Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder to appear nude in ESPN The Magazine’s “Body Issue”

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ESPN The Magazine puts out its “Body Issue” every summer. While couched in terms of physical ideals and the beauty of the athletic specimen and blah, blah, blah, it’s basically ESPN’s answer to the swimsuit issue: cheesecake to sell magazines during the slow season.

Hey, everyone’s gotta make a buck. And at least with ESPN it’s an equal opportunity affair, with men’s bodies getting the same cheesecake treatment as women’s. I mean, sure, you can try to speak all high-mindedly about what they’re after here, but a naked Matt Harvey with a room service tray is way more about providing a springboard to a fantasy than anything else. As for the athletes: they got it, so it’s not our place to criticize them for flaunting it.

But this year it is taking a direction we’ve not really seen before:

The keystone to the issue is the “Bodies We Want” section, where athletes will be featured in tasteful nude poses.

Swimmer Michael Phelps, tennis star Venus Williams, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Texas Rangers slugger Prince Fielder and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka will be included in the issue.

Wait, what?

Texas Rangers slugger Prince Fielder

Um, really?

Texas Rangers slugger Prince Fielder

Well, then. Maybe it’s not all about athletic ideals in ways I had not yet considered.

 

Billy Butler on altercation with Danny Valencia: “We had equal faults in this.”

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 24: Billy Butler #16 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates a solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth inning to regain the lead against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum on July 24, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Don Feria/Getty Images)
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On Friday, Athletics teammates Billy Butler and Danny Valencia were involved in a clubhouse altercation that started when Butler told an equipment representative that Valencia was wearing off-brand spikes during games. Valencia didn’t like Butler’s interference, potentially costing him an endorsement deal, so he punched Butler in the temple, causing a concussion.

Neither player had said much to the media about the incident, but Butler finally addressed the issue on Wednesday. MLB.com’s Mark Chiarelli reported Butler’s comments:

“This was something that could’ve been prevented on both sides,” Butler said. “We had equal faults in this. I definitely said some things that you shouldn’t have. I definitely stepped in an area where it wasn’t my business.”

[…]

“By no means do I think his intentions were to give me a concussion,” Butler said. “This is me addressing my faults and what I took away from the team.”

[…]

“To say that we’re enemies is not right,” Butler said. “To blame this all on one side is not right either.”

Butler also apologized to his teammates. “I would like to apologize for putting [my teammates] through this because they didn’t deserve this. This was an issue between me and Danny. To be fair for them, they didn’t deserve this. The coaching staff didn’t deserve this. The organization didn’t deserve this,” he said.

Butler is making progress in his recovery from his concussion. He’ll travel with the team to St. Louis to open up a three-game series against the Cardinals starting on Friday. If he passes his concussion protocol test, the Athletics will put him back on the active roster from the seven-day concussion disabled list.

Report: Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehab

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval has lost 22 pounds during his rehabilitation after undergoing shoulder surgery in early May. Weight has been the top subject of conversation regarding Sandoval ever since he showed up to spring training and an unflattering photograph was published by the Boston Globe.

Sandoval had a miserable spring training, batting .204 in 49 at-bats and lost out on the starting third base job to Travis Shaw. He went hitless in seven regular season plate appearances before landing on the disabled list with a sprained left shoulder, which ultimately required reconstructive surgery.

Sandoval is still under contract through at least 2019, earning $17 million next season, and $18 million in ’18 and ’19. His controlling club has a $17 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2020 as well. It’s hard to see Sandoval fitting into his current club’s future plans, but it will be tough for the Red Sox to get rid of him without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract.