R. Johnson, 45, reaches one-year deal with Giants
The Big Unit is heading home to the San Francisco Bay Area. Randy Johnson and the Giants agreed to a one-year contract yesterday, meaning the pitcher, 45, will go for his 300th win with a new team. Johnson, a 21-year big league veteran who spent the past two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, was born in Walnut Creek, Calif., about 30 minutes from the Giants' waterfront ballpark. The five-time Cy Young Award winner has 295 victories after going 11-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 30 starts last season. The Giants offered several things on Johnson's wish list: spring training in the Phoenix area and a chance to stay on the West Coast and in the National League West so he can pitch near his current home in Arizona. Johnson joins fellow Cy Young Award winners Tim Lincecum (2008) and Barry Zito (2002) in an intriguing rotation that also features promising right-hander Matt Cain. Johnson has 4,789 strikeouts, second on the career list to Nolan Ryan (5,714). The 6-foot-10 left-hander made $16 million last season, when he struck out 173 and walked 44.
Red Sox: : Add Kevin Youkilis' name to the list of players reportedly set to play in the World Baseball Classic in March. The Boston first baseman-third baseman will accept an invitation to play for Team USA, The Boston Globe reported. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, this year's American League Most Valuable Player, told WEEI.com last week that he would be on the U.S. team. Others who have reportedly committed to playing for Team USA include Derek Jeter of the Yankees, David Wright of the Mets, Brian McCann and Chipper Jones of the Braves, Grady Sizemore of the Indians and John Lackey of the Angels. Former Orioles player and manager Davey Johnson is the U.S. team's manager.
Jockey, 36, dies five days after fall in California
Jockey Sam Thompson Jr. died Christmas Day, five days after he was thrown from a quarter horse after a race at Los Alamitos (Calif.) Race Course. The rider, 36, had been on life support at Los Alamitos Medical Center since the accident last Saturday. Thompson's family had him taken off life support Thursday, medical center spokesman Orlando Gutierrez said. Harems Dynasty, a 2-year-old filly, threw Thompson after finishing seventh in the eighth race. The Los Alamitos season ended Sunday. Thompson, who lived in Long Beach, missed much of the 2008 season because of a broken foot. A memorial service is planned when the 2009 season opens Friday.
Laurel Park: : Trainer Scott Lake, 43, won the day's seventh race with Blushing Tiger to reach 4,500 career victories. Lake, the nation's second-leading trainer with 418 winners this year, has 113 victories at the major Maryland tracks in 2008 and will wrap up his fourth consecutive state title today when the local season concludes. Lake added his 4,501st winner with Sophisticated Lady in the eighth race.
Malibu Stakes:: Bob Black Jack, who set the pace in the Kentucky Derby in May, led all the way in winning the $250,000 race by 2 1/4 lengths over Into Mischief on opening day of Santa Anita Park's 72nd thoroughbred racing season in Arcadia, Calif. Bob Black Jack, ridden by David Flores, covered seven furlongs in 1 minute, 20.20 seconds and, as the fourth choice in a field of seven, paid $12, $5.20 and $3.60. The win was the fourth in 10 lifetime starts for Bob Black Jack and was worth $150,000.
Quarantine: : Two connected barns at New Orleans Race Course were quarantined because a 3-year-old filly tested positive for equine herpes. It might take 10 days to clear other horses trained by Dallas Stewart, who trains the filly, and Neil Howard, said Dr. Tom David, the equine medical director of the Louisiana State Racing Commission. Stewart has 44 horses and Howard 27, track spokesman Lenny Vangilder said.
Alex Ovechkin, Viktor Kozlov and Boyd Gordon scored goals, and Jose Theodore made 22 saves in the Washington Capitals' 3-2 home victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Ovechkin's goal was a highlight-reel effort. He pushed the puck through Henrik Tallinder's legs just inside the blue line and fired a shot past goalie Patrick Lalime while falling, giving the Capitals a 3-1 lead. Washington improved to an Eastern Conference-best 14-1-1 at home. The Capitals are 8-10-2 on the road. Thomas Vanek had his 25th goal for Buffalo, and Maxim Afinogenov also scored.
More NHL: : Bill Guerin scored twice to reach 400 career goals, Rick DiPietro, coming off knee surgery, made 28 saves in his first game since late October, and the host Islanders ended a 10-game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Maple Leafs. Guerin became the 79th NHL player, and the eighth born in the U.S., to score 400 goals. ... Patrick Sharp scored his team-leading 19th goal of the season and the host Blackhawks won their eighth straight to match the franchise record, beating the Flyers, 5-1. ... Marc-Andre Fleury made 37 saves for the Penguins' first shutout of the season, and Ruslan Fedotenko scored in the second period in a 1-0 victory over the host Devils.
NBA: : The Christmas Day game between the Lakers and Celtics was the highest-rated regular-season NBA game in four years. The rematch of last season's NBA Finals earned a 5.3 fast national rating on ABC, the network said. The Lakers' 92-83 victory ended the Celtics' 19-game winning streak. ... Jazz forward Paul Millsap will miss seven to 10 days because of a sprained knee ligament.
College basketball: : Jeff Adrien scored 21 points, Hasheem Thabeet had 20 and second-ranked Connecticut (11-0) remained unbeaten by dominating down low against undersized Fairfield (8-4) in a 75-55 victory in Hartford. Adrien grabbed 14 rebounds, and Thabeet added 11 rebounds and six blocks.