– Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reports that Cuban OF Yoenis Cespedes has established residency in the Dominican Republic. Cespedes now just needs approval from MLB to be granted a free agent. The 26-year-old recently said that the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers, and Indians have expressed the most interest in signing him. He’s expected to get a contract worth more than the $30.25M deal Reds’ LHP Aroldis Chapman signed in 2010.
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Blue Jays have signed RHP Francisco Cordero to a 1-year/$4.5M contract, pending a physical. Cordero will be the primary setup man behind RHP Sergio Santos. The 36-year-old posted a 2.45 ERA and 37 saves as the Reds’ closer last season, but his fastball velocity and strikeout rate are both on the decline. The Angels, Orioles and Phillies were all in the mix.
– Tigers’ 1B Miguel Cabrera told Venezuelan newspaper Lider en Deportes that he will move to third base to accomodate 1B Prince Fielder. ”I will come back to the third base, which is my natural position. The arrival of Fielder will benefit us.” Cabrera, 28, has 383 career starts at third, but hasn’t played there since his first season with Detroit in 2008. Cabrera reportedly got some work in at third base this winter, just in case. In any event, the Tigers’ defensive infield just took a hit.
– The Yankees have signed C Russell Martin to a 1-year/$7.5M contract with $100K in performance-based incentives, avoiding arbitration. Martin requested $8.2M and was offered $7M from the Yankees when arbitration figures were exchanged last Tuesday. The 28-year-old batted .237/.324/.408 with 18 homers, 65 RBI and a .732 OPS last season while throwing out 30% of would-be basestealers.
– The Rays have officially signed 1B Carlos Pena to a 1-year/$7.25M contract. Pena, 33, batted .225/.357/.462 with 28 home runs and 80 RBI across 606 plate appearances last season for the Cubs. He hasn’t batted higher than .227 since 2008, and given the pitcher-friendly nature of Tropicana Field, his numbers probably won’t go up.
– NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly issued this statement in response to Capitals’ F Alex Ovechkin sitting out the All-Star Game festivities:
“In light of yesterday’s suspension, we informed the Capitals that, while Alex Ovechkin was still welcome to participate in this weekend’s All Star festivities in Ottawa, we would not be insisting that he do so. We now understand that Alex has decided to withdraw from this weekend’s events. Given the circumstances involved, we understand Mr. Ovechkin’s decision in this regard, and have no intention of pursuing this matter further.”
– Check out this amazing video of an ice rink roof collapsing under the weight of snow in Námestovo, Slovakia. Former Panthers’ F Richard Zednik was skating on the ice with a bunch of kids before the roof came down.
– Bulls’ F Luol Deng (left hand) has a torn ligament in his hand. Deng is planning to avoid surgery and play through the pain, but he’ll miss a few weeks at minimum. Head coach Tom Thibodeau has called Deng “week-to-week.”
– Bobcats’ G D.J. Augustin (toe) is expected to miss the next week.
– Although Patriots’ TE Rob Gronkowski (ankle) is expected to play in the Super Bowl, he reportedly suffered ligament damage in the AFC Championship game. All sprains damage the ligament to varying degrees, so it may still be minor. Gronk has 2 weeks to get ready, but he probably won’t be at 100%. Coach Bill Belichick said, “We’ll see how it goes with Rob … when we get back on the field. It’s hard to gauge injuries.”
– A parody video has been released on YouTube comparing Ravens’ K Billy Cundiff and his missed field goal int he 2012 AFC Championship to Ray Finkle from the Ace Ventura movie. Check it out:
– Raiders’ GM Reggie McKenzie disputes reports that Dennis Allen has been offered the head coaching job, telling CSN Bay Area’s Paul Gutierrez that it’s “not a lock, irregardless of other people’s reports.” McKenzie denies that he’s already in negotiations with Allen, contradicting earlier reports. “He could [lock it up]. Depends. He’s got a lot of stuff he needs to answer.”
– On Monday’s RAW, John Cena made an “angry face” at the camera after Zack Ryder was taken away in an ambulance. WWE is teasing that Cena is finally giving in to the dark side “embracing the hate.”
– Earlier this week, Rey Mysterio posted a video to Youtube updating fans on his health status and said he hopes to be healthy in time for WrestleMania 28. While everyone is hoping that Mysterio will be back in time for WWE’s biggest event of the year, the latest talk within the locker room is that Mysterio will be kept off television until after Mania.
– Fans may have noticed that Monday’s RAW did not feature any Twitter mentions or on-screen graphics promoting trending topics. WWE sources have indicated this was no coincidence, as the company is said to be re-evaluating its affiliation with the social networking service.
– The Rock is being advertised for the March 12 RAW Supershow from Cleveland, Ohio. This is the second upcoming RAW that The Rock is officially being advertised for. The Rock will also be appearing on the final RAW prior to WrestleMania 28, from Atlanta. Expect to see regular appearances from The Rock on WWE television in the weeks leading up to his match with John Cena WrestleMania 28.
– The WWE’s website posted the following storyline update on Zack Ryder’s condition, noting that he suffered a herniated disc during Kane’s attack on him from RAW:
“Zack Ryder remains hospitalized after being chokeslammed by Kane through the stage on Monday’s Raw SuperShow. Upon further examination by WWE medical personnel, the former United States Champion has suffered a herniated disc as a result of the fall.”
– After Randy Orton returned to action on Sunday’s WWE live event, the talk at RAW was that Orton is returning to action from injury sooner than he should.
– Do not expect to see Alberto Del Rio at Sunday’s Royal Rumble, according to his personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez. Rodriguez tweeted on Tuesday:
“If Mr Del Rio wasn’t hurt he could easily win the Royal Rumble again this year. He did win the biggest Royal Rumble match ever after all! ”
– Recently, Chael Sonnen went on ESPN radio and made the following comments about Michael Bisping:
“You know, I think Bisping does a lot of stuff really well. The biggest problem he’s got is that he just drew the ‘Ace of Spades.’ I’m not just another fighter on the roster or a middleweight. I’m the middleweight champion; undefeated and undisputed. I can beat any man God ever made. Michael Bisping does not survive.”
Later on Bisping was a guest on HDNet’s “Inside MMA.” The following is his response to Sonnen’s comments:
“Okay. One. Let’s start with the obvious. He’s not the middleweight champion. He’s been beaten many, many times. He’s been submitted more times than I care to mention. Not to mention, the last time he lost a fight by submission, there were some issues involving performance enhancing drugs. I don’t know what the deal is. Apparently, he has one testicle. One testicle! This is why he uses performance enhancing drugs. He’s gonna need more than one little ball to fight me next weekend!”
After his brash comments towards Sonnen, Bisping went on to talk about how he thinks the fight will go down:
“He’s gonna try and take me down, lay on top of me and smother me to death. Me, on the other hand, I will be arriving to fight this guy. I’m gonna look to knock him out. Of course. I call my fights. It’s not gonna be easy. He’s a tough opponent. I’m sure it’s gonna be an amazing fight. All joking aside, it’s gonna be a tough fight.”
In Bisping’s closing comment he explained that he was grateful for the fight:
“It’s gonna be a tough fight, but I’m ready. I’ve trained very, very hard. I’m looking forward to the challenge and it’s a massive opportunity as well.”