Photos of the Week - Bryant McKinnie Goes To Wimbledon To Support Serena Williams

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Kenny Phillips anticipates playing in Giants’ opener

If Kenny Phillips has his way, he’ll be playing in the season opener for the Giants.

Phillips continues to recover from microfracture surgery on his left knee, an injury that initially cast some doubt on whether he would ever play again. But Phillips is using that doubt to drive his rehab process, and told me Thursday he believes it’s realistic to play in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers.

“To me, everything is realistic,” Phillips said about being ready for the opener.”As far as being a starter, I don’t know if they’ll throw me out there the first game. I’m not sure. I do feel like I’ll get some type of playing time in that first game.

“I look at myself as the starter, and have the mindset they’re just working me back slowly. With Deon Grant, we know our roles. I feel that even if I’m not the starter [right away], he can get the job done. And he feels that when I’m ready to come back, he’ll let me shine. We’ll work something out.”

Phillips told fans during a live chat on Thursday that he’s been getting “nothing but good reports” from his doctors and trainers and expects to see the field in some fashion when training camp opens on Aug. 1.

“I think you’ll see me as soon as camp opens,” Phillips said. “I don’t know if I’ll practice (fully) immediately, but for sure in the first couple of weeks. It will probably happen that I ease into it, start off slow, and then work my way in.”

Lots of good news on Phillips’ recovery. He also had a lot to say about new teammate Antrel Rolle, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and the fact he believes the Giants are a Super Bowl team this season. Check out the full transcript.

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Rocky McIntosh launches a Riddell campaign

In addition to taking a swipe at Albert Haynesworth, Rocky McIntosh also announced his team's Riddell Campaign this week on the LaVar and Dukes Show. That means they're going to hit people hard. Or often. Or often and hard. With their heads. And/or their helmets. Or maybe their helmeted heads.

"Man, it's take no prisoners," he said. "We're going on a Riddell Campaign. We're bringing it to cities around here: Philadelphia, New York, all these guys, man, and we ain't taking no prisoners. It's cutthroat, man. [Mike Shanahan] wants to win, he wants to win big, he wants to stop the run, and we're gonna stop the run and bring it on back."

Someone's been telling these guys about Philadelphia and New York. Here's what DeAngelo Hall told Comcast SportsNert's Ivan Carter a few hours later when asked about the season opener against Dallas:

"C'mon man, the Cowboys? That's what us Redskins fans, that's what we live and die, we live and die that Cowboys game, the Giants and Eagles. That first one man, that's gonna kind of set the tone for the season. That's gonna set the tone for the season. The world's gonna see that we're a new team. A new team, new faces, new personalities."

Hall has always been a very shy and reserved man in my experience, reluctant to make any sort of brash news-making statements, but something must have snapped inside him on Wednesday night, because he also said this:

"We feel like with this team we're assembling right now and the coaching staff and the guys we have, we feel like we can be a force to be reckoned with....Nobody's out there coasting, trying to conserve anything. We're all out there trying to impress these coaches and let 'em know what we can do. Guys are ready, guys are ready. And like I said, I still stand behind my statement, we're gonna win a lot of games. We're gonna win a lot of games this season and we're gonna make these fans happy."

Someone please burn my entire DeAngelo Hall archive of posts if things don't go well this season. I don't think I'll be able to bear the evidence.

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Leon Williams Could Help on Cowboys Special Teams

Leon Williams turned some heads during the offseason. Williams took advantage of Brooking's absence and could help on special teams.

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Roscoe Parrish to have larger role in 2010?

The Bills' new coaching staff is expected to have a larger role for slot receiver Roscoe Parrish.

We'll believe it when we see it. The coaching change was a good thing for Parrish, as he had really fallen out of favor with the last regime. Then again, there's a good reason why he had fallen out of favor, so we're not holding our breath for more production under new coach Chan Gailey.

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Rocky McIntosh is tired of Haynesworth's shenanigans

You knew that Rocky McIntosh's contribution to the Haynesworth-bashing genre would be above-average when he dropped this description of No. 92: "The one that hasn't been around that needs to be around."

"The one that hasn't been around." I like that, Rocky. You can write for me any time. Just use more fat jokes next time, please. Might I suggest "The fat one that hasn't been around."

McIntosh, it goes without saying, was discussing the issue of the year on the LaVar and Dukes Show, the No. 1 source in the universe for informed Haynesworth bashing. I can't get enough. Neither can they.

"I mean, it's cool," McIntosh said, when asked if the one that hasn't been around has been a distraction. "It's up to him. It's his decision. Team-wise, we would like him to show up every once in a while to kind of get some things down and participate. But the way I see it, the year before he came we were No. 4, and when he came we were No. 10. With or without him we're still gonna be pretty good."

And how will Haynesworth be treated once he returns?

"It all depends on his performance," McIntosh said. "If he does good, I think everything will go by smoothly. But if things don't turn out, I guess there's gonna be some turmoil in there, because a lot of guys are tired with the shenanigans that he brings along."

This might be the only Haynesworth update of the day, unless and until LeBron is asked about Haynesworth during The Decision.

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Jack McClinton on Bulls' Summer league team

Jack McClinton was named to the Chicago Bulls’ Vegas Summer League team. McClinton who played in the summer league last year with the Spurs will be trying to impress the Bulls and land a roster spot. McClinton last year played in Turkey and performed well. McClinton will wear no. 32.

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Bucks build with Salmons

MILWAUKEE — Far removed from the free-agent frenzy and prime-time television specials, the Milwaukee Bucks quietly believe they're getting better.

The Bucks formally introduced free agents John Salmons and Drew Gooden on Thursday after agreeing to deals with both players last week.
And while small-market Milwaukee wasn't anything more than an interested bystander in the sweepstakes for LeBron James and other marquee free agents, general manager John Hammond believes the Bucks are beginning to be seen as a desirable destination for good players.

