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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Monday the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” Biden said. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way _ from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names — like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders — following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices — they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.

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Rockies put Freeland on IL due to strained elbow

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Rockies put Freeland on IL due to strained elbow

The Colorado Rockies placed left-hander Kyle Freeland on the 15-day injured list Friday with a left elbow strain.

The move is retroactive to Tuesday.

Freeland appeared to injure his right shoulder while attempting to score the go-ahead run in the ninth inning Monday against the Philadelphia Phillies. Manager Bud Black, however, said Freeland was “fine” after the game.

Freeland, 30, has limped to a 0-3 record with a 13.21 ERA in four games (all starts) this season. He is 55-68 with a 4.53 ERA in 188 career games (183 starts) with the Rockies.

Also on Friday, Colorado recalled right-hander Noah Davis from Triple-A Albuquerque.

Davis, 26, owns a 0-2 record with a 6.62 ERA in four games (all starts) with the Isotopes. He is 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in nine career games (six starts) with the Rockies.

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Strider begins recovery, says Braves can win WS

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Strider begins recovery, says Braves can win WS

ATLANTA — Atlanta Braves ace Spencer Strider began to feel discomfort in his right elbow in spring training but didn’t realize the severity of the injury until learning he needed season-ending surgery.

Strider said he had a bone fragment develop following Tommy John surgery in 2019 that caused the ulnar collateral ligament to become unstable. Strider also said he did not have a tear that required a second Tommy John surgery and he instead had an internal brace procedure, perhaps giving him a better opportunity to recover for the start of the 2025 season.

Strider finally complained about the issue after pitching four innings in Atlanta’s 6-5 win over Arizona on April 5.

“You’re not going to feel good when you’re playing baseball every day,” Strider said Friday while standing in front of his locker in his first news conference since the surgery. “So I’m not searching for that. You know, like I said, I’m going to pitch through anything if I feel like I can help the team and I felt like I couldn’t do that anymore, so I thought it’s time to say something.”

An MRI the next day revealed damage to his UCL. Texas Rangers physician Dr. Keith Meister performed the procedure on April 13.

“They’re theorizing that I tore some connective tissue … and that’s what destabilized the ligament,” Strider said. “And maybe I blew through the last of that on that game and things deteriorated pretty quickly throughout the outing.”

Strider was Atlanta’s No. 1 starting pitcher after going 20-5 with 281 strikeouts in last year, when he led the major leagues in wins and strikeouts.

With his right arm immobilized in a sling, Strider said he will look for ways to support his teammates.

“These guys don’t don’t need me to to win a World Series,” he said. “So you know they’re going to pursue that journey. I’ll be here here to cheer them on.”

Replacing Strider will be a challenge.

Right-hander Allan Winans allowed seven runs — six earned — over five innings in a 16-15 loss to the New York Mets on April 11 and was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett after the game.

Right-hander Darius Vines had more success, allowing one run and four hits with four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings of a 6-1 win at Houston on Monday. Vines is scheduled to make his second start of the season on Sunday night against Texas.

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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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