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|Rodney McGruder went home for Memorial Day weekend Authentic Khalil Mack Jersey , for reasons that didn’t include barbecues and beach time. He paid tribute to people he never met.
The Miami Heat guard was part of an NBA contingent that volunteered to spend time in the Washington area with about 500 children who are part of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors – TAPS, for short – over the solemn holiday weekend, trying to help continue the support for families who lost loved ones serving in the military.
The itinerary included tours of the Pentagon, a Jr. NBA clinic, roundtable discussions, mentoring sessions, grief counseling and a trip to Arlington National Cemetery to meet some of the service members who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier around the clock. Those guards walk 21 steps in one direction, turn and face the tomb for 21 seconds, and then walk 21 steps in the other direction and repeat the process.
”We learned so much about the 21 steps, protecting the Unknown Soldier tomb, so just being there and seeing the detail that they have at their job Womens Travis Kelce Jersey , much respect to them,” said McGruder, whose Maryland home is only about 20 minutes from Arlington. ”It was breathtaking just seeing all the different stones. It was tough. It was tough.”
New York Knicks guard Jarrett Jack – a military kid growing up – also helped represent the NBA during the weekend events, along with Dallas assistant coach Jamahl Mosley, Sacramento assistant Bryan Gates, Portland assistant David Vanterpool and retired WNBA player Iciss Tillis. Leading the group was Gen. Martin Dempsey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who now works as an adviser to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
”I’m very proud of the way the NBA has reached out to military servicemen and women and how that has expanded to what we’re doing here this weekend, which is outreach to the survivors of the fallen,” Dempsey said. ”It’s fantastic. What happens is we can’t take away the grief and the memory of the loss, but what we can do is layer positive memories on top of it. And so these athletes and coaches being involved, it’s amazing.”
The kids who were part of the weekend played in a basketball clinic William Karlsson Jersey , but most of the questions to the NBA players and coaches had nothing to do with the game.
McGruder said many wanted to know how he’s dealt with loss – not on the basketball court – and how he copes.
”You realize right away that these kids are going through some pretty tough things,” McGruder said. ”One of the toughest questions came from a tough female who wanted to know if I’ve gone through something like that. I explained to her that my mother lost her mother very young, so it’s not really the same but you share how you’ve been through similar disadvantages.”
McGruder said he came away with a deeper appreciation of what Memorial Day means, and Dempsey – a lifelong fan of the game and someone who Mike Krzyzewski used during his tenure as coach of the U.S. national team to teach the game’s biggest stars about what it means to represent the country – thinks the NBA players have an important message for kids on weekends like this.
”I think with the country kind of more connected technologically than ever before, but maybe pulling itself apart more than ever before, I think sports have a huge role to play to bring a bit of leadership and maybe conscience,” Dempsey said. ”I’m proud to be part of that.”
PHOENIX — Right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano has been spectacularly efficient in his first season in Arizona, part of the reason the Diamondbacks will enter their four-game series against the San Diego Padres with the best bullpen ERA in the majors.
Hirano may be a major league rookie, but his work the last five seasons as a closer with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan has translated well.
Hirano, 34, had a franchise-record 26-game scoreless streak broken in an 8-4 loss to St. Louis on Wednesday Womens Devante Smith-Pelly Jersey , when he finished one scoreless appearance short of tying former Red Sox right-hander Koji Uehara for the longest such streak by a Japanese-born pitcher in major league history. Even that loss could not diminish the value Hirano has had this season.
Arizona right-hander Shelby Miller is scheduled to face San Diego left-hander Eric Lauer in the first game of the series Thursday.
Arizona manager Torey Lovullo was Boston’s bench coach when Uehara set the record in 2013, so he can provide a comparison of Uehara and Hirano.
“They have the same work habits, which is pretty impressive,” Lovullo said. “They both come in and get their work done pregame. They come in and get their work done postgame. They find themselves healthy and strong and prepared for every single one of their outings.
“They both have a fearlessness to their game and an approach to understanding what needs to happen during each at-bat. They are not afraid to put the ball on the plate with two different pitches. They go out and expect to get outs. Very similar mind-set. Very similar makeup. Very similar confidence.”
Hirano is 2-0 with a 1.43 ERA in 42 appearances. He has 19 holds, fourth in the majors, and he has permitted only one of his 16 inherited runners to score while being primarily used in the seventh inning. Eighth-inning reliever Archie Bradley leads the majors with 22 holds and closer Brad Boxberger has 20 saves.
Uehara began the 2013 season in a similar setup role in the Boston bullpen before advancing to the closer’s role after injuries thinned the relief corps. He finished with 21 saves, a 1.09 ERA and an 0.57 WHIP.
“As soon as he became the closer, he gave off a certain edge and a certain confidence that was noticeable,” Lovullo said.
“It’s as close to a slam dunk, shut-down ninth-inning save as I’ve ever seen. He had this ability to collect outs and get through innings in 12 pitches or less. It was so quick, the ninth inning was over before it even started. It was a very comfortable setting for all of us. You played the Boston Red Sox in 2013 for eight innings because the ninth inning was over. That’s what I remember.”
Hirano has a 1.01 WHIP http://www.officialhurricanes.com/authentic-adidas-andrei-svechnikov-jersey , fourth among major league relievers with at least 40 appearances.
“He’s been very versatile,” Lovullo said. “He’s unfazed by any role we have asked him to do. He can pitch in traffic. He can start clean innings. He can get left-handers and right-handers out.”
The Diamondbacks lost two of three to St. Louis and have dropped five of their past six games overall. They took two out of three games in their only other series against the Padres this season, also at Chase Field.
San Diego has slumped over the last 2 1/2 weeks. The Padres have lost three in a row and are 3-13 since beating Atlanta 9-3 behind left-hander Clayton Richard on June 15. They have scored 30 runs in their last 10 games.
“We’re not getting hits with runners in scoring position,” San Diego manager Andy Green told reporters after a two-game sweep in Oakland.
“Sometimes the best thing you can do is relax, go play baseball and enjoy what you’re doing. Then the hits start coming.”
Christian Villanueva hit his 17th homer for the Padres in a 4-2 loss to the A’s Wednesday.
Miller is 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA in two starts this season after returning from a 14-month absence following Tommy John surgery in last May, 2017. He has given up 15 hits and 11 runs in 8 2/3 innings.
Miller is 2-2 with a 4.54 ERA in eight career appearances, including seven starts, against the Padres. He had a strong outing against them early last season, giving up four hits and one run in 7 1/3 innings in the third of his four starts before suffering the elbow injury.
Rookie Lauer joined the Padres’ rotation in late April and is 3-5 with a 5.08 ERA in 13 starts this season. He was 2-2 with a 2.76 ERA in six June starts and is 1-2 with a 5.09 ERA in seven road starts.
He has never faced the Diamondbacks.
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