"I can guarantee you, John Salmons had options, and I can guarantee you, Drew Gooden had options," Hammond said. "And the fact that they want to be here I think is very, very important to us."

Hammond and the rest of the Bucks' front office was busy last week, agreeing to a five-year, $32 million deal with Gooden last Thursday and a $40 million, five-year deal with Salmons a day later. The moves came a few weeks after the Bucks added Corey Maggette in a trade with Golden State.

The Bucks believe they're now in position to build on last season, when they made a surprise run to the playoffs without injured center Andrew Bogut and then pushed the Atlanta Hawks to seven games before bowing out in the first round.

"With the moves we made, I think we're competing with anybody," Salmons said. "With all the shuffling that's going on now, I think that people have still got to put us in the mix with the best teams. I think that was our goal before we made the moves, and it's definitely our goal after."
Coach Scott Skiles knows the team will be facing increased expectations.

"Now the thing that's going to happen is, the script is going to flip and we're going to be expected to do something, as opposed to being picked last or second-to-last in the East," Skiles said. "And that's good. That's what we want."

Salmons played a critical role in the Bucks' playoff push after arriving in a trade with Chicago in February.

He opted out of his contract and explored his options but ultimately decided to return, citing the team's stability and chemistry as factors in his decision.

"I've been in some chaotic locker rooms," Salmons said. "It takes a toll on you after a while."

Skiles, who isn't known for heaping undue praise upon his players, said it was "almost unbelievable" how well Salmons fit in right away last season. Then he caught himself gushing.

"I'm afraid he's going to get a big head," Skiles said, playfully slapping Salmons on the shoulder.

"When you continue to bring in quality guys, obviously the competition among the players raises up," Skiles said. "That can be a very, very healthy thing if handled properly by the players and the coaches and the organization, or it can go the other way. We don't sense in any way that we have the type of people that aren't going to thrive in that type of environment."

Hammond said the team was likely done making major moves this offseason. The soft-spoken Salmons seemed relieved he wasn't in the spotlight like James.

"I'm glad I don't have a nine o'clock press conference," he joked.

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Jon Jay has nice night in Colorado

Jon Jay had three hits, including his third homer of the year, in the Cardinals' loss Wednesday.

Jay has quietly put together a nice first half in his limited chances, as he's batting .352 over 54 at-bats. The rookie is the best bet to get the bulk of the playing time in right field while Ryan Ludwick is on the DL, but as much as manager Tony La Russa likes to juggle his lineup, he certainly won't be out there every day.

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Aubrey Huff continues to stay hot

Aubrey Huff is 8-for-22 (.364) with four homers and eight RBI over his last five games.

Huff received a day off on Tuesday, but picked up right where he left off by hitting the second of three home runs by the Giants off Chris Narveson in the first inning Wednesday night. He's now batting .291 with 16 homers and 50 RBI, qualifying as one of the best fantasy bargains of the year. He currently ranks seventh in the National League with a .545 slugging percentage and 926 OPS.

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Ed Reed wants a new contract

Ed Reed isn’t retiring this season. In fact, it appears that he is looking to the future.

Reed has contacted the Ravens about a new contract, the Pro Bowl safety said in a Tuesday interview on 105.7 The Fan.

One of the most dominant safeties in NFL history, Reed has three years remaining on a six-year contract extension that he signed June 2006. He is scheduled to earn $6 million in 2010, $6.5 million in 2011 and $7.2 million in 2012.

“I’m not making it a big deal,” Reed said on The Norris and Davis Show. “[But] I think it needs to be taken care of.”

A Ravens spokesman said the team would not respond to Reed's comments.

Reed, who had contemplated retirement since the end of last season, said he told the Ravens that he will play this season. He recently estimated that he is 35 percent after having hip surgery.

The Ravens have a history of rewarding their star players with big contracts, but it could be risky to do so again with Reed considering his hip injury as well as his nerve impingement, which has caused him pain for the past couple of seasons.

“I’m not going to ask the Ravens about anything if I’m not going to play any much longer,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity that the Ravens have given me. I’m not about to ask them for anything if I’m not going to be playing. My focus is to get myself back. I’m coming back for at least for one more year.”

It was four years ago when Reed signed a six-year contract extension worth $40 million (a deal that officially took effect in 2007). According to his agent, Reed received a $15 million signing bonus in the largest deal ever given to a safety at that time.

In his interview on 105.7 FM, Reed seemed to base his pursuit of a new deal on the fact that he has maintained his level of play while other safeties have not. He pointed out that Ken Hamlin (who signed a $38 million deal with Dallas in July 2008) and Roy Williams (the eighth overall pick in the 2002 draft – the same draft where Reed was selected 24th) have since moved on to other teams. Hamlin recently signed with the Ravens because of Reed’s uncertain status.

“If the negotiations continue and we can do some things in the process, I’m going to welcome it,” Reed said. “I’m not saying that I’m not going to call the Ravens again because we have to have some conversations. Right now, my focus is to get myself back to 110 percent and back to a 107-yard return against the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Reed said that he is still shooting to play in the season opener at the New York Jets, but he isn’t going to rush his recovery. He acknowledged that he could miss a portion of the regular season.

“I believe with the hip, it could be a realistic thing where it could be October, November and December,” Reed said. “We don’t know. It’s going to be dependent on how I feel and what have I done to get back into full-throttle game shape.”

Reed is a six-time Pro Bowl safety who was named the NFL’s defensive player of the year in 2004. He led the league in interceptions in 2004 and 2008, the same year when he set the NFL record with a 108-yard interception return against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Last season, Reed missed four games in December because of a hip injury. He returned to play the regular-season finale at Oakland and two playoff games, where he made two interceptions.

Sometime after the draft, Reed underwent hip surgery in Vail, Colo., where he said doctors needed to reconstruct his hip.

