Super Bowl hero to attend Sea Dogs game

PORTLAND, MAINE — New England Patriots cornerback and Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler is scheduled to make an appearance at Hadlock Field on Monday, April 27th, when the Portland Sea Dogs host the Binghamton Mets at 6 p.m.

Butler will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and will be available to sign free autographs on photos provided by the Sea Dogs for fans from 6-7 p.m.

Butler was signed by the New England Patriots as a rookie free agent and became a household name at the end of Super Bowl XLIX, when he sealed the Patriots’ 28-24 victory over Seattle by intercepting Russell Wilson’s pass intended for Ricardo Lockette at the goal line with 26 seconds left to play.

Tiger Woods says he’ll play in Masters

With a brief statement posted to his website Friday afternoon, Tiger Woods ended speculation about his immediate future by announcing he would play in next week’s Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia. Now, speculation will turn inevitably to the state of his ailing back, his head and his golf game.

Woods, a four-time Masters champion, hasn’t played competitively since withdrawing due to back stiffness during the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego on Feb. 5, citing “deactivated glutes.” The week before, plagued by short-game woes, he shot a career-high 82 in the second round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, missing the cut.

He announced on Feb. 11 that he would not return to competition until he felt he could be competitive again against the best golfers in the world.

Twins RHP Santana suspended 80 games

The Minnesota Twins were dealt a blow just days for their season opener when Major League Baseball on Friday handed pitcher Ervin Santana an 80-game suspension without pay after testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug Stanozolol.

The right-hander’s suspension will begin at the start of the regular season next week, leaving the Twins without the projected No. 2 starter in their rotation behind Phil Hughes for nearly half of the 162-game schedule.

The 32-year-old Santana joined the Twins during the offseason after winning 14 games for the Atlanta Braves last season. This spring, he posted a 3-1 record with a 1.89 ERA in five exhibition starts for Minnesota. Santana pitched for the Kansas City Royals in 2013 and was 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA after starting his career with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Judge denies bid to toss murder charge against Hernandez

FALL RIVER, Massachusetts — The trial of former NFL star Aaron Hernandez will resume next week after a judge on Friday rejected a bid by defense attorneys to throw out the case.

Prosecutors say Hernandez, who played tight end for the New England Patriots, and two friends gunned down semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd in an industrial park in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, before dawn on June 17, 2013.

They say Hernandez and Lloyd had a disagreement at a nightclub two nights before.

Prosecutors rested their case on Thursday after calling more than 120 witnesses. The trial began in late January.

Defense lawyers argued on Friday that the prosecution failed to prove the counts of first degree murder and possession of a firearm, but Superior Court Judge E. Susan Garsh denied their request to dismiss the charges.

Texas hires Smart away from VCU

The Texas Longhorns officially hired Shaka Smart from Virginia Commonwealth on Friday to be their next basketball coach.

Texas made the announcement after multiple outlets reported Thursday night that Smart was leaving VCU after six seasons.

The 37-year-old Smart has been one of the hottest names in college coaching since leading the Rams to the Final Four in 2011. He posted at least 26 wins in each of his seasons at the school.

While at VCU from 2009 to 2015, Smart posted an overall record of 163-56 (.744) and guided the Rams to five NCAA Tournament appearances.