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MILWAUKEE — Had 2020 proceeded as expected, Ryan Braun would have been approaching the second half of what very well could have been his final major-league season.

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But, just as it has with seemingly everything else in the world since March, COVID-19 and the ensuing three-month shutdown of baseball has affected the retirement plans the 36-year-old had first publicly mentioned in January.

"I would say at this point, I'm more likely to play another year than I think I would have been," Braun told reporters on Saturday afternoon, after taking part in the in the Milwaukee Brewers' initial workout of what's been dubbed "Summer Camp 2020."

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Why the change of heart?

"To start with, we'll only play 60 games instead of 162 games, so obviously at this age and where I'm at in my career, it's very appealing to me to have the option to DH for a decent percentage of my at-bats," he said. "And this season will be an experience like we've never experienced before.

© Roy Dabner, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Ryan Braun played in 144 games in 2019 – the most since his NL MVP runner-up year of 2012 – and was again productive with a .285 batting average, 22 home runs and 75 RBI.

"So at this point, I feel like it's more likely that I play another year than I anticipated a few months back."

Back in February and March, Braun was being projected as the fourth outfielder as well as a right-handed-hitting option at first base in the wake of the offseason free-agent signing of Avisaíl García, who was installed as the primary rightfielder, and the move of Christian Yelich from right to left.

Braun played in 144 games in 2019 – most since his National League MVP runner-up year of 2012 – and was again productive with a .285 batting average, 22 home runs and 75 RBI with an OPS of .849, so a slightly reduced role figured to fit him well as long as he was amenable to it.

Then the pandemic hit, and with the drastic changes that come along with baseball's restart for this year and likely next will be the universal designated hitter – a job that would seem to fit Braun perfectly (as he noted) by keeping him fresher and helping him to potentially avoid some of the nagging injuries he's dealt with in the past.

Braun is entering the final year of the five-year, $105 million extension he signed with the Brewers back in April 2011, and it includes a $15 million mutual option for 2021 with a $4 million buyout.

It's highly unlikely the Brewers would exercise their half of that option at this point.

But, if both parties were agreeable to Braun returning at a more club-friendly price, the potential for one final season with the team that drafted him fifth overall out of the University of Miami in 2005 would be there assuming he remains healthy and productive.

"My focus for now is just on this year, trying to prepare for this season," Braun said when asked about that possibility. "For me personally, playing a smaller number of games is something that’s beneficial. I think I’ve been able to be pretty good the last few Septembers because when I know it’s a smaller sample size we’re working with I can just focus on sprinting to the finish line.

"I love everything about the city, this organization and I’m incredibly close with the Attanasios, so the goal certainly would be, if I play another year, to play here."

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Braun's family grew by one May 31 when he and his wife, Larisa, welcomed the couple's third child, son Carter James.

While mother and baby are both doing well, the proposition of playing in the midst of a pandemic is frightening enough that the game's best all-around player, the Angels' Mike Trout, is reportedly considering opting out of playing this season with his wife eight months pregnant with the couple's first child.

Another big-name player, Dodgers pitcher David Price, announced Saturday he's opting out of the season as well.

Braun acknowledged the risk is a real one – the Braves announced Saturday all-star first baseman Freddie Freeman tested positive for COVID-19 – and that even the game's best players aren't off-limits from the virus, but that the top-notch medical care and detail-oriented protocol that is in place for all teams has been enough to allay his fears.

So far.

"First and foremost, I love this game," Braun said. "I love having an opportunity to compete. I think there’s a level of accountability that I feel toward my teammates. Also, the fact that obviously a lot closer to the end of my career than the beginning of my career so if this was to be my last year, I certainly wouldn’t want to have to sit out.

"The more I learned about the health and safety protocols that were in place, the more comfortable I felt with everything. But again, I’m continuing to assess on a day-to-day basis and Larisa and I continue to have conversations about what this looks like, whether it’s safe for me to be here, whether it would be safe for them to join me here.

"And I think a lot of players are in that same situation in trying to assess it on a day-to-day basis and see what makes the most sense for them."