Reed said he is moving around now but he still can’t train.

“I have some quickness,” he said. “If we had to play the Super Bowl now, one game, I think I could go out there and smart it up a little bit, using the mind a little more than the body just to give our team something.”

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Edgerrin James Football Camp Returns

COLLIER COUNTY: Former NFL running back Edgerrin James will once again offer a free day of football to Southwest Florida kids.
James and his cousin Javarris James, both from Immokalee and the University of Miami, are teaming up to hold the football skills camp on July 26th at the Immokalee Sports Complex.

The camp will begin at 9:30am with a morning stretch.  The instruction will take place from 10am to 12:30pm, with lunch to follow.  The afternoon session runs from 1pm to 4pm and includes a 7-on-7 tournament.  The pool party will run from 4 to 8pm

More than 400 children participated in last year's free camp. This year's camp four separate age divisions: 6-7, 8-10, 11-13 and 14-18.

The camp is sponsored by the Edgerrin James Foundation, Collier County Parks and Recreation, and Seminole Tribe Recreation of Immokalee.

To sign up for the camp, contact Joseph Boney at the Immokalee Sports Complex at 657-1951. The Immokalee Sports Complex is located at 505 Escambia St.

James, 31, has played for the Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks in an 11-year NFL career. He was released by the Seahawks in the middle of last season. James became the first Collier County high school product to play in a Super Bowl the previous season when the Cardinals lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Tampa. He is currently a free agent.

James' cousin, Javarris, is also a running back who starred at Immokalee High School and played at the University of Miami. He was not selected in April's NFL Draft, but signed as a free agent with the Colts, where his cousin played for his first seven seasons.

The football camps are just a small part of the charitable contributions James has made to Immokalee over the past decade. James purchased state championship rings for all of the players, coaches and cheerleaders involved with Immokalee High School's 2004 football team, which included Javarris. In 2005, he donated $100,000 to Immokalee High School to provide for a new weight room.

He also set up a destination called "The Fun House" in Immokalee, where young people can go to lift weights and play video games in a safe environment.

In 2000, James donated $250,000 to the University of Miami, the largest-ever donation at the time from a former athlete.

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Houston's all-time pro football team: Wide receivers - Andre Johnson

CORPUS CHRISTI — When it comes to who is the all-time best receiver in Houston’s 50-year pro football history, fans may be watching him right now.

Andre Johnson has been on the shortlist of top receivers in the NFL for the past few years and is the most likely current Houston Texans to beat the past Houston Oilers on our list.

But it will be up to the voters to decide.

Help select the all-time Houston pro football team’s wide receivers (pick 2) at Here are the candidates (Statistics, honors and years played are from time spent only with Houston pro franchises; seasons spent with Houston pro franchises are listed in parentheses).

Kenny Burrough (1971-1981)
Third on the Oilers in career receiving yards (6,907), sixth in receptions (408) and tied for second in touchdown catches (47). Led NFL with 1,063 receiving yards in 1975. Led team in receptions seven times. Made two Pro Bowls.

Curtis Duncan (1987-1993)
Seventh in Oilers career receptions (322) and yards (3,935), with 20 touchdowns. Had 82 receptions for 954 yards in 1992 to earn Pro Bowl appearance.

Ernest Givins (1986-1994)
Oilers’ all-time leader in receptions (542) and yardage (7,935). His 46 touchdowns are fourth in franchise history. Passed 1,000 yards receiving only in rookie season. Two-time Pro Bowler. UPI All-AFC in 1990.

Bill Groman (1960-1962)
His 1,473 receiving yards in 1960 are third all-time for the Oilers. Twice, he went over 1,000 yards in a season, and twice he averaged more than 20 yards a catch. Two-time All-AFL.

Charley Hennigan (1960-1966)
Led team in receptions four times, passing the 1,000-yard mark three times. His 1,746 receiving yards in 1961 are franchise best, while 1,546 in 1964 are second-best. His 101 receptions in 1964 are most in a season for Oilers. Most receiving touchdowns in Oilers career (51) and fourth in yards (6,823). Played in five AFL All-Star games. Named All-AFL twice.

Drew Hill (1985-1991)
Cleared 1,000 yards five times and led team in receptions four times. Second on the Oilers in career receiving yards (7,477) and touchdowns (47) and third in receptions (480). Two-time Pro Bowler.

Haywood Jeffires (1987-1995)
Led team in receptions five times, including grabbing 100 in 1991. Twice cracked the 1,000-yard barrier. Second among Oilers in receptions (512) and touchdowns (47) and fifth in yards (6,119). Made three Pro Bowls and named all-pro in 1991.

Andre Johnson (2003-present)
Has caught at least 50 passes every season for the Texans, twice catching more than 100, including a franchise-high 115 in 2008. Has 7,883 receiving yards for his career and twice has surpassed 1,500 in a season. Has 42 career touchdown catches. Four-time Pro Bowler and twice all-pro.


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Ryan Braun batting third

Whether it's for one game or longer, Ryan Braun is back in the No. 3 hole for the Brewers tonight as they try to end a three-game losing streak with a game against the Giants.

Since manager Ken Macha switched Prince Fielder and Braun in the batting order, Braun has been in a dreadful slump. In 28 games batting third, Braun is batting .219 with three homers and 18 RBI. In 51 games batting third, he is hitting .338 with eight homers and 33 RBI.

Batting third improved Fielder's home-run rate but little else. He was batting .259 with nine homers and 14 RBI in 31 games in the three-hole, compared to .264 with nine homers and 22 RBI in 53 games batting fourth.

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Reds' Yonder Alonso is one to watch in All-Star Futures Game

Hitting the halfway mark of the season means the All-Star Game for the majors, and it means the Futures Game for the minor leagues. Sunday's game will pit the best of the U.S.-born players against those from the rest of the world.

