– The Cubs have signed RHP Matt Garza to a 1-year/$9.5M contract, avoiding arbitration. The deal is under the $10.225M midpoint, but also contains performance bonuses that could push the total higher. The 28-year-old earned $5.95M last season while posting a 3.32 ERA and 197/63 K/BB ratio in 198 innings. He remains under team control through 2013 but figures to be a prime trade candidate at the July deadline.
Speaking of Garza, Sheriff’s detectives say that an AL Championship ring belonging to Garza has been stolen from his California home. The Fresno Bee reports that the ring, valued at $30K, was taken during a burglary of Garza’s home in Fresno County sometime between January 26 and Tuesday. Garza was awarded the ring while playing for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. The Rays beat the Boston Red Sox in that year’s AL Championship Series. Garza was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the series, beating the Red Sox twice. His name is engraved inside the ring, which has several white diamonds and one yellow diamond.
– Nick Camino of WTAM 1100 in Cleveland reports that the Indians have a multi-year contract offer on the table to SS Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s not clear how much it’s for, and Camino says the two sides won’t finish a contract Friday and could still end up just settling on a 1-year pact. Cabrera is looking to cash in on a long-term deal after a breakout 2011 season where he batted .273/.332/.460 batting line with 25 homers, 92 RBI, 17 stolen bases and a .792 OPS. He’s under team control through 2013.
– The Padres have signed RHP Micah Owings to a 1-year/$1M contract. Owings was 8-0 with a career-best 3.57 ERA in 33 games, including four starts, for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011. The Diamondbacks didn’t tender him a contract after last season.
– The Indians have signed LHP Rafael Perez to a 1-year/$2.005M contract. The agreement Thursday was for $5K above the midpoint between the $2.4M he had asked for and the $1.6M the Indians had offered when the sides exchanged arbitration figures last month. Perez can earn a $25K performance bonus if he appears in 55 games, a total he has reached in three of the last four seasons. Perez went 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA last year, tying for second in the AL with 71 pitching appearances.
– Rebutting an ESPN report from Thursday evening, Colts’ owner Jim Irsay tweeted early Friday that the Colts have not medically cleared QB Peyton Manning (neck surgeries) to play football in 2012. Manning’s camp obviously fed ESPN’s Chris Mortensen the news of his supposed medical clearance. “Peyton has not passed our physical, nor has he been cleared to play for the Colts. Team statement coming on Friday.” Colts doctors are reportedly worried about the nerves in Manning’s neck and triceps. While Peyton is notifying interested teams he’s healthy, the Colts still need the medical excuse to decline his $28M bonus.
– Patriots’ TE Rob Gronkowski (high left ankle sprain) reported no setbacks after his first practice on his injured left ankle. The All-Pro tight end practised for the Super Bowl for the first time on a limited basis Thursday since suffering a high ankle sprain 11 days earlier in the Patriots 23-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game. The Patriots last practice for Sunday’s championship game against the New York Giants was scheduled for later Friday. They plan a walkthrough Saturday.
– NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on NBC Sports Network’s Costas Live that if the league puts a team in Los Angeles, the NFL probably would add two more franchises to make it 34. Goodell said the league “doesn’t want to move any of our teams” and “we probably don’t want to go to 33″ if the NFL decides on expansion over relocation. An odd number of teams would also present scheduling issues. Goodell’s statement is good news for fans of the Rams, Jaguars, Vikings and Chargers, as those are the franchises most linked to a Los Angeles relocation.
– NHL legend Gordie Howe, 84 next month, has begun battling dementia symptoms. Howe, who has become a voice for awareness of dementia and other similar conditions since losing his wife in March of 2009 from Pick’s disease, has been suffering from some kind of memory loss in recent years, according to his family.
Gordie’s son, Marty, downplayed that it could be dementia.
“I just want to clear up one thing. It’s really not dementia. It may turn into it. Basically, his brain doesn’t function properly because of past injuries. The doctors also think that he may have had a mini-stroke when he was taking care of my mom when she was sick.
