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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Manny Ramirez calls return to baseball ‘blessing’ after going 0-for-4 in minor league debut for Cubs 06.27.14 at 7:37 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Red Sox at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-AM)
MLB: Rays at Orioles, Game 1, 1 p.m. (MLB Network)
MLB: Nationals at Cubs, 4 p.m. (WGN)
MLB: Rays at Orioles, Game 2, 7:05 p.m. (MLB Network)
NHL: Draft, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
Track and field: U.S. Outdoor Championships, 10 p.m. (NBCSN)
Tennis: Wimbledon, 7 a.m. (ESPN)

AROUND THE WEB:

Manny Ramirez made his debut as player/coach for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs on Thursday, playing left field in the second game of a doubleheader on the road against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Wearing No. 44 and batting sixth, the former Red Sox star went 0-for-4, reaching base on an error in his first at-bat before striking out twice and lining out in a 7-6 loss.

“They just made good pitches,” Ramirez told MLB.com. “But it’s been such a long time since I faced a pitcher, so it felt great.”

Said Ramirez: “It feels great just to be here … and to help the young guys [by] just telling them my experiences and the things that I’ve went through. It’s a blessing just to be here.”

It was Ramirez’s first professional game since playing in Triple-A for the Rangers last summer. He’s expected to play 1-2 times per week and possibly make additional appearances as a pinch-hitter.

“He’s a coach first and a player second,” Iowa manager Marty Pevey said. “He’s here to help our young players make the transition from the minor leagues to the big leagues and to show them how hard he works, how well he works, which he does an unbelievable job.”

Ramirez has 555 home runs in 19 major league seasons, but he also has a legacy of odd and offensive behavior. However, he claims he’s learned from his mistakes after finding religion, and apparently Cubs president Theo Epstein believes him. Epstein made it clear that Ramirez’s job is to mentor the organization’s top prospects, and the 42-year-old will not be called up to the majors, although Ramirez doesn’t sound convinced of that.

“As long as I’m here and I keep working, you never know what could happen,” Ramirez said. “I think God has a reason for me to be here. … He opened the door and I’m just here.”

— NBA commissioner Adam Silver already won over many players and fans when he banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and on Thursday night he made another positive statement by honoring Baylor center Isaiah Austin at the NBA draft.

Austin, the 20-year-old who had to give up basketball after recently being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, was “drafted” by the NBA and had the chance to walk up on the stage like the other selections. It was an emotional moment for Austin and those watching.

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Read More: Adam Silver, Isaiah Austin, Manny Ramirez, Tony Gwynn
Nationals P Stephen Strasburg giving up chewing tobacco following death of Tony Gwynn 06.24.14 at 11:27 am ET
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Tony Gwynn‘s on-field achievements will always give him a place baseball lore. But the Hall of Famer’s death is also having an influence on major leaguers.

Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg told MLB.com he plans to quit chewing tobacco following the death of Gwynn, his former coach at San Diego State. Strasburg said he is quitting primarily because of his daughter.

“I think it’s a disgusting habit, looking back on it,” Strasburg said. “I was pretty naive when I started. Just doing it here and there, I didn’t think it was going to be such an addiction. … Bottom line is, I want to be around for my family. This is something that can affect people the rest of your life. [Chewing tobacco is] so prevalent in this game. It’s something we all kind of grew up doing.”

Strasburg said he started using smokeless tobacco well before playing for Gwynn at San Diego State, and said he was unaware of his coach’s use during his playing days.

Gwynn, 54, died last Monday after a four-year battle with cancer. He was diagnosed with cancer of a salivary gland in 2010, and he publicly stated he believed it was caused by his smokeless tobacco use throughout his playing career.

Strasburg joins Diamondbacks closer (and former San Diego State teammate) Addison Reed, who said on Saturday he was giving up chewing tobacco.

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Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn dead at 54 06.16.14 at 11:49 am ET
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Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, who won eight battling titles during his 20-year career with the Padres, died at the age of 54, the team announced Monday.

Gwynn, who had been the baseball coach at San Diego State since 2002, went on medical leave in March as he recovered from treatment for cancer. He signed a one-year extension on June 11.

A story at CSNPhilly.com on Father’s Day Sunday detailed Gwynn’s four-year battle with cancer and his strong relationship with his son, Tony Jr., an outfielder with the Phillies.

The story indicated Gwynn had two surgeries — one to remove a cancerous tumor inside his right cheek — since being diagnosed with cancer in a salivary gland in 2010.

“This has been the hardest of the four years he’s fought it, by far,” Tony Jr. said.

Gwynn finished his major league career with a .338 batting average and 3,141 hits. He was a member of two National League champions — marking the franchise’s only two appearances in the World Series (losses to the Tigers in 1984 and Yankees in 1998).

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Wednesday’s Morning Mashup: Cris Carter questions Randy Moss’ attitude 02.15.12 at 7:57 am ET
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Welcome to Wednesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WEDNESDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NHL: Bruins at Canadiens, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSN)
NBA: Pistons at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. (CSNNE; WEEI)
NBA: Grizzlies at Nets, 7:30 p.m. (NBA TV)
NBA: Trail Blazers at Warriors, 10 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Rutgers at Notre Dame, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: North Carolina at Miami, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Providence at Cincinnati, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Oklahoma State at Missouri, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

‘™¦ Not everyone is excited about former Patriots receiver Randy Moss returning to the NFL. While Moss’ agent claimed Tuesday night that three teams have shown an interest in the 35-year-old, former Vikings teammate Cris Carter said Moss first will need to prove that his attitude has improved.

“The one thing you have to address with Randy Moss is not a conditioning thing. It’s not an age thing,” Carter said during a Tuesday appearance on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning.” “It needs to be addressed. I believe it’s the elephant in the room. It’s that thing called quit.

“And Randy, not like any other superstar I’ve met, he has more quit in him than any of those other players. So I need to address that. That’s what [Bill] Belichick did when he brought him over from Oakland. He told him he wasn’t going to have it. But Randy, when things don’€™t go well, like no other player I’€™ve ever been around or associated with, he has a quit mechanism in him that’€™s huge. That needs to be addressed before he signs with any team.”

Moss responded via Twitter, ribbing Carter for being bypassed in voting for the Hall of Fame this month: @CrisCarter80 (it’s) sad how u stroked ur own ego when u were supposed to be my mentor! Then u wonder why karma bites u in the (expletive)! #goodlukwithhof.

Moss softened later, tweeting: Cc no matter I still luv u bruh.

‘™¦ Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from his mouth Tuesday. It was located inside the right cheek, the same spot where Gwynn, now the baseball coach at San Diego State, previously had a malignant growth.

“Tony told them to take [the malignant tumor] all out,” Gwynn’s wife, Alicia, told ESPN. “They said they may need to remove the facial nerve — they might have to go a lot deeper. But he just told them to take it out. And if they do remove the facial nerve, they’ll replace it with a nerve from his shoulder or his leg.

“Hopefully, his face will work fine; hopefully he’ll be able to blink his eye. They said they will make his face as normal as they can — and that it might be better than it was.”

‘™¦ Allen Iverson, who earned about $150 million in NBA salary during his career, apparently doesn’t have very much left. A Georgia judge recently ordered that Iverson’s future earning be garnished after the former All-Star was unable to pay a debt of $860,000 to a jeweler.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Feb. 15, 1985, which Massachusetts native scored his 42nd goal of the season to break the NHL record for American-born players?

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Read More: Allen Iverson, Cris Carter, Randy Moss, Tony Gwynn