First Call: New Coyote Phil Kessel speaks; Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott gets huge contract | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Benz

Wednesday’s “First Call” features details on Ezekiel Elliott’s new contract. Phil Kessel speaks for the first time as an Arizona Coyote. Austin Meadows homers again. And two local pitchers break new ground in the Major Leagues.


Kessel the Coyote

Phil Kessel may have been traded to Arizona two months ago, but he spoke for the first time as a member of the team Tuesday.

That seems about right.

Kessel’s talent has never been in question. His results in Pittsburgh were far more good than bad.

But by the end of his stay in Pittsburgh, Kessel’s commitment to two-way hockey and his willingness to accept coaching came into question again, as they did in Boston and Toronto.

Arizona’s hope is that those things won’t be a problem because Rick Tocchet is the head coach. The former Penguins assistant got along well with Kessel.

“Obviously we’re good friends and we get along great,” Kessel said, via 98.7 FM. “But there’s a business side here. I think our friendship has to almost take a back seat to what we want to accomplish.

“Obviously there’s going to be times he’s going to be mad at me, he’s going to yell at me. I’m just going to have to take that and respect that, because we want to win.”

Kessel managed to do that his first two years here under Mike Sullivan en route to two Stanley Cups. That balance seemed to wobble in 2019.


Good to go

Ezekiel Elliott will not be pulling a Le’Veon Bell after all.

The unhappy Dallas Cowboy has a new contract. Reports of a six-year extension started to emerge Wednesday morningand he should be practicing right away.

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says the contract will be the largest in NFL history for a running back.

Elliott and the Cowboys host the New York Giants Sunday.


Panther pride

Former Pitt Panthers pitcher T.J. Zeuch made his Major League debut Tuesday for the Toronto Blue Jays.

The 6-foot-7 right-hander began the second inning for the Jays in Atlanta. He followed Wilmer Font, who pitched as an “opener.”

Zeuch allowed two earned runs in four innings. He had four strikeouts, allowed three hits and walked two.

Between 2014 and 2016, Zeuch made 39 appearances for the Panthers. He totaled 205 strikeouts — seventh in program history. He garnered All-ACC honors in 2016 and was a first-round draft choice that year. Zeuch tossed a no-hitter for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons back on August 19.

The Blue Jays ended up losing 7-2. They are 55-85, fourth in the American League East. Atlanta is 86-54, leading the National League East.


Not alone

Meanwhile, WPIAL product Randy Dobnak played the role of the opener for the Minnesota Twins.

The South Park graduate pitched the first inning at Fenway Park. He walked one, had two strikeouts, and allowed no hits.

Dobnak has appeared in four games so far. He made his debut back on August 9. The right-hander has yet to yield an earned run in nine innings.

Minnesota won 6-5. The Twins are now 86-52, good for first place by 6.5 games over the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central.


More Meadows

Austin Meadows’ fine season continues in Tampa.

The former Pirate homered again for the Rays Tuesday.

The Tampa Bay outfielder launched a solo shot against Baltimore. He has 26 now. The Rays won 2-0. He’s hitting .280 with an OPS of .887.

The Rays are 82-59, and they are currently the top wild-card team in the American League.

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