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Valentina Shevchenko was inside of a boxing gym in Newark, New Jersey, preparing to go on a run. It was the fall of 2019, and the next day Shevchenko would start filming an MMA movie alongside A-list star Halle Berry.

To prepare for the shoot, Shevchenko was cutting weight, and the run was to sweat out some extra pounds. The UFC women’s flyweight champion wanted to appear at her physical best for the fight scenes. She put on her sauna suit and was about to start the run when Berry unexpectedly entered the gym.

The Academy Award-winning actress had the same idea.

“I started to do my workout and then I saw Halle,” Shevchenko told ESPN with a laugh. “She was walking into the gym, the same — in the sauna suit.”

“Bruised,” which Berry has described as a labor of love, premieres Wednesday on Netflix after opening in theaters last week. Berry stars as Jackie Justice, a former UFC fighter returning to the cage while juggling several difficult personal issues. The mixed martial arts film was also Berry’s directorial debut. Shevchenko plays the Berry character’s fearsome rival, Lucia “Lady Killer” Chavez.

The weight cut, Berry said, was one of the things she thought necessary to do in order to gain a better understanding of MMA and the sport’s athletes.

“It was hard for me, because I had never done that before,” Berry said. “But that was a really big part of me playing this character. I wanted to experience every aspect of being a fighter that I absolutely could. I wanted to understand what it felt like. And being the director of the story, I felt like I needed to understand it.”

Berry, 55, got a more realistic look into being a fighter than even she intended while making “Bruised.” On the second day of filming, she said, she broke her rib during one of the fight sequences with Shevchenko. Berry said she had previously broken her ribs while filming “John Wick: Chapter 3,” and this was the same sensation.

“I don’t exactly know the moment the kick happened or the knee happened or whatever happened in our fighting,” Berry said. “I just knew at one point I stood up and I had that feeling and I couldn’t breathe.”

Berry said she confided in Shevchenko that something was wrong, but Shevchenko said it would be “fine” and “this happens to me all the time.”

Berry soldiered on despite the injury, because she knew if she told everyone, filming would have been shut down. She felt she might have lost her funding, too, and even if it was just a brief delay, there was a chance Shevchenko would not be available when things got started again. After all, Shevchenko was, and still is, a defending UFC champ.

“It shows the power, her inner power,” Shevchenko said. “And it’s amazing. It was like a fresh breeze to the set. It’s like the energy that ran through. And at this moment, everyone knew we were going to do it no matter what, until the end.”

Berry said she felt like she had no choice in the matter.

“I knew that I had to do what all fighters do,” she said. “As Valentina told me, when you’re in the ring and you get injured, you don’t quit. You keep going. You have no choice, but you fight through it. So just in that moment I thought, no way I’m getting shut down. I’m just going to have to fight through this.”

Berry said she grew up watching boxing and idolizing the likes of Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and “Sugar” Ray Leonard. When she saw women in MMA, her interest was piqued in that sport. Berry cited Ronda Rousey, Gina Carano and Miesha Tate as people she gravitated to — and then the sport itself. “Bruised” was initially tied to another director with Blake Lively as the star. But in 2018, Berry took over as director and knew she wanted to be Jackie Justice.

“It’s just sort of that lucky moment when a project collided with me and it was exactly what I needed, because it was where I was personally,” Berry said. “That was this project.

“It was grueling and I pushed myself harder than I ever thought I could go. And especially at my age, I was really proud of it. Because what it says is that we can do whatever we set our minds to doing. I realized when making this movie, so much of fighting is a mental game. You can be in tip-top shape, but it’s all about the mental game and emotionally how you’re feeling. And that determines what you can and cannot do.”

Berry said she had been a fan of Shevchenko for years prior to her selecting the Kyrgyzstan native to be in the movie. Berry said she called the UFC and asked for Shevchenko specifically, though she was unsure Shevchenko wanted to be “slumming it” in Hollywood while being UFC champion.

