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Texas Rangers get Mike Napoli from Blue Jays

The Rangers send former closer Frank Francisco to Toronto in return for the former Angel.

January 25, 2011|Staff and wire reports

The Texas Rangers traded former closer Frank Francisco and cash to Toronto for catcher-first baseman Mike Napoli, Tuesday, giving the AL champions a versatile bat off the bench and the Blue Jays more bullpen depth.

It was the second time in five days Napoli was traded, quickly returning to the AL West. Toronto acquired Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera from the Angels on Friday for outfielder Vernon Wells.

"It's been a crazy couple of days," Napoli said. "I know the division well and the lineup they have, the type of players they have."

Rangers General Manager Jon Daniels said Napoli "brings a lot to the table" in his ability to catch, play first base or designated hitter.

Francisco will compete for a chance to be the Blue Jays' closer.

Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez and the Houston Astros avoided arbitration and reached agreement on a $34-million, three-year deal.

The Astros said the contract will be finalized after Rodriguez takes a physical on Thursday. The deal includes a vesting option for 2014 that would increase the overall value to $44.5 million.

Rodriguez was 11-12 with a 3.60 ERA last season.

The Minnesota Twins and right-hander Kevin Slowey have come to agreement on a one-year, $2.7-million contract to avoid arbitration.

The 26-year-old went 13-6 with a 4.45 ERA in 28 starts for the Twins last season.

Left-handed reliever Craig Breslow and the Oakland Athletics have agreed to a $1.4-million, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.

Vania King to replace Venus Williams on Fed Cup team

Vania King of Long Beach was named to the U.S. Fed Cup team to replace injured Venus Williams, who will join her sister Serena on the sidelines. The U.S. team that will face Belgium in quarterfinal play in Antwerp.

U.S. captain Mary Joe Fernandez named King, Melanie Oudin, Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Liezel Huber to her team for the Feb. 5-6 indoor matches at the Sports Palace.

At No. 48, Mattek-Sands is the highest-ranked player on the U.S. squad.

Venus Williams, a seven-time grand slam singles champion, was expected to be on the squad before injuring her hip last week during the Australian Open.

Fourth-ranked Serena, winner of 13 grand slam singles titles, has not played in a tournament since Wimbledon last July because of a foot injury.

The Belgian team is expected to include U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters and seven-time major winner Justine Henin.

U.S. women beat China in Soccer

The U.S. women's national soccer team, rebounding from a 2-1 opening-game loss to Sweden, defeated host-nation China, 2-0, in Chongqing to win the annual Four Nations Tournament for the seventh time.

Goals by Carli Lloyd in the first half and Amy Rodriguez in the second were enough to overcome the Chinese team on a cold afternoon at the Yongchuan Sports Centre Stadium.

Canada defeated Sweden in the day's other game to finish second in the tournament, with the Chinese third and the Swedes fourth.

Lloyd's goal was the 24th of her career for the national team, while former USC star Rodriguez notched her 14th for the U.S.

"We took some good things from the loss to Sweden, and that's one of the reasons we stepped up a little bit against Canada," said U.S. Coach Pia Sundhage. "We took certain things from the 2-1 win against Canada [on Sunday] and I think today we ended up controlling the game."

Canadian forward Christine Sinclair was named the tournament's top player and Nicole Barnhart of the U.S. was named the top goalkeeper.

The U.S. squad, which is preparing for the June 26-July 17 Women's World Cup in Germany, will regroup in Florida for a Feb. 3-9 training camp, after which Sundhage will select a roster for the Algarve Cup in Portugal in early March.

— Grahame L. Jones

Rose Bowl renovation breaks ground

A $152-million project to renovate the historic Rose Bowl has begun.

A groundbreaking ceremony kicked off the effort that will widen tunnels and improve the concourse, scoreboards and video boards.

More restrooms, concession stands, a museum and press box upgrades are also part of the plan for the stadium which hosts the annual Rose Bowl game and is UCLA's home field.

Pasadena mayor Bill Bogaard says the city committed to the project to ensure the stadium remains an icon of the nation's college football tradition.

Work on the Rose Bowl, which was built in 1922, is scheduled to continue into 2013.

Planners say UCLA and Rose Bowl games won't be affected because most work will be done between football seasons.

— Kevin Baxter

Ashley Force Hood is pregnant, will miss NHRA season

Ashley Force Hood, daughter of funny car legend John Force and herself one of drag racing's most popular drivers, said she's pregnant and will miss the NHRA season that starts Feb. 24-27 with the Winternationals in Pomona.

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