<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Dallas-Fort Worth Sports News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.comen-usWed, 25 May 2016 22:26:10 -0500Wed, 25 May 2016 22:26:10 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Tony Romo Opens Up About His Marriage]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 22:10:21 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/TONY_ON_MARRIAGE_1200x675_692029507688.jpg In a rare, exclusive interview, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and his wife, Candice, open up about their family, marriage, faith and football.]]> <![CDATA[Tony Romo Opens Up About Family, Faith and Football]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 22:11:35 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Romo-and-family.jpg

Millions of fans know him as the quarterback for America's Team. They know about his wins, his losses and his injuries.

But Dallas Cowboy Tony Romo is very private when it comes to his personal life, his marriage, his children, his family and his faith.

However, Romo and his wife, Candice, graciously granted NBC 5's Meredith Land with unprecedented access to their lives, in their home with their children.

It is a very personal side of the QB few people have ever seen. Until now.

Meredith sat down with the Romos for a rare, exclusive interview, where no topic was off limits.

And the first topic Tony wanted to talk about were his adorable two little boys.

"If there is one thing that having kids has taught me it's that you can raise them in the exact same environment and they can be two different kids," said Tony Romo. "They love different things. They have different personalities. They're sweet boys. One just loves Lego's."

"Hawkins, our 4-year-old loves Lego's, Candice Romo said.

"He wakes up and says, 'did you get me new Lego's yet?'" said Tony.

"Our youngest, Rivers, our 2-year-old, out of the womb wanted a ball, wants to play football and basketball. He's like a miniature Tony," Candice said.

Meredith then asked Tony if he wanted his boys to follow in his footsteps and play football.

"We all want our kids to like what you like. For me, it's sports, but you really just hope they're really good kids," Tony said.

"Do you see more kids in your future? Tony needs a girl," Meredith said.

"Tony has days where he says he wants five kids and I'm like, 'well you can have them.' Yeah, we will have one more at least," Candice said.

"Yeah, I'd love a girl," Tony said.

Tony married Candice Crawford five years ago, in a beautiful ceremony in Dallas.

"Part of what attracted me to Candice is that she is similar to me and inherently, we are home bodies who like family," Tony said. When we go on vacation, we take her parents and we take mine and that's fun. It's enjoyable. No one loves her family, her husband, her kids more and at the same time no one works harder."

The two share a strong faith, which the Romos say brings perspective and peace, especially after tough losses.

"I am lucky to love something bigger than myself, the Lord," said Tony. "I think that's an easy way for me to get through the rough patches that go on in life."

"Without faith and the hope of something after this life, it would be a lot harder to get through the season," Candice said.

Meredith then asked Candice to tell us the one thing we may not know about her husband.

"He's very loyal. His best friends were his best friend from elementary school and his best friend from college," said Candice. "They all live here in Dallas and they came down here with Tony. They spend Easter with us and Christmas."

"It's mostly because they haven't gotten married," Tony added with a smile.

So, what's his relationship really like with his boss, owner Jerry Jones?

"He's always been there and he's honest "He's so supportive. It would be like a dad who has always supported you and rooted for you," Tony said. "He has to make tough decisions. I am in an easy spot, I am a player. I just have to go play and he has to build an organization."

Meredith also asked Tony what he thinks about his new teammate, Zeke Elliott.

"His job now is going to be to out and prove that he is who he is and he knows that," Tony said. I think it's really not anything else other than coming to work everyday and committing to it. If he loves the game of football, he'll get everything out of himself that he can and that's all we can really ask of someone who's taking on that position. And so far, he's done a very good job at that."

After having some time off, Tony says he is ready for the upcoming football season.

"Obviously, I have goals that are still left and I have to go achieve and I am taking the steps to go do that," said Tony. "These last few months have been very exciting and I like the way that's progressing, so I think that's exciting for me on an individual football level."

Tony also talked about his health.

"It feels like it's been the best two month stretch that I have had in a long long time. I think if things continue, it's going to be a really good thing for our football team and I am really excited about that."

Tony acknowledges that being the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys comes with a great responsibility, but also an incredible opportunity.

Did you ever dream that you would be where you are today?," asked Meredith.

"Yeah, I did," Tony says as he laughs. "I'm kidding. You don't think that far. You just want to play football and play in the NFL. I just kind of engross myself in where I'm at and try to figure out how to be good enough to help this football team now. Weirdly, along the way, you just better and better and then you show up one day and you're doing OK."

Photo Credit: Romo Family]]>
<![CDATA[Stars Remain Confident in Nichushkin]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 20:33:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/172*120/GettyImages-522759160.jpg

The NHL career for Dallas Stars winger Valeri Nichushkin has been a roller coaster ride full of highs and lows.

The 10th overall pick for the Stars in 2013, Nichushkin showed lots of promise during his rookie year, but injuries took a toll following that. He played in only eight games for the Stars during the 2014-15 season due to a hip injury that required surgery.

That could have been a factor in his struggles this year. Nichushkin had nine goals and 29 points in 79 games, and only one assist in 10 playoff games for the Stars, who were eliminated in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Still, Stars general manager Jim Nill told SiriusXM NHL that he remains confident in Nichushkin and talked about the difficulty of coming back from surgery.

"Came back this year, got off to a slow start because of that," said Nill. "We thought the last five games of the playoffs, he really started to look like himself. He started to dominate down low and in the corners."

Now keep in mind that Nichushkin is only 21 years old, and playing alongside Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn can be beneficial as far as getting more opportunities on the ice.

"I know there's still lots of room for growth, so we're going to be patient with him," Nill added. "We think he's a big part of our future."

Nichushkin will be a restricted free agent this summer now that his rookie contract is over. But it sounds like the Stars feel he will be a big piece to the puzzle in Dallas for years to come.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Elliott Learning The Process With The Cowboys]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 18:17:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-525782468.jpg

There’s no shortage of high expectations for Cowboys rookie running back and first round pick Ezekiel Elliott. Some are ready to hand him the Rookie of the Year award more than three months away from the start of the season. But as head coach Jason Garrett always says, “it’s a process.”

Elliott is participating in his first organized team activities this week for the Cowboys and got in some first team reps on Wednesday.  So is this what he expected over the last couple of days?

“Yesterday, I’m not going to lie, I was a little bit shell shocked,” said Elliott. “But today I came out and was a little bit more prepared and was kind of more ready mentally and it started to be a little easier for me.”

It’s not that Elliott isn’t use to the spotlight, because there was no shortage of it playing at Ohio State. But as Elliott admitted, this is the next level and it’s something that you have to adjust to.

“He’s making some rookie mistakes, which is to be expected,” said running backs coach Gary Brown. “But we’re putting enough pressure on him that he’s staying tight and doing everything necessary to get himself right. It’s going to be a long process for him but he’ll get there eventually.”

Elliott is walking into a nice situation with the Cowboys. He has one of the top quarterbacks in the league in Tony Romo, a passing game led by Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, and possibly the best offensive line in the NFL.

