Yankees’ Corey Kluber leaves with shoulder tightness, to get MRI

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NEW YORK — Less than a week after the high of a no-hitter, Corey Kluber lasted just three innings against Toronto and came out because of tightness in his previous troubled right shoulder.

The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner, who appeared revitalized with the New York Yankees when he no-hit Texas last Wednesday, will have an MRI and hopes he was bothered only by fatigue and not something more serious.

“I wouldn’t say alarmed at this point. I wish we knew more,” he said after the Yankees’ 6-2 loss on Tuesday night. “It doesn’t feel at all like what I dealt with last year.”

Coming off a 101-pitch effort against the Rangers, the 35-year-old right-hander’s bid to match Johnny Vander Meer’s feat of consecutive no-hitters was ended by Bo Bichette‘s infield single with one out in the third. Bichette grounded to shortstop and beat Gleyber Torres‘ off-line throw from the left-field grass.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. followed with a home run into the Yankees bullpen in right-center on a flat cutter for a 2-0 lead, his major league-leading 16th home run. Kluber retired Randal Grichuk, then was replaced by Michael King at the start of the fourth.

“Not on any one pitch,” Kluber said. “Kind of from the time I started getting loose for the game out in the outfield, just didn’t really feel like I got the arm going, felt kind of heavy. I don’t really know the best way to describe it, not painful or anything, Tried to throw a few innings in hopes the adrenaline and all that kind of stuff getting going.”

Kluber threw 58 pitches, walked three and struck out five. His fastball velocity dropped from mostly 91-93 mph in the first two innings to 89-91 mph in the third.

After a discussion with the Yankees after the second and again after the third, he came out.

“Be smart and not push it, maybe risk injuring something else,” he said. “A tough pill for me to swallow, kind of feel like a sense of letting your guys down, bailing on your team. … I guess ultimately trying to be smart about it.”‘

Kluber’s 2019 season ended for Cleveland that May 1 when he was hit on the forearm by a comebacker, and his debut for Texas in 2020 lasted just one inning before he tore a muscle in his right shoulder on July 26.

“It doesn’t feel at all like what I dealt with last year,” he said, saying last season he felt specific pain in a spot and this was general fatigue.

“Obviously, he wasn’t as sharp, and there were maybe a handful of pitches where it looked like he came out of his delivery there, and some misfires up,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Kluber dropped to 4-3 with a 3.04 ERA. His early exit rattled catcher Kyle Higashioka, who spent several innings worrying after Kluber left.

“He was a little erratic, which I just chalked up to maybe it was just an inning,” Higashioka said. “Second and third innings, the stuff deteriorated a little bit, and I could tell he was struggling through something.”

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.