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Phillies' Matt Imhof has right eye removed following accident with malfunctioning equipment

By: Brandon Apter, Staff Writer

A little over a week and a half ago, Philadelphia Phillies prospect Matt Imhof suffered a career-threatening eye injury after a piece of equipment malfunctioned and shot into his right eye during a routine training regimen.

Imhof, the Phils second round pick in 2014, took to Instagram to update everyone on his status, which includes a decision to have his right eye removed.

 

 

A photo posted by Matt Imhof (@matt_imhof48) on

 

Here was Imhof's caption on the photo...

As many of you know on Friday June 25th I had an accident. A large price of metal hit me in the head/eye resulting in a fractured nose, 2 fractured orbital bones, and most significantly, the loss of vision in my right eye. I was immediately taken to the ER and then transferred to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the #1 eye hospital in the world. That night, the doctors informed me that the damage to my eye was extreme and essentially that my eye had been crushed like a grape. The doctors told me they were going to do everything possible to reconstruct it but in all likelihood I would never regain sight in my right eye.

The first surgery was somewhat a success but overall nothing had changed, so after discussions with my family and my doctors, it was decided that the best chance I had to live a normal life was to have my right eye removed and have a prosthetic one put in. This decision was not an easy one to make but to me it seemed like the right one so on Tuesday afternoon I went forward with the surgery. I'm currently still in Miami recovering from surgery but I'm doing well.

This has been the hardest week of my life but I've had amazing support from my family and friends to help me get through it. For those who have been wishing me well, your support has not gone unnoticed and I appreciate everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers. I had the best doctors in the world doing their best work on me and for that I am grateful as well. Although this injury has been tough it could have been much worse...I'm lucky to still have vision in my left eye...I'm lucky that i didn't have brain damage...and I'm lucky to be surrounded my the most loving and understanding people in the world. I just wanted to write this message to let everyone know that even though I suffered some bad luck, I'm not dead. I'm gonna be alright, I'm gonna persevere, and I'm gonna succeed. It takes more than this to bring me down. Again thanks to everyone for the support .

In 2014, the Philadelphia Phillies used their first round pick to select Aaron Nola. In the second round, they picked 6-foot-5 southpaw, Matt Imhof. He went 8-5 with a 3.94 ERA last season with Advanced 'A' Clearwater and was transitioned into a bullpen role after nine starts this season that saw him post a 4.33 ERA. He seemed to fare better out of the bullpen, allowing two runs in 9.1 innings of relief.

The Phillies signed him for a $1.2 million signing bonus as the 47th overall pick in 2014.


Sixers rumors: Team interested in resigning Ish Smith as backup

By: Brandon Apter, managing editor

The Philadelphia 76ers haven't had stability at the point guard position for quite some time now. At the start of last season, they had hoped a combination of Tony Wroten, T.J. McConnell and Kendall Marshall would work, but Marshall didn't live up to the limited expectations that were there for him, McConnell was solid, but not extremely capable of a starting role on a daily basis and Wroten wasn't the same after his ACL tear from the previous season.

Enter Ish Smith. Philadelphia claimed Smith on waivers back in February 2015 and we all immediately saw a chemistry begin between the veteran guard and Nerlens Noel. Despite that duo showing some success, the Sixers opted not to sign him last summer. Since their 2015-16 point guard plans didn't work out, the team ended up sending two second round picks to the Pelicans to get Smith back around Christmas time.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the Sixers have informed Smith they'd like him back in the fold for the upcoming season, but as a backup.

The point guard, who will become an unrestricted free agent at 12 a.m. Friday, has been informed of the Sixers' interest. The only thing is, they are looking at him in a backup role.

“I would like to come back,” Smith said. “Philly has been my home. The fans have been great. Everybody has been great.”

After losing 30 of their first 31 games last season, the Sixers posted a 6-9 record in the 15 games following Smith's return. In 50 games with the team, Smith averaged a career-high in both points per game (14.7) and assists per game (7.0). He becomes an unrestricted free agent at 12am on July 1.


Sixers decline qualifying offer for Isaiah Canaan

By: Brandon Apter, managing editor

On Thursday, the Philadelphia 76ers exercised their team option on Hollis Thompson. The team has opted not to submit a qualifying offer to Isaiah Canaan though, making him a free agent on July 1.

Philadelphia acquired Canaan on February 19, 2015, in the trade that sent K.J. McDaniels to the Houston Rockets. In addition to getting Canaan in the deal, the Sixers also received a second round pick that ended up being Richaun Holmes. 

