawrinka, the winner of the clay-court event in 2010, had seven aces.
Also, seventh-seeded Robin Haase of the Netherlands and Kenny De Schepper of France won first-round matches and will meet in the second round. Haase beat Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, and De Schepper eliminated Steve Darcis of Belgium 6-3, 6-4.
Fourth-seeded Benoit Paire of France, former top-five player Tommy Robredo of Spain and countryman Guillermo Garcia-Lopez advanced to third round. Paire rallied to beat Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3; Robredo topped Tobias Kamke of Germany 6-4, 7-5; and Garcia-Lopez edged Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France 6-7 (4), 7-6 (3), 6-2.
Alund beats Hewitt at rainy U.S. Men’s Clay Court
HOUSTON — Martin Alund of Argentina wore down Lleyton Hewitt of Australia 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 on Wednesday in the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships before rain washed out the rest of the day’s schedule.
Play was suspended at 2:47 p.m. at River Oaks Country Club after continuing rain left the clay courts too wet to continue. Top-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain and No. 2 Tommy Haas of Germany had their matches rescheduled for Thursday.
Hewitt, the former top-ranked player in the world, broke Alund in the seventh game of the first set and closed out the set with an overhead winner.
Alund and Hewitt traded breaks in the second and third games of the second set before Alund took control. Hewitt was broken again in the sixth game and Alund escaped two break points before capturing the second set in the ninth game. Hewitt escaped three match points in the final game but then double-faulted to end the match.
Williams sisters to lead Fed Cup team vs Sweden
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Serena and Venus Williams will lead the U.S. Fed Cup team against Sweden on hardcourts at the Delray Beach Tennis Center on April 20-21.
The team announced Wednesday will also include No. 16-ranked Sloane Stephens and No. 27 Varvara Lepchenko.
The winner will advance to the 2014 world group and have a chance to compete for the Fed Cup title next year. The losing team will be relegated to world group II in 2014.
Sweden’s team will consist of No. 54 Sofia Arvidsson, No. 65 Johanna Larsson, No. 425 Hilda Melander and No. 489 Sandra Roma.
Serena Williams, who is ranked No. 1, is 8-0 in Fed Cup singles play and 3-0 in doubles. Venus is 14-2 in singles and 4-2 in doubles.
Blue Jays claim Wells off waivers from Seattle
DETROIT — The Toronto Blue Jays have claimed outfielder Casper Wells off waivers from Seattle.
Seattle designated Wells for assignment March 31, when the Mariners kept Jason Bay as a backup outfielder. Wells hit .228 with 10 home runs in 93 games last year in his first full season with Seattle.
From wire sources