Braun said he's been keeping a low profile since arriving back in Milwaukee, hanging out mostly with Yelich and another friend, and that he feels good physically.

Getting to that first game still healthy and refreshed while also ready to face top-notch pitching with only three weeks of prep time will be the next challenge. And doing it in empty ballparks will just add to what's already been a surreal experience for everyone involved.

"It’ll be drastically different," Braun said. "None of us knows what to expect and none of us have been through anything like this before, so we’ll have to create our own energy. I think that we’ll be depending on the public-address announcer and whoever’s doing the music on a daily basis to create some energy for us as well. But it’ll be a lot different.

"Obviously we love having fans here, we love the home-field advantage that they help create for us. The atmosphere and environment for big games here is electric and it’s as loud as it is anywhere in baseball. So, we’ll certainly miss that.

"I don’t know whether at some point in the season some small amount of fans will be let into stadiums or not. We would love for that to be the case, but ultimately we will abide by whatever they suggest we do. But it’ll be significantly different than we’re used to."

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Full screen 1/21 SLIDES © Patrick Gorski, USA TODAY Sports The Chicago Cubs train at Wrigley Field on July 3. 2/21 SLIDES © Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford (left) and third baseman Evan Longoria (right) walk across the field during a workout at Oracle Park. 3/21 SLIDES © Robert Hanashiro, Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brusdar Graterol walks on the field during workouts at Dodger Stadium. 4/21 SLIDES © Joe Nicholson, USA TODAY Sports Seattle Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford throws during a practice session at T-Mobile Park. Slideshow continues on the next slide 5/21 SLIDES © Orlando Ramirez, USA TODAY Sports San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. during batting practice at Petco Park. 6/21 SLIDES © Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sport Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts runs in the outfield during the team's first official workout at Dodger Stadium. 7/21 SLIDES © Tommy Gilligan, USA TODAY Sports Baltimore Orioles third baseman Rio Ruiz and first baseman Renato Nunez during the afternoon workout batting practice at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. 8/21 SLIDES © Patrick Gorski, USA TODAY Sports Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo throws the ball during workouts at Wrigley Field. 9/21 SLIDES © Adam Glanzman, Getty Images Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. dons a mask at Fenway Park. Slideshow continues on the next slide 10/21 SLIDES © Kyle Terada, USA TODAY Sports Photographers during the GIants' workout Friday at Oracle Park. 11/21 SLIDES © Dale Zanine, USA TODAY Sports Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. fields the ball during the first day of training at Truist Park. 12/21 SLIDES © Todd Kirkland, Getty Images A Braves associate sets up a hand sanitizing station during the first day of summer workouts at Truist Park. 13/21 SLIDES © Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier works out at Tropicana Field. 14/21 SLIDES © Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi takes some grounders during their workout. Slideshow continues on the next slide 15/21 SLIDES © Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports Rays manager Kevin Cash looks on during the first workout at Tropicana Field. 16/21 SLIDES © Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports A member of the Phillies grounds crew prepares for batting practice. 17/21 SLIDES © Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports Phillies shortstop Jean Segura arrives for the first day of workouts. 18/21 SLIDES © Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports An unknown Phillies player walks up the stands at Citizens Bank Park. 19/21 SLIDES © Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports Phillies manager Joe Girardi looks on a practice. 20/21 SLIDES © Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper walks up the stands during workouts at Citizens Bank Park. 21/21 SLIDES © Bob DeChiara, USA TODAY Sports Fenway Park security guard Angel Santiago mans the media entrance at Fenway Park. 21/21 SLIDES

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Shortened season, universal DH has Ryan Braun re-thinking his possible retirement plans


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Bills sign head coach Sean McDermott to extension

Black Womens Equal Pay Day highlights how black women lose nearly $1M over their careers Walmarts newest Instacart partnership bolsters the retailers same-day delivery offerings – and takes dead aim at Amazons Whole Foods Bills sign head coach Sean McDermott to extension

The Bills have signed head coach Sean McDermott to a multi-year contract extension, the team announced. Per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, McDermott’s new contract will be for a six-year term, keeping him with the team through 2025 (Twitter link). As is typically the case with head coach contracts, no financial details were disclosed, but it’s likely that the William & Mary graduate received a sizable pay bump.

