– Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Yankees and Pirates have completed a trade that will send RHP A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh for Double-A reliever Diego Moreno and Low-A outfielder Exicardo Cayones. The Pirates will also receive $20M in the deal, putting them on the hook for $13M of what’s left on Burnett’s contract–they’re expected to pay him $5M in 2011 and $8M in 2012. The deal needs to first be approved by the commissioner’s office, and Burnett will also have to pass a physical before it becomes official. The Phillies were also reportedly in the mix.
In addition, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Yankees won’t “finalize” deals for DHs Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez until Burnett is officially traded to the Pirates. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported Friday afternoon that the Yankees plan to add Chavez for about $1M and Ibanez for about $1M, though he mentioned that DH Johnny Damon still lingered as a possibility for their DH opening.
– Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe was told by a friend of C Jason Varitek that the veteran catcher is leaning toward retirement. Cafardo was told during Tim Wakefield’s retirement press conference Friday. Varitek’s agent, Scott Boras, said Friday that his client had yet to make a decision on his future, but GM Ben Cherington doesn’t expect to make any additions before the start of camp. If Varitek does indeed retire, he could accept a non-playing role within the organization.
– Janie McCauley of the Associated Press reports that the Athletics are still pursuing OF Manny Ramirez, and a deal could happen as soon as the next few days or sometime next week. Ramirez will likely get a minor league deal. The 39-year-old would be permitted to participate in spring training games, but will have to sit out the first 50 games of the regular season due to a second positive PED test.
– Mets’ LHP Johan Santana (shoulder) said he “felt really good” during a bullpen session Friday. ”I finally had a chance to get on the mound and throw to a catcher, to Thole, and I felt really good. The approach that we had from the beginning was to do everything like I always do to get ready for the season. For me, it’s about time to get on the mound and start throwing. And I was able to throw all of my pitches and it felt good after that.” It’s the first time Santana has thrown from a mound in months. He’s scheduled for another bullpen session next Tuesday. The Mets are hoping he’ll be ready for Opening Day.
– The Yankees have released LHP Hideki Okajima. An undisclosed injury caused Okajima to fail his physical. The 36-year-old was reportedly considering retirement earlier this offseason. He owns a 3.11 ERA over 261 career relief appearances but spent most of 2011 at Triple-A.
– Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News reports that the Athletics are “getting close” to a deal for Rangers’ RHP Koji Uehara. The A’s have been linked to Uehara for weeks now, and apparently are making progress on a deal. They’ve also been rumoured to have interest in free agent RHP Mike Gonzalez, though it’s not clear if they’ll still pursue him if they land Uehara. The 36-year-old is posted a 2.35 ERA and 85/9 K/BB ratio over 65 innings and could slide in as the team’s closer. He’s set to earn $4M this season.
– The Blue Jays launched single-game ticket sales Friday morning at 10 a.m. and the opening contest at Rogers Centre was sold out about an hour later. The Blue Jays will kick off their home schedule April 9 against the Boston Red Sox. Toronto opens regular-season play April 5 on the road against the Cleveland Indians. The Blue Jays finished fourth in the American League East last season with an 81-81 record.
– The Royals have signed LHP Tim Collins. Collins was 4-4 with a 3.63 ERA in 68 relief appearances during his rookie season.
– Cubs’ RHP Ricardo Estevez and free agent LHP Jorge Navarrete have both been suspended for 50 games under baseball’s minor-league drug program. Estevez tested positive for metabolites of Stanozolol and Nandrolone, the commissioner’s office said Friday. He is on the roster of the Dominican Summer League Cubs. Navarrete was suspended for refusing to take a drug test. His penalty will start when he signs with a major league organization. Fifteen players have been suspended this year under the minor-league program.
– Penguins’ F Sidney Crosby (concussion-like symptoms) skated with the team Friday, but remains out indefinitely.
“It doesn’t consistently get worse or better. It’s a roller-coaster. They’re not fun. I’m trying to get back. I’m hoping to get back as soon as possible. I’m not going to pretend I know when that is. I won’t say I’ll be ready in a month or two weeks or a week. I wouldn’t be going through of all of this if I didn’t want to play as soon as possible.”
– The Predators have acquired D Hal Gill and a conditional 2013 5th-round pick from the Canadiens in for F Blake Geoffrion (24-year-old grandson of Hall of Famer Bernard (Boom Boom) Geoffrion), F Robert Slaney, and a 2012 2nd-round draft pick. Gill will continue to be a defensive powerhouse on a defensive-minded Preds team.
– Bruins’ F Rich Peverley (sprained right MCL) is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Peverley suffered the injury on February 15 against the Canadiens when he collided knee-on-knee with D Hal Gill. Peverley has nine goals and 38 points in 49 games this season.