Yonder Alonso is among those on the World team. Born in Cuba, the 23-year old first baseman was the Reds' No. 1 pick out of Miami (Fla.) in the 2008 draft.

Starting this season at Class-AA Carolina, Alonso hit .267 with three homers and 13 RBI. He also put up a nice .388 OBP (19 walks to 16 whiffs). He's had a little tougher time after moving up to Class-AAA Louisville, hitting .257 with an OBP of just .294 (with 41 K's and only 11 walks). But the potential is evident in his power numbers -- six homers and 33 RBI in 54 games.

Alonso's biggest obstacle on the road to Cincinnati is the presence of Joey Votto at first base. For that reason, he's played some left field this season for the first time in his minor league career. Then again, Alonso could be a prime trade chip if the Reds are looking to add a player for the stretch run. (Cliff Lee perhaps?)

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Charlton Jimmerson Receives Player of the Month Honors

The Atlantic League of Professional Baseball today announced that Bridgeport Bluefish outfielder Charlton Jimerson and teammate Pat Ryan have been named the June Player and Pitcher of the month, respectively.

“We are very pleased to hear that Charlton and Pat have been named the recipients for these two awards,” says Bluefish general manager Bob Goughan. “They have been strong contributors to our success this season on the field and we are happy that they have received these accolades.”

Jimerson appeared in 26 games for Bridgeport in June, posting a league-high .398 batting average. The 30-year-old went 38-for-96 with 22 runs scored, 11 doubles, six home runs and 27 RBI. Jimerson led all Bluefish batters with a 1.213 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Last year, the former Major Leaguer made his Atlantic League debut as a member of the Newark Bears. He became one of the most dominant hitters in the league and won the batting title by posting a .335 mark. The slugger also recorded 21 home runs, 62 RBI, and 38 stolen bases in 103 games played.

Charlton made his Major League debut with the Houston Astros in 2006 following six successful seasons in the minors. In his first Major League at-bat, the California-native slugged a home run on the first pitch he saw in the big leagues against the Philadelphia Phillies on September 4, 2006. He finished that season with a .333 batting average over 17 games. After being signed by the Seattle Mariners the following year, he would make two more tours in the Majors in 2007 and 2008. Jimerson has appeared in 30 career Major League games and owns a .444 batting average.

The Bridgeport Bluefish Professional Baseball Club, a charter team in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, plays its home games at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard, located off Exit 27 of I-95 on the corner of Broad Street and South Frontage Road in Bridgeport. 2010 group outings and individual tickets are still available by calling 203-345-4800. Visit the Bluefish online at

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"The U" Deleted Scene #3

Every Tuesday until The U DVD release on Tuesday, August 17th, rakontur will be posting exclusive bonus features and deleted scenes that won't be available anywhere else.

The U deleted scene #3 - Thursday Nights With Jimmy
On Thursday nights Hurricanes Coach Jimmy Johnson met with his players to talk about anything other than football.  It was a way for Jimmy (a psychology major in college) to keep them out of trouble, and it was also a way to teach them about life.

Click here to view Deleted Scenes #1 and #2.

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Kellen Winslow Has Sights On Returning By Start Of Training Camp

If the Buccaneers are going to make headway towards returning to respectability, they'll need a healthy Kellen Winslow Jr.

Though he was working out separately from the rest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad, tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was doing fairly well physically during the later stages of the team's OTAs. According to St. Petersburg Times beat reporter Stephen Holder, Winslow was working "without any apparent discomfort or obvious limitations in range of motion."

Winslow of course has been plagued by lingering knee issues this offseason after undergoing surgery this winter. He played in all 16 games a year ago, catching 77 passes for 884 yards and 5 TDs, but one has to wonder if he'll be able to replicate those type of numbers if his explosiveness and mobility is in any way hampered during the regular season.

For now, Bucs fans wait patiently to see how he and the rest of the roster is feeling when the team kicks off its training camp later this month.

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Aubrey Huff gets promised day off vs. Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- True to his word, manager Bruce Bochy gave Aubrey Huff a break by leaving the first baseman-outfielder out of Tuesday night's lineup against the Milwaukee Brewers.

It was difficult for Bochy to rest Huff, the Giants' most productive hitter. Huff was available to pinch-hit, but he took full advantage of his intended day off by skipping pregame stretching and batting practice, with Bochy's blessing.

Huff entered Tuesday with 23 RBIs since June 10, tied for second in the National League in that span with Milwaukee's Corey Hart and Cincinnati's Joey Votto. David Wright of the Mets has 25.

Bochy also hoped to refrain from using left-hander Dan Runzler, who had appeared in each of the previous three games.

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Gaby Sanchez named NL Rookie of the Month

Florida Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez has been voted the June recipient of the Gillette presents National League Rookie of the Month Award.

Sanchez led all National League rookies with 39 hits, 16 runs scored, two triples and a .587 slugging percentage. The right-handed hitting first baseman added six doubles, four home runs and 16 RBI while batting .375 with a .426 on-base percentage. On June 11th at Tampa Bay, Sanchez homered twice, marking his first career multi-home run game, and set career-bests with four hits and six RBI in the contest. The 26-year-old compiled a career-high eight-game hitting streak from June 16th-24th, batting .472 (17-for-36) during that span. The Miami native recorded five consecutive multi-hit games from June 19th-24th, and collected 12 total multi-hit games during the month. In a three-game set at Baltimore from June 22nd-24th, Sanchez hit .615 (8-for-13) with a home run, two doubles and four RBI. The fourth round selection of the Marlins in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft is batting a team-high .308 on the season, and leads all N.L. rookies in batting average, hits (90), doubles (19), total bases (140), on-base percentage (.373) and extra-base hits (30). Sanchez, who played at the University of Miami as a catcher, is just the third Marlins rookie ever to have at least 90 hits before the All-Star break, joining Dan Uggla (94 in 2006) and Alex Gonzalez (99 in 1999). In addition, his 19 doubles are tied for second-most by a Marlins rookie before the break, behind Mike Jacobs, who hit 24 in 2006.