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports The Buffalo Bills have extended head coach Sean McDermott with a multi-year pact.

McDermott, 46, broke into the NFL coaching ranks in 2001 as an assistant with the Eagles, and he became the club’s defensive coordinator/secondary coach in 2009. He moved on to the Panthers’ DC job in 2011, and his performance over his six years in Carolina — his unit finished in the top 10 in overall defense from 2012-15 — helped him land the Bills’ HC job.

With the Bills, McDermott has compiled a 25-23 regular-season record and has guided the team to two playoff appearances in his three seasons at the helm. Buffalo had not qualified for the playoffs in any of the 16 years prior to McDermott’s hire.

Under McDermott, the Bills’ defense has become one of the best units in the league. And, given the offseason acquisition of Stefon Diggs, along with another year of development for QB Josh Allen, Buffalo is a trendy pick to snap the Patriots’ streak of 11 consecutive AFC East titles.

Earlier this year, we learned that McDermott was worried that the issues with workplace culture the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres were facing could impact the Bills’ own culture — the Bills and Sabres are both owned by Terry and Kim Pegula — but apparently those worries have been assuaged.

In a statement, Kim Pegula said the following: “Sean’s leadership on and off the field has been nothing but genuine and transparent, qualities we appreciate as owners. He is the same great person to us, the players and everyone across all our organizations. We will never forget how impressed we were during his first interview. Sean’s attention to detail was apparent back then and his process driven approach has brought great stability to our organization. We are happy to extend his contract and keep him in Western New York for many years to come.”

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Related slideshow: The best and worst moves of the NFL offseason (Provided by Yardbarker)

