Indians' Lee, 22-3 in '08, captures AL Cy Young
Cliff Lee won the American League Cy Young Award in a runaway yesterday, capping a dominant comeback season that made him the second consecutive Cleveland Indians left-hander to earn the honor. Demoted to the minors last year, Lee went a major league-best 22-3 this season with a 2.54 ERA. Lee, 30, received 24 of 28 first-place votes and 132 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay was a distant runner-up with four first-place votes and 71 points. Record-setting closer Francisco Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Angels finished third with 32 points. Lee became the third Cleveland pitcher to win a Cy Young, following Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry in 1972 and CC Sabathia last year.
Orioles: : Aubrey Huff was awarded the Silver Slugger award as the top designated hitter in the AL. The award, voted on by coaches and managers, is given to the best offensive producer at each position in both leagues. It's the first Silver Slugger award for Huff, and he became the eighth Oriole to garner the honor and the first since shortstop Miguel Tejada did it in 2005. Huff led the AL with 82 extra-base hits to go along with 32 home runs and 108 RBIs. ... Director of baseball administration Scott Proefrock is a candidate to become a top assistant under new Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Proefrock, who was hired by the Orioles after the 2005 season, interviewed with Amaro last week at the GM meetings in California after getting permission from Orioles club president Andy MacPhail. ... In the continued effort to find a long-term spring training home, Orioles vice president John Angelos and Alan Rifkin, a lawyer for the club, met Tuesday and Wednesday with Sarasota, Fla. officials. Sarasota County Commissioner Shannon Staub, who is heading the effort to land the Orioles as a spring replacement for the Arizona-bound Cincinnati Reds, will meet with fellow commissioners Tuesday and could make a proposal to the Orioles shortly after. The Orioles' minor league facility is in Sarasota. The Orioles, who are about three months away from starting what could be their last spring training camp in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., already have an offer from Vero Beach to take over the Dodgertown facility. Fort Myers is also reportedly interested in playing host to Orioles spring training.
Diamondbacks: : Five-time Cy Young winner Randy Johnson filed for free agency after failing to reach a deal to return to Arizona. The left-hander, 45, who is five victories shy of 300, made $16 million last year and went 11-10 with a 3.91 ERA. Monday, his agents said they told the Diamondbacks that Johnson was willing to take a 50 percent pay cut. GM Josh Byrnes yesterday said he would not rule out still signing Johnson but added that "something would fundamentally have to change."
Blue Jays: : Pitcher A.J. Burnett filed for free agency on the final day of the 15-day window, after telling the club last week that he would opt out of the final two years of his five-year, $55 million contract. Burnett went 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA last season and led the AL with 231 strikeouts.
Marlins-Cubs:: Chicago acquired reliever Kevin Gregg in a trade with Florida, a move that appears to end Kerry Wood's career with the Cubs. Wood, the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year who saved 34 games this year, had been the longest-tenured player on the Cubs. GM Jim Hendry said Wood was deserving of a three- or four-year deal and the Cubs are not prepared to offer him one. Gregg was acquired for minor league pitcher Jose Ceda. Gregg finished 7-8 with a 3.41 ERA and 29 saves. His nine blown saves tied for most in the majors. Hendry said Gregg had knee surgery and will be ready for spring training.
Yankees-White Sox: : New York acquired utility fielder Nick Swisher from Chicago for pitching prospect Jeff Marquez and infielder Wilson Betemit. The teams also swapped a pair of minor league right-handers as part of the deal, with Chicago receiving Jhonny Nunez and New York getting Kaneoka Texeira.
Et cetera: : The Twins signed manager Ron Gardenhire to a two-year extension through 2011. ... Former Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo joined the Phillies' coaching staff. Perlozzo wasn't immediately assigned a position.
Attorneys: Vick to return to NFL after prison term
Michael Vick's bankruptcy attorneys say the imprisoned NFL quarterback expects to return to football. Attorneys wrote in a disclosure statement that Vick "has every reason to believe" he will be reinstated by the NFL once he completes a 23-month sentence for a federal dogfighting conviction last summer. The attorneys filed the statement before a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Virginia. Vick still has a contract with the Atlanta Falcons. But NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would have final say on his return. ... Oakland Raiders wide receiver Javon Walker said he's scheduled to undergo ankle surgery and will likely miss the rest of the season. ... Clinton Portis' sprained knee showed no improvement, and the Washington Redskins running back appears unlikely to play in Sunday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys. Ladell Betts appears set to start in his place.
Holyfield, 46, to fight for WBA title next month
Evander Holyfield is getting another chance at a heavyweight title. The former champion, 46, will challenge 7-foot Russian giant Nikolai Valuev for the World Boxing Association crown Dec. 20 at Hallenstadion in Zurich, Switzerland, arena management said. Holyfield (42-9-2, 27 KOs) hasn't fought since losing a one-sided decision to then-WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov more than a year ago. Holyfield is winless in his past four title fights since beating John Ruiz for the vacant WBA belt in October 2000. Valuev is 49-1, with 34 KOs. Holyfield has insisted that he wants to keep fighting until he regains the heavyweight title, but he has also been having financial problems. Last summer, he failed to make three straight $3,000 monthly child-support payments and later faced the threat of possible jail time and an auction on his home.
NBA:: LeBron James scored 22 points, most of them coming with Carmelo Anthony (Towson Catholic) guarding him, and the host Cleveland Cavaliers finally put the Denver Nuggets away and won their sixth straight, 110-99. ... Ben Gordon scored 35 and the host Chicago Bulls roared back from an early 19-point deficit to send the Dallas Mavericks to their fourth straight loss, 98-91. Before the game, the Bulls signed point guard Lindsey Hunter.
College football: : Javarris James ran for a touchdown, Matt Bosher kicked three field goals and host Miami got a huge defensive stand in the final minutes to beat Virginia Tech, 16-14, and move into first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal Division. The Hurricanes (7-3) improved to 4-2 in the ACC, a half game ahead of North Carolina. Virginia Tech fell to 6-4, 3-3.
Elsewhere: : Lorena Ochoa struggled in the first round in her own LPGA Lorena Ochoa Invitational, shooting a 1-over-par 73 on her home course to drop five strokes behind Annika Sorenstam and seven others in Guadalajara, Mexico. ... Chad Marshall and Eddie Gaven scored second-half goals to lead the host Columbus Crew to its first MLS Cup appearance with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire in the Eastern Conference final. ... The Detroit Red Wings scored three third-period goals to beat host Tampa Bay, 4-3, and improve to 17-0 against the Lightning. ... The Minnesota Wild scored four power-play goals to beat the visiting Phoenix Coyotes, 4-0. ... The Washington Capitals signed 2008 first-round draft pick John Carlson to a three-year, entry-level contract.