ATHENS, Ga. Jujhar Khaira Jersey . -- Michael Phelps surged to the wall and quickly searched for the scoreboard. He liked what he saw. Phelps turned in perhaps the most impressive performance so far in his comeback, posting the third-fastest time in the world this year while easily beating rival Ryan Lochte in the 100-meter butterfly at the Bulldog Grand Slam on Friday night. Despite some problems with his turn, Phelps had the packed house roaring when he touched in 51.67 seconds, considerably faster than the 52.11 he posted at the Santa Clara Grand Prix three weeks ago. Lochte was a distant second in 53.08. "I wanted to get under 52," Phelps said, breaking into a big smile. "I was sick and tired of seeing 52.1." He had no trouble finishing ahead of Lochte, though it really wasnt a fair fight. Phelps longtime foe also competed in the 200 freestyle, winning the "B" final less than an hour before he returned to the water to face a rested Phelps. More important for Lochte -- his left knee seemed to hold up well. This is his first meet for the laid-back Floridian since he reinjured the surgically repaired knee at the Mesa Grand Prix in April. It was initially hurt late last year when he tried to catch an exuberant fan and fell into a curb, requiring surgery. "I hope I lose," said Lochte, who plans to swim a grueling six events in Athens. "It will just make me more hungry." Phelps is set to swim three events at the weekend meet on the University of Georgia campus, a hastily arranged event that gave some of the top swimmers on the East Coast a chance to swim one more time competitively before the next months national championships in Irvine, California. The results from nationals, as well as the Pan Pacific Championships being held in Australia later in August, will determine the U.S. team for the 2015 world championships. Phelps seems to be right on course, at least in his signature fly, finishing just 0.46 off the time that won the gold at the 2012 London Olympics. The only faster times this year were Thomas Dals 51.44 in the Belgian Open and Viacheslav Prudnikovs 51.60 at the Russian national championships. "I am very pleased with being able to go 51," Phelps said. "But in the grand scheme of things, I think its just a small steppingstone to go where we hope to be." He is still struggling with the consistency of his stroke. When things are going well, Phelps needs 16 strokes to cover the first 50 metres, 18 for the return lap. When hes just a little off, he winds up gliding into the wall too much, either when hes making his flip turn or coming to the finish. "I was kind of bummed that I still cant hit a wall correctly," Phelps said. Added his coach, Bob Bowman, "He looked crazy coming off the wall." All in all, though, no complaints. Phelps, who retired after the last Olympics and stayed away from the pool for more than a year, didnt come back to tarnish his legacy, which includes 18 golds and 22 medals overall -- far more than any other Olympic athlete. "I always set high expectations for myself, no matter what Im doing," he said. "Bob and I have a plan of what I want to do. He knows what its going to take to get there." In other events, French Olympic star Yannick Agnel took the mens 200 freestyle in 1 minute, 47.27 seconds, followed by U.S. Olympians Conor Dywer (1:47.44) and Connor Jaeger (1:47.94). Lochte, swimming in that consolation final, actually posted the fourth-fastest time of the evening at 1:48.69, some 4 seconds faster than he went in the morning preliminaries while wearing a non-racing suit. Allison Schmitt, coming back strong after a disappointing post-Olympic year, won the womens 200 freestyle in 1:58.16. Winner of five medals in London, she struggled a bit with fame and didnt even qualify for the 2013 worlds. Shes back on track with the Rio Games just two years away. "I have more goals that I want to accomplish, which is why Im back," Schmitt said. "Im looking forward to this summer." In the 400 individual medley, Olympic gold medallist Tyler Clary blew away the field in the mens race. His time of 4:21.66 was nearly 4 1/2 seconds ahead of runner-up Kevin Litherland. Melanie Margalis finished first on the womens side. Micah Lawrence touched first in the womens 100 breaststroke, while the mens breaststroke was captured by Nicolas Fink. Seventeen-year-old Kathleen Baker took the womens 100 fly in 59.69, the only swimmer to break the minute barrier. Of course, Phelps drew most of the attention. His main foe was impressed by what he saw. "He swam a fantastic race," Lochte said. "That was really fast." Paul Shmyr Jersey . None of them are Finlands Pekka Rinne, who stands as Canadas biggest challenge in Thursdays quarter-final round. Even while a young Finnish team has struggled with penalties, turnovers and a lack of offensive depth, Rinne has been a rock with a 1. Grant Fuhr Jersey . With Washington teammate Nene drawing double-teams coming off his big game against the Lakers, Gortat scored 25 points on 11-of-12 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Wizards to a 100-92 win in overtime over Milwaukee on Wednesday night.DUNEDIN, Florida – The Blue Jays fell to 4-4 in Grapefruit League play following a 6-4 loss to