Others rookies receiving votes included Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg (2-2, 2.27 ERA, 31.2 IP, 48 SO); left-hander Jonathon Niese (4-0, 2.67 ERA, 33.2 IP, 24 SO) of the New York Mets and his teammate, first baseman Ike Davis (.264, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 15 R); and left fielder Tyler Colvin (.250, 5 HR, 14 RBI, .500 SLG) of the Chicago Cubs.

Sanchez will receive a specially designed trophy, suitably engraved, to commemorate his Rookie of the Month performance.

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Aubrey Huff not expecting late call to join NL All-Stars

MILWAUKEE Aubrey Huff has a nice little All-Star break planned to the Santa Cruz boardwalk with his wife and 2-year-old son. He doesn't expect to be a late injury replacement to the NL All-Star team, even though he has the numbers to go for the first time.

"Man, it doesn't matter," Huff said. "I've had the numbers before."

In 2003, Huff was hitting .304 with 17 home runs, 50 RBIs and an AL-best 31 doubles at the break for Tampa Bay. The team's representative was closer Lance Carter, who had a 4.17 ERA.

In 2008, Huff had a .284 average and ranked eighth in the AL in both home runs (18) and RBIs (59) for Baltimore. The Orioles representative was closer George Sherrill, who had a 4.08 ERA.

"When you play on last-place teams, they take one player, and they'll take someone to fill a need," Huff said. "It would be awesome to go. It wouldn't feel like a gimme, throw-in type of vote. But there's obviously a lot of politics involved, a lot of popularity. That's the way it's gone my whole career."

After his three-hit afternoon led the Giants to a victory over the Brewers on Monday, Huff has a .294 average with a team-high 15 home runs and 49 RBIs numbers that are nearly identical to All-Stars Ryan Braun and Adrian Gonzalez.

Yes, the Giants are sending their closer, instead. But at least Brian Wilson's 2.04 ERA is shinier.

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Anthony Reddick Recovers 1 Fumble

In his first game as an Edmonton Eskimo in the Canadian Football LEague, Anthony Reddick recorded one solo tackle and also had one fumble recovery that set up an Eskimo touchdown in their 25-10 losing effort. It was a promising start for Reddick who is playing significant minutes for the Eskimos as an “import.”

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Santana Moss getting ready for camp

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said that he is pleased with WR Santana Moss’s knee injury after a recent practice, the Washington Post reports.

Analysis: With the addition of QB Donovan McNabb, Moss is poised to have a good year. With him being ready for training camp, he will have plenty of time to gel with McNabb. Moss could be a high value pick, and he would be a solid choice in the middle rounds.

Click here to order Santana Moss’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Rookie TE DajLeon Farr Moves One Step Closer

The Chargers know a thing or two about plucking talented tight ends from the undrafted free agent pool. They did just that when they signed Antonio Gates in 2003; and now, they hope for lightning to strike twice in the form of DajLeon Farr. The gifted rookie from Memphis tells what he must do to follow the All Pro’s footsteps.

DajLeon Farr (6-foot-5, 256 pounds) began his college career at the University of Miami, where in three seasons he caught 10 balls for 134 yards. The reason for his muted statistics is he was stuck behind a group of talented tight ends that included Greg Olsen, the first-round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2007, and Dedrick Epps, who was selected by the Chargers with their final pick in this year’s draft.

Farr transferred to Memphis as a senior, where he made more of an impact by catching 14 passes for 76 yards and a score. The bad news was that his senior performance was not enough to get him drafted. The good news was that it was strong enough to catch San Diego’s attention.

“The Chargers were the first team to get in touch with me after the draft,” said Farr, who watched the draft at his uncle’s house with his sister, friends and family.

San Diego was an appealing place for tight ends after the draft. The team had not yet signed Randy McMichael, so rookies came in hoping to compete for the No. 3 spot behind Antonio Gates and Kris Wilson.

However, that wasn’t the only reason Farr signed with the Chargers.

“I had a connection with the Chargers because of Chud,” said Farr of tight ends coach Rod Chudzinski, who was Miami’s offensive coordinator from 2001-2003. “[Chudzinski] recruited me in high school. [Signing in San Diego] was wanting to be somewhere where I knew someone and just trying to put myself in a position where I will be able to develop into a great player.”

Chudzinski had moved onto the NFL by the time Farr arrived in Miami. But Farr still believes his time in the college ranks -- especially his stint with the Hurricanes -- prepared him for success in the NFL.

Miami is widely known as a tight end factory, having produced such star players as Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow and Olsen. Farr hopes to continue the tradition.

“Miami football is a great tradition,” Farr said. “I spent three years around guys that have been through college and been in the league, taking notes from them and trying to model myself after them. I take little pieces of different people’s games and still try to be myself.”

Despite a strong upbringing, Farr is unlikely to win more than a place on the practice squad in San Diego. He is stuck behind a trio of strong veterans in Gates, Wilson and McMichael. Barring an injury, those will be the three tight ends Norv Turner carries into the season.

Nonethless, Farr is making the best of the situation and learning from the established players in front of him.

“Every day it’s a different guy saying something to me, trying to help me along the way,” he said. “Every day it’s a different guy telling me, ‘Hey, you might want to try doing this,’ or, ‘Pay attention here,’ or ‘Focus on that.’ I’m just trying to find one thing to get better at every day.”

In his quest for ongoing improvement, Farr has learned that the biggest difference between college and the pros is the mental part of the game. He is working tirelessly to get the playbook down and get on the same page as the veterans in front of him.

Once he accomplishes that, he can spend less time thinking and more time reacting.

“I need to work on playing faster,” he said. “I can’t make a lot of small mistakes. I have to be secure and on-point with my assignments. I have to play fast.”