– Stars’ F Jamie Benn (leg) is expected to miss at least 2 games after being cut in the leg by a skate on Thursday. Head coach Glen Gulutzan is hoping that Benn will be able to play on Tuesday. “He’s got a significant cut on his leg. Thank goodness nothing else was involved, just a very deep, significant, painful cut, and we’re glad that nothing else happened. So he’ll be a day to day guy.”
– The Blue Jackets have placed G Curtis Sanford (upper body) on the IR retroactive to February 9.
– KHL President Alexander Medvedev says F Alex Radulov’s final year in his contract will prevent him from jumping back to the Predators next season. Under NHL rules, the 25-year-old would be forced to honour the final year of his entry-level contract at $980K in Nashville if he decided to return to North America.
“He’s under contract for another year. I’m not aware about the clause that he could leave next year.”
“Our arrangements for respecting each other’s contracts work both ways. Though we’ve had some questionable issues, they didn’t go to conflict and it was settled in the court with agreements in place. (It) allows some boys to change leagues but without conflict.”
– Dereck Chisora slapped Vitali Klitschko at their pre-fight weigh ins today. During the traditional face-off fighter pose, Chisora gave the 40-year old Ukrainian a hard smack. Klitschko didn’t retaliate, but vowed to get his payback in the ring:
“I’ll be hitting him back tomorrow, in the ring. He’s not all there. Dereck is full of nervousness and I feel he is afraid, otherwise he would not have jumped back like he did.He hit me not like a boxer but like a woman, with an open hand. If he wants to fight properly, he must do that with his fists,” Klitschko said.
Promoter Francis Warren also weighed inL
“We’re all scratching our heads about it to be honest. You always expect something from Dereck, he’s a character. But it’s usually something that winds people up or is a bit jovial. So for him to get physical and aggressive, unprovoked, is surprising. But at the end of the day I’m sure there’s method to his madness and we’ll find out if the madness has paid off.”
– The Knicks have signed G J.R. Smith, but head coach Mike D’Antoni was very passive when asked about what Smith will bring to the team, as he’s expected to join the team for Sunday’s game. ”I haven’t thought about it. It will be a hurdle you get over. He’s obviously a talented basketball player and you can always use talent. It’s not going to change up a whole lot what we’re doing.” G Landry Fields is clearly still the team’s starting shooting guard. The Knicks will waive G Renaldo Balkman to clear a roster spot for Smith.
– The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Mary Cay Cabot considers it “pretty likely” that the Browns will attempt to trade up to No. 2 to select Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. ”If the Browns determine at the Combine next week and maybe through one or two more visits that RGIII is their man, I don’t think they would hesitate to give up their No. 4 and their No. 22 to pull off this deal… It’s almost a perfect match. I think at this point it’s very likely that could happen.” Cabot suggested earlier that the Browns don’t consider RGIII an ideal fit for the offence.
– Former Raiders’ coach Hue Jackson has been hired as an assistant with the Bengals. On the staff with Cincinnati from 2004-06, Jackson will help with the secondary and special teams, and work closely with the position coaches for both slots, Mark Carrier and Darrin Simmons, respectively. A native of Los Angeles, Jackson played quarterback at the University of the Pacific and began his coaching career there in 1987. He coached in the NCAA through 2000, when he was offensive co-ordinator and quarterbacks coach at Southern California. He entered the NFL with the Washington Redskins in 2001. Jackson was fired after the Raiders missed the AFC playoffs with an 8-8 record last season.
– Model Kate Upton was a guest on the Ellen Degeneres show, and was harassed about dating Jets’ QB Mark Sanchez. Check it out:
– The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Browns are prepared to place the franchise tag on free agent LB D’Qwell Jackson should the sides fail to reach a multi-year agreement before February 20. Jackson led the AFC in tackles in 2011. The linebacker tag will be worth roughly $9M. Cleveland finished the regular season ranked 30th against the run.
– The Buccaneers hired ex-Dolphins LBs coach Bill Sheridan as DC. Sheridan spent 2011 and 2010 coaching the Dolphins’ linebackers after flopping as the Giants’ 2009 DC. The G-Men finished 13th in total defense that year despite several offseason moves to upgrade their talent.
– Citing two sources, the Detroit Free Press reports that the Lions will “likely” franchise tag free agent DE Cliff Avril if the sides can’t agree to a long-term deal before March 5. Teams can begin using tags on February 20. The Lions will likely use the entire 15-day window between then and the March 5 franchise deadline to continue negotiations. Avril has made it clear publicly that he doesn’t want the tag and is not open to a “hometown discount.”
– Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill (right foot surgery) is scheduled to throw for NFL personnel evaluators on March 29. It will be Tannehill’s first and only pre-draft workout after fracturing his foot before the Senior Bowl. Tannehill will not participate at the Combine. According to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, Tannehill had one screw inserted into the foot and will stay off it until just before the Pro Day. Brandt expects Tannehill to be the third quarterback drafted in April.
