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SPORTSBRIEFING

Pens’ Guentzel could return

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Penguins All-Star forward Jake Guentzel’s recovery from shoulder surgery is on schedule, opening the door for him to play at some point should the NHL return this season.

General manager Jim Rutherford said Wednesday that Guentzel has not endured any setbacks since undergoing surgery on Dec. 31 for the shoulder he injured while awkwardly slamming into the end boards shortly after scoring his 20th goal of the season against Ottawa on Dec. 30.

The initial timetable for Guentzel’s potential return was 4 to 6 months. Rutherford indicated the 25-year-old Guentzel is near the front end of the timetable.

“If you take the shortest (recovery) period, that would be the end of April and if it’s six months it’s June,” Rutherford said. “But I would expect that knowing Jake Guentzel that he’s going to be ready, and his rehab is going well. And he’s at the point now where he’s one of the guys who’s returned home and will continue to rehab on his own.

The NHL’s season remains on pause because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s possible that Guentzel — who wouldn’t have been ready for the start of the playoffs under the normal schedule — could be available immediately if play doesn’t resume for another month or so.

Cleveland: Still baseball season

CLEVELAND — Relive the debut of Jacobs Field today as SportsTime Ohio replays the first game there, the 1994 home opener.

Here is the upcoming Indians games that will be televised by STO:

Thursday, March 26

12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m., Indians vs. Mariners from April 4, 1994 — Jacobs Field’s debuts as the Indians win 4-3 in 10th inning on Wayne Kirby’s walk-off RBI that scores Eddie Murray.

4 p.m., 1997 All-Star Game — The AL wins 3-1 over NL. Sandy Alomar is the home town hero winning the MVP Award and hitting a 2-run HR off Shawn Estes in the bottom of the seventh inning.

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Friday, March 27

4 p.m., Indians vs. Red Sox from Aug. 12, 2019 — The Indians win 6-5 as Carlos Santana hits a walk-off home in the ninthth. Jose Ramirez contributes a HR and three RBIs.

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Saturday, March 28

2 p.m., 1981 All-Star Game — The All-Star Game at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium was the first game after the 1981 players strike. The NL wins 5-4 as Gary Carter slams two HRs. The Indians All-Stars were Len Barker and Bo Diaz.

5 p.m., 1997 All-Star Game.

8 p.m., Indians vs. Mariners from Aug. 5, 2001 — Down 14-2 in the bottom of the seventh, the Tribe completes a thrilling 15-14 comeback win. Omar Vizquel went 4-of-6 with four RBIs, Marty Cordova was 4-5 with a HR and 2 RBIs and Jim Thome slugged two HRs.

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Sunday, March 29

10 a.m., 1995 ALDS Game 1, Indians vs. Red Sox — This amazing 5-4 win is highlighted by Tony Pena’s late-inning HR. This five-hour classic also features Albert Belle’s HR and 3 RBI performance.

2:30 p.m., 1995 ALCS Game 6, Indians at Mariners –Kenny Lofton scores the game-winning run from second base on a passed ball in the eighth inning. Carlos Baerga led the Indians going 3-4 with a HR.

5:30 p.m., 1997 ALCS Game 6, Indians at Orioles — Tony Fernandez’s memorable solo HF in the 11th and Charles Nagy’s pitching performance propel the Indians to a 1-0 win.

Pay cuts coming to NASCAR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — NASCAR informed its staff Tuesday that pay cuts will be imposed across the company until the series returns to racing.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps announced the moves in a memo to employees, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press from a person who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The memo said series executives, including the presidents of NASCAR-owned tracks, will see a 25% reduction in salary, while all other employees will have their salary reduced by 20%. Budget expenses and capital improvements have also been frozen.

NASCAR is currently suspended until May 9, a span costing the series seven of its elite Cup Series races. Phelps has vowed all postponed races will be rescheduled. In the memo, he said the hope is that the cuts are temporary, but the situation will be revisited.

Virus spread at Game Zero

ROME (AP) — It was the biggest soccer game in Atalanta’s history and a third of Bergamo’s population made the short trip to Milan’s famed San Siro Stadium.

Nearly 2,500 fans of visiting Spanish club Valencia also traveled to that Champions League match.

More than a month later, experts are pointing to the Feb. 19 game as one of the biggest reasons why Bergamo has become one of the epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic — a “biological bomb” was the way one respiratory specialist put it — and why 35% of Valencia’s team became infected.

The match, which local media have dubbed “Game Zero,” was held two days before the first case of locally transmitted COVID-19 was confirmed in Italy.

“We were mid-February so we didn’t have the circumstances of what was happening,” Bergamo Mayor Giorgio Gori said this week during a live Facebook chat with the Foreign Press Association in Rome. “If it’s true what they’re saying that the virus was already circulating in Europe in January, then it’s very probable that 40,000 Bergamaschi in the stands of San Siro, all together, exchanged the virus between them. As is possible that so many Bergamaschi that night got together in houses, bars to watch the match and did the same.”

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