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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden welcomed Tom Brady and the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the White House on Tuesday, the first visit by the reigning NFL champions since 2017.

It was Brady’s first visit since 2005 with the New England Patriots when George W. Bush was in office. Brady has won the Super Bowl during four different administrations but skipped visits by the Patriots in 2015 with Barack Obama and 2017 with Donald Trump.

The Patriots as a team chose not to attend after winning in 2019.

Brady was front and center, accompanying Biden, coach Bruce Arians and owner Bryan Glazer into the ceremony, which included jokes about age and the election and a push from the president for players to get vaccinated against the coronavirus if they hadn’t already.

Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion, put on quite the comedy routine, comparing the Buccaneers’ run to Biden’s election victory.

“Not a lot of people think that we could have won, and in fact I think about 40% of the people still don’t think we won,” Brady said with a big grin. “We had a game in Chicago where I forgot what down it was. I lost track of one down in 21 years of playing, and they started calling me ‘Sleepy Tom.’ Why they do that to me?”

Biden was presented the traditional gift of a No. 46 jersey — which Glazer said was appropriate since Tampa Bay is heading into its 46th season as a franchise.

Players Donovan Smith and Bradley Pinion from the team’s social justice committee met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday morning to talk about voting rights.

Talking about how nearly 200,000 vaccine doses were given out at Raymond James Stadium — the Buccaneers’ home and site where they won the Super Bowl — Biden turned to dozens of players behind him and said: “If you don’t have a shot, get one, OK? Get one, get one, get one. You’re saving lives, helping us get back to our lives and our loved ones.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki did not directly answer when asked if the Buccaneers provided information on which team attendees were vaccinated. As of Friday, 10 NFL teams had reached the threshold of 85% of their traveling party fully vaccinated, though it was not immediately clear if Tampa Bay was one of them.

Before Brady took the microphone, Arians told Biden he wished the House and Senate would help the president fulfill “one goal” as a country, like his Buccaneers did last season.

Biden singled out receiver Chris Godwin, like himself Pennsylvania-born and Delaware-raised. Biden, 78, spoke with Godwin before the Super Bowl.

As the oldest person to become president, he compared himself to Brady being the oldest quarterback at 43 and Arians the oldest coach at 68 to win it all.

“You won’t hear any jokes about that from me,” Biden said. “As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with being the oldest guy to make it to the mountaintop.”

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D-backs’ Nelson, hit by comebacker, lands on IL

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D-backs' Nelson, hit by comebacker, lands on IL

The Arizona Diamondbacks placed right-hander Ryne Nelson on the 15-day injured list Friday because of an elbow contusion suffered the previous night.

Nelson was hit on the right arm by a line drive off the bat of the San Francisco GiantsMike Yastrzemski during the second inning of his start Thursday night.

The team recalled outfielder Pavin Smith from Triple-A Reno in the corresponding roster move.

Smith, a first-round pick (seventh overall) of the Diamondbacks in 2017, hit .188 (36-for-191) in 69 games with Arizona last season, dropping his average to .240 in his four big-league seasons. He has 28 home runs and 116 RBIs in 391 games.

The Diamondbacks also designated infielder Jace Peterson for assignment. Peterson had only one hit in 22 at-bats for Arizona this season and hit .183 (17-for-93) through 41 games with the Diamondbacks in 2023.

Information from Field Level Media was used in this report.

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Struggling Hendricks to start, but Cubs worried

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Struggling Hendricks to start, but Cubs worried

CHICAGO — Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks will make his scheduled start against the Miami Marlins on Sunday, but the team is concerned about the veteran’s start to the season.

Hendricks, 34, is 0-2 with a 12.71 ERA over four outings that includes a league-high seven home runs allowed.

“It’s not one or two starts,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said Friday morning. “It’s been four, so I think there is a level of concern, but I would also say, given his track record and given the fact that he’s gotten through some struggles in the past, this isn’t the first time he’s struggled. No one pitches in the big leagues and doesn’t have those struggles at some point.”

Hendricks has always been a slow starter, but this April has been particularly bad. Opposing batters are hitting .514 off his sinker, and his four-seam fastball hasn’t been much better. His changeup has also been problematic, although it was better last time out against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Time isn’t on Hendricks’ side as the Cubs have a group of young pitchers pushing for more time on the mound.

“Kyle’s performance needs to improve,” manager Craig Counsell stated simply. “We’re clear on that, and I think Kyle agrees on that.”

The Cubs won’t put on a timetable on needing to see improvement — Counsell said every situation is different — but with the return of Jameson Taillon from injury and Justin Steele not far off, the team is hoping for improvement soon.

“The velocity is the same, if not a tick up from last year,” Hoyer said. “His location and execution have been poor. He’s paid for it, facing good lineups.”

Hendricks will get a softer landing against the Marlins on Sunday as they enter the weekend ranked 29th in OPS. That should be an easier task than the four previous opponents he faced: the Rangers, Dodgers, Padres and Diamondbacks. In between, he missed the light-hitting Rockies (in Chicago) and Mariners.

“It’s been about elite, elite level of command and execution and sequencing,” Hoyer said. “We haven’t had that. Without those things, he’s not going to get results.”

Some in Hendricks’ orbit want him to throw his curveball more — he has nearly abandoned it over the past two seasons — while others just believe it’s the execution of his bread-and-butter pitches that needs to be better. Hendricks is the longest-tenured Cubs player and has survived in the majors on his sinker and changeup.

“There’s a level of concern,” Hoyer reiterated. “But I’m confident he’ll figure it out.”

With Taillon’s first start of the season Friday and a doubleheader Saturday, the Cubs are hopeful for a longer stint out of Hendricks come Sunday. He has made it through five innings only once this season while the team has amassed the second-fewest innings from its starting staff overall.

“The nature of the weekend is we need innings from everybody, with what’s going on,” Counsell said.

The return of Taillon means Ben Brown will go back to the bullpen after a successful couple of starts, but depending on how Hendricks performs in the near future, Brown’s role could change again.

Hendricks, a onetime World Series hero, is under pressure to perform in potentially his final year with the Cubs. He will be a free agent after the season.

“So much of what he does is based on execution and feel, and maybe it takes a little bit longer,” Hoyer said. “His place in Cubs history is secure. I don’t think anything is going to change that.”

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Rangers option rookie Leiter after shaky debut

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Rangers option rookie Leiter after shaky debut

ATLANTA — Texas Rangers rookie right-hander Jack Leiter was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock on Friday, one day after allowing seven runs in his major league debut.

The Rangers recalled right-hander Owen White from Round Rock to provide bullpen depth for the start of their weekend series against the Atlanta Braves.

Leiter, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft, allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3⅔ innings in Thursday’s 9-7 win at the Detroit Tigers. He walked three and struck out three.

Leiter, the son of Al Leiter, who won 162 games in 19 major league seasons, was promoted after he went 1-1 with 25 strikeouts and three walks in 14 innings over three appearances for Round Rock.

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