Elliott has the tools to be a complete running back in the league, and showed some of that on the practice field Wednesday. He just may need a little time to develop and learn how the process works.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Cowboys Begin Offseason Workouts]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 17:07:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dez+bryant+cowboys+ota.jpg The Dallas Cowboys were back in action Wednesday at Valley Ranch for the first day of organized team activities, or OTAs.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dez Bryant: Close To "Getting Back To My Old Self"]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 16:33:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/170*120/GettyImages-4870436002.jpg

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is getting closer. Bryant hasn't been fully cleared to practice, but he caught passes during the pre-practice walk-through, along with some extra cardio work on the side at Wednesday's organized team activities.

Bryant is recovering from offseason foot and ankle surgery and is set to have more X-rays next week on his foot. If all is good, he's expected to be fully cleared to practice.

"I'm actually a little ahead of the game, but I'm going to stay patient," said Bryant. "We got a long way to go. Ready to play some football."

No doubt that Bryant is ready to get back on the field at full speed, and for good reason. On paper, the Cowboys look like they could have a fun offense to watch this season with Tony Romo at quarterback, rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott and the durable veteran Jason Witten at tight end.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Bryant. "I think we're going to be real strong. We're going to be a physical football team."

The Cowboys have always been a little cautious with Bryant and the plan is to increase his workload during OTAs next week. Bryant himself expects to play at an elite level this season, maybe even surpassing his All-Pro year in 2014. He caught 16 touchdowns for 1,320 yards that season.

"I'm past that. I'm going to be better than that," said Bryant.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rare Olympic Trophy on Display at the Colonial Country Club]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 16:56:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/canada-olympic-golf-trophy.jpg

Golf history is preserved at Colonial Country Club.

A Ben Hogan mini-museum is on display featuring many of the legend's trophies. His office remains intact near the pro shop. Plus, a key golf club used by every Colonial tournament winner is proudly shown throughout the facility.

So perhaps this tournament is the perfect place to admire one of the game's rarest artifacts. The last time golf was in the Olympics was 1904, and this was the trophy -- won by a Canadian and kept in the country's golf hall of fame and museum.

This rare trophy will be on display this week at the Colonial.

"The 1904 Olympics was actually the first year that gold, silver, bronze medals were introduced and so trophies were actually awarded at the same time," said Meggan Gardner, of the Canadian Hall of Fame and Museum.

Golf returns to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games after a 112 year absence. And yes, Jordan Spieth is currently qualified.

"I'm interested in checking out the trophy and I'm interested in keeping a very close eye on what's going on around the Olympics too, mainly off the course. And trying to figure out the safety concerns and figure out plans but as of now I'm extremely excited for it," says Spieth.

Many golfers have withdrawn their names from Olympic consideration due to health concerns in Brazil, but Spieth isn't one of them.

Unlike in 1904, the winner of the 2016 Olympic golf tournament will not receive a trophy. Instead, they'll take home a gold medal.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Murray Tees Off With Jordan Spieth at Colonial Pro-Am]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 15:50:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/bill-murray-pro-am.jpg

One of the game's best and one of comedy's all-timers joined forces in the Wednesday in the Dean and Deluca Pro-Am at The Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth.

Jordan Spieth and Bill Murray teed off at noon for a round full of birdies and laughs.

The two have played together, but for only five holes. This is the first time they've gone a full 18.

Murray got the quiet crowd cheering for Spieth on the opening tee, saying it was too quiet.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Andy Jones Looking to Make Jump from Jacksonville U to NFL]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 14:11:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Cowboys+Helmet+Field.jpg

It’s a massive jump from Jacksonville University to the NFL, but undrafted receiver Andy Jones is intent on seeing if he can make it.

“It doesn’t matter where you came from if you come in here to work,” Jones said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I feel blessed to be here, so I’m not going to lose out on that.

Jones got a signing bonus of $15,000 when he was signed by the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent, which is a lot for a UFA—so much that it tells you something about how the team feels about the small school receiver’s physical traits. He was also one of just five undrafted free agents with a “draftable” grade among the 14 they ultimately brought in.

“He has a lot of physical traits,” said Cowboys receivers coach Derek Dooley. “The biggest thing with him was he came from a I-AA program, so he didn’t get a lot of the attention, didn’t quite have the production, didn’t have the exposure, probably didn’t have the development in a lot of ways. So we’re excited to see where he can go from here.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hey, Russell Westbrook is a Cowboys Fan]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 13:54:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/thunder+knicks.jpg

Just a month removed from the Oklahoma City Thunder dispatching the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs, we don’t imagine a lot of sports fans in Dallas-Fort Worth consider themselves big Russell Westbrook fans at the moment, but a tidbit about the OKC point guard in a recent ESPN write-up could soften the view of Westbrook in North Texas a little bit.

To wit, it turns out Westbrook, like LeBron James, is a Cowboys fan.

The fact about Westbrook comes in a list done by ESPN titled, “Everything you always wanted to know about Russell Westbrook but were afraid to ask,” which contains such biographical tidbits such as that Westbrook played football, baseball and tennis in high school, that he eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before every game and that he claims to have never shaved.

As for the Cowboys, it might not be well known, but Westbrook hasn’t really ever hid his fandom.

In fact in 2013, Westbrook and James tweeted some shade at Westbrook’s OKC teammate and noted Redskins fan Kevin Durant after a Washington loss and in early 2015, Westbrook tweeted “#cowboysnation” in celebration after the Cowboys’ wild card victory over the Lions in the playoffs.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Garrett Preaching "Talk Less and Just Go To Work" in OTAs]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 13:23:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-501244264.jpg

Aside from the lack of pads and helmets, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett says there won’t be much difference visually between the practices his team will be going through this week in OTAs and the practices they’ll go through this fall.

The Cowboys get nine days of OTAs. Wednesday marks the second.

"We'll be out there going through what looks like a regular practice that we'll have during training camp and the regular season," Garrett said, per ESPN Dallas. "Obviously different from the fact that we won't have pads on, but we'll structure the practice the same way."

According to Jason Witten, Garrett has been preaching a “talk less, work more” approach to the offseason workouts, and the team has taken to it quite well.

"Everything comes alive," Witten said. "You're down in a stance. You're going to get tired. You're going to get tested a little bit. You can't let it be any other way than to go out there and play. So it will be good for our football team. I think Jason has made it clear, his expectations, talk less and just go to work. And I think the team has really adapted that mindset this offseason."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Who's On, Who's Not?: May 25]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 12:31:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-528683338.jpg

In a weekly staple, we'll discuss who's in a groove and who's in a rut for the Texas Rangers.

Who's On?

Ian Desmond — The shortstop, turned left fielder, turned center fielder has shown there is nothing he can't do over the last month. He's now hitting .400 over the last week with two stolen bases including a steal of home on Tuesday that wasn't technically ruled a steal. Still, we know it was.

Nomar Mazara — The kid keeps on truckin'. He's hitting .389 with a .421 on-base percentage in the last week with two homers and five RBIs.