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Kellen Winslow making strides after latest knee surgery

According to the St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Kellen Winslow was able to participate in recent team activities "without any apparent discomfort or obvious limitations in range of motion." Winslow underwent what was believed to be a relatively minor arthroscopic procedure on his right knee in early June, but the 26-year old vows to be ready for the team's season-opener on September 12th, at home against his former team, the Cleveland Browns.

Winslow is coming off of one of the more productive (and quiet) years of his career. No motorcycle crashes, no short-sighted (and absurd) references to himself as a "soldier," no taunting of injured players on the field, no long stints recovering from (yet another) injury...just quiet, steady production. In fact, in 2009, Kellen Winslow II became the Bucs' most consistent offensive player and go-to receiver, developing an on-field rapport with rookie quarterback Josh Freeman, and ultimately finishing the year with 77 catches and 884 yards (both single-season franchise records for the tight end position). But Winslow is also recovering from the sixth procedure on his knees in six years, which is an obvious red flag to fantasy owners. With the tight end position having as much depth as any year in recent memory (in terms of fantasy potential), Winslow is a bit of a gamble at any point in the middle rounds of upcoming drafts. His dynamic playmaking potential and guaranteed role in the Tampa offense (if healthy) is assuredly worth a late-round flier, but be wary of reaching sooner than that for a man who, "soldier" or not, has yet to accrue more than five touchdown catches in a single season.

Click here to order Kellen Winslow’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Ed Reed's surgically repaired hip is a serious concern

Baltimore Ravens All-Pro safety Ed Reed had reconstructive hip surgery after the NFL draft. When asked about when he might be able to return to the field, Reed said, "Well, it's a four-to-six month process to getting yourself back to 100 percent, to get yourself in shape to start working out for a season." Reed had the surgery in late April and feels he might be healthy to start the season, but is still unsure of a timetable. "I don't want to come back too early, man, and injure myself again," Reed said. When asked about how he felt right now, Reed said his hip felt 35 percent healthy.

Fantasy Analysis:
There's no denying Reed's importance to the Raven's defense. He's one of the best safeties in the league and arguably one of the best ball-hawk safeties of all time. Reed has already flirted with the idea of retiring, but he will only be 32 years old during the 2010 NFL season. It's difficult to speculate on how effective Baltimore's defense will be without him. Simply as a comparison, when Troy Polamalu was injured and forced to miss part of the 2009 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers really struggled. The Ravens can of course rely on Ray Lewis to lead the defense but with an average pair of cornerbacks, Reed's absence would leave their secondary that much more vulnerable. This is an important development for the Ravens' offensive players as well since if the defense is on the field longer, there's less time and fewer opportunities for Ray Rice, Joe Flacco, and Anquan Boldin to make plays.

Click here to order Ed Reed’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Youth football camp honors slain Miami Hurricanes player Bryan Pata

Bryan Pata's family hosted hundreds of children for a football clinic on Saturday, calling it another way to celebrate the slain Miami player's life.

Several players from Miami, including Hurricanes quarterback Jacory Harris, and host FIU took part in the second annual Pata Camp #95, although very few of them ever met the defensive end killed nearly four years ago.

Pata, a Miami Central grad, was shot in a parking lot outside his off-campus residence in November of 2006, just months before he expected to be drafted into the NFL. No arrests have been made in the case, and Miami-Dade police officials have told the family that their investigation remains open.

Pata's brother, Edwin Pierre-Pata, says the foundation that he helps run in his brother's name is trying to both educate the college players on how to avoid violence, as well as provide positive role models for kids.

"Bryan died due to violence and we want to send kids the message that they should stay away from that kind of lifestyle," he told the Miami Herald.

Several former teammates and current NFL'ers attended as well, including Eric Moncur of the Philadelphia Eagles, Tavares Gooden of the Baltimore Ravens and Kareem Brown of the Tennessee Titans.

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Ray Lewis Fought For His Independence

A little over ten years ago, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis had just finished the fight of his life, with the victory meaning independence of the ultimate degree. Freedom is the result of what we all reflect upon when July 4th rolls around each year. The ultimate sacrifices made over the years to further what happened in this country in 1776, as it declared independence.

Ray Lewis was charged with murder based on a terrible incident the night before Super Bowl 34 in January 2000. Two men lost their lives during a brawl outside a nightclub that Lewis was partying with friends in. Specifically what happened continues to be debated, but in the end, Lewis was the only one who pleaded guilty of a crime and that ended up being obstruction of justice. He paid a league-imposed $250,000 fine and was on probation for a year, but the biggest penalty he paid was the loss of respect from fans all over the country and in some cases, in Baltimore as well.

Lewis was abandoned by some of his endorsement deals. He was yelled out in public, especially in visiting football stadiums.

Chants of"murderer!" followed him whenever he stepped out onto gridiron outside of Baltimore. Many fans in this city felt that they could not look up to him as a role model and didn't want their children admiring him anymore. This hurt Ray more than any fine could ever do.

At the same time, all the negative press surrounding this incident and his reputation only served to motivate the man who will go down as the greatest player in Baltimore Ravens history and perhaps the greatest linebacker in the National Football League. Certainly, no one endured playing at such a high level for his entire career at such a physically demanding position.

Ray's next season culminated in hoisting the Lombardi Trophy as not only the Super Bowl Champion, but the MVP as well. Everything he went through the previous summer gave him the strength to stand up before his teammates at the beginning of the 2000 season and tell them he was there, as a free man, for a reason. His goal was to win Super Bowl 35, and he wanted to know who in that room that day, was going with him on that journey. The rest was history and now it is ten years later and once again, the goal is the same.

