– SI.com’s Jon Heyman heard from a source that the Cardinals and 1B Albert Pujols are “speaking two different languages” in negotiations toward an extension. While few details have been released, all indications are that a long-term agreement is not close and that one might not be reached before Pujols shows up to spring training in the middle of next week. He’s thought to be seeking a contract close to the 10-year/$275M contract that Yankees’ 3B Alex Rodriguez is currently under. The Cards, meanwhile, want to keep a long-term deal to 6 or 7 years. Pujols has set a deadline for negotiations at the start of spring training.
In addition, Cardinals’ OF Matt Holliday said Friday on ESPN Radio that he would be willing to defer some of his contract in order to help the Cardinals retain Pujols. Holliday inked a 7-year/$120M contract with the Cardinals last offseason. “I deferred $2M a year for the whole contract. I would be willing, if they came to me and said, ‘Hey, this is what it’s going to take to get Albert done, would you do it again or do more?’ Scott [Boras, Holliday's agent] probably wouldn’t like me to stay that, but if that’s what it took, I would be willing to do that.” It’s a generous notion, but it won’t be what gets the Cards and El Hombre to come to terms.
– Blue Jays’ 3B Jose Bautista will not discuss a long-term extension with the club following an arbitration hearing scheduled for Monday. The two sides still have a few days to come together on a long-term deal, but Bautista isn’t interested in discussing an extension if something can’t be agreed to by then. “I won’t be open to it after the hearing. After the hearing, I believe we will notify the team that [an extension] is not going to be a possibility, unless it’s in that window they have from the end of the season until the free agency period begins.” We haven’t heard of any figures exchanged between the two sides, nor have we heard any indication that the Jays are really wanting to lock Bautista up in the long term. It seems unlikely that a multi-year deal will be reached before Monday.
– Red Sox’ 2B Dustin Pedroia (right foot) declared himself “ready to go” on Friday at Red Sox camp. “I’ve taken ground balls, turned double plays, run bases. I’ve done everything. I’m ready to go.” The BoSox will try to limit Pedroia a bit this spring so that his surgically-repaired foot can fully heal.
– Mets’ pitching coach Dan Warthen revealed Friday that LHP Johan Santana (shoulder) has already played catch multiple times. Reports earlier this week claimed that Santana was only doing throwing-motion exercises and that he wasn’t planning to step atop a mound for another couple of weeks. Santana has apparently “tossed a baseball” three times already and should be able to ramp up his throwing program during spring camp. He seems to be on track for an early-season return.
– Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman said Friday that he thinks LHP C.C. Sabathia lost 15 pounds this winter, not 30. ESPN.com’s Buster Olney heard from an AL source earlier this week that Sabathia had dropped a whole 30 pounds. Cashman said, “I don’t believe it. I saw him (last week) at the B.A.T. dinner and he didn’t look like he lost 30 pounds to me. Maybe half that amount. We haven’t weighed him so I don’t now where that number comes from.”
– Astros’ OF Michael Bourn has hired super agent Scott Boras. Bourn was being represented by SFX Baseball, but he decided to make the switch to Boras and Co. with free agency looming after the 2012 season. The 28-year-old batted .265 with a .341 OBP and 52 stolen bases last season for the Astros.
– Avalanche’ F Peter Forsberg will play in his first NHL game since April 29th, 2007 on Friday. It remains to be seen how Forsberg, 37, will do. He’ll be given a chance to play alongside Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk, who rank first and second on the team in points.
– Leafs’ F Colby Armstrong (eye) could miss all of next week. He began experiencing blurred vision–more specifically, a blurred spot in one eye–during the 3rd period of last night’s game, and didn’t skate with the team today. He is expected to see a doctor today.
– Devils’ coach Jacques Lemaire is just the 8th coach in NHL history to win 600 regular season games. Lemaire retired at the end of the 2009-10 season, but he was came back after the Devils fired head coach John MacLean. The Devils have turned their season around since Lemaire’s return, and they are currently enjoying a 11-1-2 run. F Ilya Kovalchuk helped notch the milestone win by scoring an overtime goal with just 23.2 seconds left.
– Thrashers’ D Tobias Enstrom (finger) will return to the Thrashers’ lineup on Friday. Enstrom’s streak of 296 straight games played came to an end when he broke a finger on his right hand on January 22. He’s been one of the league’s best offensive-defenseman this season with eight goals and 41 points and 50 games. He’ll try and help the Thrashers snap a four-game losing streak in a key contest against the Rangers. Enstrom will play alongside D Dustin Byfuglien and serve on the Thrashers’ top power-play unit.
– According to WrestlingNewsWorld, WWE will announce that The Rock is the special guest host of WrestleMania 28. The announcement isn’t expected to become official until Raw this Monday. Stay tuned.
– WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross has updated his blog, which you can read in its entirety at JRsBarBQ.com. Here are some highlights of what JR said about:
His WWE Contract Status: “Emailer asked me if I was able to do other talent work outside WWE or would my contract prevent such? I don’t have a talent contract with WWE but am a proud employee. I am able to do free lance projects outside WWE as long as they are not pro wrestling gigs which honestly don’t interest me at this time. Theoretically, I could do MMA , football, etc with no apparent issues. There is nothing on the ‘horizon’ other than my desire to broadcast Oklahoma Sooner football this fall on radio. There’s no new news on that front and, as I have said before, I feel that I’m in the hunt but a long shot.”
His WM27 Weekend Plans: “I’m considering a few fan convention opportunities in the future. I don’t make many of them and never have due to the lack of available time but I’m going to try and do a few more selected appearances during 2011. I will continue to turn down Saturday appearances during college football season as I would rather go watch OU play than to miss the game to earn a payday elsewhere.
I will be appearing at WM27 Axxess Friday night at the HUGE, THQ function….Saturday morning with The King at a WWE Hall of Fame signing, and Sunday around noon for a Q&A. Plus, we will have our products at the main, WWE merchandise stand throughout Axxess.”
Chris Jericho’s New Book “Undisputed”: “Chris mixes WWE experiences with his band Fozzy’s tales of the road and rock ‘n roll to create a unique balance within ‘Undisputed.’ When I get through with a wrestling chapter I can’t wait to read more but then I read a Fozzy chapter and I become intrigued about the music business and life as a ‘rock star.’ One thing that many casual fans don’t know is that Jericho was one of the more physical guys with legit toughness to step into a WWE ring under my watch which was both a blessing and a curse as you will see when you read ‘Undisputed’ of which I HIGHLY recommend.”
– WWE Divas Champion Eve Torres spoke with The Miami Herald at this week’s WrestleMania 28 press conference. Here are some highlights:
Winning the Divas Title again: “It’s kind of like the first time you really don’t know how much it means to you, until you lose it. When it is the first time, you almost don’t know how to make the most out of it and to truly fight for it. I think any time you get the chance to represent the title and to earn the title, you learn how to represent it in the best way.
You learn how to wear it with honor, fight for it with honor and really become the face of WWE for the divas. It’s an amazing opportunity. You have to be ready for those opportunities when they come. Otherwise what is the point of having those opportunities? I have mine and plan on making it last. I plan on getting the most out of it.”
Why she’s Champion: “All of the divas are given opportunities. It’s kind of the way you go after them and what you do with them. I feel like I was able to cease the opportunity I was given, and now I am divas champion. You are representing the entire company. I think it shows the company has faith in you, and we have faith in ourselves.”
Her jiu-jitsu training: “Jiu-jitsu is something I absolutely love. I never planned on going into MMA or anything like that. I literally do it for fun and for my own self defense. I think it’s important for women to learn that. I think it’s very empowering and has helped with my confidence inside and outside the ring. I think that is why it’s so meaningful for me.”
– Hulk Hogan (back) is still scheduled to appear at TNA’s iMPACT! tapings on February 24th from North Carlina, which will air on Thursday 3/3. The Hulkster, however, isn’t expected to wrestle ever again due to the severity of his back problems.
– Packers’ TE Jermichael Finley (knee) admitted Friday on PFT that he wouldn’t have been able to play in the Super Bowl had he been eligible. “Not quite. I’m gaining muscle in my leg and trying to get to 100%, better than I was last year.” Finley confirmed that he tore his right lateral meniscus. He says he could’ve returned in 3 weeks without the surgery, but that “long term” the procedure was his best option. Asked about his post-operation staph infection, Finley said “It worked out pretty good. The knee is doing real good.”
– Asked if DE Aaron Kampman (ACL surgery) will be back as the Jaguars’ best defensive end in 2011, coach Jack Del Rio replied “that’s the idea.” “In today’s NFL people are able to overcome injuries much more successfully now than they ever have. If anybody can come back and regain their form, Aaron can.” Kampman was a force with 25 tackles and four sacks in the first eight games of 2010, but it’s hard to bet on him at age 31 after back-to-back ACL tears. The Jags need more help at defensive end.
– According to ESPN Dallas’ Calvin Watkins, close to 10 teams are interested in free agent DL Shaun Rodgers. ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirms that Rogers has been contacted by “multiple” teams. Rogers is visiting the Redskins Friday, though it’s believed to be nothing more than an exploratory meeting.
– According to ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Mizzou’ QB Blaine Gabbert’s draft stock has begun “slipping” heading into the Scouting Combine. According to Kiper, Gabbert’s fall has occurred after NFL teams did “more film work” on the underclassman’s junior year. Gabbert was alright in 2010, recording a 16:9 TD:INT ratio with an unimpressive 6.71 YPA. Gabbert was much better as a sophomore. The Combine starts on February 24.