Starting rotation — A unit that's about to get back Yu Darvish has been on a tear over the past week and now has the best rotation ERA in the AL. The worst start over the last time through the rotation has been Derek Holland's two-run, 6 2/3 innings outing on Monday night.

Who's Not?

Rougned Odor — The second baseman is about to serve his suspension, likely beginning on Friday, and he's been struggling since the punch heard 'round the world. In the last five games, he's 2-for-20 with five strikeouts.

Mitch Moreland — In his last six games, Moreland is now carrying an 0-for-18 stretch with some bad luck mixed in after a few hardly hit balls went right to fielders.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Perez Bucks Big-Inning Trend With Great Escape]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 12:18:03 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-534021174.jpg

We've heard a lot lately about "make baseball fun again" and bat flips and punches, and every time you hear a pitcher complain about being shown up after a home run, one of the first retorts is considering when they are animated after a big strikeout.

On Tuesday night, we saw that raw emotion firsthand in Arlington from a guy who is known to wear his emotions on his sleeve — sometimes to a fault.

After cruising through five innings thanks to his top weapon — the double play — Martin Perez ran into some trouble in the sixth and had runners on first and third with no outs and the 2-3-4 hitters in the Angels lineup coming up.

It was the type of situation that so often goes sour for the 25-year-old lefty, but this time was different.

It all started when Kole Calhoun lined a grounder to Mitch Moreland, who fired home to cut down a run with the Rangers clinging to a 1-0 lead, leaving runners at first and second. One out.

Perez then froze all-world Mike Trout on a called third strike. Two outs. He clearly pitched around Albert Pujols, putting the slow-footed veteran on first with four pitches and then blew Johnny Giavotella away with a 95-mph fastball — the far upper register of Perez's fastball velocity — to end the inning and with it came a primal scream and hunched over fist pump on the mound.

His night with a final line of six scoreless innings, five hits, two walks and six strikeouts. His night ended after his ERA was lowered to 3.13, furthering the Rangers rotation's lead on the pack for the best ERA in the American League.

It was a huge development for Perez, who has let singular big innings plague him in otherwise strong outings.

"Probably as calm as we've seen him in those situations all year long," Rangers manager Jeff Banister told reporters.

Hopefully for the Rangers and Perez, it's a sign of things to come.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mazara Hits First Home Bomb in Huge Game]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 11:46:25 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/520274510.jpg

Shortly before pulling up to Globe Life Park in Arlington on Tuesday night, my father-in-law's tickets sold.

So we went with our usual Plan B — use dead tickets to get a $1 upper deck seat and head to the restaurant in left field for a good ol' buffet, which by the way, is far better this year than ever before.

We got a front row table, so nothing but clear glass between myself and the action and in the sixth inning, after Martin Perez had performed his best Houdini impression in the top of the frame, we saw fireworks — literally.

After the Angels beaned Adrian Beltre, Mazara stepped to the plate and sent a ball 422 feet into the upper porch in right field — his first home run in Arlington of his seven this season.

As Chuck Morgan blared "The Natural" theme over the house PA and the reflection of the fireworks I couldn't see was flashing on the field while Mazara was trotting around the bases, it hit me: We have something special in that kid.

The Big Chill, as he's now known, is now hitting a team-high (by a lot) .317 and tied for the team high with his seventh homer. And it was a biggie, extending the Rangers' lead from 1-0 to 3-0 in a game they eventually won 4-1.

Of the Rangers' seven hits on the night, Mazara had three of them. Of their four runs, he had two. Of their three RBIs, he had two.

And he just turned 21 years old. This is going to be fun.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Desmond Continuing to Make Rangers Think of '17]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 11:21:00 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-519145052.jpg

While sitting out in the left-field restaurant at Globe Life Park on Tuesday night, I found myself wondering something about 2017.

Will Ian Desmond still be in a Rangers uniform?

You have to understand, coming into this season, that was nowhere near the Rangers' thought process, but it has to be creeping into their thinking now.

The Rangers had seven hits on Tuesday, and three of them were from Desmond. He also stole his ninth bag of the year by swiping second before moving to third on a wild pitch only to be stranded.

Later in the game, the Rangers scratched one more run across in the eighth inning when Desmond was on third base after a Nomar Mazara single. Mazara took off for second with two outs, drawing a throw from the Angels catcher. That immediately send Desmond for home. It didn't count as a steal of home because Mazara was eventually thrown out in a rundown after Desmond crossed home plate, but he essentially stole home, and it was awesome.

Desmond is on pace to put together MVP-caliber numbers — 25-plus homers, 30-plus steals, 100-plus RBIs and 100-plus runs. Then, he's going to a free agent.

That's hard to let go of, no matter what the Rangers might have in the pipeline (Lewis Brinson, anyone?). Desmond has gone from a shortstop convert to a questionable outfielder to all the sudden an average outfielder, at worst. In fact, he's more capable in center field than the Rangers' Opening Day starter, Delino DeShields, who's currently in Round Rock.

Desmond took his one-year, $8 million deal this year to re-establish his value after three straight declining seasons in Washington saw his market this winter go dry. If he continues this pace, he's going to cost a lot, but the Rangers might just fall in love with him enough to make it happen.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rangers Set Plan for Darvish Debut]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 11:01:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-5117767741.jpg

We're mere days away now from one of the most anticipated pitching matchups in recent memory in Arlington.

And we have no idea who's pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.

Nope, the day belongs to Yu Darvish, the Rangers' somewhat forgotten ace who hasn't pitched in a Rangers uniform since August 2014 and missed the entire 2015 after Tommy John surgery.

Darvish has been very impressive in his rehab outings with his last coming on Sunday when he threw six shutout innings with six strikeouts in Frisco.

The Rangers have laid out a plan for Darvish's return, and it's obviously going to treated with kid gloves, and rightfully so.

The Rangers announced on Tuesday that Darvish will be on a pitch limit on Saturday — between 85-90 pitches after he threw 87 on Sunday in Frisco. So guess what? Say Darvish has a no-hitter going through six innings on Saturday, it won't matter. He's getting the hook.

The Rangers will look at the long term when handling Darvish's innings and his pitch counts with the hope he can be ready to roll in October for postseason baseball.

In fact, it'd be hard to imagine Darvish getting to 100 pitches any time soon, if at all in the regular season. Then again, all we heard about Darvish before he signed prior to the 2012 season was that he was a physical freak of nature and not like other guys. Maybe he'll change the game for Tommy John rehab, but the Rangers won't, and shouldn't, push it to let him.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Since Demotion, Wilhelmsen Has Looked Great]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 10:53:27 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/491327836.jpg

When Tom Wilhelmsen was acquired this winter, the Rangers were theoretically shoring up a bullpen that was supposed to be the unquestioned strength of their squad.

In the process, they sent away an outfielder who seemed to have worn out his welcome with the club in Leonys Martin.