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Full screen 1/25 SLIDES © Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Twitter The best and worst moves of the NFL offseason It was a wild NFL offseason despite the COVID-19 pandemic. With training camp underway, here's a look at the best and worst moves. 2/25 SLIDES © Reinhold Matay / USA Today Sports Images Best: Broncos trade for A.J. Bouye Denver moved on from Chris Harris Jr., but got an extremely capable replacement in Bouye. The former Texan and Jaguar is coming off a sub-par year, but he's a strong fit for Vic Fangio's defense and was had for only a fourth-round pick. He was in need of a change of scenery and has the supporting cast to help him rebound at age 29. 3/25 SLIDES © Cary Edmondson / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Bears sign Jimmy Graham Graham was a bust in two seasons with Green Bay, but the Bears are taking a risk that the five-time Pro Bowler has something left. However, this is more than a flier, as Chicago handed Graham a two-year, $16 million contract after he had only 38 catches last season. The fact the Bears followed up that signing by using a second-round pick on tight end Cole Kmet is even more puzzling. 4/25 SLIDES © Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports Images Best: Browns sign Jack Conklin For all the criticism Baker Mayfield received last season, the fact was that Cleveland's offensive line was below average. The Browns fixed that issue in a big way, signing Conklin to a three-year, $42 million contract. Soon after, the Browns used a first-round pick on Jedrick Wills to play left tackle, shoring up both tackle spots. Mayfield now has everything he needs to succeed in his third season. Slideshow continues on the next slide 5/25 SLIDES © Matthew Emmons / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Bears sign Robert Quinn The oft-injured Quinn was able to rehab his value in Dallas last season with 11.5 sacks and 22 quarterback hits, enough to get a massive five-year, $70 million contract with $30 million in guaranteed money from the Bears. Chicago needed help for Khalil Mack, but it should be noted that 2019 was Quinn's first double-digit sack output since 2014. Pass rushers are at a premium in the NFL, but the Bears are taking on a lot of risk with the 30-year-old's contract. 6/25 SLIDES © Kim Klement / USA Today Sports Images Best: Buccaneers sign Tom Brady When Brady decided to leave New England, signing him was a no-brainer for all quarterback needy teams. Despite struggling last year, Brady is just one year removed from winning the Super Bowl and has a better offensive supporting cast in Tampa Bay than he did with the Pats in 2019. The cost of $50 million over two years looks reasonable for Brady, as well. 7/25 SLIDES © Bob Donnan / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Bills sign Josh Norman Can you recall the last time Norman was a quality NFL cornerback? Some would argue it was all the way back in 2015, his last season in Carolina and only Pro Bowl year. He became a well below average player in Washington by the end of his tenure, but the Bills are betting on his familiarity with Sean McDermott with a one-year, $6 million deal. 8/25 SLIDES © Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports Images Best: Cardinals trade for DeAndre Hopkins Arizona made the trade of the offseason, acquiring Hopkins and a fourth-round pick from the Texans for David Johnson and a second-round pick. It became clear late last season that Johnson wasn't a fit for the Cardinals offense, while Hopkins is arguably the best wide receiver in football. Arizona has gone a long way in speeding up young quarterback Kyler Murray's trajectory. 9/25 SLIDES © Kim Klement / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Buccaneers sign LeSean McCoy The one area the Bucs should be worried on offense is the running back position. Assumed starter Ronald Jones has had a lot of mishaps in his two seasons, and it's unclear what the team can expect out of rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn. That said, the recent addition of McCoy clearly isn't a solution. McCoy is set to make only $1 million, but he's clearly lost a step and couldn't find the field late last season in Kansas City. If the Bucs are looking for answers, this isn't it. Slideshow continues on the next slide 10/25 SLIDES © Kirby Lee / USA Today Sports Images Best: Eagles trade for Darius Slay Cornerback has been an issue in Philly for the last few seasons, and the Eagles finally found an answer. Slay was acquired from Detroit for just a third- and fifth-round pick. He's made three consecutive Pro Bowls in Detroit, and should make an instant impact on his new team. 11/25 SLIDES © Brad Penner / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Dolphins sign Byron Jones Dallas couldn't afford to keeps Jones, who went east for a five-year, $82.5 million contract. He's done a strong job over the last two seasons after shifting over from safety, but there is one big feature that's missing from Jones' game. He has a total of two interceptions in his five-year career, a major blemish on his skillset. There's no doubt the Dolphins secondary improves with the addition, but this is a hefty price for a player who has been unable to create turnovers. 12/25 SLIDES © Jasen Vinlove / USA Today Sports Images Best: Jets trade Jamal Adams Adams' long quest to get out of New York finally came to fruition recently, as he was sent to Seattle for Bradley McDougald, two first-round picks, and a third-round pick. The Jets are clearly a worse team in 2020 without Adams, but they received a viable replacement and an incredible trade return for a safety. If New York can use the picks properly, the trade could set them up for the next decade. 13/25 SLIDES © Matt Kartozian / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Falcons sign Todd Gurley Gurley was diagnosed with a chronic knee issue just a year ago, and saw his workload and production plummet with the Rams in 2019. Yet, Atlanta gave Gurley $5 million to effectively replace Devonta Freeman. After averaging 4.2 yards per touch last season, it's not clear that the Falcons are a better team with Gurley. 