Rays’ Longoria to miss at least three weeks with strained oblique

Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria (L) reacts in front of Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters as he strikes out swinging during the ninth inning of their MLB American League baseball game in St. Petersburg, Florida, April 1, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Blanco (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

It has not been a great start to 2011 for the Tampa Bay Rays, who were just swept by the Orioles in their first series of the season. Adding injury to insult, the club also had to place star Evan Longoria on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique.

The early diagnosis on Longoria is that he’ll be out at least three weeks so best-case, he won’t be back before late April. Sean Rodriguez will replace him in the lineup, while Ben Zobrist will play second base and Matt Joyce will start in right. Felipe Lopez was also called up from Triple-A and will likely see some at bats over these next three weeks as well.

Rodriguez replaced Longoria at third base on Saturday before the start of the sixth inning. He was then evaluated on Sunday and it was determined that he would have to be placed on the DL. While he doesn’t believe that he’ll be out for the full three weeks, players are generally overoptimistic when it comes to injuries.

The Rays scored a total of just three runs at home against the Orioles, dropping 4-1, 3-1 and 5-1 decisions from Friday through Sunday. Longoria has started off the year 0-for-5 at the dish with one walk and one strikeout.

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Notre Dame star WR Michael Floyd arrested for DUI

Michael Floyd just killed some of the optimism that has been floating around South Bend recently. Just days before spring practices are set to begin, the star receiver was arrested on Sunday for driving under the influence.

According to published reports, Notre Dame security police arrested Floyd on campus around 4:00AM. He posted a $500 bond and was released seven hours later. He now is scheduled to appear in court on May 2 at 8:00AM for the charge.

Floyd caught 79 passes for 1,025 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior in 2010. The 79 catches ranked second in Notre Dame single-season history while the 12 touchdowns tied him for fourth most in a season and his 1,025 receiving yards ranked seventh. After catching six passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-17 win over Miami, he was named MVP of the Sun Bowl.

What happens next is unclear. This is his second offense and could subject him to harsh penalties from Notre Dame’s Residence Life, which could result in either a suspension or an expulsion from school. This does not include the punishment coach Brian Kelly and the football program could dole out.

NFLPA is ready to decertify on Friday

National Football League Players’ Association’s (NFLPA) Executive Director DeMaurice Smith speaks to the media as he arrives to continue negotiations between the National Football League (NFL) and NFLPA in Washington March 11, 2011. The parties were still negotiating a range of sticking points, including how to divide more than $9 billion in annual revenues, but the players’ union insist one issue, the NFL’s proposal to add two more games to the regular season, was off the table. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts (UNITED STATES – Tags: EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS SPORT FOOTBALL)

The current CBA deadline may be set for 11:59PM ET on Friday but for the NFL and NFLPA to avoid a lockout, the two sides will have to come to an agreement much sooner than that.

That’s because the deadline for the players to decertify is approximately 5:00PM ET, or seven hours before the CBA deadline is set. And the NFLPA has already filed the paperwork to take the necessary actions once that deadline hits. In essence, the two sides will either have to agree on a new CBA (or at the very least, another extension), or prepare for a lockout/decertification.

The hiccup in talks still appears to be the owners’ unwillingness to show the players audited financial statements for every team. The owners did open up their books earlier this week, but the players want more intricate details. In the eyes of the union, it’s not enough for the owners to ask the players to take a paycut and only provide overall yearly numbers. The NFLPA want more.

The players have already won a couple of battles but the war is far from over. U.S. Eighth District Court Judge David S. Doty’s ruling that the owners can’t use the annual TV revenue to financially support a lockout was a big win for the players. And if they decertify, they would be heading back to court with Doty, who has sided more with the them than the owners when it’s come to past labor transgressions.

But while the players would have an alley in Doty, avoiding him is still the goal. Coming to an agreement with the owners so that there’s a season next year is what everyone (from the NFLPA to the fans) wants in the end. If they decertify, then the divide between them and the owners because much bigger than it already is, which is only fueling the problem.

CBA discussions extended seven days

NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith talks to reporters outside of negotiations with football team owners as they seek an agreement as a deadline looms for a player lockout, in Washington, March 3, 2011. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS)

The NFL Network is reporting that the league and NFLPA have extended the deadline for the CBA for another seven days. It was originally reported that the extension was 10 days, but the actual number is seven.

The two sides will now take the weekend to meet and talk within their respective camps, while resuming talks on Monday. The hope is that the union and owners will take a deep breath over the weekend, clear their heads and start fresh first thing next week. Then, if everything goes well, maybe the new CBA will be signed by end of the day Friday.

But there’s speculation that this will be the last extension. Next Friday there will either be a new deal in place or there will be a lockout (or a decertification on part of the union). And just as the case was with the 24-hour extension, there will be no player transactions during the seven-day period. No roster moves will be permitted during the deadline extension, which has officially been set for 5:00PM ET.

While the situation still remains bleak, this is yet another step in the right direction. Are the two sides any closer to coming to an agreement? While that remains to be seen, at least they’ve agreed to keep the lines of communications open.

Either that or we’re all being suckered into thinking that the two sides are really trying when neither is truly willing to compromise.

Robert Gallery won’t return to the Raiders in 2011

After speaking with owner Al Davis, guard Robert Gallery has decided it’s time to move on and will not be returning to Oakland next season.

“We’ve come to a mutual agreement that it’s time for me to move on with my career,” Gallery told the media on Thursday.

Gallery has been a favorite of Al Davis since the 2004 draft when the former Hawkeye was selected with the second overall pick. After he struggled mightily at tackle in the 2006 season, the Raiders switched him to left guard and it was there that he resurrected his career. Still regarded as a bust given that he was drafted with the number two overall pick (and as a tackle, not as a guard, which rarely go in the top 10), Gallery has developed into a highly efficient run-blocker the past two years.

Seattle is viewed as a potential landing spot for Gallery because Tom Cable, his former head coach in Oakland, is now coaching the Seahawks’ offensive line. The only question is whether or not Gallery would be willing to move to right guard. Max Unger missed all but one game last year with a toe injury, but is viewed as a key piece along Seattle’s O-line. The Hawks could stand an upgrade at right guard seeing as how Stacy Andrews is a candidate to be released this offseason and was replaced by Mike Gibson at the end of the year. But Gallery might be more apt to go someplace where he’s assured the left guard position.

As for the Raiders, they’ll likely rely on 2010 fourth round pick Bruce Campbell to replace Gallery on their offensive line. Campbell is a former tackle himself from the University of Maryland. Ironically, he was being mocked to go to the Raiders in the first round, but he fell to them in the fourth.

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