Wednesday’s Sports In Brief
NEW YORK (AP) The New York Yankees capped an offseason spending spree by agreeing to a $155 million, seven-year contract with prized Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
Following just the second season in 19 years that didn’t include a playoff appearance, the Yankees flexed their economic might and committed $438 million to four free agents. Tanaka joined catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran on a revamped roster missing long-time All-Stars Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Robinson Cano.
The Yankees must also pay a $20 million posting fee to Tanaka’s Japanese club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Big league teams had until Friday to reach an agreement with Tanaka, who was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year as the Golden Eagles won the Japan Series title. Arizona, the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston all said they were among the failed bidders.
BOSTON (AP) – Oft-injured outfielder Grady Sizemore has agreed to a $750,000, one-year contract with the Boston Red Sox.
A three-time All-Star, the 31-year-old has played eight major league seasons, all with Cleveland. He is a .269 career hitter with 139 homers and 458 RBIs.
Sizemore was an AL All-Star in each of his last three full seasons (2006-08) and hit .279 during that stretch. He has been hampered by injuries over the last five years, missing the past two seasons following operations on his right knee and back. Before 2009, he had never been on the disabled list.
RENTON, Wash. (AP) – Richard Sherman wondered if he came to the NFL 20 years too late, whether his swagger might have fit better a few decades earlier when that confidence and an unfiltered tongue was perhaps more accepted.
The Seattle Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback spoke at length for the first time since Sunday’s NFC championship game win over San Francisco where his postgame comments to Fox reporter Erin Andrews became the talking point. It was a loud, emotional moment that happened just a few minutes after the Seahawks earned the second Super Bowl berth in franchise history.
Sherman said the reaction that followed over the next two days left him a little stunned.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) – The NFL’s officiating chief has cleared Broncos receiver Wes Welker of any wrongdoing for his hit that knocked Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib out of Sunday’s AFC Championship.
Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino, making his weekly appearance on the NFL Network, said the hit was `legal.’
On Monday, New England coach Bill Belichick blasted Welker for the hit, calling it ”one of the worst plays” he’d seen in nearly four decades of coaching.
There will be no discipline for Welker; Blandino said there was simply no infraction of the rules.
KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) – NFL great Deion Sanders took quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Cam Newton with his first skill position picks in the Pro Bowl draft, going for passers early before focusing on defense in building a team for one win.
Jerry Rice chose New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and then Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy with his first two picks, giving active player captain Drew Brees his top target early to go along with two Saints offensive linemen picked the previous day.
The picks kicked off the three-hour process of divvying up 60 players for Sunday’s all-star game. The game is being played in an ”unconferenced” format for the first time, straying from its usual AFC vs. NFC teams. The new format is meant to liven up the Pro Bowl, which has been criticized by fans and even Commissioner Roger Goodell for the quality of play.
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Mike Munchak is going back to his roots, and heading closer to home in the process.
A person familiar with the decision said the former Tennessee Titans head coach will join the Pittsburgh Steelers as offensive line coach.
Munchak was fired by the Titans on Jan. 4 after leading Tennessee to a 22-26 record in three seasons.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Tennessee Titans have hired former Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills head coach Mike Mularkey as tight ends coach on Ken Whisenhunt’s staff.
The Titans announced the addition of Mularkey as well as the hirings of John McNulty as quarterbacks coach and Kevin Patullo as assistant wide receivers coach.
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) – Threats to a string of European Olympic offices are reviving a question that has haunted preparations for the Winter Games next month: Is it safe to go to Sochi?
European Olympic authorities, whose countries have faced terrorist threats and attacks in the past, largely shrugged off the new menacing messages as a hoax, a marginal phenomenon that security experts say is common ahead of big events.
Some members of the U.S. Congress aren’t so sure. They say Russia isn’t doing enough to assure that athletes will be protected at the Feb. 7-23 games, happening not far from an Islamic insurgency that Russia’s huge security apparatus has struggled for two decades to quell.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Concerns about safety in Sochi have prompted some U.S. Olympians to tell their loved ones to stay home, and Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter, who will skate for Team USA next month, is one of them.
He said his wife and two young children won’t be traveling to Russia for the Winter Games. The long trip is part of the reason, but recent news about terroristic threats made the decision ”a little bit easier.”
Suter said he’s confident in USA Hockey and International Olympic Committee officials to keep the event safe, but anxiety is human nature.