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Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon agree to deals with Tampa Bay Rays

The former Boston Red Sox teammates reunite in Tampa Bay, agreeing to one-year deals with the Rays on Friday.

January 21, 2011|Staff and wire reports

Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon are about to become teammates again, this time in Tampa Bay.

Both free-agent outfielders agreed to one-year contracts with the Rays, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press on Friday night. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreements were subject to physicals and had not been announced.

Damon gets $5.25 million and the chance to earn $750,000 in bonuses based on attendance, the person said. Ramirez gets $2 million.

The moves mark the first major additions for the American League East champions in an off-season in which one prominent player after another has left the team.

Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano signed elsewhere as free agents. Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett were traded. A strong bullpen was depleted by the losses of Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler, Randy Choate and Chad Qualls.

Ramirez and Damon played together for four years in Boston and helped lead the Red Sox to the 2004 World Series title — ending the team's 86-year championship drought. Both colorful characters are well past their primes, but if nothing else they could at least provide an attraction at Tropicana Field for a Rays team that drew just 1.86 million fans last year.

Ramirez, 38, began last season with the Dodgers, then was claimed on waivers late in the summer by the Chicago White Sox. He hit a combined .298 with nine homers and drove in 42 runs in the final season of a $45-million, two-year contract.

Damon, 37, spent last season with the Detroit Tigers, batting .271 with eight homers and 51 RBIs, mostly as a designated hitter.


NASCAR appears headed to new points system

NASCAR President Mike Helton strongly indicated that the points system used since 1975 will be scrapped for a simpler scoring method.

"The goal for some time has been to create a points system that is easy to understand, easy to explain, easy to be talked about, but also be credible at the end of the season," Helton said at Daytona International Speedway in Florida.

The current system is a complicated formula that NASCAR says was drawn up on a napkin over drinks at a Daytona Beach bar in 1974. The AP reported this week that NASCAR is informing teams it wants a system that would award points based on finishing position, from 43 points to the winner to one for last place.

"We're in the middle of the conversations, actually telling the competitors where our mind is," Helton said. "The main goal is to get one that's just easier to understand and simpler. And we're close. We're getting a lot of great input from the drivers about the tweaks that would go along with something like that."

NASCAR Chairman Brian France is expected to announce any changes, including potential tweaks to the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format, Wednesday night in Charlotte, N.C.


Armstrong says he will be vindicated

Lance Armstrong said he will be vindicated by a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation of claims raised by a report in Sports Illustrated. Armstrong used Twitter to suggest that USADA could look into allegations published by the magazine this week.

"Great to hear that USADA is investigating some of SI's claims. I look forward to being vindicated," the seven-time Tour de France winner said.

Armstrong is competing in the Tour Down Under in Australia and has refused to comment on the Sports Illustrated report, other than to say he has nothing to worry about "on any level" from its claims. He would not speak to reporters after the fourth stage Friday and could not be contacted later in the evening.

Some of Barry Bonds' former teammates, along with other retired major league players, will have to testify at the Bonds' upcoming perjury trial, a federal judge said. Lawyers for Bonds argued at a hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston that the players should be excluded because of their ties to Bonds' former trainer Greg Anderson, who is refusing to testify against the slugger.

Illston previously barred much of the evidence relating to Anderson because of his willingness to go to prison on contempt charges rather than testify at the trial set to start March 21. Without his testimony, it could be impossible to prove that urine samples that purportedly tested positive for steroids had been collected from Bonds by Anderson.

Roger Clemens is asking a judge to dismiss his indictment on charges of obstructing a congressional investigation into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. A motion filed Friday night by Clemens' attorneys argues that the indictment is vague and contains too many separate accusations of lying in one count.

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