“Overall, he’s healthy as a rock. He’ll continue to do this as long as he’s able to. He’s doing well for being 84 next month. I don’t know what you expect mentally from somebody, but he’s not as well as he could be, but he’s still doing fine.”
Another of Howe’s sons, Murray Howe, an Ohio-based radiologist, said his father faces the struggles of many other people his age, but doesn’t believe he has dementia, as stated in other reports Thursday. He said his father remains a workhorse and is extremely active in his personal life.
“He definitely has short-term memory deficit, but it seems to be very focal. His other cognitive functions are really either as good or better than baseline for an 83-yearold man.
“He’s had most of these issues for the better part of eight years, but they are really more noticeable in the last few years since my mother died because she was the sole initiator for everything in the relationship. My father is very flexible for any situation. He waits for whoever he’s with to say: ‘Hey, let’s do this or let’s do that,’ and he’s happy as a clam.”
Murray Howe noted his father’s progression of any memory loss is very slow.
“One of our biggest concerns is that the memory loss is going to get worse where he’s not able to be himself,” he said. “It seems to be a relatively stable process.”
“He is very much aware of his short-term memory loss. It pisses him off,” Murray Howe said.
“He can tell you every hole on every golf course he’s played. He’ll remember every hockey game he ever played in and every opponent. His long-term memory is completely intact.”
– Oilers’ F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) is expected to return on Saturday. He is now pain-free and could have played on Thursday but it was decided to give him a couple of extra days. Head coach Tom Renney said, “I would always be prudent with a young player. In most cases this is the first time they’ve been hurt at the NHL level, and coming back into the best league in the world is not an easy thing to do. There’s a part of me that wants to be 100% sure because the future of this organization is in the hands of these young people.” RNH has 35 points in 38 games.
– Oilers’ F Sam Gagner tied a franchise record with eight points in last night’s 8-4 win over the Blackhawks. Gagner recorded four goals and four assists, tying the record set by Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey. Gagner fell two points shy of matching the league mark of 10, set by Toronto’s Darryl Sittler on February 7, 1976. The 22-year-old came into the game with five goals on the season.
“I didn’t think I would ever be mentioned in the same breath as Gretzky or Coffey. You never expect to do something like this.
“It’s a great lesson to never set limits. The great players who played here never did that. It was just one of those games where everything went in and just a great feeling.”
– Another save of the year candidate! Check out this big save by Avalanche’ G J.S. Giguere after he’s crashed into and out of position:
– Red Wings’ G Jimmy Howard (broken pinkie) is expected to the new few games. Howard suffered the injury in the third period of Thursday’s win over the Canucks. The 27-year-old has a 32-11-1 record along with five shutouts and a 2.03 GAA.
– The Rangers have traded F Erik Christensen and a 7th-round pick to the Wild for F Casey Wellman. Christensen, 28, had one goal and five points in 20 games for the Rangers this season. The six-year NHL veteran has 62 goals and 156 points in his career. Wellman, in his third season with the Wild, had two goals and seven points in 14 games.
– The Flyers have acquired F Matt Ford from the Capitals for D Kevin Marshall. Ford was playing with the Capitals’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears. In 39 games, he had 10 goals and 28 points. Marshall, 22, played 10 games for the Flyers this season. He has spent most of his time with Adirondack, scoring two goals and five points in 32 AHL games this season.
– The Capitals acquired F Mike Carman from the Avalanche for D Danny Richmond. Carman, a 3rd-round pick by the Avalanche in 2006, is a career-AHLer. The 23-year-old has 11 goals and 19 assists in 79 games with the Lake Erie Monsters. Richmond, 27, has 49 career games in the NHL with Carolina and Chicago. The former second-round pick had four assists in 24 games with the Hersey Bears of the AHL this season.
– The Clippers have agreed to a contract with F Kenyon Martin. Martin won’t be eligible to sign the deal until he passes a physical and is cleared to play. He immediately becomes the third-best big man on the roster behind DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. K-Mart averaged just 8.6 points, 6.2 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 26 minutes per game.