Now, Martin is mashing the ball for first-place Seattle, the team Texas is chasing in the AL West, and Wilhelmsen is in Triple-A Round Rock after a horrid start to his season.

Awful trade, right?

Well, so far it is, yeah. But Martin can't be expected to continue this frantic pace (he hit a walk-off bomb on Tuesday to set a new career high for home runs on May 24), and Wilhelmsen is starting to show signs of figuring things out in Round Rock.

Wilhelmsen was sent down with a 2-2 record and a 9.98 ERA. He was bad on the road, and he was a straight-up tire fire in Arlington before the Rangers had seen enough.

You have to remember, this is a guy who has two seasons of more than 20 saves under his belt with the Mariners and who took over the closer's role last year to finish with 13. He's pitched in a variety of bullpen roles, and mostly been very good in all of them.

In Round Rock, Wilhelmsen has worked two straight scoreless outings of two innings since being demoted back on May 16. If he is indeed figuring things out in Triple-A, it'd be a huge boost to a bullpen that has been rock solid since the shuffling that sent Shawn Tolleson out of the closer's role and Sam Dyson into it.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lewis Looking to Continue Efficient Streak]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 10:42:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-533126222.jpg

Colby Lewis, pitching on his third consecutive one-year contract, has been the Rangers' most consistent pitcher in what is the best rotation in the American League through nearly two months of the 2016 season.

Taking a quick look at his game log makes it clear.

In his nine starts this year, Lewis has just one start that didn't qualify as a quality start — minimum six innings and maximum of three earned runs. That came back on April 16 in his third start of the year when he allowed four runs in six innings in a game the Rangers won 8-4.

Other than that, all of Lewis' starts have been at least six innings, and they've all been quality. In fact, his last five starts have each gone seven innings, including his start on Friday that was seven scoreless innings against the Astros in which he took a 100-plus mph comebacker off the noggin only to stay in the game.

On Wednesday afternoon, Lewis will take the hill looking to make it six straight against a team that has traditionally given him a ton of trouble — so much so that Jeff Banister tinkered with the rotation to allow Lewis to miss the Angels at the beginning of the year.

Back on April 29, he wasn't given that luxury, and it didn't matter as he went seven innings and allowed two runs to earn a victory. He's now 3-0 with a 2.75 ERA and cruising along.

To make it even more impressive, Lewis is doing this with maximum efficiency. He's only eclipsed 100 pitches three times all year and only once in his five seven-inning outings.

He continues to defy odds and with each passing start like those, he continues to etch his place in Rangers lore forever.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Leary No-Shows at OTAs After Requesting Trade ]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 07:11:25 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ronald-leary-preseason.jpg

You just knew the Cowboys’ offseason was too quiet.

Just when we were dreaming of Ezekiel Elliott running behind the best, deepest offensive line in the NFL, there arises a potential hiccup. According to ESPN, backup offensive lineman Ron Leary has been a no-show at this week’s OTAs and is requesting a trade.

Leary signed his restricted free-agent tender worth $2.5 before the draft, but only in hopes of forcing a trade. He will only be fined if he misses mandatory minicamp next month, as OTAs are technically voluntary.

Signed as a free agent in 2012, Leary was a fixture at left guard for all of 2013 and 2014, and was part of the line that opened holes for NFL rushing champ DeMarco Murray. He began last season as the starter as well but lost his job to rookie La’el Collins in Week 5.

The Cowboys have lost Mackenzy Bernadeau and Jermey Parnell to the Jaguars via free agency the last two seasons, and Leary – in theory – should be the swing lineman.

But the Cowboys signed free agent Joe Looney, who has experience at center that Leary doesn’t. If Looney pans out, Leary would likely be inactive on game days. Making his “holdout” a minor inconvenience. Still, let’s consider the harmony at Valley Ranch officially disrupted.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

<![CDATA['Colonial' Name Change About Pronunciation, Not Money]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 07:53:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dean-deluca-invitational.jpg

Fort Worth is still home to the longest-tenured PGA Tour event at a single course, but the name “Colonial” will be omitted from its title for the first time since the tournament was founded in 1946

The Dean & DeLuca Invitational begins play this week at the Colonial Country Club.

Dean & DeLuca, self-described “Purveyors of Fine Food”, is a luxury grocer with stores in New York, Kansas, North Carolina, California and Washington D.C., as well as seven countries across the globe. Becoming title sponsor of a PGA tour event is a first for the company that was founded in New York in 1977 and is now headquartered in Wichita, Kansas.

“It is our first foray into this and we’re excited to be here at the Colonial Country Club,” Dean & DeLuca Managing Director Jay Coldren said. “We feel like the PGA Tour represents something that Dean & DeLuca represent, as well, which is our commitment to excellence.”

As for elimination of the word “Colonial” from the tournament’s title, Coldren told NBC DFW the decision had more to do with pronunciation than it did rebranding.

“It’s really not about money,” he said. “We’re really honored to be a part and be associated with the Colonial. It’s just a lot of syllables - ‘Dean & DeLuca Colonial Invitational.’ I think we all agreed that it just made sense to call it the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.”

The chain currently has no physical stores in Texas, but is looking at real estate in the Dallas-Fort Worth market and plans to open multiple stores in the area.

Because the Lone Star State might be unfamiliar with its products, Dean & DeLuca has opened a pop-up store at the Colonial this week.

“We thought, our first year, let’s give a little sample of what the larger stores might be like so that people know that it’s a combination of retail, it’s coffee, it’s breads, it’s pastries, it’s prepared foods and packaged foods and a little touch of the level of quality and sophistication that we bring,” Coldren said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[UTA Lands 5 on All-Sun Belt Baseball Team]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 05:49:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/uta-mavericks.jpg

UT-Arlington Mavericks baseball had five players named to the All-Sun Belt conference teams, league officials announced prior to the start of the Sun Belt Conference Championship.

Second baseman Darien McLemore and catcher Brady Cox were first-team selections. Pitcher Kadon Simmons, outfielder Quintin Rohrbaugh and designated hitter Colton Turner were named to the second team.

McLemore, son of former Rangers second baseman Mark McLemore, leads the Mavericks with five home runs. His .332 batting average ranks seventh in the league.

Cox is one of 15 catchers in the country to be selected as a Johnny Bench Award semifinalist. The junior catcher currently ranks third in the Sun Belt with a .368 batting average and his 78 hits lead the team.

Simmons leads all conference pitchers with nine wins. He was named the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week in April following a complete game, three-hit shutout against Georgia Southern where he struck out a team high 10.

Rohrbaugh ranks fifth in the league with a .350 batting average. He set a UTA school record with six runs scored in a 21-8 win at Arkansas-Little Rock earlier this month.

Turner missed nearly a month of playing time midway through the season due to injury but still managed to make it onto the all-conference team. He has 37 RBI this season, with 17 of those in the final three weeks.

The Mavericks enter the conference tournament as the seventh seed after finishing the regular season with a 29-26 record. They face second seed South Alabama Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. in San Marcos, Texas.

