Furcal deal infuriates Braves
Shortstop Rafael Furcal finalized a three-year contract worth at least US$30 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, prompting fury from the jilted Atlanta Braves. Furcal, who missed most of last season with back problems, agreed to terms to return to the Dodgers, prompting the Atlanta Braves to claim he reneged on a deal with them. Furcal hit .357 with five homers and 16 RBIs last season, but was limited to 36 games. He had back surgery in July and was sidelined until the season’s final week, but started each of the Dodgers’ eight postseason games. Braves president John Schuerholz has vowed to never again do business with Furcal’s agents, whom Schuerholz accused in a newspaper interview of conducting “despicable” dealings with the team.
Aussie signs with D-backs
Australian pitcher Travis Blackley agreed to a one-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. The 26-year-old left-hander would be paid US$405,000 if he is in the major leagues — US$5,000 over the minimum — and US$105,000 if he is in the minors. Blackley was 5-10 with a 5.41 ERA in 28 games last season for the Philadelphia Phillies’ Triple-A Lehigh Valley farm team. He signed as a free agent with the Seattle Mariners in 2000.
Sabathia to receive bonus
CC Sabathia will receive US$9.5 million from the New York Yankees before he throws his first official pitch in pinstripes. His US$161 million, seven-year contract includes a US$9 million signing bonus, details obtained by reporters on Friday showed. By the time the Yankees start the season at Baltimore on April 6, he already will have received US$6 million of that bonus plus US$3.5 million of next year’s salary. The signing bonus is payable in three equal installments by Dec. 31 and by March 1 and July 31 next year. He will get a US$14 million salary next year and $23 million in each of the final six seasons of the deal, the largest contract ever for a Major League Baseball pitcher both in total dollars and average salary.
Bryant sticks with low-tops
The high-flying Kobe Bryant will ply his trade in low-cut shoes. Bryant unveiled his latest Nike signature shoe on Friday — a low-cut sneaker the league’s reigning MVP donned in a game for the first time when his Los Angeles Lakers visited the Miami Heat. At 329g, Nike says it’s the lightest basketball shoe it has created, and Bryant is convinced the switch makes the most sense for his game. “It feels great, feels great,” Bryant said. “I’m excited about it.” Many NBA players use braces on their ankles to prevent sprains, and virtually the entire league plays in mid-cut or high-top shoes. But Bryant is sticking with plain old athletic tape for ankle support.
Navy close to Yann Elies
The Australian Navy was expected to reach injured French sailor Yann Elies late yesterday. Elies broke his leg while working on the deck of his yacht Generali in the Vendee Globe race. The frigate HMAS Arunta left Fremantle on Australia’s west coast on Friday, and was encountering better-than-expected weather on the 1,300km journey to Elias. Fellow competitor Marc Guillemot told France’s RTL radio that he sailed past Elies’ stern and hurled water and medicine aboard his yacht. Guillemot, skippering Safran, said conditions were rough at the time, with 8m waves.