Berry thought that if she were an MMA fighter, she would probably fight at 125 pounds like Shevchenko, so who better to cast than “the queen” of that weight class? Now, having bonded over training together and hard fight scenes, Berry and Shevchenko have become close friends.

“I want to be at every one of her fights,” Berry said. “Normally, I can watch a fight and I’m for all the fighters. Someone’s gotta win and someone has got to lose. But when Valentina is gonna fight, from now until the end of her career — when you love someone and you really care about someone so much, the last thing I want to do is see her hurt. I never want to see her lose. It’ll always be one of those situations that I want to see, but I don’t want to see. I just love her too much.”

Shevchenko, one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, said she was floored by Berry’s ability to push through each day to make the fight scenes look as realistic as possible. Shevchenko said the wake-up calls during those days were at 5 a.m. and that they did not finish filming until almost midnight. She compared the physical grind to a training camp to prep for a UFC title defense. Every take, Shevchenko said, had to be at full strength so it would look good on film.

“It’s every single take [and] you have to perform the best you can,” Shevchenko said. “And definitely everyone is human. They’re tired. We were tired by the end of the day. And injuries happen.”

Berry and Shevchenko have been busy over the past few weeks doing publicity for “Bruised.” Shevchenko said she left her home in Las Vegas for Los Angeles one day after defending her title with a TKO win over Lauren Murphy on Sept. 25 at UFC 266 to do a photo shoot for Women’s Health.

The two women said they are very pleased with how the movie, and the fight scenes in it, turned out. And they aren’t the only ones, Berry said. On set, Berry spoke with well-known MMA referee Keith Peterson, who played the official in the cage during the fight between Jackie Justice and “Lady Killer.”

“[Peterson] said, ‘I thought for a minute I was watching a real Valentina fight,'” Berry said. “That’s when I knew that, oh my god, all of this training and weight cutting and all this muscle building ­– everything was all worth it. For him to say that, I knew I had achieved at least the goal I set out to achieve: to look like a real fighter.”

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Yanks’ Germán says he’ll probably use less rosin




Yanks' Germán says he'll probably use less rosin

NEW YORK — Yankees pitcher Domingo Germán said Sunday he probably will use less rosin on his hands when he returns from a 10-game suspension for using a foreign substance on the mound.

Germán was suspended by Major League Baseball on May 17 and will return to the Yankees’ rotation for Monday’s game in Seattle.

“You have to do something different because what I did before got me ejected from the game,” he said through an interpreter. “Probably go back to previous years before where I used it way less.”

Germán was disciplined after being ejected in the fourth inning of New York’s 6-3 win in Toronto on May 16. He retired the first nine hitters before his hands were checked by first-base umpire D.J. Reyburn as Germán headed to the mound for the fourth inning.

After the game, crew chief James Hoye said Germán had “the stickiest hand I’ve ever felt.”

Hoye’s crew also examined Germán’s hands during an April 15 start against Minnesota, when the right-hander retired his first 16 batters, but allowed him to stay in that game. Hoye had asked Germán to wash rosin off his hand and some had remained on his pinkie.

Germán said Sunday he has not gotten a direct explanation of what is the appropriate amount of rosin to use.

“As far as like a direct explanation on how much to use or not, I haven’t gotten a better explanation from MLB or the umpires,” he said. “To me, I have to keep using it, understand how much to use and keep a balance, but at the same time I’ve got to keep preparing myself to pitch and keep my routine in between starts to get me in the right shape for the next start and just keep using the rosin bag and try to keep executing pitches.”

Germán was the fourth pitcher suspended since MLB began cracking down on foreign substances in June 2021 and the second this season. New York Mets pitcher Max Scherzer also served a 10-game suspension after being ejected April 19 in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.

In 2021, Seattle’s Hector Santiago and Arizona’s Caleb Smith served suspensions for sticky substances.

“He has to avoid that and that’s us being more vigilant and check and make sure we’re in a good spot,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Germán. “We should be fine, but I think that’s the one thing about this: What is the line, there is no defined line, you can’t have sticky [substances] on your hands. So he’s got to be mindful of that.”

