Phelps dealing with defeat in comeback


IRVINE, Calif. -- Michael Phelps has always fed off adversity. Not that the most decorated Olympian has faced much in the pool.

Until now.

Phelps lost all four of his races at the recent U.S. national championships. Hardly shocking for a guy who is four months out of retirement, but somewhat surprising for someone who already owns 53 national titles.

Phelps, though, is focused on his long-term goal of competing in a fifth Olympics in 2016.

"I'd rather lose all the national championships that I swim in as long as I'm ready for the big races," he said after the meet in Southern California.

He'll get a taste of some big races during next week's Pan Pacific Championships in Australia. Phelps qualified in the 100-meter butterfly and 200 individual medley. The combined results from nationals and Pan Pacs, featuring the U.S., Australia, Japan, Canada and Brazil, decide the U.S. team for next year's world championships.

Phelps headed Down Under knowing that if he wants to win in Rio de Janeiro, he's got to once again commit to staring at the black line on the bottom of a pool. Those hours of training helped drive him into retirement two years ago.

"I have no choice," he said. "If I want to be where I want to be, I know what I have to do. With having a year and a half off and maybe not really going as hard as I probably should have at some of the parts during the year, it shows."

At 29, Phelps came to that realization on his own rather than needing the usual prodding from coach Bob Bowman or his mother.

"That's kind of what I've learned in this whole process over the last year and a half," he said. "I'm going to have to do it because I want to. That's the reason I'm here and that's the reason I'm swimming again."

His California losses included two second-place finishes, but his times were encouraging. He swam 51.30 seconds in the 100 butterfly and 1 minute, 56.55 seconds in the 200 IM. Both were third-fastest in the world this year.

"He just needs to go home and put in some more practices," Bowman said. "He gets better every day. He's got some confidence now."

• Baseball

Bailey to DL: The Cincinnati Reds have placed Homer Bailey on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right elbow and have selected the contract of right-hander Dylan Axelrod from Triple-A Louisville.

Cincinnati also transferred first baseman Joey Votto (left knee) to the 60-day DL. He will be eligible to be reinstated on Sept. 4.

Tanaka recovery: New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka has thrown 25 pitches in his first bullpen session in a month since going on the disabled list with a partial tear in his right elbow.

Tanaka, 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA in 18 starts, pitched from the mound before Saturday's game against Tampa Bay. This is the Japanese right-hander's first season in the major leagues.

Minoso injuried: Former Chicago White Sox legend Minnie Minoso has been hospitalized in Chicago after falling from his boat.

Team spokesman Scott Reifert tells WMAQ-TV) the 88-year-old was pulled from the water Friday and taken to St. Joseph Hospital for tests.

Team representatives spoke with Minoso Saturday, and the baseball great reportedly said he is "feeling fine."

• Golf

Watney Championship: Nick Watney birdied the final hole for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke lead Saturday after the third round of the Wyndham Championship.

Watney made a 20-foot birdie putt from the right edge of the green on the par-4 18th. The five-time PGA Tour winner had a 14-under 196 total at Sedgefield.

Brad Fritsch was second after a 65.

USA Amateur: Canadian Corey Conners and South Korean Gunn Yang set up the second straight all-foreign final in the U.S. Amateur on Saturday.

Conners beat Denny McCarthy of Rockville, Maryland, 1 up at Atlanta Athletic Club, and Yang edged Frederick Wedel of The Woodlands, Texas, in 19 holes.

Last year in the 36-hole final at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, England's Matthew Fitzpatrick beat Australia's Oliver Goss. Conners, from Listowel, Ontario, is the first Canadian to reach the final since Gary Cowan won his second title in 1971.

Made in Denmark: Scotland's Marc Warren mastered strong winds to shoot a 5-under 66 on Saturday and join Bradley Dredge of Wales in a share of the lead after the third round of Made in Denmark.

Warren surged 12 places up the leaderboard to sit tied with Dredge on 6-under 207, three shots ahead of Garteh Maybin of Northern Ireland and England's Simon Wakefield.

Dredge, a two-time winner of the European Tour, held a four-shot lead after the second round but only managed a 73 after mixing four bogeys with two birdies.

• Elsewhere

Bears sign Holmes: A person familiar with the situation says former Super Bowl MVP receiver Santonio Holmes has agreed to a contract with the Chicago Bears.

The person spoke Saturday on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.

Truex crashes: Ryan Truex was taken to a hospital Saturday after he crashed his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.

Truex walked to the ambulance following the crash. He hit the wall head-on while exiting a turn, and the front of his car was severely damaged.

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