– Bengals’ LB Rey Maualuga pleaded not guilty Friday to a misdemeanour assault charge. The lawyer representing the three-year veteran filed a written plea in court. An employee at a downtown Cincinnati bar told police Maualuga punched him in the face February 5. Maualuga and the Bengals have not commented on the charge, which could bring a fine or suspension from the NFL. It’s Maualuga’s second court case in two years. He pleaded guilty to drunk driving after police in northern Kentucky said he hit a parking meter and two parked cars in January 2010. The league suspended him for two games for violating its conduct policy. As a repeat offender, he could be suspended by the NFL for part of next season.
– The Rock tweeted a few messages to Zack Ryder this week – and took another jab at John Cena in the process:
“@ZackRyder If you don’t stop using my tweets and phrases – I’ll be forced to drop #ThePeoplesWooWoo on you.”
“@ZackRyder Btw, sorry to hear about your girl and John. Been told his breath smells like a dog’s anus. #DontSweatItBro.”
– Zack Ryder’s latest Z! True Long Island Story is now online, marking the 1 year anniversary of the show. Episode 53 includes a cameo from a recently released WWE superstar:
– SmackDown ring announcer Lilian Garcia has announced plans to hold a series concerts in the near future. She tweeted Thursday:
“Excited 4 tonight!! Have my first band rehearsal w my NEW Band!!! Gearing up 4 concerts! Yay!” Garcia just released her second single, Ur Girl (Til the End of the World), following the first release, U Drive Me Loca, both produced by Grammy nominated producer, Oh, Hush!, off her upcoming sophomore album.
– During an interview with MTV to promote his new Journey 2 movie, WWE star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson revealed that he will be filming the 6th and 7th installments of the “Fast And Furious” movie franchise this summer:
“We were going to try shooting them together. It would make sense while we have the same crew and everybody in one place. But I think we’re dealing with some weather issues, so from what I know we’re going to shoot ‘Fast 6? first, and then worry about ‘Fast 7? a little later.”
– Jay Bradley, who briefly competed as Ryan Braddock on SmackDown in 2008 and 2009, spoke with Steven Muehlhausen of SportsTownChicago.com about his time with WWE. On WWE’s Executive Vice President of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis, Bradley said,
“John is a master politician. He is a very good, cunning businessman. He runs WWE like it’s his company. Which I think is why Vince has him around for so long. Because he’s good at what he does. He takes the heat off of Vince. I couldn’t answer what he’s doing on TV, but if he’s playing a bit of a jerk, yeah its probably close.”
Bradley was also asked what WWE needs to do to recapture a “boom period.”
“Blow up Vince McMahon’s jet with him in it. The whole upper echelon of WWE, which pretty much dictates this industry, needs to go.”
– The #1 Contender’s Knockout Battle Royal featuring Angelina Love, Brooke Tessmacher, Madison Rayne, Mickie James, ODB, Rosita, Sarita, Tara, Velvet Sky and Winter prevented Thursday’s Impact Wrestling from garnering the show’s lowest rating of the year as the match outdrew the entire show by a sizable margin. Thursday’s show garnered a 1.06 cable rating off hours of 1.02 and 1.10, flat with last week’s year-low 1.06. The #1 Contender’s Knockout Battle Royal, which kicked off the second hour, surged the rating from a 1.04 to a 1.23—an 18.3 percent increase. The subsequent quarter hour featuring Eric Bischoff’s celebratory promo plummeted to a 1.00. Only the final quarter hour drew near the Knockouts, a 1.11 for a heavily publicized angle involving New York Giants player Brandon Jacobs and Sting confronting World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Roode.
– TNA president Dixie Carter confirmed that Bobby Roode will defend the TNA World title against his former tag partner, James Storm, at TNA Lockdown in April:
“Couldn’t ask for a better Heavyweight title bout than Roode vs Storm at Lockdown in Nashville. Hometown advantage???? I CANNOT wait. 4/15.”
As it was announced on Impact, Roode will first have to get through Sting, when the two headline next month’s Victory Road PPV.
– UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones and former teammate Rashad Evans held a press conference today in preparation for their title fight at UFC 145. Check out the video:
– MMAfighting.com posted a video asking UFC fighters and personalities for their thoughts regarding ring girl Brittany Palmer posing for Playboy. Rampage Jackson gets the nod for having the best answer. Check it out:
– Russian driver Vitaly Petrov replaced Jarno Trulli at the Caterham F1 team on Friday, leaving the Italian veteran without a drive after 15 seasons in Formula One. Caterham, formerly known as Team Lotus, said Petrov was at the team’s factory in Hingham for a seat fitting and will take part in preseason testing in Barcelona next week. The 27-year-old Petrov, the first Russian to drive in F1, was released by Renault at the end of last year after two seasons with the team. He finished 10th in the drivers’ standings with 37 points.