German is 2-3 with a 3.75 ERA in nine starts this season. He is 28-24 with a 4.31 ERA in 101 career appearances (79 starts) since making his major league debut in 2017 with the Yankees.

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Hendriks to rejoin ChiSox after cancer treatment




Hendriks to rejoin ChiSox after cancer treatment

Chicago White Sox reliever Liam Hendriks will be reinstated to the active roster on Monday, the team announced, after he missed the first two months of the season while being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The White Sox posted a video montage to their Twitter page on Sunday that featured messages from White Sox players and coaches welcoming back Hendriks.

“See you soon Southside,” Hendriks posted on Instagram, along with Monday’s date, 5-29.

Hendriks, 34, was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in early December and completed his final round of chemotherapy in early April. He began a rehab assignment earlier this month, appearing in six games for Triple-A Charlotte.

Hendriks threw several batting practice sessions over the past 10 days against teammates before declaring himself ready on Sunday.

“As of now I have a clean bill of health,” Hendriks said this month as he began his rehab assignment. “I’m currently in remission.”

Hendriks announced his diagnosis on Jan. 9. His return comes just shy of six months since his diagnosis.

“As soon as I found out the regular treatment timelines, I thought, ‘OK, how can I beat it?'” he said in May. “It was those days on the couch, not being able to move much (after chemo), those were the days you needed to dig deep and find that positive mental attitude.”

The White Sox bullpen has struggled in Hendriks’ absence, though they’ve been better in May after lefty Garrett Crochet returned from Tommy John surgery and righty Joe Kelly went on a scoreless streak that lasted 10 appearances. But overall Chicago has struggled through the first two months, heading into Memorial Day with a 22-33 record.

Hendriks is in the final season of a three-year, $54 million contract, with a $15 million club option for 2024.

The White Sox host the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.

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Lewis to come off 60-day IL, rejoin Twins Monday




Lewis to come off 60-day IL, rejoin Twins Monday

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins have lost eight of 10 series in May, with a lineup that’s been limping along lately with a spate of injuries and too many strikeouts.

They could use a boost. Royce Lewis is on his way.

Lewis will join the Twins in Houston, where they’ll start a three-game series Monday. The first overall pick in the 2017 draft will be reinstated from the 60-day injured list and return to action exactly one year from the date of the torn ACL in his right knee that limited his major league debut to 12 games.

Manager Rocco Baldelli announced the move after a 3-0 loss to Toronto on Sunday. Outfielders Kyle Garlick and Matt Wallner will be sent down to Triple-A St. Paul, where Lewis has been playing on a rehab assignment. Outfielder Max Kepler will also be reinstated from the 10-day injured list, after missing 14 games with a strained left hamstring.

“This is a culmination of a lot of hard work from Royce. I’m excited to see Royce back out on the field. He can jolt you with the enthusiasm and all of the exciting things that he can do, but he’s a good young player and he’s had a long road to get back to this point,” Baldelli said.

Lewis batted .333 with four homers and 10 RBIs with a 1.098 OPS in eight games on his rehab assignment with the Saints. Manager Toby Gardenhire delivered the news, Baldelli said.

“All the reports have him in a good place, and he’s done a good job following through on everything he’s needed to do,” Baldelli said. “Now, he’s ready.”

Lewis batted .300 with four doubles, two home runs — including a grand slam – and five RBIs in 12 games for the Twins last season. He was drafted as a shortstop, but since the arrival of Carlos Correa last year he has made the transition to third base and will likely be a fixture there for the foreseeable future.

Second baseman Jorge Polanco (strained left hamstring) and outfielder Trevor Larnach (pneumonia) are two other regulars who remain out. Polanco went through a pregame workout and is eligible to return anytime, but Baldelli said he’ll continue to be evaluated daily before a decision is made. Kyle Farmer and Edouard Julien can play second base in the meantime.

Wallner was sent back to Triple-A in a roster-management game despite reaching base eight straight times.

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