The Ravens might not have been back to the big game since then, but for the most part, they have always been competitive and their defense, led by Lewis who is entering his 15th season in the NFL, has ranked among the best year in and year out. As the July 4th weekend winds down and Training Camp opens at the end of this month, the Ravens are being talked about as one of the favorites to get to Dallas for the Super Bowl next February. It's only fitting that Ray Lewis will be doing his dance out of the tunnel at M&T Bank Stadium, sending the fans and the rest of the team into a frenzy. In my humble opinion, Ray Lewis has fought and won his freedom and the right to strut his independence whenever and wherever he wants.

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Bucks, John Salmons finally finalize deal

The Bucks and John Salmons have come to agreement on a five-year, $39 million contract.

It took a day to hammer out the details, but the Bucks now have added Salmons, Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden to an already solid core, and will set their sites on getting past the first round, and possibly to the Eastern Conference Finals next season.

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Aubrey Huff leads Giants in victory over Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- Aubrey Huff requested and received Tuesday off from manager Bruce Bochy. After what he has done in the past 48 hours, not to mention all season, Huff deserves a break.

Huff went 3-for-4, scored a run and contributed a two-run single to a four-run seventh inning Monday that lifted the Giants to a 6-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a four-game series.

It marked the second consecutive day in which Huff did virtually everything he could to try to help the Giants win. In Sunday's haunting 4-3, 15-inning loss, Huff obliterated Colorado second baseman Jonathan Herrera with a clean yet devastating takeout slide that enabled San Francisco to score the third and tying run in the eighth inning. He also lined a leadoff triple in the 13th inning but was stranded.
Huff, one of five Giants to play that entire game, delivered all the effort he could summon Monday.

"The whole game I was running on fumes," said Huff, who shares the team lead for games played (80) with Pablo Sandoval. "If I don't get [Tuesday] off, I'll be worthless until the All-Star break. I never felt that tired in a game in my life. By the fifth inning I was basically spent. Those 5 1/2 hours [Sunday] got to me."

A long-shot candidate to join the National League All-Star team as a substitute if a selectee is injured, Huff hiked his batting average to .294 and leads the Giants in home runs (15), RBIs (49), slugging percentage (.536) and on-base percentage (.380). He again demonstrated his production skills when it counted most against the Brewers.

With the score tied, 1-1, Buster Posey and Travis Ishikawa opened the Giants' big seventh by singling off Kameron Loe (0-1), who entered the game with a 0.93 ERA in 15 appearances. Pinch-hitter Edgar Renteria popped up a sacrifice-bunt attempt before Andres Torres walked on four pitches to load the bases.

Freddy Sanchez rapped a potential double-play grounder to shortstop Alcides Escobar, who fumbled the ball for a run-scoring error. Zach Braddock relieved Loe and yielded Huff's hit, which scored Ishikawa and Torres. Sanchez moved to third on Pat Burrell's fly to center and scored on a wild pitch.

Huff found a worthy adversary in Braddock, a hard-throwing rookie left-hander. Huff nearly struck out on a 2-2 slider on what he called a "panic swing" before lining his opposite-field single to left.

"He just pumped two heaters right by me, and I'm a pretty good fastball hitter," Huff said. "... I got lucky enough to just flip one off to the left."

None of this would have unfolded had Escobar cleanly handled Sanchez's grounder.

"I looked at the runner," Escobar said, acknowledging his mistake. "I think I had a chance for a double play."

Said Bochy, "We got a break, which we really haven't had a lot of."

Another opposite-field blow, Posey's third home run of the season, concluded the scoring in the eighth. As was the case with Huff, Posey's fortunes during his at-bat changed markedly from one swing to the next. Posey flailed at David Riske's 1-1 pitch and felt a locking sensation in his left wrist, which has been troubled by occasional inflammation since last year. Posey remained in the game and drove Riske's next delivery into the right-field seats.

The Giants' third victory in 13 games enabled them to gain a half-game on idle National League West-leading San Diego. San Francisco remained in fourth place, seven games behind the Padres.

"Pat Burrell told me before the game, 'Let's make up one game a week.' It makes sense," Huff related. "That way it doesn't seem so overwhelming."

To accomplish that comeback, the Giants will need continued improvement from Jonathan Sanchez (7-6), who didn't win his seventh game last year until Sept. 23. The left-hander lasted six innings and allowed Milwaukee's lone run despite surrendering five hits, walking six and flinging three wild pitches. The Brewers stranded nine runners against Sanchez, including five in scoring position.

Sanchez's poor control incensed Bochy, who typically visits pitchers only when he removes them. But he stalked to the mound to deliver a harsh fourth-inning message to Sanchez, who had fallen behind 1-0 on opposing pitcher Dave Bush after issuing his fifth walk.

"Obviously, [it] was time for a talk," Bochy said, declining to elaborate.

"He just went out there to give me a breather," Sanchez said.

Posey was equally nonchalant about Bochy's lecture.

"I would say it was encouraging," he said with a straight face. "It wasn't unpleasant."

But it was necessary, because Sanchez had lively stuff and was on the brink of wasting it.

"It's weird, because he won't locate for a stretch, and then he'll throw three pitches in a row right where he wants to throw them," Brewers right fielder Corey Hart said. "You can do that when you throw hard. He's got the kind of stuff where he could throw a no-hitter any day."

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Danny Valencia's RBI single Leads Twins Over Rays Danny Valencia's RBI single leads Twins over Rays

MINNEAPOLIS -- Danny Valencia had two hits and the go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning and the Minnesota Twins outlasted David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays for a 2-1 victory Friday night.

Scott Baker (7-7) gave up one run on six hits and struck out eight in seven innings to win an outstanding duel with Price, who entered the game leading the AL in wins and ERA.

Price (11-4) allowed two runs on four hits with six strikeouts in eight innings and took a no-hitter into the fifth inning.

But the Twins tagged him for two runs in the seventh and Jon Rauch stranded the tying run at second base for his 18th save in 22 chances.
Price had a one-hitter going with two outs in the seventh before the Twins put together three straight hits.

