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Thursday Sports Update

UNDATED (AP) — Green Bay’s Christian Kirksey believes his history with his new defensive coordinator will help the veteran linebacker make a smooth transition as he switches teams for the first time. Kirksey signed with the Packers in March after spending his first six NFL seasons in Cleveland. Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was the Browns’ head coach in 2014-15. Kirksey, who played at Iowa, is counting on his comfort level with Pettine to help as the 27-year-old enters a critical stage of his career. Injuries have caused Kirksey to play a total of nine games over the last two seasons.

NEW YORK (AP) — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says there is a “100%” chance of big league ball this year. Major League Baseball will make another proposal to start the pandemic-delayed season in empty ballparks, but Manfred vowed to unilaterally order opening day if an agreement is not reached. The players’ association made its second proposal Tuesday, asking for an 89-game regular season and 100% of prorated salaries. MLB’s plan a day earlier was for a 76-game season, would guarantee 50% of prorated salaries and hinge 25% in additional money on the postseason’s completion.

NEW YORK (AP) — Major League Baseball’s amateur draft began with the first of a pandemic-shortened five rounds. Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson was taken with the No. 1 overall pick by the Detroit Tigers. The Baltimore Orioles selected Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad at No. 2. Minnesota right-hander Max Meyer was third and went to Miami. Texas A&M lefty Asa Lacy was No. 4 to Kansas City. Vanderbilt shortstop Austin Martin went to Toronto to round out the first five picks.

CHICGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs selected hometown shortstop Ed Howard in the first round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft. The 18-year-old Howard was a prep star at Mount Carmel High School on Chicago’s South Side. He also started for the 2014 Jackie Robinson West Little League team that advanced to the finals of the Little League World Series. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Howard went No. 16 overall, becoming the first Illinois high school position player to go in the first round since Jayson Werth in 1997.

UNDATED(AP) — Six women have filed civil lawsuits against USA Swimming, its local associations in California and three now-banned coaches claiming the national governing body failed to protect them from abuse by those coaches. Debra Grodensky, Suzette Moran and Tracy Palmero, along with three other women who remain anonymous, filed three lawsuits this month. Among individuals named in the suits are former U.S. Olympic and national team coach Mitch Ivey, former U.S. national team director Everett Uchiyama and former coach Andrew King.

UNDATED (AP) — NASCAR has banned the Confederate flag from all events and properties. NASCAR says the Confederate flag “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.” Former chairman Brian France in 2015 tried to ban the flying of Confederate flags at racetracks, a proposal too broad to enforce and one that angered NASCAR’s core Southern-based fan base. Bubba Wallace, the lone black driver in the series, had called for the ban. He says it has been a stressful couple of weeks.

UNDATED (AP) — Two-time All-Star outfielder Claudell Washington has died at age 65. Washington had been battling prostate cancer. He played with seven teams in a major league career that started as a 19-year-old in Oakland with the Athletics. He finished with 1,884 hits, 164 home runs and 312 stolen bases. Washington made the All-Star Game in 1975 with the A’s and in 1984 with the Atlanta Braves during his 17-year career.

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