Sick A’s fan uses robot to throw out first pitch

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From one heartwarming story in Oakland to another.

Nick LeGrande is an A’s fan who lives in Kansas City. He has a rare blood disorder called severe aplastic anemia, and it prevents him from going to games. But he nonetheless threw out the first pitch at last night’s Yankees-A’s game. How? Via robot:

It was all made possible by a telerobotic pitching machine, and is believed to be a baseball first when it comes to ceremonial first pitches … LeGrande and his family, including parents Mike and Shari, were taken to a mini baseball stadium. It was constructed by Google at its Kansas City offices … At the same in the Bay Area, a telerobotic pitching machine was placed on the pitcher’s mound at the Oakland Coliseum to follow the teen’s movements. The technology allowed LeGrande to simultaneously throw the pitch and watch it happen from afar.

Check out video of LeGrande’s first pitch here.

Here’s the robot:

source: Getty Images

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.