Photo Credit: NBCDFW.com]]>
<![CDATA[TCU Baseball Gets Ready For Big 12 Tournament]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 05:59:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/tcu+baseball.JPG

The Road to Omaha started in February for TCU, but it makes a pit stop in Oklahoma City this week.

The Horned Frogs, 38-14 during the regular season, enter the Big 12 baseball tournament Wednesday as the No. 3 seed and will face No. 6 seed Baylor in the first round. TCU was 1-2 against the Bears this season.

Head coach Jim Schlossnagle's squad enters the tournament with a little momentum, closing out the regular season on a five-game winning streak, three of which were by one run. The streak started earlier this month in Waco.

TCU paces the Big 12 in batting average at .301 and ERA at 3.19.

Leading the way is Big 12 Freshman of the Year Luken Baker, the first player in league history to earn first-team honors at multiple positions. Appearing in all 52 games, Baker finished with a .340 batting average with four home runs and 43 RBI at the plate. On the mound, he went 3-1 with a 1.70 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 47.2 innings.

Junior infielder Elliott Barzilli put together a career year for TCU, finishing fourth in the Big 12 in batting average at .372. He led the Frogs with 71 hits, including seven home runs, 14 doubles and three triples and joined Baker as a first team all-conference selection.

Freshman Dalton Horton led the Frog pitchers with an 8-0 record in 12 appearances on the mound. His 2.35 ERA was second on the team behind redshirt-freshman Jared Janczak’s 2.28. The Frogs were 10-1 in games Horton started this season.

The path to the Big 12 Championship game won’t be easy. TCU must win a pool against Baylor, No. 2 seed Oklahoma State and No. 7. seed Texas.

First pitch Wednesday is set for 4 p.m. from Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Arlington Council Approves $1B Ballpark Proposal]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 22:43:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/new-rangers-ballpark-rendering.jpg

Arlington city council members unanimously voted Tuesday night in favor of the proposed tax plan to fund approximately half of the $1 billion baseball stadium plan announced last week.

The measure now heads to Arlington voters for consideration in November.

The Texas Rangers announced Friday that the team has agreed to stay in Arlington through 2054, its home since relocating from Washington, D.C., after the 1971 baseball season.

A big part of the renewed agreement with the city is the plan for a big stadium – one complete with a retractable roof.

Half of the $1 billion to fund the stadium would come from the city in the form of taxes, including a half-cent sales tax. The same plan was used to fund construction of the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium, which opened in 2009.

"Tonight's action by the City Council is an important step in the process in this public-private partnership to build a new ballpark for Arlington and our fans. We're excited about the possibility of calling Arlington home for many years to come," said Rangers co-chairman Ray Davis in a statement after the vote Tuesday.

Discussions with the team began years ago, but "became more active" in recent months, according to City Manager Trey Yelverton.

In addition to the existing half-cent sales tax now being used to pay for AT&T Stadium, the city's portion of the Rangers new home would be funded by a 2 percent hotel occupancy tax and a 5 percent car rental tax.

The Rangers, who Yelverton said want to move into their new home in time for the 2020 baseball season, would pay $2 million in rent each year.

"This is an opportunity for us to continue the momentum and not step back years from where we're at and keep a partner here who has become a part of the fabric of the community that is part of our DNA," said Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams.

Arlington City Council's Rangers Work Session

Photo Credit: City of Arlington]]>
<![CDATA[Gwynn's Family Sues Tobacco Ind.]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 16:41:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/102871071.jpg

The tobacco industry used the late Tony Gwynn's addiction to chewing tobacco to turn him into a "walking billboard," his family alleges. 

"He never knew it but they were using him to promote their dip to the next generation of kids and fans who idolized him," Gwynn's daughter, Anisha Gwynn, said Tuesday in San Diego.

Gwynn’s family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the tobacco industry, claiming the San Diego Padres legend was targeted to use the smokeless tobacco that led to the cancer that killed him.

The suit was filed Monday in San Diego Superior Court against Altria Group, Inc. (formerly known as Philip Morris USA) and several other defendants. Altria Group, Inc. makes Skoal chewing tobacco, the brand Tony Gwynn preferred and used extensively. 

The Gwynn family alleges the tobacco industry induced Gwynn to begin using smokeless tobacco when he was a star athlete at San Diego State University in the late 1970’s. 

When asked about the lawsuit, an Altria representative told NBC 7 San Diego, "We have no comment."

In the suit, the Gwynn family says the tobacco company "continued to deluge Tony during his college years with countless free samples of 'dip' tobacco products they purposely adulterated to make more addictive. All the while, they did not mention either the highly addictive nature of their products or their toxicity."

The suit alleges Gwynn used up to two cans of smokeless tobacco per day, claiming that is the equivalent of smoking four to five packs of cigarettes daily. In the suit the Gwynn family alleges the tobacco industry chose Gwynn specifically because it was trying to market its product to African-Americans, and that it intentionally misled Tony to use the product.

"Tony Gwynn was the Defendants' marketing dream come true," says the lawsuit. "They knew youngsters looking up to Tony would hope to one day hit like Tony, and be like Tony, so they would also want to 'dip' like Tony."

On Tuesday, Gwynn's daughter Anisha spoke of her dad's legacy, saying the baseball legend “wouldn’t want to see another player or any other person have to get sick and die."

Gwynn used smokeless tobacco for 31 years, despite seeing signs it may be harming his health as early as the 1990’s. Gwynn admitted an addiction to the substance and when he tried to stop using he reportedly needed prescription drugs to fight the anxiety and cravings he felt in its absence.

In recent years, Gwynn had multiple surgeries on his neck to remove both an abscess and a malignant tumor. He died in 2014 from salivary gland cancer at the age of 54.

Tony Gwynn was an elite athlete who “cared about his body,” his son said Tuesday.

“If he had known how addictive and harmful to his health dip was he would not have started using in college,” Tony Gwynn, Jr said of his dad.

The lawsuit does not ask for specified damages, instead requesting a jury trial to rule on grounds of negligence, fraud and product liability by the tobacco industry.

Gwynn’s death has brought about a change in some part of baseball. Multiple young players have either stopped using smokeless tobacco or simply not picked up the habit because of what happened to Mr. Padre.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Pepsi MLB Refre]]>
<![CDATA[La'el Collins "Extremely Excited" To See Zeke in Action]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 14:21:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lael-collins-starting-job.jpg

Like a lot of people in North Texas, Cowboys second-year left guard La’el Collins is “extremely excited” to see what rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott can do in the NFL.

A year after Collins joined the Cowboys as an undrafted free agent under some of the strangest circumstances we’ve ever seen with a highly-touted NFL prospect, Dallas selected Elliott with the No. 4 overall pick in the draft. Now Collins will be one of the men charged with clearing paths for the former Buckeye.

"He's a smart guy, fast guy, learns pretty fast," Collins told the team’s official website of Elliott.

