Indians sign Swisher
Free agent outfielder Nick Swisher has agreed to a four-year, US$56 million contract with the Cleveland Indians, Major League Baseball’s Web site said on Sunday. The deal, which is pending a physical, makes the 32-year-old Swisher the highest paid free agent ever signed by the Indians, who are trying to recover from a 94-loss season. Swisher, who spent the past four seasons with the New York Yankees, hit .272 with 93 runs batted in and 24 home runs in 148 games last season. “Hey Cleveland! Are you ready? Because I’m coming home!” Swisher, an Ohio native, wrote on his Twitter account. Cleveland had the second-worst record in the American League last season at 68-94 and hired former Red Sox skipper Terry Francona to manage the club and signed slugger Mark Reynolds to play first base earlier this postseason.
Paper sues Armstrong
The Sunday Times is suing disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong for about ￡1 million (US$1.62 million) over his libel action against the British newspaper in 2004. Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in October, received ￡300,000 from the Sunday Times as payment toward his legal fees after the paper raised questions about the American’s success following his recovery from testicular cancer. “It is clear that the proceedings were baseless and fraudulent. Your representations that you had never taken performance enhancing drugs were deliberately false,” read a letter to Armstrong’s lawyers in the Sunday Times. The paper is demanding the return of the ￡300,000 payment plus interest, as well as costs accrued in defending the case, which was settled in 2006. A report by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in October said Armstrong had been involved in the “most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program the sport has ever seen.”
Marseille riding high
Olympique de Marseille remained in a three-way tie for the lead of Ligue 1 on Sunday after a 1-0 win over AS Saint-Etienne, extending the visitors’ miserable record at Stade Velodrome where they have not won since 1979. The only goal of the game came in first-half stoppage time when Ghana striker Andre Ayew headed in a pinpoint, right-wing cross from Rod Fanni for his fifth league goal of the season. Third-placed Marseille moved onto 38 points — the same as Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique Lyonnais — but it is the side from the capital who lead the way into the two-week winter break on goal difference. In Sunday’s other Ligue 1 games, Toulouse beat Sochaux-Montbeliard 2-0 and Valenciennes downed Evian Thonon Gaillard 2-1.
Casillas out to prove point
Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas vowed on Sunday to prove Jose Mourinho was wrong to drop him from the Real Madrid starting line-up for the first time in 10 years. Casillas was benched for Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at Malaga with understudy Antonio Adan stepping into the breach. “I’m not used to being a backup, but above all I am a team player. The thing to do is to keep training and try to regain my place,” Casillas told La Sexta television. “Mourinho didn’t say anything during the week, but we abide by the decision of the coach. I am feeling good, but the one who decides is the coach and I have to keep training to regain his confidence. We have a healthy competition for all the places.”