Markakis, Orioles finalize 6-year extension
Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis passed his physical yesterday and finalized his six-year, $66.1 million extension with the club. The Orioles will have a news conference today at noon to announce the deal, which will keep one of the organization's building blocks with the club through at least the 2014 season. The deal includes a $17.5 million mutual option for the 2015 season with a $2 million buyout, a limited no-trade clause in which Markakis can block a deal to eight teams each year, standard incentive clauses, escalating clauses that can be worth as much as $7.5 million, and a $2.1 million signing bonus to be paid over the next two seasons. He'll make a base salary of $3 million this year, $6.75 million in 2010, $10.254 million in 2011, $12 million in 2012 and $15 million each in the 2013 and 2014 seasons. In terms of guaranteed money, it is the second-richest contract the Orioles have given out, behind only the only the six-year, $72 million pact given to shortstop Miguel Tejada in December 2003. Last season, Markakis, 25, set career highs in batting average (.306), runs (106), doubles (48), walks (99), on-base (.406) and slugging percentage (.491). JEFF ZREBIEC
Kent: : Jeff Kent plans to announce his retirement today at Dodger Stadium. Kent spent 17 years in the majors and leaves as the career home run leader among second basemen with 351. The 2000 National League Most Valuable Player, Kent had a .290 career batting average, 377 homers, 1,518 RBIs and a .500 slugging percentage. He was drafted by Toronto in 1989 and also played for the Dodgers, Mets, Cleveland, San Francisco and Houston.
Et cetera: : The Nationals lowered individual-sale ticket prices on 14,000 seats for 2009 after ranking near the bottom of the National League in attendance during their new ballpark's debut season. ... Shortstop Omar Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner, agreed to a minor league deal with the Rangers that includes an invitation to spring training. ... Outfielder and former Orioles prospect Jayson Werth and the Phillies reached a preliminary agreement on a two-year, $10 million contract, a person familiar with the agreement told the Associated Press.
Jamison, Butler lead Wizards past Kings
Antawn Jamison had 33 points and nine rebounds, and Caron Bulter added 32 points and seven rebounds, and the visiting Washington Wizards held off the Sacramento Kings, 110-107, after nearly blowing a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter. Andray Blatche added 20 points for the Wizards (9-32). Beno Udrih and John Salmons each scored 24 for the Kings (10-33).
Celtics 98, Heat 83: : Eddie House scored 20 points in the second quarter, finishing with 25, and visiting Boston ran its winning streak to six games by defeating Miami. The Celtics (35-9) were a season-high 15-for-25 - matching the most threes allowed by the Heat (22-19) in its 21 seasons.
Knicks 114, Suns 109: : Nate Robinson made up for a momentum-shifting technical foul with 20 points, and Tim Thomas scored all 10 of his points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter as host New York (17-24) beat Phoenix (23-17).
Bucks 133, Mavericks 99: : Charlie Villanueva had 32 points and 10 rebounds, helping host Milwaukee (21-24) end a two-game skid with a win over Dallas (24-18).
Pistons 95, Raptors 76: : Tayshaun Prince scored 12 of his 25 points in the third quarter, helping host Detroit (24-17) pull away from Toronto (16-28). The Pistons used Richard Hamilton as a reserve after the All-Star shooting guard started his first 611 games, including the playoffs, in his seven seasons with the team.
Rockets 108, Jazz 99: : Yao Ming had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and host Houston (27-16) beat Utah. Deron Williams had 32 points and 11 assists for the Jazz (25-18).
Hornets 102, Nets 92: : Chris Paul narrowly missed his fifth triple double of the season with 29 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, and host New Orleans (26-13) beat New Jersey (19-23).
Bobcats 101, Grizzlies 86: : Raja Bell scored 25 points, Emeka Okafor added 20 points and 15 rebounds, and Charlotte (17-25) defeated visiting Memphis (11-30).
S. Williams, Nadal advance in Australia
Serena Williams broke Gisela Dulko's serve and saved six set points in a game featuring 12 deuces, going on to win, 6-3, 7-5, in a second-round match at the Australian Open today. The second-seeded Williams received treatment for a left ankle ailment at the end of the marathon ninth game of the second set. She then held serve to even the set at 5-5, broke the Argentine's serve again in the next game - which featured six deuces - and then held to win the match. Top-ranked Rafael Nadal had an easier time in his second-round match against Roko Karanusic, fending off the Croat's six break-point chances and converting on six of the seven opportunities he had for a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 win. Olympic champion Elena Dementieva improved her 2009 winning streak to 12 matches, beating Iveta Benesova, 6-4, 6-1, to reach the third round. Roger Federer and Marat Safin rolled to easy victories yesterday to set up a third-round meeting. Safin defeated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain, 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. Federer ousted error-prone Evgeny Korolev of Russia, 6-2, 6-3, 6-1, in just 86 minutes.
College basketball: : North Carolina State women's basketball coach Kay Yow is continuing her cancer treatments in a hospital. School spokesman Mark Kimmel said the Hall of Fame coach has been in the hospital since last week. She had been resting at home, but her oncologist advised her to enter the hospital. ... Providence College plans to position uniformed Providence police officers near team benches at its men's games after the brother of a player walked onto the court to confront a referee last weekend. ... Alabama guard Ronald Steele will skip the rest of his senior season after suffering a foot injury, ending his once-promising college career.
Boxing: : Manny Pacquiao's refusal to accept terms already agreed to by his promoter has apparently scuttled the planned May 2 fight between him and British fighter Ricky Hatton. Promoters for both fighters said the fight is off, with little chance of its being revived.
NHL: : Penguins captain Sidney Crosby expects to play in the All-Star Game on Sunday in Montreal despite having a sore left knee. ... Flyers center Danny Briere will miss two more weeks because of lingering discomfort in his groin and stomach area.
Golf: : Five-time major winner Seve Ballesteros said test results after his first course of chemotherapy came back "quite good," an encouraging sign for the 51-year-old golf great. ... Pat Perez shot an 11-under-par 61 to take a one-shot lead after the opening day of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in La Quinta, Calif.
Lacrosse: : UMBC senior defenseman Bobby Atwell will miss next season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. Retrievers coach Don Zimmerman said Atwell, a two-year starter and one of the team's three captains, will undergo surgery today. EDWARD LEE
Figure skating: : Lauri Bonacorsi (River Hill) and Travis Mager (University of Maryland) captured the novice dance gold medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Cleveland on Tuesday.
College football: : Air Force and coach Troy Calhoun agreed to a five-year, $4.175 million contract that will keep him at the school through the 2013 season.