Thursday’s Sports in Brief

BASEBALL

BOSTON (AP) — Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora doesn’t sound so sure anymore that he will visit the White House for the celebration of the team’s World Series championship.

A native of Puerto Rico, Cora previously said he was looking forward to personally making the case for hurricane relief to President Donald Trump. But on Thursday, a few days after the date was announced for the visit, Cora repeatedly prefaced his comments with, “If I go ….”

Cora says if he had to give an answer, he would make the trip.

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But then he added that things can change.

Asked if his hesitance was related to recent news that Trump had tried to redirect hurricane relief funds from Puerto Rico to Texas and Florida, Cora alluded to even more recent developments. He did not elaborate.

BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA’s All-Star draft will be Feb. 7, and broadcast on TNT.

A pair of captains will select the teams from the pool of players who will be picked as starters and reserves from each conference. The captains will be the leading vote getter in each conference, and through Thursday the NBA says the leaders are Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers.

James and Golden State’s Stephen Curry were captains last year, the first under the player-draft format. It was not televised last year.

Fan voting continues through Monday. Starters will be announced on Jan. 24, and reserves will be announced on Jan. 31.

The All-Star Game is Feb. 17 in Charlotte.

SOCCER

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Sounders have a new jersey sponsor after signing a multiyear deal with online retailer Zulily.

The partnership was announced Thursday, along with Zulily’s deal to be the jersey sponsor for the Seattle Reign of the NWSL.

The Sounders had been sponsored by Microsoft and Xbox since the club’s inaugural season in 2009 but that partnership, which covered 10 seasons, concluded at the end of the 2018 season.

Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer said the new deal is larger in value than the one with Microsoft but declined to get into specifics. The deal with Zulily does not include pitch-naming rights, which was previously included in the deal with Microsoft.

Zulily is headquartered in Seattle with offices in Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

HOCKEY

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Wild have acquired center Victor Rask from the Carolina Hurricanes for left wing Nino Niederreiter, in a swap of underperforming but still-young players on long-term contracts.

The 25-year-old Rask, a native of Sweden, has one goal and five assists in 26 games this season for the Hurricanes. He’s in the third season of a six-year, $24 million contract.

The 26-year-old Niederreiter, a native of Switzerland, has nine goals and 14 assists in 46 games this season for the Wild. He’s in the second season of a five-year, $26.25 million contract.

The trade was made on Thursday, before the Wild hosted Anaheim. The Hurricanes host Ottawa on Friday.

The Wild acquired right wing Pontus Aberg in a deal on Wednesday that sent AHL center Justin Kloos to the Ducks.

GOLF

LA QUINTA, Calif. (AP) — Phil Mickelson still feels as young as ever. He still plays that way, too.

Mickelson began his 27th full season as a pro Thursday by flirting with one of the few feats he hasn’t accomplished — golf’s magic number. The 48-year-old left-hander still shot a 12-under 60 in the Desert Classic, tying his career-low score he last shot in the Phoenix Open six years ago. It was the most under par he has been in any of the 2,077 rounds he has played on the PGA Tour.

Needing to play the final two holes in 2 under to shoot 59, Mickelson missed a 15-foot birdie try on the par-4 17th before holing a 9-footer for birdie on the par-4 18th. The round at La Quinta Country Club was his first on tour since early October and the first in competition since beating Tiger Woods in Las Vegas in November in a made-for-TV event.

Lefty birdied the first two holes and played the back-to-back par 5s in 3 under with a birdie on No. 5 and a 5-foot eagle putt on No. 6. He added a birdie on the par-4 ninth for a front-nine 30, and birdied the par-4 10th, par-5 11th, par-5 13th and par-4 14th, holing a chip from in front of the 14th green. He then ran in a 5-footer for birdie on the par-4 16th.

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