Last year, it was Collins making first impressions on his new teammates, learning to live up to the highly regarded, much talked about “standard” the Cowboys’ much decorated offensive line has set for themselves—and of course, living up to that standard isn’t just a rookie year task.

“It’s a standard that we hold as a group,” Collins said. “I think coming in for me last year as a young guy really having to live up to that standard, continuing to work like those guys has helped me become a better player.”

<![CDATA[Eagles' Schwartz Doesn't Want a Pre-Determined QB Competition]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 14:08:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-501238924.jpg

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has all but had a tattoo put on his neck that says Sam Bradford is the team’s starting quarterback, but the team’s defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz doesn’t sound 100 percent onboard with this approach.

According to Schwartz, who is the Eagles defensive coordinator but drafted Matthew Stafford while the head coach of the Lions, the team would do well not to declare a starter until further along in the quarterback competition.

Don't judge him on something else,” Schwartz said of rookie Carson Wentz, per NJ.com. "And also don't pre-determine the result of the race. Let him go play. Don't put extra pressure on him.

"I can't speak for Carson. We have enough worries on defense right now. I think when we drafted Stafford, we just let him play. Was he our best quarterback? Was he ready? Unfortunately, he got hurt both his first and second year by holding the ball too long. I think he had the command and he would have been ready to play had it not been for those injuries."

The Eagles traded up from No. 13 to No. 8 to No. 2 in the 2016 NFL Draft to select Wentz.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jalen Ramsey Undergoes Knee Surgery]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 13:50:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-496171772.jpg

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, a much talked about potential draft target for the Dallas Cowboys going into the 2016 NFL Draft, had knee surgery on Tuesday to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee.

But the Jaguars, who selected Ramsey fifth overall, a spot after the Cowboys selected Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott, remain optimistic about Ramsey’s prospects in 2016.

That's great news," said Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley, per ESPN. “That's what we had hoped for. We knew all the scenarios. ... It sounds like come training camp he should be ready to go. Full go.”

Last season, the Jaguars’ top draft pick Dante Fowler, Jr. suffered a torn ACL in rookie mini-camp and missed the entire 2015 season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hitting Coach Weighs In On Rookie Phenom]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 13:32:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/520274510.jpg

The Rangers, through two months anyway, have the frontrunner for AL Rookie of the Year honors, as Nomar Mazara will look to win the award and bring the trophy to Arlington for the first time since Neftali Feliz won the honor in 2010.

But what makes Mazara so good? And what gives Mazara the apparent staying power he's shown in his big-league stint that former top prospects like Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo recently fell short of?

Well, new Rangers hitting coach Anthony Iapoce has a few ideas, and he'd know a top prospect if he saw it having spent time in the minor leagues with teams such as the Cubs (Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, etc.) and the Marlins (Giancarlo Stanton and even back to Miguel Cabrera).

Iapoce joined The Dallas Morning News' baseball podcast fronted by Evan Grant and discussed Mazara and all of his redeeming qualities.

"The thing that I always see in common is the mentality and the even-keelness," Iapoce said in the comparison questions between Mazara and some of the top players he dealt with at a young age. "They don't panic, they don't worry, they're very confident in their ability and themselves and they're very confident in the way they practice. But it's definitely the mentality of those guys and he's very similar — he has that mentality. I remember the first day in spring training I threw him some balls and after about five swings things started racing through my head like, 'Holy cow, this guy's pretty good,' because he's very detailed in his work. He comes in the cage and you can look at the energy and the body language of, 'This is what I'm trying to do.' So he's got a chance to be a really good player. And he loves it — he loves playing, he loves hitting, he loves defense, he loves being a part of the team. This guy can use the whole field, he can battle with two strikes, he's gonna take even more walks as he gets through it. He brings it every day. I actually learn from watching him. You try to pass that on to other younger players, how to control your emotions. It's emotional intelligence more than mental toughness."

Long story short, the kid just looks to have "it." He isn't fazed by the spotlight and you can tell by his veteran plate discipline and approach that he isn't the typical prospect.

Will it last forever? We don't know yet, but the Rangers appear to have themselves a really, really good one.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chris Brown Heaps Praise on Notre Dame Teammate Jaylon Smith]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 13:32:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/JaylonSmith.jpg

We get the feeling it’d be exceedingly difficult for undrafted Dallas Cowboys receiver Chris Brown, a teammate of second round pick Jaylon Smith at Notre Dame, to put into words just what Smith meant to his Fighting Irish teammates.

But Brown tried recently.

“You have a lot of great players that you just respect them because they’re great players, but you’re talking about a dude that never did anything wrong,” Brown said of Smith, per ESPN Dallas. “Never was late, did everything he needed to do, was vocal when he had to be vocal. He was a leader in his own right, and just to see something like that (one injury) was unfortunate, but we stayed with him throughout and we were supporting him. And we knew that whoever would give him a shot, they were going to get it done.”

Perhaps an encouraging sign for the Cowboys, who drafted Smith with the knowledge that he probably wouldn’t play until 2017 due to the devastating knee injury he suffered at last year’s Fiesta Bowl, is the fact that Brown says he hasn’t really seen any change in Smith’s approach to the game since the injury.

“Same dude. That’s the best thing about Jaylon. He’s the same dude through the in and outs," Brown said. "Real relaxed, but driven. I’m his roommate now, so he’s in the playbook as if he’s out there every single day taking every rep.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NFC East Watch: Rodgers-Cromartie Joins Giants After Missing 1st OTA ]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 13:19:41 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/459494908.jpg

Like a lot of teams, the New York Giants opened up organized team activities on Monday, but they were missing one of their biggest names on the defensive side of the ball, in cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

But the man they call DRC was back on Tuesday, saying he had a personal matter to attend to Monday.

This, of course, refutes the whispers that Rodgers-Cromartie might be staying away from the team in response to their drafting Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple in the first round. Besides, as first-year Giants head coach Ben McAdoo was quick to point out, these are voluntary workouts.

"DRC wasn’t able to make it today,” McAdoo said, per Big Blue View. “We look forward to getting him back as soon as we can. It’s a voluntary opportunity. If he’s here we’ll coach him, if he’s not we wish him nothing but the best."

Rodgers-Cromartie is smack in the middle of a five-year deal with the Giants.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Holland Has Perhaps Most Encouraging Start]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 12:40:58 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-533829094.jpg

Derek Holland has seemingly been pitching for his spot in the rotation for a few weeks now.

Crazy how far he's fallen in that regard.

His job seems pretty safe for now with the news A.J. Griffin is nowhere near being able to return from a shoulder injury, but even still, he's starting to put together some solid outings.

After two straight bad outings, Holland has two straight quality starts and Monday night's against the Angels might be his most impressive outing of the season as far as his stuff is concerned.

He tied a season-high 6 2/3 innings set in his second start of the season, and in that one he tossed scoreless baseball, something he didn't do on Monday.

But on Monday, his stuff might've been the best it's been all year, and that's encouraging.

