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|The pageantry and patriotism accompanying the buildup to the Minnesota Twins' home opener forced a pause for James Paxton in his warmup routine http://www.ravensauthorizedshops.com/authentic-robert-griffin-iii-jersey , leaving the Seattle starting pitcher standing alone in left field while a giant flag was unfurled nearby. The bald eagle brought in for a ceremonial flight over the field was the final piece of the pregame pomp, prior to the playing of the national anthem.
Well, the big bird didn't want to visit the mound, perhaps wary of Major League Baseball's new rule limiting such trips to keep the pace of play. Instead, it picked out another target at Target Field.
And Paxton wound up as the landing spot, sticking its talons into his back.
"I guess the eagle knew I was Canadian. I don't know. But it came for me," the left-hander said on Thursday evening after the Twins rallied past the Mariners 4-2 .
Even on a 38-degree afternoon against a big-swinging lineup, the toughest task for Paxton might have been keeping his composure during that startling moment before the game when the pastime of bird watching took on a whole new meaning.
"Figured I'm not going to outrun an eagle," Paxton said. "So might as well see what happens."
Rather than soaring to the mound to reach his summoning handlers, the bird took a path straight toward Paxton, causing him to jerk his upper body backward to avoid being grazed. Then the eagle, named Challenger, landed in the grass before circling back to find a perch on Paxton's right shoulder . One of the trainers hustled out to lure the bird safely away and make sure Paxton was all right.
"I kind of ducked it so it wouldn't fly into my face. It was, I think, trying to stand on my back Authentic Matt Duchene Jersey ," Paxton said. "And then I thought, 'OK, if I can stand up slowly, maybe it'll just rest on my shoulder. But as I stood up, he kind of fell off my back a little bit and was kind of clawing to try to get back up on my shoulder. But then as I stood straight up, it fell back onto the ground."
So he simply resumed warming up.
"The talons, I don't think, punctured me. They were kind of sharp on my back. I don't have any scratches, I don't believe," Paxton said. "That's not the first time I've seen a bald eagle, but it was the first time I've had one try to land on me."
Talk about poise under pressure.
"I was just standing there, trying not to panic," he said.
Both teams had a good time reliving the moment. Mariners manager Scott Servais said he thought fellow starting pitcher Felix Hernandez would have run away. Twins center fielder Byron Buxton had no trouble admitting that would have been his reaction, too.
"When I saw him like perk up on Paxton's arm, I'm gone Eagles Cheap Jerseys ," Buxton said. "He wouldn't have a chance to get on my shoulder."
Twins catcher Mitch Garver said the large-talon landing was "terrifying." Twins closer Fernando Rodney joked about using one of the imaginary arrows he shoots into the air after converting a save to try to bring down the bird.
"When I saw that, I said, 'Wow,'" Rodney said. "That's baseball. A lot of things happen."
Minnesota fans, meanwhile, could probably appreciate an eagle-free sporting event at this point. The Vikings lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC championship game this winter, of course, before the Eagles came to Minneapolis two weeks later to win their first Super Bowl.
On the eve of free agency, John Tavares is leaving the NHL guessing about his destination.
With less than 12 hours until the market opens, the elite center had not chosen between six suitors, with the San Jose Sharks, hometown Toronto Maple Leafs and incumbent New York Islanders considered the most likely options. Returning to the Islanders looks less likely now after the midnight deadline passed for Tavares to get an eight-year contract from his current team.
The Tavares sweepstakes dragging on into Sunday seems to favor San Jose and Toronto, either of which could sign the 27-year-old to a seven-year deal worth $70 million or more. He met this week with the Sharks, Maple Leafs, Islanders Will Dissly Jersey Seahawks , Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning, and his decision could drastically affect the plans of those teams and others.
”I think other teams have admitted, we would have to make moves (to clear salary-cap space),” Bruins general manager Don Sweeny told reporters in Boston on Friday. ”Pretty confident we’d be able to do that.”
As hockey waited for the Tavares watch to end, several teams made moves Saturday ahead of the frenzy.
The Sharks agreed to a $64 million, eight-year extension with forward Logan Couture, according to a person familiar with the contract who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn’t been announced. It can’t become official until after noon Sunday because it doesn’t begin until the 2019-20 season – the same as long-term deals the Los Angeles Kings have with Drew Doughty and Arizona Coyotes have with Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Detroit got its own defenseman under contract for the next two seasons by agreeing to deal with Mike Green that pays him $5,375,000 annually. Signing Green could be just the start of the action for the Red Wings, who have been linked to unrestricted free agent goaltender Jonathan Bernier and winger Thomas Vanek.
New Jersey also shored up its goaltending situation by re-signing Eddie Lack to a $650,000, one-year deal. The Devils also have Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid, who split time last season and in the playoffs.
A person with direct knowledge of discussions said the Buffalo Sabres are expected to sign goalie Carter Hutton, who had been the St. Louis Blues’ backup to Jake Allen. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because agreements cannot be announced until the signing period begins.
Hutton and others seem to already be ticketed for certain places Cheap Cassius Marsh Jersey , but many big-name players are still up for grabs.
Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk, who tied Tavares with 36 goals last season, has been drawing significant interest and, at 29, could easily command a seven-year contract at a substantial raise over his previous $4.25 million salary. The Western Conference champion Vegas Golden Knights have cap space but might lose wingers David Perron and James Neal, who combined for 110 points last season.
The Winnipeg Jets are doing their best to try to bring back center Paul Stastny after he was so instrumental in their playoff run. They cleared about $5.5 million in cap space by trading goaltender Steve Mason and Finnish forward Joel Armia to Montreal on Saturday but may still need more room to bring back the 32-year-old.
The Canadiens are set to buy out Mason, putting him on unconditional waivers as the Minnesota Wild did with forward Tyler Ennis to clear cap space.
Stastny fit in seamlessly after Winnipeg acquired him from St. Louis at the trade deadline but also might be better served waiting to see what Tavares does. Teams looking for a center who don’t land Tavares will look to Stastny and Toronto’s Tyler Bozak and could look into a trade for Buffalo’s Ryan O’Reilly, who is signed for the next five years and owed a $7.5 million bonus Sunday.
AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow in San Jose, California, contributed to this report.
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