Seattle, Tampa Bay complete 5-player deal
Mallex Smith is back with the Mariners as part of a five-player deal between Seattle and Tampa Bay on Thursday that landed the Rays catcher Mike Zunino and outfielder Guillermo Heredia.
The swap continued a lengthy trade history between the teams and came as a surprise to Zunino, who said he had recent conversations with Seattle manager Scott Servais looking ahead to 2019.
“I was shocked. To see your name in trade talks, let alone this early in the offseason, was beyond my expectations,” Zunino said.
Smith, 25, stole a career-best 40 bases this year and was caught 12 times. He hit .296, tied for the major league lead with 10 triples and had 40 RBIs. He is not eligible for free agency until after the 2022 season. He signed with San Diego in 2012, was traded to Atlanta in December 2014 and was dealt to the Mariners in January 2017, then sent to the Rays on the same day in a trade that shipped lefthander Drew Smyly to Seattle.
His previous Seattle tenure lasted all of 77 minutes before he was sent to the Rays.
“Bringing Mallex back home to Seattle is exciting for us all,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “His combination of speed, base running impact, defense and on-base abilities are unique in today’s game. We believe his breakout 2018 performance reflects the many ways his skills will positively impact the Mariners for years to come.”
Seattle also sent minor league lefthanded pitcher Michael Plassmeyer to Tampa Bay while the Rays sent minor league outfielder Jake Fraley to the Mariners.
Kuchar, Bozzelli, Hickok share lead
Matt Kuchar decided at the last minute to play the Mayakoba Golf Classic and made it look like a wise decision Thursday with a 7-under 64 for a share of the lead with Dominic Bozzelli and PGA Tour rookie Kramer Hickok in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
Kuchar, who has gone more than four years since his last victory on the PGA Tour, missed only two fairways at El Camaleon and was bogey-free for his lowest opening round since a 64 in the 2017 Phoenix Open.
The large group at 65 included defending champion Patton Kizzire, who had back-to-back eagles, and Abraham Ancer, who this week reached No. 98 to become the first Mexican golfer to crack the top 100 in the world ranking.
Jutanugarn takes lead at Blue Bay
Top-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn shot a 4-under 68 to take a four-stroke lead at the halfway point of the Blue Bay LPGA tournament in Hainan Island, China.
Jutanugarn had birdies on the final two holes — and four of the closing seven — to take command over the rest of the field at 7-under 137.
Jennifer Song, Moriya Jutanugarn, and Gaby Lopez shot 71s and were in a tie for second at 3-under.
U.S. women get 500th win
Jessica McDonald, making just her second appearance for the national team, scored in the 43rd minute and the U.S. women’s national team reached its 500th victory with a 1-0 win over Portugal in Lisbon.
The U.S. national team is now 500-65-74 overall since its inception in 1985.
With the victory, the Americans remain undefeated this year at 17 wins and two ties. The team has an unbeaten streak of 27 games (24 wins, three ties) dating to a 1-0 loss to Australia in the Tournament of Nations.
The streak comes as the U.S. team prepares for the World Cup next year in France. The defending World Cup champions qualified for the tournament last month at the CONCACAF women’s championship.
The United States is currently the top-ranked team in the world, Portugal is ranked No. 33 and did not qualify for France.
McDonald, 30, who plays for the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League, started for the United States. Her rebound goal was her first for the national team.
The United States plays Scotland on Tuesday to wrap up a two-match European trip before taking the rest of the year off.