He needed just 99 pitches to get 20 outs and pounded the zone with 67 strikes, and his velocity was strong in the mid 90s and actually got better as the night went on. More importantly, he used his change-up effectively for really the first time this season and that always makes a fastball even more dangerous.

The Rangers have waited for Holland to show his good stuff for a while now, and with Yu Darvish returning on Saturday from 14 months away, it's only going to boost the team's rotation that much more.

Holland is eligible to become a free agent after this season unless the Rangers pick up a club option for $11 million in 2017. So, it's in his, and the club's, best interest to keep this up.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fielder Not Mashing, but He's Starting to Hit]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 11:04:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/519447494.jpg

Back on May 15, Prince Fielder's batting average fell to .184, which was its lowest point in nearly a month.

After getting off to a scorching start in 2015 and singling and doubling his way to AL Comeback Player of the Year honors last year, Fielder has had trouble getting started this year and we're nearly two months into the season.

But he's starting to show signs of a rebirth, even though he's not hitting the ball out of the yard. He's still sitting at two home runs on the year, which is unacceptable for a guy like him, but when you're hitting .184, you'll take what you can get.

Over the past six games, Fielder has at least one hit in each of them. In that time, he's hitting .318 with a .400 on-base percentage with two doubles and three RBIs. He has more walks than strikeouts in that time.

It's a really small sample size, but if Fielder is starting to turn the corner after not doing much at all this year, it would be a massive boost for the Rangers' lineup that seems to go in spurts at the moment as far as scoring runs and then going dry.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Odor Appeal to be Heard Tuesday]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 10:52:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/edited-GettyImages-531649998.jpg

On Tuesday afternoon, Major League Baseball will hear the appeal for Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor's eight-game suspension he was handed after throwing the punch heard 'round the world squarely on Jose Bautista's left jaw.

The Rangers won't be involved in the appeal, and really, neither will Odor.

The assistant general counsel to the MLB Players Association will present Odor's case to the league using really nothing but precedent and comparable suspensions for comparable incidents.

The most common example being thrown around in discussions is the Milwaukee Brewers' Martin Maldanado getting a five-game ban for a similar punch to Pittsburgh's Travis Snider back in 2014, which was ironically another game Rangers manager Jeff Banister was involved with when he was the bench coach for the Pirates.

The appeal is set for Tuesday afternoon and rulings usually take a day or two. The fact the Rangers play on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. means Odor could very well play Tuesday and Wednesday before hearing a result Wednesday evening or Thursday morning and beginning his suspension when the Rangers open a three-game set on Friday against the Pirates.

Odor could benefit from a small break given the fact he's a bad slump at the moment, but the Rangers won't benefit as they're in a bit of bind with their roster with both Drew Stubbs and Shin-Soo Choo hitting the disabled list on Monday. Odor will have to stay on the active 25-man roster during his suspension meaning they'll be playing with a short bench.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gallo Promoted Somewhat Unexpectedly]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 10:43:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-5154642761.jpg

Joey Gallo is back in Arlington after the Rangers curiously called him up on Monday along with outfielder Jared Hoying.

The moves were made in correspondence with two Rangers outfielders, Shin-Soo Choo and Drew Stubbs, both hitting the disabled list on Monday. Hoying's call was an expected one, and he was in the starting lineup making his big-league debut.

Gallo's call was far less expected and he appeared as a pinch-hitter.

So what exactly are the Rangers thinking by having Gallo up, fresh off the Triple-A disabled list, with a Rougned Odor suspension looming any day now? Well, we're not really sure.

If we had to guess, we'll assume Gallo will be sent back down when Odor's suspension begins, which will likely be Friday, so the Rangers can call up Jurickson Profar to play in Odor's place.

That is, unless Odor's suspension is dropped to like two or three games, which is highly unlikely. In that case, you could see Hanser Alberto as your starting second baseman for a few days. Anything more than that and the Rangers will likely want Profar up for a good week-long look.

Jeff Banister's usage of Gallo on Monday night was a bit confusing, as you'd think his big bat would've been inserted sooner than it was, so it'll be interesting to see what he does on Tuesday and Wednesday before he's likely sent down again on Friday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pitching Prospect Shines in Frisco Debut]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 10:34:04 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/baseball_generic.jpg

Each jump throughout a baseball farm system comes with challenges of its own, but there might not be a more significant jump than that of A-ball to Double-A, where several MLB-ready prospects are stewing and waiting for their chance at The Show.

On Monday morning in Frisco, Luis Ortiz made his maiden voyage through a Double-A lineup, and the results were pretty spectacular for the 20-year-old pitcher who was the Rangers' top draft pick in 2014 out of a California high school.

The hard-throwing righty allowed one run while scattering seven hits in six innings of work. He struck out six San Antonio hitters and walked just one.

Ortiz is still a ways away from being considered for the big club, and quite frankly, could be showcasing for a blockbuster deal this summer, but if his first Double-A outing was any sign, the Rangers got a good one.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF]]>
<![CDATA[Tolleson Encouraging in First Post-Demotion Outing]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 10:33:09 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-533874972+%281%29.jpg

Shawn Tolleson hasn't had a very good couple of months.

After blowing his third save in essentially a week and his fourth of the season last week, Tolleson was finally stripped of his closer's role and replaced with Sam Dyson, for whom fans have clamored for a good while.

Tolleson made his first post-demotion appearance Monday night and it didn't come in a blowout or a low-leverage situation.

Yeah, the Rangers were trailing, but it was only a 2-0 deficit and Tolleson inherited a base runner with two outs in the seventh inning. He got some serious help from Bobby Wilson, who threw out a would-be base stealer to end the inning, but came to pitch the eighth in a close game and was good.

Tolleson struck out Mike Trout and Albert Pujols in the eighth to keep the Angels' lead at 2-0 — about all you can ask for when you're facing the Angels.

Tolleson might never be the Rangers' closer again, but if he can regain his confidence and be lights out in a setup role, it will be a huge development for a Rangers' bullpen that just discovered Matt Bush and has Keone Kela due back within the couple of months.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mavs' Potential Free-Agent Targets Still Playing For Title]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 09:29:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/205*120/GettyImages-521715478.jpg

Watching the NBA Playoffs’ Conference Finals, trying to remember how long ago it was the Mavericks’ season finished, and also salivating at the free agents this summer?

Me too. Guilty, guilty and way guilty.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban predicted a Thunder championship, so he’s one of the few not surprised by OKC’s 2-1 lead heading into tonight’s Game 4. Dallas, for the record, was eliminated by the Thunder 30 days ago all the sudden. And as for whom Mavs fans should be analyzing as potential free-agent targets?

Lots amongst the NBA’s final four.

Among players still fighting for a title that will be free agents in July: LeBron James (Cavs); DeMar DeRozan and Bismack Biyombo (Raptors); Kevin Durant (Thunder) and Harrison Barnes (Warriors).

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nation's Top 12-Year-Old Boxer]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 20:03:00 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/box+GIF_19483400.gif

The highlight of 12-year-old David "Dynamite" Lopez’s life was becoming the country’s No. 1 boxer for his age and weight last year.

