Willie McCovey, the sweet-swinging Hall of Famer nicknamed ‘‘Stretch’’ for his 6-foot-4-inch height and those long arms, is dead at 80. The San Francisco Giants announced his death, saying the fearsome hitter passed ‘‘peacefully’’ Wednesday afternoon ‘‘after losing his battle with ongoing health issues.’’ McCovey teamed with Willie Mays to create a formidable 1-2 punch in the Giants’ lineup for the 13 seasons. McCovey had 521 career home runs, a .270 career batting average, and 1,555 RBIs. He was the 1969 National League MVP. Even four-plus decades later, it still stung for the lefthanded-slugging McCovey that he never won a World Series after coming so close. He lined out to end the Giants’ 1962 World Series Game 7 loss to the Yankees. Obituary
Gardner, Yankees reach deal
Outfielder Brett Gardner agreed to a $7.5 million, one-year contract after the Yankees declined his $12.5 million option. Gardner gets a $2 million buyout triggered by the team’s decision to decline the option, meaning he will receive $9.5 million total — a $3 million savings for the team under the option price . . . Outfielder Leonys Martin agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract with the Cleveland Indians months after he survived a life-threatening illness. Martin played in just six games for the Indians before contracting a serious bacterial infection that affected his vital organs. His condition worsened before doctors were able to treat and destroy the infection. Martin and the club avoided salary arbitration with the deal . . . Former big league pitcher Bill Fischer, who was pitching coach for the Red Sox from 1985-91, died Tuesday, the Kansas City Royals announced. He was 88. No cause of death was given. Fischer spent the past eight seasons as a senior adviser for the Royals. He spent more than seven decades as a player and coach in professional baseball . . . The Toronto Blue Jays exercised the $8 million option for 2019 on first baseman Justin Smoak and declined a $5.5 million option on infielder Yangervis Solarte . . . Reliever Wily Peralta and the Kansas City Royals agreed to a $3.25 million, one-year contract, ensuring one of the few bright spots in the team’s shaky bullpen will be back next season.
Nationals to get Rosenthal
Two people familiar with the deal told the Associated Press that righthanded closer Trevor Rosenthal and the Washington Nationals agreed to a contract for 2019, subject to a successful physical. Rosenthal missed all of this past season after Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow in 2017. One person, on condition of anonymity, told the AP that Rosenthal gets a one-year contract that guarantees $7 million and allows him a chance to earn an additional $8 million in performance bonuses . . . The Chicago Cubs exercised their $10.5 million option for the 2019 season on pitcher Jose Quintana . . . The Pittsburgh Pirates declined 2019 options for second baseman Josh Harrison and third baseman Jung Ho Kang . . . Milwaukee Brewers pitching coach Derek Johnson left the team, the third departure on manager Craig Counsell’s staff since the end of the season . . . The Oakland Athletics exercised 41-year-old righthander Fernando Rodney’s $5.25 million club option for 2019 . . .
Irish top UConn in poll
Defending champion Notre Dame was the unanimous No. 1 team in the Associated Press women’s college basketball preseason poll. UConn was second, ending a run of 34 consecutive weeks at No. 1. The Huskies have been in the top five every week since Jan. 29, 2007. ‘‘We are No. 2 on reputation. I don’t know we’re No. 2 on merit, that’s for sure,’’ UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ‘‘We are like the Sophia Loren of basketball. We've looked good for a long time.’’ Oregon, Baylor, and Louisville completed the top five . . . The University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees approved a $45 million plan to build a hockey rink on campus. The rink, to be built adjacent to the current one, would seat 2,500 people, with the ability to expand to 3,500 seats. It is scheduled to open in 2021. . . Central Connecticut sophomore running back Aaron Dawson and Western New England junior quarterback Alec Coleman (Arlington) received the Week 9 Gold Helmets from the New England Football Writers/Grinold Chapter. Dawson rushed for a Northeast Conference-record 361 yards, and five touchdowns, in a 49-24 win over Wagner. Coleman ran for a career-high 284 yards and accounted for five total scores in a 49-14 victory over Nichols.
Tannehill still won’t start
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, meaning Brock Osweiler will start for the fourth game in a row . . . Terrell Owens will receive his Hall of Fame ring at a ceremony at halftime of Thursday’s San Francisco 49ers' game against the visiting Oakland Raiders. Owens skipped the induction ceremony because he was upset he had to wait three years to receive the honor . . . Jack Patera, the first head coach in the history of the Seattle Seahawks, died at age 85. The cause of death was not clear, but Patera had been battling pancreatic cancer.
Kings’ Quick out indefinitely
Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who has appeared in just four games this season, is out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on a torn meniscus in his knee . . . Derrick Rose scored a career-high 50 points, turning back the clock to his prime years and lifting the Minnesota Timberwolves over the Utah Jazz, 128-125, in Minneapolis . . . Rafael Nadal pulled out of the Paris Masters tennis tournament because of an abdominal injury. The withdrawal will cost Nadal his No. 1 ranking, which goes back to Novak Djokovic next week . . . Russia’s Artur Dalaloyan won the men’s world all-around gymnastics title in Doha, Qatar, edging China's Xiao Ruoteng in the final. The victory was a redemption of sorts for Dalaloyan, who botched his parallel bars mount during team finals, a mistake that played a factor in the Russians losing the team title to China by less than five-hundredths of a point. American Sam Mikulak finished fifth.