– Ken Davidoff of Newsday reports that 1B Prince Fielder wants to play for the Cubs, but they “appear committed to a full rebuild for 2012.” Fielder is intrigued by the possibility of playing in Chicago, Davidoff says, because “they’re a reasonable distance from his Florida home and he has outstanding numbers at Wrigley Field.” A deal seems unlikely, however, as the Cubs appear committed to rebuilding the farm system rather than spending on free agents. Davidoff also lists the Nationals and Blue Jays as potential landing spots for Prince but notes that the Nats “are a little gun-shy” after the Jayson Werth deal, and the Jays are unwilling to go beyond five years. Stay tuned.
– An MLB official familiar with the process told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that Brewers’ OF Ryan Braun is unlikely to have his 50-game suspension overturned. The official said the two ways a suspension can be overturned is to “prove there was a lab error with the testing or say the Brewers signed off on the treatment.” Proving there was a lab error is unlikely because, as Haudricourt writes, “the system is designed to prevent such an occurrence.” The official also told Haudricourt that the Brewers did not sign off on whatever substance Braun took. It still appears as though Braun didn’t knowingly take a PED, but he’ll be forced to bite the bullet.
– The Blue Jays have re-acquired RHP Jason Frasor from the White Sox for RHP Myles Jaye and RHP Daniel Webb. Frasor was dealt by the Jays to the ChiSox at the trade deadline. The 34-year-old posted a 3.60 ERA and 8.6 K/9 rate over 64 appearances for the Jays and Sox this past season. He’ll slide back into the setup man role. Neither Jaye nor Webb were ranked by Baseball America among the Blue Jays’ top 10 prospects.
– According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Tigers are willing to trade prospect RHP Jacob Turner. Olney says the Tigers want “the right pitcher” in return. Turner, 20, registered a 3.44 ERA and 110/35 K/BB ratio in 131 innings this past year between Double-A and Triple-A. Detroit is known to have interest in Cubs’ RHP Matt Garza, but the Marlins and other teams are also in the mix.
– Jeff Fletcher of BayBridgeBaseball.com reports that the Athletics have had preliminary discussions with the representatives for free agent OF Cody Ross. Ross reportedly was looking for a 3-year deal earlier this offseason, but will likely have to settle for less. If he signs in Oakland, it’ll likely be a 1-year contract, with Ross becoming trade bait at the deadline.
– Despite demanding for a trade, the Kings reportedly do not intend to move F DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins reportedly demanded a trade four games into the season, and was sent home prior to Sunday’s game. He’s hit just 17-of-53 shots this season. The tam plans to meet with Cousins on Monday and if that goes well, it’s possible Cousins could play in the upcoming week.
– Heat’ F LeBron James turned 27 on Friday and celebrated by proposing to longtime girlfriend Savannah Brinson on Saturday. The two have been together since high school and have two sons together, LeBron Jr. and Bryce.
– The Canadiens have signed D Josh Gorges to a 6-year/$23.4M extension worth $3.9M annually. Gorges has a goal and nine assists in 39 games this season while leading the team with a plus-six rating.
– Predators’ D Shea Weber (concussion0 is out indefinitely, according to head coach Barry Trotz. Weber is expected to be placed on the IR until he’s ready to play. “Webbs is concussed and will end up going on injured reserve. That will give us a roster spot.” Weber was injured on December 23 when he took a hit from the Stars’ F Mark Fistric. Trotz also said that Weber has not started skating and there would be no updates until he was able to start skating.
– Blues’ D Ian Cole has been suspended 3 games for his hit on Red Wings’ F Justin Abdelkader Saturday night. Cole, 22, received a two-minute minor for hitting Abdelkader in the head. Abdelkader left the game for observations, but would later return and score a goal in Detroit’s 3-0 win. Cole has one goal and four points in 13 games for the Blues this season.
– Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin said Sunday night that RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is unlikely to play in the Wild Card round at Denver, as the team fears he has a torn ACL. Mendenhall will undergo an MRI, and his injury’s extent will be learned when results come back. RB Isaac Redman will likely close out the postseason as the team’s feature back. Pittsburgh will be the AFC’s No. 5 seed.
– ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the Bears fear MLB Brian Urlacher (left knee) tore his MCL and PCL in Sunday’s Week 17 win over Minnesota. MCL and PCL tears don’t usually require surgery, but Urlacher will undergo an MRI to be sure. The good news is he appears to have avoided an ACL tear, but he’ll be facing many months of rehab. At age 34, his knees are now an injury concern going forward.
– The Falcons have signed TE Tony Gonzalez to a 1-year/$7M extension through 2012. Gonzalez hinted during the offseason this could be his final year, but reportedly began extension talks with the Falcons last week, and will now make a higher base salary in 2012 than he did in 2011. The soon-to-be 36-year-old owns every significant receiving record for tight ends, and is second all-time in receptions. He has caught at least 70 passes every year since 2003.
– Patriots’ TE Rob Gronkowski caught eight passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns in Week 17, giving him the NFL’s all-time single-season yardage record for a tight end. The previous mark was 1,290, set by Kellen Winslow in 1980. Gronk went back and forth with Jimmy Graham all day before finally seizing the record in the final seconds. He finishes his 2011 campaign with 90 catches for 1,327 yards and 18 touchdowns.