14/25 SLIDES © Tommy Gilligan / USA Today Sports Images Best: Falcons trade for Hayden Hurst After losing Austin Hooper in free agency, the Falcons bought low on Hurst via trade, sending second and fifth-round picks to the Ravens for Hurst and a fourth rounder. Hurst is just two years removed from being a first-round pick, and he showed great improvement in his second season with 349 yards and two touchdowns. It remains to be seen how much of a downgrade Hurst will be compared to Hooper. Slideshow continues on the next slide 15/25 SLIDES © Chuck Cook / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Packers draft Jordan Love Green Bay shocked they world when they selected Love, a quarterback out of Utah State, in the first round. The Packers had a clear need at wide receiver, with Aaron Rodgers' window starting to close at age 36. The team also fell just short last year, getting blown out by San Francisco in the NFC Championship. It's understandable that the Packers would think about the future, but not before taking advantage of their current opportunity. 16/25 SLIDES © Jeremy Brevard / USA Today Sports Images Best: Patriots sign Cam Newton Newton sat on the free agent market for nearly the entire offseason after playing only two games in 2019 due to a foot injury. The lack of interest very well could be a red flag for the former MVP, but he looks like an incredible bargain on a one-year deal for up to $7.5 million. Still just 31, Newton has the ability to transform the Patriots offense if he still proves mobile. 17/25 SLIDES © Stan Szeto / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Raiders sign Marcus Mariota Tennessee's 2019 season took off when they finally benched Mariota, who was just 2-4 as a starter. The fact is that Mariota has played poorly as a starter over the last three seasons, but he still earned a two-year, $17.6 million deal to sit as Derek Carr's backup. Mariota is far more mobile than Carr and can add another dimension to the Raiders offense, but recent results over multiple coordinators have shown he just isn't very good as a starter. The money could have been better spent on one of the Raiders other needs. 18/25 SLIDES © Douglas DeFelice / USA Today Sports Images Best: Ravens trade for Calais Campbell Baltimore was willing to "take on" Campbell's contract from Jacksonville for a fifth-round pick before giving him a two-year extension. The only knock on Campbell at this point is his age, turning 34 in September. He's made three consecutive Pro Bowls and had 25 quarterback hits and 6.5 sacks for a Jacksonville team that often played from behind last season. 19/25 SLIDES © Robert Hanashiro / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Texans trade for Brandin Cooks Speed is the name of Cooks' game, but he didn't look the same last year following concussion issues. Houston was willing to not only take a chance on his contract but send the Rams a second-round pick in the process. The Texans effectively traded DeAndre Hopkins for Cooks and David Johnson. That's a deal that would have made sense a few years ago, but both Johnson and Cooks are coming off major down years. 20/25 SLIDES © Dale Zanine / USA Today Sports Images Best: Raiders sign Cory Littleton Linebacker has been an issue for the Raiders recently, but Littleton has the ability to fix it. The former Ram is masterful in coverage and has been an elite inside linebacker since he became a starter for the Rams in 2018. Last season he finished with 134 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two picks, and two forced fumbles, so a three-year, $36 contract seems reasonable. 21/25 SLIDES © Matt Kartozian / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Texans trade for David Johnson NFL trades aren't always a zero sum game, but they certainly were in this case. Houston shipped DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to Arizona for Johnson and a second-round pick, effectively moving an elite wide receiver for a running back who has had recent injury issues and lost his starting job last season. Johnson hasn't averaged four yards per carry since his one and only Pro Bowl year in 2016, and the cost of NFL running backs in today's league is usually minimal. 22/25 SLIDES © Raj Mehta / USA Today Sports Images Best: Saints sign Jameis Winston The Saints couldn't afford to keep Teddy Bridgewater around, but they found a terrific replacement in Winston. The former first overall draft choice led the NFL in passing yards last season, yet he signed for only $1.1 million. He has the incentive of learning behind Drew Brees, and can certainly be a viable replacement if something happens to Brees again this season. Winston also should get great instruction from Sean Payton, who will hopefully teach the former Bucs quarterback to better protect the all after throwing 30 picks in 2019. 23/25 SLIDES © Ken Blaze / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Texans sign Eric Murray Not to keep bashing Bill O'Brien, but it was a rough offseason for the Texans head coach and front office decision maker. Houston desperately needed help in the secondary, though Murray was their only significant addition. The Texans gave Murray a three-year, $20.25 million contract after missing a large chunk of 2019 to injury, and he struggled as a starter previously with the Chiefs. 24/25 SLIDES © Karl Roser / USA Today Sports Images Best: Steelers sign Eric Ebron Pittsburgh has been looking for an answer at tight end seemingly since Heath Miller retired. Ebron had an injury-plagued 2019 season after a career year for the Colts in 2018, finishing with 750 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's a proven Red Zone threat for Ben Roethlisberger and comes at a minimal cost for two-years, $12 million. 25/25 SLIDES © Jeremy Brevard / USA Today Sports Images Worst: Titans sign Vic Beasley Beasley's production has been disappointing since he led the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2016. Needing a pass rusher, the Titans took a chance on Beasley with a one-year, $9.5 million deal, but he's already become a headache, failing to report to training camp on time. Beasley has averaged only six sacks over the last three seasons, and the start to his Titans career is a clear red flag. 25/25 SLIDES

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