Jason Kubel singled and scored on a double by Delmon Young before Valencia gave the Twins an improbable 2-1 lead with a sharp single to centerfield.

Minnesota remained a game up on Detroit in the AL Central after the Tigers also won at home.

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Chris Perez showing improvement

CLEVELAND -- It was a long climb back to the eighth inning for Rafael Perez, but that's where the lanky lefty found himself Tuesday night. Perez retired the side in the eighth to earn the hold in a 5-4 win over the Blue Jays.

And though it was but one outing, it served as a sign that manager Manny Acta's confidence in Perez has grown exponentially in recent weeks.

"He's throwing more quality strikes," Acta said. "That was a good test for him, facing two of three lefties and being able to cruise through the eighth inning. That was good for us."

As recently as May 31, Perez had an ERA north of 7. He now has a 4.21 mark with three holds in his last six appearances.

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Yonder Alonso powers Bats, 10-5

DURHAM, N.C. -- Yonder Alonso was 3for6, and his eighth-inning grand slam put the game away as the Louisville Bats beat the Durham Bulls 10-5 on Friday.

The Bats led 5-4 when Danny Dorn led off the eighth with a double. Gary Matthews Jr. singled two batters later, and Zack Cozart's walk brought Alonso to the plate.

He blasted the first pitch from Joe Bateman over the left-field fence for his fourth homer of the year, putting the Bats up 9-4.

After Aroldis Chapman struck out two in a perfect seventh inning, he stayed in for the eighth. Chapman then gave up a run after two hits and a walk, but he finished with three strikeouts in his two innings to keep the Bats well ahead. In his four relief appearances since being moved out of the rotation, Chapman has given up six runs in 62/3 innings with 11 strikeouts and two walk

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Ryan Braun picked for All-Star Game

Corey Hart was named to the National League all-star team Sunday along with teammates Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo. Braun became the first player in club history to be elected to three consecutive All-Star Games, finishing first among all major-league outfielders in fan balloting.

Braun led all major-league outfielders in fan balloting for the third consecutive year with 2,972,525 votes, behind only St. Louis first baseman Albert Pujols (4,380,669) and Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley (3,616,038) in the NL.

Shortstop Robin Yount was voted to the AL starting squad in 1982 and 1983, the only Brewer so honored in consecutive years until Braun the past two seasons. Despite being in an offensive skid for several weeks, Braun is batting .295 with 23 doubles, 11 homers and 51 RBI.

"It's definitely special," said Braun. "This time of year is one of the few opportunities you have to reflect on where you're at and what you've accomplished. I realize how fortunate I am to be in this position."

A Los Angeles native, Braun said he looked forward to playing in the All-Star Game in nearby Anaheim on July 13.

"Any opportunity I have to get back home is special for me," he said. "I'm excited to get back to the West Coast. I got the chance to play in Angel Stadium for the first time a few weeks ago (in interleague play) and it's a beautiful facility. I'm sure it'll be an incredible game."

And what about the numerous ticket requests that are sure to come from family and friends back home?

"I don't think you can ever get enough tickets for everybody that wants them," said Braun. "You try to get them for as many people as possible because it's an amazing experience. I want to be able to enjoy it with my friends and family."

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Jon Jay back from Memphis

ST. LOUIS – Outfielder Jon Jay returned to the Cardinals Saturday, added to the roster when Ryan Ludwick was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left calf.

Some could argue that the 25-year-old outfielder never should have left in the first place after he hit .302 in 26 games for the Cardinals earlier this year. Jay was optioned to Triple-A Memphis in early June when the Cardinals signed veteran outfielder Randy Winn.

But Jay continued to produce in Memphis and with the Cardinals needing an outfielder to take Ludwick’s place, Jay found out after the Redbirds’ game Friday night that he was headed back to St. Louis.

“I think it’s always tough but it’s just part of the game,” Jay said of getting demoted despite contributing last month. “It’s just part of what happens. I just went down there and tried to continue to do what I was doing before, working hard and put together good at bats and try to help my team win. I have another chance here and I hope to do more of the same.”

Jay hit .321 in 42 games for Memphis with 16 doubles, four home runs, 32 RBIs and a .491 slugging percentage.  He will likely platoon with outfielder Nick Stavinoha in right until Ludwick is eligible to come off the disabled list after the All-Star break.

The University of Miami product shook hands with several players in the clubhouse upon his arrival Saturday afternoon, finding his locker had been placed between Aaron Miles and Stavinoha.

“Definitely, just knowing the guys a little bit better now and stuff like that,” Jay said of a renewed comfort level. “But at the same time, I know that I still have to bust my butt everyday and just because I had a little success before, 43 at bats or a month, I want to be able to have long-term success and I still have to put in my work.”

Ludwick was close to returning to the Cardinals lineup when he re-aggravated a calf strain Friday while running on the treadmill. The outfielder was originally diagnosed with cramping his left calf in Toronto on June 22. He returned to the lineup three days later to DH in Kansas City on June 25, but strained the calf while tagging up from third base in the ninth inning.

The move is retroactive to June 26, meaning Ludwick will be eligible to come off the disabled list when the Cardinals return from next week’s All-Star break.

“It stinks but you just deal with it, it’s part of the game,” Ludwick said. “I don’t think anyone likes to go on the DL or be hurt but what are you going to do? I feel like that Astroturf got me. It’s just a tough break. I’m not too worried about it. I’ll rehab and get ready to go hopefully after the All-Star break.”

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Aubrey Huff hits two jacks in losing effort

Aubrey Huff provided all the offense for the Giants on Friday night, hitting a solo homer and two-run jack in a 6-3 loss to the Rockies.

After cooling off toward the end of June, Huff is starting July with a bang. He now has 14 homers and 45 RBI and we don't think it's a fluke. Remember, when he last got regular at-bats in Baltimore in 2008, Huff hit 32 homers while hitting .304.

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