But a close second was sparring at his dad’s gym with undefeated super middleweight world champion Andre Ward one day this May. Ward threw a few fast punches. One or two landed on David’s headgear, throwing the boy back.

"It was uncomfortable," said the young boxer from Oakland, California. "But I didn’t cry."

Still, his nose smarted a bit and he got to play hooky from Westlake Middle School, where he is a sixth grader.

"It was awesome," he added, his green eyes twinkling.

Chance to be No. 1 Again
The scrappy pre-teen now has a chance to win No. 1 again. He qualified to attend the Junior Olympics National Championships in Dallas, Texas, next month. This round, he’s 85 pounds — a weight he begrudgingly achieves by following a "no hot chips" and no-soda diet. His father is now trying to raise enough funds to get there, as traveling the world to win boxing championships, especially for a working-class family, will be a feat.

David hasn’t read Malcom Gladwell’s "Outliers," which touts the idea that 10,000 hours of practice are required to excel at something.

But David intrinsically understands the book’s theory. He’s already put in about 7,000 of those hours, having started to box when he was just 5. That work led USA Boxing to dub him the top 70-pound boxer in the country in 2015. He also won the national title in Puerto Rico the same year.

"Practice," David said simply when asked why he’s so good. "Boxing is just what I do."

"Dedicated," chimed in Jasper McCargo, 29, who made the U.S. Olympic boxing team in 2014 and trains alongside David at his father’s gym in Oakland, Lightning’s Boxing Club. "And he has a great father." 

Father and Son Box Together
David’s father, Kris "Lightning" Lopez, 39, was a two-time Golden Glove champion and now runs a respected youth boxing program. Father and son train together for two hours every day after school. They also have an unusually close bond, which is obvious to anyone, even when meeting them for the first time.

The elder Lopez echoed that "repetition" is why his son is so skilled. But Lopez also added: "It’s in our blood." Lopez’s great-grandfather was a bigtime fighter in the Philippines in the 1920s. 

Half the week, David goes home with his mother, Wells Fargo corporate finance administrative assistant Denielle Allen, who can’t bear to watch her son fight in the ring.

"My mom will ask how a fight went, but she doesn’t want to come," David said. He added proudly he’s never suffered a concussion, and only broken his hand once.

He's close with his mom, too. She's the one who cooks him the rare feast of fried chicken and ice cream, no matter if he wins or not.

"I went to one fight," Allen said, "and I got sick for three days to my stomach." While David's boxing, she sits at home and prays with her Acts Full Gospel community for his safe return from the ring.

The other half of the week, he goes home with his father and his wife, who moved to Pittsburg, California, when they were priced out of Oakland.

Of Lopez’s four children, two are boxers, including his 20-year-old son, Daniel, who has also won national championships and now attends Laney College in Oakland.

Michael Jordan-Type Talent
Ever since he was in kindergarten, people could see David had something special. His jabs are blazing quick. His feet are light. When he jumps, the rope whizzes by too fast to see. He makes karate-like exhales when he jabs. He never backs down. He's confident but not a showoff.

"He’s got a talent that you see every 100 years," Lopez said. "Michael Jordan-type talent. He’s better than Andre Ward was at 11. At 5, you could see he was stronger and faster."

Ward met David two years ago at the 30th anniversary of King’s Boxing Gym in Oakland. Ward, who is Oakland born and now lives in Danville, noticed David’s quick feet and expert jabs.

"He said, 'You got skills,'" David recalled of the conversation, adding that the champion boxer then asked, "What’s your Instagram?"

The two have been sparring ever since. And last week, Ward stopped by the club unannounced to work out with David. That’s when Ward threw some fast ones at David’s headgear.

"He had never done that before," David said. It hurt. And tears sprang to his eyes. But David said, "I wasn’t going to back down."

Andre Ward Raves About 'Dynamite'
Colorado-based USA Boxing spokeswoman Julie Goldsticker knew David’s name with no prompting, mostly because she works with Ward, who "just raves about David." She said David walked Ward out for his last two fights.

As for finding sponsors to offset boxing costs for young people and families, Goldsticker acknowledged it’s a challenge. Mostly, she said, that’s because boxing is an individual sport and harder to find companies and wealthy entities to support one athlete, as opposed to a team. David’s father estimates it might cost $4,000 for the two of them to fly to the Junior Olympics June 26 to July 2 in Dallas, and stay at hotels for the week.

When David’s not boxing, he’s getting good grades in the hopes of attending Yale University one day. He still wants to box when he grows up, but said wisely: "I might study business as a fallback."

Hard to Remember He's a Kid
Family friend and mentor Jose Grace said he thinks David will accomplish anything he sets his mind to.

"He’s serious, he’s a scholar, he’s the full package," Grace said. "Sometimes I have to remember that he’s just a kid."

Follow David's achievements on Facebook or help send him to the Junior Olympics by donating to his GoFundMe page.

Photo Credit: Kris Lopez
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<![CDATA[With Romo's Return to Practice Field Blossoms Hope ]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 09:20:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-503288356.jpg

The Cowboys’ hope that in the NFC East they can go from worst to first today gets validation:

Tony Romo is back on the football field.

As OTAs (organized team activities) commence a three-week run at Valley Ranch, the quarterback will be back for 11-on-11 work for the first time since we saw him leaving the field in obvious pain on Thanksgiving day. Because of two broken collar bones Romo missed 12 games in 2015. The Cowboys went 1-11 in those games and limped to a 4-12 finish.

The rallying cry amongst true-blue believers, however, is that the team – with a healthy and upright Romo – is much closer to the 12-4 team that came within a controversial overturn of a Dez Bryant catch of making the NFC Championship in 2014.

After corrective and pre-emptive surgery to strengthen the collar bone, the 36-year-old Romo is more than ready.

He’s been throwing for more than a month and isn’t expected to be on any sort of physical restrictions once training camp starts in two months. Hope springs eternal. Especially in May.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lack of Run Support Again Ruins Solid Outing by Holland]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 09:14:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-533829086.jpg

Big news for the Rangers is that Yu Darvish is coming back.

More big news is that Derek Holland may already be here.

Putting an end to thoughts of some season-long funk, the lefty recorded his second consecutive quality start in last night’s 2-0 loss to the Angels. Holland made one mistake, a fastball that Albert Pujols creamed for a two-run homer in the 3rd inning.

“That ball was down the middle," Holland said. "Albert’s paid to hit the ball like that.”

Otherwise, Holland was again solid. He produced his longest outing of the season, going 6.2 innings and surrendering only seven hits.

For the second consecutive game Holland receive zero offensive support. Against the Angels, they stranded two runners in the 7th, three in the 8th, one in the 9th and were 0 of 7 with runners in scoring position.

Holland, who has allowed just four earned runs in his last 13 innings, will win more than he loses with outings like this. Just so happens the Rangers managed only one combine run in his last two starts against Oakland’s Sean Manaea and Anaheim’s Nick Tropeano.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>