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The Latest: Ex-FIFA President Blatter meets Putin at Kremlin

The Latest: Ex-FIFA President Blatter meets Putin at Kremlin

The Latest on Thursday at the World Cup (all times local): 12:35 p.m. Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he met Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin and talked about the Russia team's good start to the World Cup. Blatter went to see Russia's president after attending Portugal's 1-0 win over Morocco in Moscow on Wednesday. Blatter says 'we had small talks. We spoke about football and the good start of the competition, the good start of the team.' Russia has qualified for the round of 16. The 82-year-old Blatter is serving a six-year ban from official football duty until October 2021 for financial misconduct during this 17-year rule. The terms of the ban meant Blatter was kept separate from successor Gianni Infantino and other football officials at Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday. Fulfilling a long-standing personal invitation from Putin to attend the World Cup, Blatter will travel to St. Petersburg to see Brazil play Costa Rica on Friday. Blatter says it was 'respectful' to be invited to Russia and the Kremlin despite being suspended from football. ___ 11:40 a.m. Dele Alli missed England's training session on Thursday because of a thigh injury, putting him in doubt for the team's second group game against Panama at the World Cup. The midfielder was hurt during England's 2-1 win over Tunisia on Monday and was taken off in the second half. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is the likely replacement for Alli if the Tottenham player misses out.

LEADING OFF: Pair of aces pitching in Bronx, Wacha gets MRI

LEADING OFF: Pair of aces pitching in Bronx, Wacha gets MRI

A look at what's happening around the majors today: BIG ARMS IN THE BRONX With slugger Giancarlo Stanton heating up at the plate, the major league-leading Yankees (49-22) go for a three-game sweep of visiting Seattle. Luis Severino (10-2, 2.09 ERA) pitches for New York against lefty James Paxton (6-1, 3.44), who is 5-0 with a 2.55 ERA since the beginning of May — a nine-start span that includes a no-hitter in Toronto. The Mariners have lost three straight for the first time since April 17-19 against the World Series champion Astros. STRANGE TO SEE Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (10-3, 2.06 ERA) tries to avoid his first three-game losing streak since August 2015 when the Nationals host lowly Baltimore. He'll hope to get some help on offense from slumping slugger Bryce Harper, who went 0 for 4 in a rain-delayed 3-0 loss Wednesday night, dropping his batting average to .209. Washington manager Dave Martinez said Harper has been working hard with batting coach Kevin Long. 'He's going to hit. I know he's going to carry us for a month or two or for whatever,' Martinez said. DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENT Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha (8-2, 3.20 ERA) is scheduled for an MRI after exiting Wednesday's start with a left oblique strain. 'Feeling a little bit better,' he said following the game. 'I'm hoping for the best.' Carlos Martinez (3-3, 2.73) pitches for St. Louis in the opener of a four-game set at Milwaukee. He is 6-4 with a 1.95 ERA against the Brewers. Slumping outfielder Ryan Braun is expected to rejoin the Brewers after the team sent him to Los Angeles on Wednesday for treatment on his achy right thumb. The six-time All-Star is hitting just .236 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs. SEEKING HIS FIRST WIN Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (0-2, 4.67 ERA) pitches at home against last-place San Diego, which has dropped four straight. Bumgarner missed the first two months of the season with a broken pinkie. He has lost four in a row to the Padres, who counter with Tyson Ross (5-4, 3.51). Meanwhile, San Francisco right-hander Jeff Samardzija (shoulder tightness) is set to make his second rehab start with Triple-A Sacramento. READY TO GO White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia (right hamstring strain) could return to the lineup against Oakland in the opener of a four-game series. Garcia was hitting .333 with two home runs and seven RBIs during a six-game rehab stint with Triple-A Charlotte. He batted .330 with 18 homers and 80 RBIs last season, making his first All-Star team. COMING UP EMPTY Boston will be looking for a couple of clutch hits against the Minnesota Twins in the finale of its road trip. The Red Sox were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position Wednesday and are 2 for 22 in the first two games of the series. They stranded 18 runners in those two games and have lost four of five overall. Rick Porcello (8-3, 3.70 ERA) starts against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson (2-4, 3.27), who has allowed only five runs over his last four starts spanning 26 2/3 innings. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Inside Mo Bamba's quest to be the NBA's next great big man This is the behind-the-scenes story of how Bamba is training to join the ranks of the league's top big men.