Knicks’ Stoudemire may return Jan. 1
Injured forward Amar'e Stoudemire could be back on the court for the New York Knicks on New Year's Day. There are indications from Stoudemire that he could see his first action on Jan. 1 against Portland in Madison Square Garden. He called that date “a possibility” when asked when he would make his season debut, according to Newsday. The veteran forward is working his way back from a knee injury. Stoudemire ruptured a cyst behind the knee in an Oct. 19 preseason game and his recovery has taken longer than initially expected . . . Nuggets forward Jordan Hamilton was fined $25,000 by the NBA because of a vulgar exchange with a fan during the team’s 112-100 Christmas Day loss to the Clippers at Staples Center. Hamilton exchanged words with the fan near courtside after returning to the court from chasing a ball that went out of bounds with about 3:50 remaining in the fourth quarter. The exchange was caught by television cameras . . . The Raptors say rookie Jonas Valanciunas is expected to be out four to six weeks while he recovers from a broken ring finger on his right hand. Valanciunas was battling for a loose ball under the basket when he fell and was hurt against the Magic Dec. 21. The 7-foot Lithuanian center saw hand specialist Dr. Herb von Schroeder in Toronto, but it was determined surgery will not be required . . . Nets guard Deron Williams did not play against the Bucks Wednesday night after aggravating his sore right wrist the day before. Williams used his wrist to brace himself as he fell to the court in Tuesday’s 93-76 loss to the Celtics.
Mariners, Ibanez finalize 1-year deal
The Seattle Mariners officially announced their $2.75 million, one-year deal with outfielder Raul Ibanez, returning the veteran to where he began his major league career in 1996. Seattle confirmed an agreement with Ibanez over the weekend but needed to clear a roster spot before making the transaction official. That took place when the Mariners designated for assignment righthanded pitcher D.J. Mitchell, opening a spot on the 40-man roster . . . Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington said A.J. Pierzynski will be the primary catcher, pushing Geovany Soto to the backup role after he re-signed as a free agent. Pierzynski hit .278 with a career-high 27 home runs in 135 games for the White Sox in 2012, while Soto took a pay cut after hitting .196 in 47 games following a trade with the Cubs.
Manchester United opens its lead
Javier Hernandez’s injury-time goal gave Manchester United a 4-3 win over Newcastle and a 7-point lead in the Premier League following Man City’s loss. Host United trailed three times at Old Trafford before Hernandez’s half-volley completed the comeback and ensured the 19-time champions will enter 2013 with a sizable lead over their Manchester rivals after City’s 1-0 defeat at Sunderland . . . American goalkeeper Brad Friedel signed up for another season with Premier League club Tottenham at age 41. Tottenham said Friedel signed through 2014. He joined the London club in June 2011.
MC’s Batchelor, 15, commits to BC
Malden Catholic sophomore Austin Batchelor verbally committed to Boston College. The righthanded pitcher’s velocity caught the eye of recruiters at a baseball showcase at the Lynn Invitational, where the 15-year-old was throwing 90 miles per hour. “He’s a Division 1 prospect because of that drive he had back when he was a kid who wanted to succeed in the game,” said Rich Gilbride, Batchelor’s seven-year coach with the AAU New England Firebirds. “Austin would be on the national radar so it was great [BC baseball coach Mike] Gambino saw a lot in him.” Batchelor, who is slated to graduate high school in 2015, platooned as a starting catcher as a freshman and broke into the Lancers’ bullpen rotation to help lead the team to a 14-8 season. He comes from a family of baseball players. His father, Dave, is the Lancers’ assistant coach, and his brothers, Beau, Bobby and David, all played at high school and collegiate levels. Batchelor is also an honor roll student who plays forward and guard for the Lancers basketball team . . . Joe Krivak, Maryland’s football coach from 1987-91, died. He was 77. The school said he died Tuesday night. Krivak was quarterbacks coach for Bobby Ross in the 1980s, working with Boomer Esiason, Frank Reich, and Stan Gelbaugh . . . The upper house of Russia’s parliament has passed a bill calling for fines of up to $30,000 for anyone scalping tickets to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi . . . The Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association has revoked its contract with its spokeswoman, Suzy Favor Hamilton. In its newsletter, ‘‘Tater Talk,’’ officials said they were in contact with the three-time Olympian Friday, and she confirmed the news that she worked as an escort and also agreed to the contract revocation . . . Linda Toscano was voted harness racing’s Trainer of the Year, becoming the first woman to win the award. Toscano’s stable earned a career-high $6.71 million in purses in 2012 and included three division champions.