Athletics bolster bullpen with Fuentes The Athletics and lefthanded reliever Brian Fuentes agreed to terms on a two-year contract. Fuentes, 35, was 4-1 with 24 saves and a 2.81 ERA in 48 appearances and 48 innings with the Angels and Twins in 2010. He became the second bullpen addition for the A’s in a matter of days. Oakland agreed to terms with righthanded reliever Grant Balfour on an $8.1 million, two-year deal Friday . . . Reliever Carlos Villanueva and the Blue Jays avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on a $1.415 million, one-year contract . . . The Twins and middle infielder Alexi Casilla agreed to a one-year, $865,000 contract, avoiding arbitration . . . Staring at a spring training deadline for contract negotiations, Albert Pujols declined to provide any kind of update at a news conference in St. Louis before the first baseman held a two-hour, sold-out autograph session at the team’s Winter Warmup.
BaseballJoey Votto, who powered the Reds to their first playoff appearance in 15 years, winning the NL MVP award with a breakthrough season, agreed yesterday to a $38 million, three-year contract with Cincinnati. The contract buys out the first baseman’s arbitration years and gives the reigning NL Central champs some short-term budget security. A person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press about the deal on condition of anonymity because the contract had not yet been announced. Votto, 27, was a first-time All-Star in 2010, finishing second in the NL in batting average at .324 and third in homers (37) and RBIs (113). He led the NL in slugging percentage (.600), topped the major leagues in on-base percentage (.424), and had 16 stolen bases in 21 chances. He made $525,000 last year and was eligible for arbitration for the first time . . . American League MVP Josh Hamilton was discharged from the Medical Center of Arlington (Texas), five days after he was admitted for treatment of pneumonia. The Rangers outfielder is expected to be able to resume his conditioning and baseball activities within a few days. Hamilton hit a majors-leading .359 with 32 homers and 100 RBIs last season for the AL champions.
Winter sportsKostelic extends lead in overall points Ivica Kostelic of Croatia won a men’s World Cup slalom in Wengen, Switzerland, to stretch his lead in the overall and slalom standings. David Chodounsky was the only US skier to advance out of the first run, finishing a career best 19th. Bode Miller went out after straddling the third gate and Ted Ligety spilled midway down . . . Andreas Kofler of Austria produced two solid jumps for his third ski jump World Cup victory of the season in Sapporo, Japan . . . Magnus Moan of Norway won a World Cup Nordic combined event in Seefeld, Austria . . . Christopher Delbosco of Canada and Ophelie David of France won ski cross men’s and women’s events at a freestyle World Cup in Les Contamines, France . . . China’s Xu Mengtao won the women’s aerials in a freestyle World Cup event, and Belarus’s Anton Kushnir took the men’s competition in Mont-Gabriel, Quebec . . . Tatjana Huefner extended her lead in the overall luge World Cup standings in Oberhof, Germany, leading a German sweep of the top four places . . . Ola Vigen Hattestad teamed with Johan Kjoelstad to win a men’s team sprint for Norway at a cross-country skiing World Cup event in Liberec, Czech Republic . . . Manuel Machata led a 1-2 German finish in the World Cup four-man bobsled race in Igls, Austria. Olympic champion Steven Holcomb of the United States took third.
MiscellanyLochte gets best of Phelps in final duel Ryan Lochte beat Michael Phelps in the 200-meter individual medley in the last of their head-to-head showdowns at the Austin (Texas) Grand Prix. Lochte finished in 1 minute 59.26 seconds. Eric Shanteau edged Phelps to finish second . . . Matthew Goss won the criterium prelude to the Tour Down Under cycling race in Adelaide, Australia, and Lance Armstrong started his last professional event outside the US by finishing 68th . . . The United States was awarded the Olympic men’s qualifying soccer tournament to be held in March 2012 . . . Olympic champion Bjoern Ferry of Sweden used a strong final lap to win a biathlon World Cup pursuit race in Ruhpolding, Germany. Overall World Cup leader Tarjei Boe was fourth to extend his lead over fellow Norwegian Emil Hegle Svendsen, who was seventh . . . European 1,500-meter champion Nuria Fernandez was named Spain’s best female athlete for 2010 by the Spanish Athletics Federation despite being implicated in an anti-doping investigation. The vote was held Nov. 30, days before Spain’s Civil Guard uncovered an alleged doping ring of 14 individuals that included Fernandez’s coach Manuel Pascua.
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