– Suns’ G Steve Nash recorded 30 points and 10 assists in last night’s loss to the Hornets. By increasing his total number of assists with the Suns to 6,522 in nine-plus seasons with the club, Nash surpassed Kevin Johnson’s franchise mark of 6,518.
“To be honest, it pales in comparison to getting the win. The things that really matter about (the record) is: One, to be up there with Kevin, who was a great, great player and deserves a lot of credit for what type of player he was. And then the other one, just I love the city and organization and to do it for the Suns is a real honour. But other than that I’m just glad the team got the win.”
– The Magic have signed G Ish Smith.
– Andy Roddick’s (hamstring) MRI revealed a partial tear of his hamstring. Roddick, 30 in August, was hurt in the second set against Hewitt and took a medical timeout. He then played 16 more games before retiring. He remains on track to return at the SAP Open in San Jose on February 15.
“It’s a concern. I haven’t hit a ball since Australia. We’ve just been working on different types of treatment trying to get it right. The MRI came back probably not as good as we were hoping. I’m hoping to be hitting balls for the first time next Monday, and that should get me. I fall goes well there, that should be plenty of time to be ready.”
“My only urgent thing right now is getting this hamstring right so I can try to play well at San Jose.”
“It almost looks like the kind of tennis you see when you play Xbox where the guys really don’t get tired and they hit whatever shot they want. It’s pretty remarkable. I know probably at no time in my career, and I’ve been in pretty good shape throughout it, I don’t know if I could play back to back six hour matches of that intensity.”
– We’ve got a few news times regarding Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson:
The Rock will be featured in a commercial that airs during this weekend’s SuperBowl. The new trailer for The Rock’s upcoming summer blockbuster G.I. Joe: Retaliation will debut during the big game.
Speaking of GI Joe, toy company Hasbro unveiled its new line of action figures for the upcoming G.I. Joe movie, including one for The Rock’s character, Roadblock. You can check that out to the right.
The Rock’s current film project, Journey 2, is performing very well internationally. It has taken in over $24M already.
Journey 2 hits theaters in the United States on February 10th and will be shown in 3D IMAX in select theaters across the country.
With WrestleMania 28 approaching, The Rock continues to talk trash about his opponent, John Cena. Rock tweeted on Friday morning:
“@JohnCena I was electrifying Topeka when you were sucking on yum rockets in college. My boot. Your ass. #Wrestlemania”
– New details have become available regarding the upcoming “Legends House” reality show that will feature various wrestling legends living under one roof. Filming begins this week at the Harpo Marx estate near Palm Springs, California, according to the Desert Sun newspaper. The cast of, which is rumored to include legends such as “Mean” Gene Okerlund, Dusty Rhodes, Roddy Piper and the Iron Shiek, will live at the mansion until Saturday, March 31 – the day before WrestleMania 28. Most of the show will be shot at the house – but the legends will also explore the local community, including golf and hot air balloon outings. The show was originally announced for the WWE Network, but the Wrestling Observer reports it could air on Syfy due the Network’s launch being delayed.
– Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello spent a third day Wednesday testing for KV Racing Technology. Although a move to IndyCar was not imminent, the Brazilian is definitely considering the series for 2012. Barrichello was scheduled to test Monday and Tuesday at Sebring International Raceway, then stayed an additional half day Wednesday to drive friend Tony Kanaan’s car in the morning session.
“I very much enjoyed being here. I enjoyed the car, and I enjoyed the team. So now I will take my family back to Brazil and wait a little longer to see if this is my future.”
“I ended up contributing more than I thought I would, which I am happy about. Now I need to take my family back and take some time to talk to them, talk to Tony and talk to Jimmy over the next week. So far, I am happy with my experience.”
– Japanese driver Takuma Sato has signed with IndyCar team Rahal-Letterman Racing. Sato competed in Formula One from 2002-08 before moving to IndyCar in 2010. He drove for KV Racing Technology the last two seasons. Sato is winless in IndyCar, but he won two poles last season, at races in Edmonton and Iowa. He finished the season in 13th place.