Yankees get in touch with Lee's agent

The Yankees called Cliff Lee’s agent yesterday on the first day of the free agent negotiating period to say they will be back in touch with an offer for the top pitcher on the market, an official familiar with the conversation told The Associated Press. Texas hopes to re-sign the 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner, who led the Rangers to their first World Series after he was acquired from Seattle in July. The Yankees have made signing Lee a top priority, in addition to re-signing their own free agents. New York hopes to re-sign shortstop Derek Jeter, closer Mariano Rivera, and pitcher Andy Pettitte, who hasn’t decided whether to play next season or retire . . . In the first deal among the 166 players who became free agents after the World Series, shortstop Jhonny Peralta reached an agreement with Detroit on an $11.25 million, two-year contract. Detroit had declined his $7.25 million option, opting to pay a $250,000 buyout. Acquired from Cleveland in July, Peralta was shifted from third base to shortstop by Detroit and hit .253 with eight home runs in 57 games with the Tigers . . . The Chiba Lotte Marines beat the Chunichi Dragons, 8-7, in Nagoya to win the Japan Series in seven games. It was the Marines’ first championship since the team was managed by Bobby Valentine in 2005. Yoshifumi Okada drove in the winning run with a triple in the 12th inning . . . Artie Wilson, a pesky, slap-hitting shortstop in the Negro Leagues who hit .402 for the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948, died of heart failure Oct. 31 in Portland, Ore. He was 90. Wilson played five years for Birmingham, where, in spite of having lost the top joint of his right thumb in a factory accident, he twice led the Negro American League in batting and became a mentor and friend to a teenage teammate, Willie Mays.

Italy defeats US to take Fed Cup crown
Flavia Pennetta routed 18-year-old CoCo Vandeweghe, 6-1, 6-2, yesterday in San Diego to give Italy its second straight Fed Cup final victory over the United States. Pennetta’s victory in the fourth singles match gave the Italians a 3-1 decision in the best-of-five finale. Her victory came after Melanie Oudin stunned French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, 6-3, 6-1, to keep the United States alive. Pennetta won two matches during the weekend to carry the Italians. Vandeweghe, making her Fed Cup debut, lost twice. Italy beat the United States, 4-0, last year and has won three titles in five years. It marked the second straight final the United States played without Venus and Serena Williams, who are out with injuries. With Billie Jean King watching from the front row, Pennetta won six straight games in the first set after Vandeweghe broke serve in the first game. In the second game, Vandeweghe took a 40-0 lead, but consecutive double faults let Pennetta back in. Seven deuces later, she broke Vandeweghe. On the second match point, Vandeweghe hit a backhand service return out. Pennetta raised her arms over her head, shook hands with Vandeweghe, then joined in a group hug with her teammates and captain Corrado Barazzutti.

Federer upends Djokovic in Swiss final

Roger Federer reclaimed his hometown title from Novak Djokovic, beating the defending champion, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in the Swiss Indoors final in Basel. The top-seeded Federer broke the Serb’s serve early in the first, and twice in the deciding set to cruise to victory in under two hours. Federer’s 65th career singles title moved him past Pete Sampras into sole possession of fourth on the list in the modern era. Jimmy Connors leads with 109 . . . David Ferrer beat Marcel Granollers, 7-5, 6-3, to win the Valencia Open in Spain. Ferrer’s second win of the season and ninth of his career moved him ahead of Andy Roddick and into seventh place in the points standings. The top eight qualify for this month’s season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London, with only the Paris Masters left to play . . . Ana Ivanovic ended her season by returning to the top 20 with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Alisa Kleybanova in the Tournament of Champions final in Bali, Indonesia . . . Stefan Edberg won his first Champions Series title, beating Marat Safin, 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 10-8, in the Grand Cayman Legends Championships.

Vettel captures Brazilian Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel cruised to victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo, setting up a showdown for the Formula One title at next weekend’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was second, championship leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari third, and Lewis Hamilton of McLaren fourth. Taking the top two places at the 2.6-mile Interlagos track gave Red Bull its first constructors’ (team) championship. Alonso was the only driver who could have won the championship in this race, but his third-place finish was not enough . . . Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin took a Formula One race car out for a spin in Moscow, reaching speeds of almost 150 miles per hour. Putin signed a deal last month with Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone to bring F1 racing to Russia starting in 2014, and his televised test drive was staged to help raise the profile of the sport in Russia . . . Kemba Walker scored 21 points and freshman Jeremy Lamb had 17 in Hartford to lead the University of Connecticut basketball team to a 103-57 exhibition win over Bridgeport . . . North Carolina lost leading rusher Johnny White for the season with a broken collarbone, suffered Saturday against Florida State. 

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