– NFL rushing leader RB Maurice Jones-Drew rushed 25 times for a season-high 169 yards and added one reception for four yards to lead the Jaguars to a 19-13 victory over the Colts in Week 17. The yardage total is the third-highest of Jones-Drew’s career, pushing him past Fred Taylor for a franchise-record 1,606 in one season.
– Citing a source, Newsday reports that Jets’ ILB Bart Scott will not be back with the team in 2012. Scott is entering his age-32 season and his salary jumps to $5.6M in 2012. Scott’s playing time dropped this year, as he was removed from the Jets’ nickel defence. Pro Football Focus still graded Scott as one of the league’s best run-stopping 3-4 inside ‘backers, so he should be able to sign on elsewhere.
– Saints’ RB Mark Ingram (toe) will undergo season-ending surgery on Wednesday, according to FOX’s Jay Glazer. Ingram sustained a setback last week. His rookie season ends with 474 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games. The surgery should help Ingram get back to 100% well before training camp.
– ESPN’s Joe Schad reports that Titans’ coach Mike Munchak is “torn” about his coaching future, and Penn State believes Munchak may listen to their overtures “after all.” Munchak is reportedly struggling with the idea that he might be able to “fix and make right” his alma mater. “He loves his school and his heart is torn. He really fits what they want and need to a tee.” Per Schad, Munchak’s future should be resolved within a week. Patriots OC Bill O’Brien is reportedly among Penn State’s fallback targets.
– Heisman Trophy winner QB Robert Griffin III will reportedly enter the NFL Draft rather than return to Baylor next season. The fourth-year junior quarterback will meet with agents next weekend, then sit down with coaches on January 11 or 12 to make his decision official, according to a conversation his father had with ESPN. RG3 has until January 15 to make a decision. If he declares for the draft, Griffin is expected to go No. 2 overall behind Stanford QB Andrew Luck.
– Randy Orton, who remains sidelined after suffering a herniated disc on the L4-L5 level on the left side, was asked how he was doing on Twitter.
“Pain free at the moment. I do some kind of therapy/rehab every morn and night. Funny to sit back and watch the rumors.
He was then asked about his mindset following the injury.
“Enjoying every minute actually. Getting to spend this much time in with Sam and Al is great. I think we all needed it.”
Orton also says he has read all the rumors concerning his injury. He says “It’s hilarious.” The Viper is scheduled for the January 16 Raw SuperShow in Anaheim, California and the Royal Rumble taking place Jan. 29 in St. Louis, Missouri.
– SRG Films’ upcoming film Crossface retelling Chris Benoit’s descent into double murder and suicide will feature actors portraying his wrestling peers. Sarah Coulter tells WorstPreviews.com,
“Eddie [Guerrero] is obviously very important to the story. Triple H, Kurt Angle, they’re all there, but it’s early and things can still change.”
“Chris had a remarkable career. You take a look at his time in Japan and with Stu Hart, and you realize that you’d need more than one movie to tell the entire Chris Benoit story. Ultimately, it’s about the 2007 murders/suicide, so we had to pick and choose the right moments in Chris’ career that may have been factors in his downfall.”
Coulter adds several actors are under consideration for the lead role and that an official casting announcement will be made soon.
– Michelle McCool has been greatly criticized over the years for taking the fast track to WWE glory. After entering an intimate relationship with The Undertaker in late 2007 (who she married in June 2010), many critics attributed her position in WWE to her influential partner rather than her ability to perform. Speaking to Inside Wrestling, the four-time champion is asked why she has received so much flack. Dan Murphy asks McCool,
“I know you like to keep some things private and this was never announced, but you did marry The Undertaker. He’s obviously a veteran and icon in the business with a lot of influence. Was it the Diva Search background or having the relationship with someone like him that’s responsible for the heat and resentment you got?”
“Bottom line: People in our business are always going to look to find reasons to see the negative in somebody and to become resentful. I don’t really know where it began: probably with me getting the tag as “Diva Search reject.” But I don’t know anybody who, if they had an opportunity like the Diva Search, they wouldn’t jump at it. If they didn’t jump at it, they’d be idiots.
“People can say what they want to say, but at the end of the day, I can look at myself in the mirror. I know how hard I fought. I know how many storylines I pitched. I know how hard I worked in the ring. I can’t tell you the number of times I was one of the first people at the arenas or at TV, constantly trying to better myself. I can honestly say that my hard work paid off. My resilience paid off. My persistence paid off. That’s all there is to it. People are always going to say what they want to say and believe what they want to believe, but that’s the bottom line.”
– The legendary career of Tammy “Sunny” Sytch could be coming to an end. The WWE Hall of Famer has indicated that she’s looking to part ways with the industry she has been a part of since 1992 to start a family. She stated Friday on Facebook,
“ok seriously……i wamt a ring on my finger and a husband……a decently looking one……bc i want a good looking kid.”
Many of her friends didn’t take her claims seriously. She wrote in response,
“you all think im joking….im not. want to get out of the business, get married and get prggers.”
Sytch then wrote the following day,
“OMG…i THINK IM ACTUALLY GETTING MARRIED!!!!”