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Alexander: There’s no World Series hangover for Astros

first_imgANAHEIM — The concept of a World Series hangover is not a thing, at least in the Houston Astros’ clubhouse these days. Which is to be expected.World Series fatigue? That, in contrast to any nebulous theory of reduced motivation or additional satisfaction at winning a championship, makes more sense as a potential danger.When the Astros celebrated on the field at Dodger Stadium on the last day of the 2017 season, it was Nov. 1. For most of their peers throughout the major leagues, the preparation for 2018 had already begun.For George Springer, the World Series MVP, there were banquets and celebrations and awards ceremonies, with a wedding mixed in. And somewhere in all of that, he had to make time to prepare, physically and mentally, for the defense of that championship. Manager A.J. Hinch said he didn’t do a lot at the outset of spring training to compensate for the short winter while acknowledging that it was something to be aware of. He chatted about it with other managers, such as 2016 World Series participants Joe Maddon of the Cubs and Terry Francona of the Indians, and kicked around ideas with his Houston brethren, Texans coach Bill O’Brien and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni.But ultimately he fell back on what he knows about his players. And when it was mentioned that shortstop Carlos Correa said he only took three weeks off after the World Series and that a bunch of his teammates were also working out right away, the manager didn’t seem surprised.Amused, maybe.“It’s great to be in your 20s, isn’t it?” he cracked. “I think we were all young and energetic when we were in our 20s.”Maybe that’s the Astros’ secret weapon. Springer is 28. Jose Altuve, the reigning league MVP, turned 28 a little over a week ago. Correa is 23, Alex Bregman 24, Cole and closer Ken Giles 27, outfielder Derek Fisher 24, outfielder Marwin Gonzalez 29. The recovery time in those cases is a bit quicker than it would be for a bunch of 30-somethings.And they are armed with the knowledge of how it feels to win and what goes into it.“A lot of people (think) just because you won something means that you have to change,” Springer said. “And our team hasn’t done anything differently this year than we did last year, except we accomplished our goal and we know what it takes to get there, we know the sacrifices that have to (be) made. You understand the work that has to go into it, and then you play from there.”But there’s a delicate balance.Related Articles Alexander: Playoff series takes a turn Clippers weren’t expecting Alexander: Baseball’s ‘unwritten rules’ need to be erased “You played an extra month,” he said Wednesday. “It’s a lot more physical and mental wear and tear on your body. And you know you’ve got to get back in (and work), and as opposed to having a normal offseason you know you have a shorter offseason to prepare your body.“So it’s definitely not (an aftereffect) because you won. It’s because you played a little bit longer than everybody else did. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”If there is an aftereffect, it hasn’t shown up yet. Houston improved to 28-17 and is two games ahead of the Angels in the AL West after Wednesday night’s 2-0 victory.The Astros might not have the sheer cannon-power of the Yankees and Red Sox, again the beasts of the AL East. But they have baseball’s best pitching staff, statistically, and particularly the game’s three hottest starting pitchers right now: Justin Verlander (5-2, 1.05 ERA, .145 opponents’ batting average after Wednesday night’s complete game shutout), winter acquisition Gerrit Cole (4-1, 1.75, .166) and Charlie Morton (5-0, 2.03, .175).Poor Dallas Keuchel. The 2015 Cy Young Award winner has a 3-5 record, 3.10 ERA and .225 opponents’ average and must feel like an underachiever around this bunch. Then again, his ERA in his past three starts is 1.64, so he might be catching up. Alexander: Coping with the desolation, and silence, of empty seats center_img Alexander: SCGA president Fred MacFarlane aims to broaden golf’s reach Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “You have to let your body rest,” he said. “You have to let your mind rest. This is a long year. We play a crazy amount of games … I felt like I was ready (when spring training began), but it also felt like we’d just stopped playing about three days ago.”But that gold World Series championship banner hanging in Minute Maid Park is at once a reminder and a motivator.So this is what the Angels and the rest of the AL West will be dealing with over the next few months: Youth, energy, knowledge of what it takes to win, great pitching and a front office that isn’t hesitant to add more talent to that mix; see Verlander last August, and Cole this past winter.Could that 2017 workload be an issue at the end of the Astros’ 2018 season? It’s certainly possible.But at this point, I think it’s safe to say quality pitching is a great hangover cure. (If, you know, there really was such a thing.)[email protected]@Jim_Alexander on Twitter Alexander: Lakers fans, it’s been a long wait last_img read more

Portland Trail Blazers Center Jusuf Nurkic undergoes the Surgery, no Nerve Damage

first_imgPortland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is officially out indefinitely following successful surgery to repair a compound fracture sustained during Monday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, according to the Athletic’s Shams Charania. The team also received some good news: Doctors reportedly found no nerve or muscle damage. Nurkic was injured during the second overtime, fracturing both his tibia and fibula on the left leg.Nurkic was taken to an area hospital immediately after the game. Rip City, as well as the rest of the league, wishes the best for Nurkic, who has had an incredibly productive season up to this point. Our Managing Editor Dave Deckard provided his thoughts about last night’s events earlier today.On Monday morning, the Blazers announced that Nurkic suffered compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula and will be out indefinitely as he works his way back to full health.Nonetheless, the loss is a big one for the Blazers, who are in the midst of a fight for homecourt advantage in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Blazers head coach Terry Stots called the injury – and the resulting loss of Nurkic’s services – “devastating,” while Blazers All-Star guard Dame Lillard felt physically ill for his teammate.“It made me sick to my stomach,” Lillard said on the injury, via ESPN. “I think he tried to tip it in, he crashed the glass and I saw him hit the ground and roll over real quick, and I thought maybe he got hit in the face or something again. As I was walking over there, I saw everybody else turn around real quick and walk away, and then I looked and saw his leg — and you just hate to see that happen to him.last_img read more