Canaan, 25, played in 99 games for the Sixers and averaged 11.4 points on 36.4 percent shooting. He shot 36.3 percent from beyond the arc. According to Hoopsrumors.com, the qualifying offer would have been worth $1,215,696.


Cole Hamels calls Pete Mackanin 'one of the best'

By: Tim Kelly, Managing Editor

Former Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels is in the midst of 9-1 campaign for the Texas Rangers, who have the American League's best record at 51-28, but Hamels stopped after his win over the New York Yankees earlier this week to discuss a variety of topics pertaining to his former team. 

Hamels made a point of telling the collective media, including Evan Macy of Metro Philly, that he believes the Phillies group of young talent is going to thrive with Pete Mackanin at the helm:

"Especially with Pete, he’s one of the best," Hamels said. "Gosh, that timing of that group with Pete is outstanding with how they are going to build.”

Mackanin was the Phillies interim manager for the final month plus of Hamels' Phillies career, but was on the Phillies coaching staff two different times during the nearly 10 seasons Hamels spent in Philadelphia. He was the team's bench coach from 2009-2012, and then returned as their third-base in 2014. Mackanin went on to become the interim manager in June of 2015. 

Hamels actually has a very valuable perspective on Mackanin because he's seen him coach in different roles and also on teams that were World Series contenders and teams that were contenders for the No. 1 pick. It should be encouraging to Phillies fans that Hamels believes in Mackanin. 

Phillies brass seems to agree with Hamels' thoughts on Mackanin, as general manager Matt Klentak ripped up Mackanin's one-year deal this Spring Training and gave Mackanin a new two-year deal with a club option for 2018. 


Sixers rumors: Raptors have "approached" Philadelphia about Nerlens Noel

By: Brandon Apter, managing editor

NBA free agency begins tomorrow, July 1, and the Philadelphia 76ers will be looking to add a veteran guard and some other pieces. The team is also likely to be active on the trade market with their surplus of big men. Although it is unclear whether or not Joel Embiid will ever make a full recovery and become the superstar most believe he can be, the Sixers seem set on trading either Nerlens Noel or Jahlil Okafor.

While they were unable to get a deal done on draft night, both Okafor and Noel possess strong value with Jahlil offering more on the offensive end and Nerlens on defense. It looked as if Noel was more of an interest on draft night, but Bryan Colangelo reiterated after the first round that no deals were close.

The Boston Celtics were the team that Philadelphia was reportedly in heavy talks with, but the Toronto Raptors have potentially emerged as a suitor for Nerlens Noel, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.

Toronto has already approached Philly about a deal sending out a rotation player -- perhaps Terrence Ross, and other goodies -- in exchange for Nerlens Noel, who could then assume Biyombo's backup center role, according to league sources. The talks haven't gained much traction yet.

This past season for the Sixers, Noel averaged a strong 11.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and and 1.8 steals per game despite issues co-existing on the court with rookie center Jahlil Okafor.


Don't Expect Flyers to be big Players in Free Agency

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Free agency begins around the NHL on Friday afternoon at noon. While the draft has been Ron Hextall's bread and butter in recent years, free agency has been a period that has forced the Flyers to be more wary of finances than to take chances or be aggressive in signing a proven commodity.

When free agency does begin on Friday, don't expect the Flyers to be big players again, as the finances just aren't quite there yet for them to make a splash signing.

Continue reading "Don't Expect Flyers to be big Players in Free Agency" »


Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Outfielder Peter Bourjos was 'probably the MVP' of road trip

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2016-06-30/17879169ad174c5f84b612c33fcf356c.png
Frank Klose/Philliedelphia

By: Matt Rappa, managing editor

PHILADELPHIA — With the 2016 regular season nearly halfway complete — 10 games ahead of concluding the unofficial first half with All-Star festivities scheduled to take place in San Diego, California starting Sunday, July 10 — the Philadelphia Phillies (35-45, .438) sit 12.5 games behind the Washington Nationals for first place in the National League East division.

They trail the Miami Marlins by seven games for the second Wild Card spot.

It's an improvement from one year ago. Eighty games into the 2015 campaign, the Phillies had eight fewer wins with a MLB-worst record of 27-53 (.338), 17 games behind the Nationals in the division and 16 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the Wild Card.

