Yanks, Gardner sign deal
Outfielder Brett Gardner and the New York Yankees have agreed a four-year contract worth US$52 million. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman announced the deal on Sunday. The new pact starts next year. The deal includes a fifth-year club option for US$12.5 million and a US$2 million buyout. If traded, Gardner would receive US$1 million. Gardner has a US$5.6 million, one-year contract for this season. The Yankees are moving Gardner to left field this year after the signing of free agent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a US$153 million, seven-year contract in December last year.
Injuries mar Asia Cup
Injuries to star players, including India’s World Cup-winning captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, have taken the sheen off the Asia Cup, which opens in Bangladesh today. New entrants Afghanistan appear the only injury-free side as the other four teams struggle to field their best players for the 11-match tournament, billed as the symbol of regional supremacy in the one-day game. Dhoni’s absence, due to a side strain suffered on the New Zealand tour that ended barely a week ago, leaves stand-in captain Virat Kohli without one of the world’s leading limited-overs players. With Bangladesh also due to host the World Twenty20 next month, India are not the only side reluctant to take risks with injuries at the Asia Cup. Sri Lanka, who ended a month-long bilateral tour of Bangladesh on Saturday, have their bowling resources depleted with the absence of injured seamer Nuwan Kulasekara and veteran spinner Rangana Herath. Opening batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan may not be available for the entire tournament due to a finger injury sustained during the recent one-day series against the hosts. Pakistan’s fast bowler Mohammad Irfan was ruled out of both the Asia Cup and the World Twenty20 after aggravating a hip injury sustained on the tour of South Africa in early December last year.
Balotelli denies assault
AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli on Sunday denied being involved in an altercation with a photographer following media reports of an alleged assault outside a nightclub. Domestic news agency ANSA said Balotelli, who was ruled out of his side’s trip to UC Sampdoria on Sunday due to injury, had traveled to Liguria, on Italy’s northwest coast, to watch his brother play in a soccer match. The report said Balotelli later refused a photographer’s request for a photograph when he showed up at a restaurant with his fiancee Fanny Neguesha and some friends. The party moved on to a nightclub, where the same photographer was waiting. According to witnesses, Italy international Balotelli kicked the photographer after refusing another request for a picture. The photographer called police and later accompanied them into the nightclub to identify the 23-year-old. However, Balotelli told ANSA: “I categorically deny being involved in the altercation, I was standing apart.”
Australia launches FFA Cup
Australia will have its own knockout FFA Cup giving grassroots clubs the chance to play the top-tier A-League clubs this year, Football Federation Australia said Monday. Preliminary matches involving more than 600 clubs across Australia are underway ahead of the national knock-out FFA Cup round-of-32 starting in late July, the FFA said. That is when the 10 A-League clubs will join the 22 clubs who will have qualified from feeder cup competitions in the country’s eight states and territories.