Red Sox sign Baldelli; Smoltz, Penny deals next



Pitchers John Smoltz and Brad Penny are on their way to the Boston Red Sox. Outfielder Rocco Baldelli was already in Boston, holding up his new jersey. After missing out on the biggest free-agent prize of the offseason, first baseman Mark Teixeira of Severna Park, to the New York Yankees, the Red Sox were poised to make a series of smaller deals. They announced Baldelli's signing last night. General manager Theo Epstein would not confirm the deals for Smoltz or Penny, but as he spoke, Penny, a two-time All-Star, was on his way out of Boston after completing his physical. Smoltz, who spent his first 21 years with the Atlanta Braves, reached a preliminary agreement with the Red Sox on a one-year, $5.5 million contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press. The person said Smoltz will have the chance to earn another $5 million in performance bonuses. The deal is contingent on Smoltz passing a physical, scheduled for Monday. The Red Sox agreed to pay Baldelli $500,000 for 2009, taking a chance on a player who spent most of last season on the disabled list for the Tampa Bay Rays after being diagnosed with a disorder that causes chronic muscle fatigue. Further tests, however, led to what Baldelli, 27, called a "refined" diagnosis of channelopathy, a protein irregularity considered more treatable. Penny, 30, is 94-75 in nine years for the Florida Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers. Smoltz, 41, is the only pitcher in baseball history with 200 wins and 150 saves but is coming off major shoulder surgery.

Brewers:: Career saves leader Trevor Hoffman closed his deal with Milwaukee. A person familiar with the negotiations told the AP the sides reached agreement on a one-year, $6 million contract. Hoffman can make an additional $1.5 million in performance bonuses. Hoffman, 41, had pitched for the Padres since 1993.


Nationals:: The final cost of Washington's ballpark, Nationals Park, is expected to be $693 million, or $62 million more than the price tag anticipated when the city agreed to use public money to provide a home for the team. The final tally was over budget because the cost of securing the property and the subsequent environment cleanup work were greater than expected.

Et cetera:: The Dodgers agreed to terms with shortstop Juan Castro, who played in 54 games for the Orioles last season. ... Shortstop Angel Berroa agreed to a minor league contract with the Yankees.

Report: Terps QB Portis transfers to Div. II school

col. football

Maryland quarterback Josh Portis, a backup used primarily to run the ball, is transferring - again. Portis is headed to California University of Pennsylvania, a Division II school, reported. Players had been talking about his imminent departure for weeks, but Maryland would not confirm that he was transferring. Portis, who began his career at Florida, threw just three passes this season, completing one, and rushed for 186 yards. Coaches said he had repeated difficulty managing the offense. He told, "I have to move on."

Ohio State:: Running back Chris "Beanie" Wells is giving up his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. Wells missed three games this season with a right foot injury but still rushed for 1,197 yards.

Navy:: The Capital of Annapolis reported that coach Ken Niumatalolo's contract extension is a five-year guaranteed deal with a salary that places him in the top half of the 119-team Football Bowl Subdivision. The academy hasn't announced the contract terms.

Et cetera:: Texas Christian coach Gary Patterson agreed to a new contract through the 2014 season. ... Wisconsin junior running back P.J. Hill will enter the NFL draft.


Caps' Ovechkin makes All-Star team as reserve


Alex Ovechkin finally got his All-Star invitation. Less than a week after Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau called Ovechkin's omission from the Eastern Conference's starting lineup "dumb," the reigning NHL Most Valuable Player was among 15 players picked by the NHL's hockey operations department, after consultation with general managers, to fill out the roster for the All-Star Game on Jan. 25 in Montreal. "I know it's going to be a sick atmosphere," Ovechkin, a three-time All-Star, said after practice in Arlington, Va. Boudreau was not too happy his Southeast Division-leading club, second in the East with 67 points (27-11-3), will be represented only by Ovechkin. He mentioned center Nicklas Backstrom, defenseman Mike Green and left wing Alexander Semin as other Capitals who deserved consideration.

Big Brown, Curlin lead Eclipse Award finalists

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Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown, Breeders' Cup Classic winner Raven's Pass, Dubai World Cup winner Curlin and the late filly Eight Belles were among Eclipse Award finalists announced. Big Brown, Santa Anita Derby winner Colonel John and Raven's Pass were nominated for 3-year-old male honors. Winners will be honored at the 38th annual ceremony Jan. 26 in Miami Beach, Fla., where finalists for Horse of the Year will be announced. Curlin, nominated along with Commentator and Brazilian-bred Einstein for older male, is expected to be in the running for his second consecutive Horse of the Year honor. For a list of the finalists, see For the Record on Page 6.


Golf:: Geoff Ogilvy opened the PGA Tour season with a 6-under-par 67 and a one-shot lead in the Mercedes-Benz Championship in Kapalua, Hawaii. Ernie Els, Kenny Perry and Johnson Wagner were a stroke behind.

NBA: : Tony Parker scored 19 points and the host San Antonio Spurs (24-11) won, 106-84, over the Los Angeles Clippers (8-27). The Clippers have lost nine straight. ... Josh Howard scored 19 points to help the Dallas Mavericks (22-13) win, 99-94, over the visiting New York Knicks (13-21). Center Eddy Curry had two points and two rebounds in 2 1/2 minutes in his first game this season for the Knicks. He missed the first 33 with a right knee injury.

Tennis:: Top-ranked Rafael Nadal was eliminated from the ATP Qatar Open in Doha, while Roger Federer advanced to the semifinals of the tuneup for the Australian Open. Nadal lost to Gael Monfils, 6-4, 6-4, and Federer saved three set points to defeat Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-2, 7-6 (6). Federer will face Andy Murray, who defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky, 6-4, 6-2. Monfils will play Andy Roddick. The eighth-ranked American beat Victor Hanescu, 6-3, 6-2.

Auto racing:: Richard Petty's famed No. 43 Dodge was rescued from near ruin when Gillett Evernham Motorsports agreed to merge with Petty's slumping organization, Petty Enterprises, to create a new, four-car team.

Figure skating:: Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto will have to share the record of five U.S. dance titles a little while longer. They withdrew from this month's U.S. championships because of Agosto's back injury.

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