AP Sports SummaryBrief at 8:04 p.m. EST


Mets’ Scherzer loves ‘cat-and-mouse’ game of MLB’s new rules

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — New York Mets right-hander Max Scherzer described pitching under Major League Baseball’s new rules as a “cat-and-mouse” game. Contrary to previous years, Scherzer feels the pitcher finally has control of the tempo because of the new pitch clock. In his first start of the Grapefruit League schedule, Scherzer was touched for a run in the second inning but struck out five while working the first two innings of the Mets’ 6-3 win over Washington. The average game time through three days of spring training is 2 hours, 39 minutes, down from an average of 3:01 for all of spring training last year.

MLB average salary rose 14.8% to record $4.22M last season

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball’s average salary rose 14.8% to a record $4.22 million last year after the end of the lockout, boosted by big deals for Max Scherzer, Francisco Lindor, Marcus Semien and Corey Seager. The rate of increase was the highest since a 17.7% increase in 2000 to $1.61 million, according to final calculations by the players’ association. The average had dropped in each of the previous four seasons before 2022, sparking player anger that was expressed by the union during a 99-day lockout that ended last March.

It’s working: Pitch clock shaves 20 minutes from early games

So far, baseball’s new speed-up rules are working. The first-ever major league pitch clock and other rules have helped cut more than 20 minutes from spring training games through the first weekend. The average time of game has dropped from 3 hours, 1 minute last spring to 2:39. Players and umpires are still adjusting to the rules. In the Cubs game against the Diamondbacks, both pitcher Joe Mantiply and batter Brennen Davis were penalized for being too slow at the start of the third inning, so Davis’ at-bat started with a count of 1-1.

Messi and Putellas voted best players at FIFA awards again

PARIS (AP) — World Cup winner Lionel Messi has won FIFA’s Best Men’s Player award for 2022. Spain’s Alexia Putellas won FIFA’s Best Women’s Player award for the second straight time. Messi won the voting over Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema. Putellas won the women’s voting over Alex Morgan of the United States and England’s Beth Mead. Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has been voted FIFA men’s coach of the year after leading his team to the World Cup title in December. The women’s coach award went to Sarina Wiegman after she led England to the title at the Women’s European Championship.

Maple Leafs up ante in East by making trade with Blackhawks

The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired forward Sam Lafferty and defenseman Jake McCabe from the Chicago Blackhawks. Their latest big trade comes the day after division-rival Tampa Bay paid a hefty price to acquire forward Tanner Jeannot from Nashville. Talent continues to flow to Eastern Conference contenders ahead of the NHL trade deadline Friday. In recent days, New Jersey got big winger Timo Meier from San Jose and Boston traded with Washington for Garnet Hathaway and Dmitry Orlov.

AP sources: Haslams agree to purchase Lasry’s stake in Bucks

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Two people with knowledge of the negotiations say Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam have agreed to purchase Marc Lasry’s 25% stake of the Milwaukee Bucks in a deal that puts the value of the NBA franchise at $3.5 billion. The agreement has not been finalized. The people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the Bucks nor the Haslams publicly disclosed any element of the agreement. The Haslams would be spending about $875 million for Lasry’s stake of the team. It would be the second-highest valuation in NBA history, behind the $4 billion valuation for the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury when Mat Ishbia acquired them in a deal that closed this month.

Commanders release quarterback Carson Wentz after one season

The Washington Commanders have released quarterback Carson Wentz. The expected move comes after their one-season experiment with Wentz did not work out. Washington was able to get out of the final two years of Wentz’s contract without any salary cap penalty. Wentz threw for 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions in eight games, including three picks in a late-season loss to Cleveland that contributed to knocking the Commanders out of playoff contention. Wentz could be on his fourth NFL team in as many years if he’s signed as a free agent. The team also released veteran safety Bobby McCain.

Houston, Alabama top AP Top 25; Marquette climbing, Pitt in

The top five spots in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll remained the same. The rest of the AP Top 25 was a big jumble. Houston was No. 1 for the second straight week in the poll released Monday, receiving 49 first-place votes from a 62-person media panel. No. 2 Alabama had five first-place votes and No. 3 Kansas received eight. UCLA and Purdue rounded out the top 5. The Boilermakers held at No. 5 despite losing to No. 15 Indiana. The rest of the poll, only No. 20 Providence kept the same position from last week.

No. 1 South Carolina women run AP Top 25 streak to 36 weeks

South Carolina is No. 1 for the 36th consecutive week. That ties Louisiana Tech for the second-longest run atop The Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll in history. Only UConn with 51 weeks has a longer streak. Indiana stayed at No. 2 despite a last-second loss to Iowa. Utah was third with LSU and Maryland rounding out the top five. Iowa was seventh with Virginia Tech eighth. UConn fell five spots to ninth after losing to St. John’s. Notre Dame is 10th. South Florida re-entered the Top 25 at No. 25. Florida State dropped out.

Column: Kyle Busch out to prove he is still best in NASCAR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kyle Busch has made a dramatic recovery from losing his job after 15 years at Joe Gibbs Racing. He moved to Richard Childress Racing, the softest landing spot he could find. And even though RCR has long struggled to be competitive, Busch took the team to victory lane in just his third start in the No. 8 Chevrolet. Now he’s launched what could be a season-long redemption tour that should be troublesome to Busch’s competitors.