Rockies prospect, alleged Parkland shooter rode bus together for 3 years

Rockies prospect, alleged Parkland shooter rode bus together for 3 years

All 30 MLB teams honored the victims of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fla., by donning caps bearing the “SD” logo of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s baseball team.

But Rockies prospect Colton Welker had an incredible perspective no other player could match: He says he rode the school bus for three years with the alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz.

“I went to middle school with him, I rode the bus with him for three years,” Welker said (via the Denver Post). “It was a complete shock.”

The minor league third baseman is a 2016 graduate of Stoneman Douglas High School, where he played on a state championship team in 2016.

“You read about it on the news and think, ‘Oh that’s miserable, that’s terrible.’ And it breaks your heart,” Welker told the Post. “But when it happens in your hometown, I was really thrown back. I was in shock. Total disbelief.”

Welker says he knew several of the 17 victims in the shooting, including Aaron Feis, the football coach who has been hailed as a hero for saving students, and athletic director Chris Hixon.

The 20-year-old Welker, considered the No. 8 third base prospect in baseball by MLB.com, said he couldn’t believe the news when someone texted him. His family, which still lives nearby, has been keeping him up to date on events.

“The town is quiet, my mom told me. People are still affected by it,” Welker said. “It will get back to normal soon, hopefully.”

Other alumni of the suburban Miami high school in spring training are Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo and Athletics minor league pitcher Jesus Luzardo.

Among the nicest tributes to shooting victims and survivors Friday in spring training, the Miami Marlins invited members of Stoneman Douglas High School’s baseball and softball teams to camp.

Cubs' Ben Zobrist says back is pain-free but no timetable for playing games

Cubs' Ben Zobrist says back is pain-free but no timetable for playing games

MESA, Ariz. – Cubs super utility man Ben Zobrist’s balky back could keep him out of games for at least several more days, but the 12-year veteran said it doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm for how good he feels overall coming into camp. And he’s not worried about getting enough at-bats before the opener, even if his spring debut is pushed back a week into the Cactus League schedule.

“Overall, I feel really, really good,” said Zobrist, adding the back tightened up after flying to Arizona about a week ago. “I feel in great shape.”

He said Saturday morning that the pain was gone.

Zobrist, who played only 128 games last year because of injuries, has only hit off a tee since the back tightened and expects to start taking batting practice on the field by early in the week.

“I was frustrated that it was tight,” said Zobriso, who had been especially upbeat about how well his offseason work had gone. “But it’s spring training so there’s a lot less pressure right now to make sure I’m playing in games when we’ve just started games in spring training.

“We’re just trying to be carful and make sure we’re not pushing it when we don’t need to, especially when I’ve got some miles on my body.”

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Day 15 recap: The Miracurl on Ice, history for Ledecka, Kenworthy's latest furry friend

Day 15 recap: The Miracurl on Ice, history for Ledecka, Kenworthy's latest furry friend

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Miracurl on ice! The U.S. men won gold in curling, snowboarder Kyle Mack grabbed silver and Gus Kenworthy found a new best friend. Here’s what you missed from Day 15 of the Pyeongchang Games.

Curling

Curling became America’s favorite pastime overnight as Team Shuster defeated Sweden 10-7 to clinch the United States’ first gold medal in the sport. Gangneung Curling Center felt unusually tense for the first seven ends, as the Swedes and Americans went stone for stone, deadlocked at 5-5. Then, in the eighth end, the Americans blew the game wide-open by scoring five in one go to clinch a shocking victory over the world’s No. 2 team. They weren’t the only ones surprised by the win. After the medal ceremony, Team Shuster realized that their new gold medals weren’t actually theirs.

They got the right ones eventually … we think. Back home, everyone from NFL quarterbacks to Mr. T went crazy.

Snowboard Big Air

Two days after Jamie Anderson grabbed a silver for Team USA in women’s big air snowboarding, Kyle Mack got himself one to match in the men’s final by landing one of the most stylish runs of these Olympics. Before Saturday, he had never landed a frontside double cork 1440 with a double tail grab (also known as a Bloody Dracula, which might just be the coolest term in sports). But Mack realized he needed to take a risk to become one of the first-ever medalists in big air, the Winter Olympics’ newest event.

