The Oakland Raiders used the 12th overall pick in last year's draft to select D.J. Hayden, who had abdominal surgery soon after the draft and missed the end of last season with a groin injury.
The massive potential seen in Sammy Watkins is why the Buffalo Bills traded up five spots to take the wide receiver with the No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft. The long-term upside is obvious, but what can we expect from him as a rook?

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Available pinch-hitters 

July, 22, 2014
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In an era of increased specialization, one of baseball's unique jobs is not faring well in general. While offense is down throughout the game, pinch hitters are struggling at an even higher rate in 2014.

Entering Tuesday, pinch hitters were hitting a mere .211 this season, a full 41 points below baseball's batting average for all hitters, and last year pinch hitters batted just .217.

That is something to keep in mind as July 31 approaches. All teams looking to add a backup position player hope the new player can provide value as a pinch hitter. Here are some veterans who might be available with their pinch-hitting prowess in mind:
  • Travis Snider, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: The promotion of Gregory Polanco has cut into Snider's at-bats, and Snider could be a bargaining chip as the Pirates look to add another reliever. Snider is tied for the major league lead with 11 pinch hits, including a run-scoring double against the Rockies last Friday that snapped an eighth-inning tie.
  • Ryan Doumit, OF/C, Atlanta Braves: Evan Gattis returned from the disabled list Monday, moving Doumit further down the depth chart in Atlanta. Doumit has a .248 BA and four home runs in 149 career pinch-hit at-bats.
  • Bobby Abreu, OF, New York Mets: Even if the Mets are not major sellers at the deadline, they could look to deal the 40-year outfielder. But a word of caution: Abreu may be hitting .259 overall, but he's just 2-for-27 (.074) as a pinch hitter, his primary role for any contender.

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Jan Vesely eyes move to Fenerbahce 

July, 22, 2014
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The Denver Nuggets currently have 14 players under contract and that number will drop to 13 if the rumor from Turkey is true.

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Mavs target another PG? 

July, 22, 2014
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The Dallas Mavericks now have 13 players under contract with fully guaranteed salaries for 2014-15 after the signed Richard Jefferson to his veteran minimum deal. The Mavs should start the regular season with a full 15-man team, which means they'll keep two more player from those signed between now and the start of training camp.

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The Houston Texans have a pair of interesting contract quandaries as training camp nears. Andre Johnson, who is 33 and has three years remaining on his current contract, continues to holdout, because he wants to be traded. On the other end of the spectrum is 25-year-old J.J. Watt, who is under contract through 2015 after the Texans picked up the fifth-year option on his contract this offseason.

Time will tell how things will work out with Johnson, but the Houston Chronicle's John McClain expects the Texans to give Watt an extension sooner than later.

"... Watt, 25, won't play under his current contract in 2015. The Texans' philosophy for their best players has been to extend their contracts with a year remaining," McClain wrote.

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Would A's deal Tommy Milone? 

July, 22, 2014
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Tommy Milone, demoted to the minors earlier this month following the acquisition of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel has asked the Oakland Athletics to trade him, reports Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com.

Rosenthal adds “the Athletics have received trade inquiries on Milone, but the team is not eager to move him, knowing he might be needed due to injury or ineffectiveness.”

The A’s have no incentive to accommodate Milone, who is better than many starters currently in the majors. The southpaw owns a career 3.84 ERA in 468 2/3 innings, and had gone 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA in 11 starts prior to his demotion.

If the A’s were to listen on Milone, they could ask interested parties to take struggling reliever Jim Johnson off their hands as part of a package deal. The Athletics would like to avoid eating the remainder of Johnson’s $10 million contract and move him before the deadline, but have found no takers, reported John Hickey of the Oakland Tribune.

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Why Evan Turner picked Celtics 

July, 22, 2014
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Evan Turner has been looking for a team since he is not returning to the Indiana Pacers and Monday he agreed to a deal with the Boston Celtics, reports the Boston Herald. Turner will be signed using part of the mid-level exception.

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Cliff Lee staying in Philly? 

July, 22, 2014
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It is an old baseball adage that you never read too much into any particular game. But when it comes to assessing the trade value of Cliff Lee, there may be no other choice.

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Since the Cleveland Browns eschewed a glaringly obvious need at wide receiver to select offensive lineman Joel Bitonio with the 35th pick of this year's draft, it's no surprise that he slid right in as their starting left guard during OTAs.

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Suns expect Eric Bledsoe to return 

July, 22, 2014
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Now that the top 2014 free agents are off the board, the top unsigned player is probably Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe. The Suns and Bledsoe are currently at an impasse, but they are confident a deal will get done.

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D-Day looming for Ian Clark, Erik Murphy 

July, 22, 2014
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The Utah Jazz have completed their summer league schedule and now general manager Dennis Lindsey will spend the next few weeks setting up the roster for training camp.

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Wolves roster almost set 

July, 22, 2014
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The Minnesota Timberwolves and free forward Robbie Hummel have agreed to terms and according to Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com, the deal is a guaranteed one-year contract. The Wolves wanted to bring back Hummel since he can stretch the floor with his ability to hit long-range jump shots.

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Twins ready to sell? 

July, 22, 2014
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Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan dropped a strong hint Monday that the Twins will soon be trade deadline sellers.

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On Monday, veteran guard Chris Snee called it a career, announcing his retirement from the NFL due to a troublesome elbow. Who will replace him at right guard for the New York Giants?

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