Royals' Meche turns down$12 million, chooses retirement
Royals pitcher Gil Meche retired on Tuesday at age 32, walking away from a $12 million salary rather than face shoulder surgery that could have ended his season before it ever started. Meche signed a $55 million, five-year deal with Kansas City as a free agent before the 2007 season. But the right-hander had shoulder problems last year while going 0-5 with a 5.69 ERA.
There was a chance Meche could undergo surgery and come back in the bullpen. There was no guarantee, however, that he would be able to pitch at all in 2011.
"I didn't want to go try it again for another season and be the guy making $12 million doing absolutely nothing to help their team," Meche said. "Yeah, a lot of people might think I'm crazy for not trying to play and making this amount of money. I don't think I'm ever going to regret it."
Meche's decision drew a predictable reaction from some of his friends. But, he said, "My first reaction is, I'm not a guy who's going to sit here and play baseball for the money. I know you hear a lot of athletes say, 'It's not for the money, it's not for the money.' Actually, it wasn't."
Meche was the Royals' opening-day starter in 2007, '08 and '09. His best season was 2008 when he was 14-11 with a 3.98 ERA, but the Royals still finished 75-87. He retires with an 84-83 record in 10 seasons with Seattle and Kansas City. With the Royals, he was 29-39 with a 4.27 ERA in 111 games, including 100 starts. Meche went 6-10 with a 5.09 ERA in 2009 while limited by back and shoulder problems. He pitched in 20 games last season, including nine starts.
Reds sign Bray but not Cueto, Volquez
The Reds and lefty reliever Bill Bray reached a one-year deal for $645,000 Tuesday, leaving two Cincinnati pitchers eligible for salary arbitration. The NL Central champions couldn't reach agreements with Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto and exchanged arbitration figures with them. Cueto is asking for $3.9 million, and the club offered $3 million. The right-hander made $445,000 last season, when he went 12-7 with a 3.64 ERA. Volquez is asking for $2 million, and the Reds proposed $1.3 million. He returned from reconstructive elbow surgery and made a dozen starts, going 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA.
Brewers sign Fielder to record deal
Prince Fielder and the Brewers started off what's likely to be their final year together with a record, avoiding salary arbitration Tuesday by agreeing to a $15.5 million, one-year contract. The deal is the highest-single season contract for an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing Mark Teixeira's $12.5 million agreement with Atlanta in 2008. The club's prospects to keep Fielder in Milwaukee past the upcoming season are slim. Fielder is represented by agent Scott Boras and can become a free agent following the World Series. Fielder hit .261 with 32 homers and 83 RBI last season, when he made $11.25 million. It was the lowest batting average in his big-league career.
Tigers to try to trade Galarraga
The Tigers appear ready to part ways with Armando Galarraga, the right-hander who missed a perfect game last season when an umpire's wrong call cost him what would have been the final out. In an odd procedural move, the Tigers designated Galarraga for assignment Tuesday, almost immediately after agreeing to a $2.3 million, one-year contract with him. Detroit also finalized its one-year deal with Brad Penny, bumping Galarraga from the starting rotation. GM Dave Dombrowski said the Tigers will now try to trade Galarraga. Detroit has 10 days to make a move. If he isn't traded, he could be sent to the minors. Galarraga went 4-9 with a 4.49 ERA last year. By agreeing to a deal with the 29-year-old, the Tigers avoided salary arbitration.
Rangers reject Hamilton's big request
On a day when 67 of the 119 players who filed for salary arbitration reached agreements, AL MVP Josh Hamilton, home-run champion Jose Bautista and Houston pitcher Wandy Rodriguez submitted the largest proposed salaries when players and teams swapped proposed figures. Hamilton asked Texas for $12 million and was offered $8.7 million; Bautista asked Toronto for $10.5 million and was offered $7.6 million; Rodriguez, a former Lexington Legend, asked for $10.25 million and was offered $8 million. Only 37 players exchanged with their clubs, and three of those already have agreements. Boston and closer Jonathan Papelbon settled at $12 million, a person familiar with the deal said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Red Sox had not yet announced it. Texas agreed with left-hander C.J. Wilson at $7 million and outfielder Nelson Cruz at $2.65 million. Those among the remaining 34 players who don't settle will have hearings before three-person panels during the first three weeks in February.
■ The Lexington Legends will announce the new sponsor of their baseball park off North Broadway Road at a 5:30 p.m news conference Thursday in the park's Maker's Mark Club. The event, which runs from 5-7 p.m., is open to the public, and there will be food and activities for children, the Legends said in a statement Tuesday. The previous sponsor was the Applebee's restaurant chain.
SI.com questions Armstrong's assertions
A story in Sports Illustrated challenges Lance Armstrong's statements that he cut ties to a controversial Italian doctor and training adviser who has long been accused of helping cyclists cheat. In a report posted Tuesday on its Web site, the magazine previewed a longer investigative piece that will appear in this week's issue.
Without naming its source, SI says that when Italian authorities raided the home of Armstrong teammate Yaroslav Popovych last November in Italy, they found text and e-mail messages linking the Radio Shack team with Dr. Michele Ferrari as recently as 2009.
Armstrong severed his longtime connection with Ferrari in 2004 amid accusations that the doctor aided another rider in using performance-enhancing drugs. Ferrari was convicted and then later cleared of criminal charges on appeal. Armstrong spokesman Mark Fabiani called the report "old news from the same old, discredited sources."
Hawks hand Heat 4th straight loss
Josh Smith made a go-ahead layup with 34.7 seconds left in overtime, Joe Johnson scored 19 points, and the Atlanta Hawks beat Miami 93-89 on Tuesday night to send the Heat to a fourth straight loss. Johnson had a game-tying layup with 25.4 seconds left in regulation and two game-sealing free throws with 5.2 seconds remaining in overtime.
LeBron James scored 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Miami but missed a long three at the end of regulation. Dwyane Wade finished with 27 points for the Heat, who got 16 rebounds — with no shot attempts — from Joel Anthony. James started for Miami, ending an absence in which the Heat lost games in Denver and Chicago with him sidelined. But the Heat were without forward Chris Bosh, who sprained his left ankle in the Chicago loss.
Staal, Lidstrom named All-Star captains
The NHL's All-Star teams will be selected by Eric Staal and Nicklas Lidstrom. They were appointed Tuesday as captains for the Jan. 30 game in Raleigh, N.C., and will lead teams carrying their names. Staal plays for the hometown Carolina Hurricanes. Lidstrom is the captain of the Detroit Red Wings and will be playing in his 12th All-Star game .
The last word
Knicks President Donnie Walsh said at practice Tuesday (a day after he had spoken about possibly dealing for first-round draft picks) that he would not comment on a trade for Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony:
"I'm not saying anything about Denver. Nothing. Because it gets misconstrued; it gets rearranged. I'm saying nothing. Whatever I say somehow relates back to something I didn't say."