Indians sign Swisher for 4 years, $56 million
Nick Swisher is officially with the Cleveland Indians.
Swisher passed his physical Thursday and signed the four-year, $56 million, free-agent contract he agreed to last month. The 32-year-old Swisher, who spent the past four seasons with the New York Yankees, will be introduced at a news conference later at Progressive Field. Swisher's deal includes a vesting option based on plate appearances for 2017.
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After trading Shin-Soo Choo last month, the Indians were desperate for a proven right fielder. They pursued Shane Victorino at the winter meetings, but after he signed with Boston, the Indians turned their attention to Swisher, who batted .272 with 24 homers and 93 RBI last season.
Setup reliever Jason Frasor signed a $1.5 million, one-year deal Thursday with the Texas Rangers. The 35-year-old right-hander spent most of his career with Toronto, setting a Blue Jays franchise record with 505 appearances since his major-league debut in 2004.
Frasor was 1-1 with a 4.12 ERA in 50 games last season, when he was on the disabled list more than six weeks because of right forearm tightness. He returned for the final month of the season after the only DL stint in his career. Frasor said he feels good, which he said was confirmed by the extensive physical he underwent Wednesday including X-rays and an MRI.
Lockout negotiations falter again
Any momentum gained from a long night of negotiations between the NHL and the players' association seemed to have been lost Thursday when the sides remained mostly apart.
A meeting that Commissioner Gary Bettman said would begin at 10 a.m. didn't start until several hours later, and then ended quickly.
That one hour of talks centered on the reporting of hockey-related revenues by teams, and both sides signing off on the figures at the end of the fiscal year. The problem was resolved.
The key issues that are still threatening the hockey season weren't addressed then, but a small group of players and other union staff returned to the NHL office shortly before 6 p.m. to hold another meeting regarding the contentious pension plan.
Union head Donald Fehr didn't take part in either of the two sessions Thursday and it wasn't known if a full bargaining meeting would take place Thursday night.
The players' association held a conference call at 5 p.m. to discuss starting another vote among union membership that would give the executive board the power to invoke a disclaimer of interest and dissolve the union. Members gave overwhelming approval last month, but the union declined to disclaim before a self-imposed deadline Wednesday night.
Jeff Vanderbeek has taken over sole control of the New Jersey Devils and refinanced the team's debt. In conjunction with the deal, the minority owners, Brick City Hockey and its related entities, no longer have a stake in the team.
Vanderbeek was close to refinancing the nearly $80 million in debt during the playoffs last season. The team's run to the Stanley Cup final — where it lost to Los Angeles in six games — generated roughly $32 million in revenues and Vanderbeek's financial footing also improved with the Prudential Center emerging as one of the country's top revenue-producing facilities in recent years.
X Games' Pastrana Nationwide bound
X Games star Travis Pastrana will drive the full NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule this year in Roush Fenway's No. 60 Ford Mustang.
Roush Fenway co-owner Jack Roush and Pastrana announced the move Thursday. Roush said the 11-time X Games gold medalist in motorcycle events is serious about making a full-time move to NASCAR and plans to drive in all 33 Nationwide races. He has made nine career Nationwide starts.
Serena faces No. 1 Azarenka in Brisbane
Serena Williams had a tough win over the woman she's predicting will one day top the rankings, setting up a semifinal match at the Brisbane International against current No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
The reigning Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Olympic champion showed plenty of emotion on key points in a heavy-hitting duel with Fed Cup teammate Sloane Stephens on Thursday before winning 6-4, 6-3.
Williams converted both break points and fended off one break chance against her in each set, later saying Stephens had the potential to be "the best in the world one day."
The 19-year-old Stephens accepted the warm praise from Williams, her childhood idol.
"To have someone like that who I think is one of the greatest players to ever play the game say that about you is really nice," Stephens said. "I lost to the best player in the world today, so, you know, it's good."
John Isner has withdrawn from the Hopman Cup because of a right knee injury, ending the American team's chances of reaching the tournament final. Spain and the U.S. were each 2-0 in round-robin play heading into Thursday's deciding matchup. Spain was awarded a walkover into the final.
Isner's knee was strapped during his loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France on Tuesday and he later said he was suffering from "a little tendinitis."
Meet renamed after shooting victim
The Kiki Cup, an international Greco-Roman wrestling dual meet, is being renamed the Jack Pinto Cup in memory of the 6-year-old wrestler who was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
USA Wrestling and Christina "Kiki" Kelley, the sponsor of the annual competition, made the announcement Thursday. Pinto was a first-year member of both the Newtown Youth Wrestling Association and USA Wrestling.
The last word
For the first time since a stress injury was diagnosed in his left patella in late September, the Wizards' John Wall participated in limited-contact drills, sped up and down the court, and traded trash talk with his teammates after making baskets. Said Coach Randy Wittman of the ex-Cat:
"This is Christmas all over for him, I'm sure, to finally reach this point. You could see the spark in his eyes — finally."