Leading up to the 87th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be a six-game homestand against the defending World Series champions Kansas City Royals and the division-rival Atlanta Braves, followed by a four-game brief road trip against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. No Phillies currently are among the top of ballots to be elected onto the National League All-Star roster, however it likely that center fielder Odubel Herrera and closer Jeanmar Gomez will receive strong consideration from managers and coaches as reserves. Per rule, each team has to have at least one representative on the All-Star roster.

And while it may be too little too late, one player Phillies manager Pete Mackanin believes is putting up All-Star caliber production as of late is outfielder Peter Bourjos, who was claimed off waivers this offseason from the St. Louis Cardinals and later avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $2 million contract.

"Bourjos was probably the MVP of our trip," Mackanin said. "The guy just turned it on and started playing like an All-Star."

During the Phillies' nine-game road trip against the Minnesota Twins, San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks from June 21-29 in which they finished 5-4 by outscoring their opponents 57 to 49 — Bourjos batted .472/.525/.722 with eight runs scored, a double and triple each, four walks, two home runs and six RBIs.

With the game tied at 8 in extra-innings during Wednesday's series finale, Bourjos reached first on an infield single and went on to score the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly to right field by Tyler Goeddel. Earlier in the game, the Park Ridge, Illinois, native opened up scoring with a two-run home run, his third of the season.



In the month of June, Bourjos' .410 batting average ranks second throughout all of MLB, minimum 60 plate appearances, trailing only Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (.420).

His season batting average has risen 63 points since the end of May, .199 to .262, which ranks fifth on the Phillies roster behind Herrera (.303), utility infielder Andres Blanco (.273), catcher Cameron Rupp (.273) and second baseman Cesar Hernandez (.272), minimum 130 plate appearances.

"I think I was trying to do too much," Bourjos told MLB.com. "I'm starting to realize that you don't have to swing hard to hit the ball hard."

The Phillies have off on Thursday. They will resume action Friday evening at Citizens Bank Park as right-handers Jeremy Hellickson and Ian Kennedy square-off in the series opener against the Royals.


NHL Scout on Team with Best Draft: 'Hands down, Philadelphia'

On Tuesday, you may have seen some of the positive reviews coming in on Ron Hextall’s third year as Flyers GM at the NHL Draft.

But the rave reviews continued on Wednesday, as ESPN’s Craig Custance reported in an Insider piece on ESPN.com.

When Custance asked one scout for which team had the best draft, there was no hesitation.

"Philadelphia," the scout told Custance. "Hands down.

Continue reading "NHL Scout on Team with Best Draft: 'Hands down, Philadelphia'" »


Sixers head coach Brett Brown would be 'surprised' if team doesn't trade big man

By: Matt Rappa, contributor 

PHILADELPHIA — Just nine days remain until the Philadelphia 76ers' summer league opener next Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

With the 2016-17 season fast approaching — head coach Brett Brown's fourth with the Sixers after coaching the team to a 47-199 record through 246 games — filling out and balancing the roster remains a pressing task for team president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo.

With an influx of big men on the roster, including Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and the soon-to-be-arrived  Dario Saric from overseas, the team has been rumored to wanting to make a trade in order to acquire a shooter, particularly at the guard position.

Noel and Okafor were linked to many teams prior and during the draft, but both still remain Sixers. For now.

In conversation with Jeff Skversky of WPVI on Wednesday, Brown said that he would be 'surprised' if a trade wasn't made to free up the team's 'bigs logjam.'

"We've talked a lot about it freely. I talk with my players freely about the logjam that we have with all of our bigs," Brown said. "Somebody asked me on record the other day like, 'do I expect a trade to be made?' I would be surprised if there wasn't one. I talk to my own players about that same thing. It's pro sport. It's real."

Making a trade is just one of the many ways the Sixers can improve their roster. In free agency, they have been linked to four names so far this offseason: restricted forward Harrison Barnes, restricted guards Allen Crabbe and Dion Waiters, as well as unrestricted guard Courtney Lee.

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Of the four players, Barnes, 24, averaged the most points per game and rebounds per game during the 2015-16 season, 11.7 and 4.9, respectively.

The Warriors extended a qualifying offer to the Ames, Iowa, native on Wednesday, making him a restricted free agent. It is not known if the 2014-15 NBA champions will match an offer sheet from another team interested in Barnes.

Ultimately, acquiring a player to complement No. 1 draft pick Ben Simmons —particularly at the point guard position — is the goal for Colangelo.

Time will tell who just that player might be.