the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon. Brandon Morrow allowed five runs on six hits over three innings. He struck out two, walked one and hit a batter. Edwin Encarnacion had a two-out, bases loaded two-RBI double in the third inning. Here are some tidbits from camp: SANTOS DEALING WITH UNCERTAIN FUTURE Its an oft-repeated cliché but Sergio Santos really is approaching life one day at a time. Almost traded during the offseason - according to reports he was nearly moved twice - he continues to hear his name in the rumour mill. "Its just been different or kind of out of the norm," said Santos. "I try to keep as level-minded of an outlook as I can. I try not to look too far ahead or try to think about things that I cant control." Santos almost became a Texas Ranger in late November but a three-team deal fell through. He went so far as to travel to Arlington to undergo a physical and to meet with Rangers officials. Hes not hung up on it. "Luckily I had some time to kind of let that sink in and its gone and Im done thinking about it," said Santos. Santos missed almost four months of last season due to surgery to remove bone spurs from his pitching elbow. In 24 appearances from his August 1 return onward, Santos posted a 1.69 ERA and a miniscule 0.516 WHIP over 21 1/3 innings. He limited opposing batters to a .327 OPS. Put simply, he was dominant. In the final guaranteed year of his deal and with year over year club options through 2017 ($6 million in 2015, $8 million in 2016, $8.75 million in 2017), hes a prime candidate to be moved because the bullpen is considered a position of strength and others, like Steve Delabar, have years of club control remaining. "I think there are two sides that you can look at it, as other teams really want you or you can dwell on the fact that the team youre on is trying to trade you," said Santos. "At the end of the day Alex and everybody with the Blue Jays is trying to make the Blue Jays as good of a team as they can in 2014. "Whether Im in those plans or not, like I said thats not in my control. Would I like to be? Of course." JANSSEN PROGRESSING Closer Casey Janssen, dealing with stiffness in the back of his pitching shoulder, played catch on Monday and woke up feeling good on Tuesday. Hes hoping to throw a bullpen session soon, although there isnt a schedule yet. "Just with yesterday, see how it is today and then I think we can start preparing a plan but weve got to crawl before we can walk here," said Janssen. "Well get there. Im not worried about the bullpens and stuff like that. Don Jackson Jersey. All I really care about is feeling healthy and if Im healthy it comes back quick." Janssen was limited in Grapefruit League play last season as he recovered from shoulder surgery. He pitched successfully through pain for much of the year, notching a career high 34 saves, a 2.56 ERA and a 0.987 WHIP. NAVARRO, IZTURIS CONCERNED FOR FAMILY BACK HOME Former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez died last March 5. On the one-year anniversary of his passing and with political unrest on the rise in their homeland, Blue Jays Dioner Navarro and Maicer Izturis spend a lot of time worrying about family. "Its so frustrating," said Navarro. "Thank God theyre doing all good. Theyve been through so much and its just sad and frustrating at the same time. I know if we keep on praying and staying strong, eventually things have to change." Navarro grew up a block away from the presidential residence in Caracas, known as Casa Blanca (White House). His parents, Frank and Rosa, and his youngest brother Darrel still live in the home. With a family of his own and business interests in the Tampa area, Navarro hasnt returned to Venezuela since 2009. He flies his family to the United States as often as possible. Izturis hails from Barquisimeto, about a four-hour drive from the capital, Caracas. His wife and children are with him and his brother, former Blue Jay Cesar, is in Kissimmee attending the Astros camp, but the rest of his family remains in the midst of the protests, which have fanned out across Venezuela. Its a chore just to get groceries. "You can go but they drive very quick," said Izturis. "You go to the supermarket and try to find out what you need. You need to go quick, boom, boom, and thats no life, you know?" Both players believe political change is coming to Venezuela. Theyre hoping it comes at limited cost. "Its such a beautiful country," said Navarro. "Weve got so much to offer to not only ourselves but to the world. We keep on praying God is going to do something really good for us." CAMP CUTS The Blue Jays trimmed their major league roster by three, to 55, by reassigning catchers Derrick Chung and Jack Murphy and pitcher Luis Perez to minor league camp. Perez, who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in August, 2012, suffered a setback in his recovery late last season and has experienced numbness in the pinky finger of his pitching hand this spring. Perez is out of options but is a certainty to begin the season on the disabled list. Hell continue his rehabilitation in minor league camp, which opened on Wednesday. ' ' '
Michael Phelps surged to the wall an
Michael Phelps surged to the wall an