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Vera Clemente, widow of Pirates legend, dies at age 78

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PITTSBURGH — Vera Clemente, the widow of Hall of Fame outfielder Roberto Clemente and a goodwill ambassador for Major League Baseball, has died. She was 78.

MLB and the Pittsburgh Pirates announced her death Saturday. She died in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

MLB says Vera Clemente had health issues recently. The Pittsburgh Pirates tweeted on Nov. 1 that she had been hospitalized in “delicate health.”

Vera and Roberto Clemente were married in November 1964, according to the Roberto Clemente Foundation. Roberto Clemente was a 15-time All-Star with the Pirates. He was killed in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred says Vera Clemente “impacted countless children and extended her family’s humanitarian legacy of helping those in need.”

Vera Clemente served as the chairwoman for the foundation, which works “to promote positive change and community engagement through the example and inspiration of Roberto.” Vera and Roberto had three sons: Roberto Jr., Luis and Enrique.

Pirates owner Bob Nutting called Clemente “a cherished member of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Major League Baseball family.” He says she “epitomized grace, dignity and strength in the wake of heartbreaking tragedy and loss.”

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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Max Muncy cites Dodgers’ new center-field backdrop for HBP injury

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LOS ANGELES — Max Muncy didn’t react quickly enough to a pitch running in on him during Sunday’s scrimmage from Dodger Stadium and suffered an injury because of it.

“I couldn’t really see the ball,” Muncy said. “I’m trying to adjust to some of the changes out there. It came up and in on me and hit me in the finger.”

The reason: A center-field batter’s eye, the visual backdrop for batters, that has evolved over the course of a $100 million renovation and has seemingly made it more difficult for Los Angeles Dodgers hitters to pick up the baseball.

The videographers’ well now stretches wider. A pedestrian area that is part of a new center-field plaza brought the black wall down lower. And the section of neighboring seats that used to be tarped off is now only partially painted black, which might make it especially difficult to pick up the baseball when facing side-arm throwers.

Muncy’s injury — to the ring finger of his left hand, which was wrapped during Wednesday’s availability — is not considered serious or expected to jeopardize his availability for the season opener July 23. But the new look could create an ongoing problem for Dodgers hitters if left unaddressed.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called it “unsettling” that Muncy couldn’t pick up the baseball in time to dodge it, but he said the organization is open to making adjustments to appease its players.

“It’s different than what we’ve had here,” Muncy said. “I guess that’s just something we have to get used to. I will say I know pitchers are pretty happy about the batter’s eye.”

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San Francisco Giants 1B Brandon Belt sidelined by sore heel

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SAN FRANCISCO — Giants first baseman Brandon Belt has been using a walking boot as he nurses a sore right heel that will keep him out at least a week.

Manager Gabe Kapler said Belt would be reevaluated in five to seven days but wasn’t ready to put in doubt Belt’s availability for the season opener July 23 at Dodger Stadium.

“I think making an assessment for the opening series against the Dodgers is probably a little bit premature as it relates to Brandon’s heel,” Kapler said. “I talked to him today — he was feeling pretty good. We walked across the field and then up the stairs to the clubhouse together. He was feeling fairly confident. I think more than anything else it’s probably smart to be patient and take a look at where he is in a couple of days.”

The 32-year-old Belt has dealt with heel pain previously and aggravated it this time doing agility work in a ladder drill. He played in 156 games last season following two injury-plagued years and batted .234 with 17 home runs and 57 RBIs.

“He’s probably going to be down for a few days,” Kapler said.

Hunter Pence took batting practice but was unable to run the bases or play the outfield as a precautionary move because of minor pain in his foot, Kapler said, while catcher Buster Posey missed another practice because of a personal issue that also kept him away from Oracle Park for Friday’s initial session.

The team was able to return to the field for a modified simulated game after Tuesday’s workout got canceled because of a delay in the return of coronavirus test results. San Francisco had received most of its results from tests done Monday and those that were back all had negative results.

“Things feel like they’re on track right now,” Kapler said of the process.

San Francisco also has firmed up plans to play at least two exhibition games against Bay Area rival Oakland.

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‘I couldn’t really see the ball’

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LOS ANGELES — Max Muncy didn’t react quickly enough to a pitch running in on him during Sunday’s scrimmage from Dodger Stadium and suffered an injury because of it.

“I couldn’t really see the ball,” Muncy said. “I’m trying to adjust to some of the changes out there. It came up and in on me and hit me in the finger.”

The reason: A center-field batter’s eye, the visual backdrop for batters, that evolved over the course of a $100 million renovation and has seemingly made it more difficult for Los Angeles Dodgers hitters to pick up the baseball.

The videographers’ well now stretches wider. A pedestrian area that is part of a new center-field plaza brought the black wall down lower. And the section of neighboring seats that used to be tarped off is now only partially painted black, which might make it especially difficult to pick up the baseball off side-arm throwers.

Muncy’s injury — to the ring finger of his left hand, which was wrapped during Wednesday’s availability — is not considered serious and is not expected to jeopardize his availability for the season opener on July 23. But the new look could create an ongoing problem for the Dodgers’ hitters if left unaddressed.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called it “unsettling” that Muncy couldn’t pick up the baseball in time to dodge it, but said the organization is open to making adjustments in order to appease its players.

“It’s different than what we’ve had here,” Muncy said. “I guess that’s just something we have to get used to. I will say I know pitchers are pretty happy about the batter’s eye.”

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