“I was at the top [of the jump] contemplating whether I should do the bloody 14 or just do a tail grab,” he said. “But bringing style into snowboarding is the thing I’ve always worked on. Big air has always been one of the most progressive events for snowboarding, but I wish it was more about style and grabs and the technical stuff. That’s something I want to keep fighting for. Before I dropped in for my second run, I was like, I’m doing this for snowboarding.”

It worked. Mack joined Canada’s Sebastien Toutant (gold) and Great Britain’s Billy Morgan on the podium and added a seventh snowboarding medal to Team USA’s count. That’s almost a third of the total haul.

Parallel Giant Slalom Snowboarding

So, is Ester Ledecka a skier who snowboards, or a snowboarder who skis? Looks like both. A week after beating Lindsey Vonn to the gold medal in alpine super-G, the Czech snow superstar added another gold in snowboarding, her “actual” sport. She became the first woman to win gold in two sports at the same Winter Olympics, further confusing everyone wondering whether to call her a skier or a snowboarder. Two-time Olympic gold medalist should do.

In other news …

For the second consecutive Winter Olympics, freeski superstar Gus Kenworthy is going home with a pet from the host country. After adopting a family of stray dogs in Sochi four years ago, Kenworthy visited a dog farm in South Korea on Saturday and left with a new puppy, whom he named Beemo. The dog farm itself was bought out by Humane Society International, and all 90 dogs will be brought to the U.S. for adoption.

Cubs field veteran lineup vs. Rangers

Cubs field veteran lineup vs. Rangers

The Cubs will field a veteran lineup Saturday when they open the home portion of their exhibition season against the Rangers at Sloan Park.

Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward, Addison Russell and Javier Baez will make their spring debuts.

Albert Almora Jr. will bat leadoff.

For the second consecutive game, the Cubs will wear Stoneman Douglas High School caps to honor the 17 people killed in the Feb. 14 mass shooting at the Parkland, Fla., school attended by Rizzo.

Here are the lineups:

CUBS

  • Almora Jr. CF
  • Bryant 3B
  • Rizzo 1B
  • Conteras C
  • Heyward RF
  • Russell SS
  • Baez 2B
  • Gimenez DH
  • Bourjos LF
  • Butler P

RANGERS

  • DeShields CF
  • Odor DH
  • Profar SS
  • Mazara RF
  • Guzman 1B
  • Robinson LF
  • Nicholas C
  • Lopez 3B
  • Alberto 2B
  • Blackburn P

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Study ranks each Arizona spring training stadium based on fan experience

Study ranks each Arizona spring training stadium based on fan experience

Surprise stadium during a spring training baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox in Surprise, Ariz., Thursday, March 12, 2009. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

PHOENIX – With spring training in the Valley officially underway, a new study researched which stadium in Arizona has the highest ranking based on fan experience.

At the request of USA Today, ReviewTrackers conducted the study they named “The Voice of the Fan” to identify which stadium in Arizona received the best reviews from fans.

According to USA Today, the study used a method of “data mining” to gather information using comments from consumers to see how they feel about about a certain product. In this case the comments from baseball fans were analyzed.

The study used comments from fans on the facility, the overall aspect of family friendliness at the park, the food and the overall experience.

The study revealed that Surprise Stadium, the home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, received the highest score of the 10 ballparks in Arizona.

Kendra Pettis, the sports and tourism director for the city of Surprise told USA Today that Surprise Stadium is “intimate, so every seat is a good seat.”

“The Royals and Rangers allow incredible access, offering fans a variety of opportunities for interactions with players,” she added.

Surprise stadium was also listed as the highest ranked ballpark out of all 23 spring training stadiums in both Arizona and Florida.

Peoria Sports Complex (Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres) ranked second in the study, while Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies) ranked third.

The full list of rankings can be viewed below:

  1. Surprise Stadium, Surprise, Rangers, Royals
  2. Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria, Mariners, Padres
  3. Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale, Diamondbacks, Rockies
  4. Hohokam Stadium, Mesa, Athletics
  5. Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear, Indians, Reds
  6. Sloan Park, Mesa, Cubs
  7. Camelback Ranch, Glendale, Dodgers, White Sox
  8. Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Giants
  9. Maryvale Baseball Park, Phoenix, Brewers
  10. Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe, Angels