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BASEBALL

Twins, Cruz agree

The Minnesota Twins continued their quest for power during the offseason by agreeing to terms with veteran designated hitter Nelson Cruz on Thursday. Cruz, 38, has 203 home runs over the past five seasons, more than any other player in Major League Baseball. During that time, Cruz hit at least 40 home runs in a season three times. Cruz also had three 100 RBI seasons over the past five years. The last time the Twins had a player drive in that many runs was Josh Willingham with 110 in 2012. According to a major league source, Cruz will get a one-year contract worth $14.3 million with a club option for 2020 worth $12 million. The Twins' policy is to wait until a player passes a physical before making a deal official.

Sanchez, Nats do deal

Anibal Sanchez has a new team and his same catcher. The Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a two-year, $19 million contract with the right-hander on Thursday. The deal includes a team option for 2021. Sanchez, 34, will add depth to Washington's new-look rotation after boosting his appeal with a comeback season for NL East rival Atlanta. The Nationals signed Patrick Corbin to a six-year deal earlier this month. Sanchez said the two-year deal was important at his age. He said another factor was maintaining his relationship with catcher Kurt Suzuki, who he said was important to his success with the Braves in 2018. Suzuki signed a two-year, $10 million deal with Washington last month. Sanchez, a native of Maracay, Venezuela, was perhaps the Braves' most consistent starter as he posted a 2.83 ERA in 25 games, including 24 starts. He was 7-6 and had 135 strikeouts in 1362/3 innings.

FOOTBALL

Murray: I'll play

Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray said he has no doubt he will play Saturday, despite being slowed by an illness in recent days. Murray appeared at Orange Bowl media day Thursday, still coughing and sniffling a bit. He has not missed any practice time but was absent from his scheduled media availability on Wednesday because the illness popped up. Murray said he's feeling fine, and that he's surprised it took him so long to get sick after his hectic December schedule of travel and other responsibilities. He said he started feeling under the weather earlier this week, and said he's doing all he can to be 100 percent by kickoff for the game against Alabama on Saturday night.

Mariota returns

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has returned to practice and hopes to recover from his latest injury in time to start against the Indianapolis Colts. Mariota threw passes during the portion of practice open to reporters Thursday. He suffered a stinger in his neck against the Redskins that affected his right, throwing arm. Coach Mike Vrabel said Mariota did some work to make sure he's progressing along. Vrabel said Mariota was limited, not taking the snaps he normally would, but managed get in enough work to test the quarterback. The coach said Mariota's progress is a step in the right direction after not practicing at all Wednesday. Mariota was knocked out of last week's 25-16 victory over Washington after getting sacked late in the first half, the third time the quarterback has been knocked out of a game this season and the seventh in his four-year career. The Titans (9-6) host Indianapolis (9-6) on Sunday with an AFC wild-card berth at worst on the line for the winner and the loser staying home for the playoffs.

Redskins on IR

The Washington Redskins have placed tight end Jordan Reed and quarterback Colt McCoy on injured reserve. Reed (strained toe muscle) and McCoy (broken leg) already had been ruled out for Washington's season-ending game against Philadelphia on Sunday. The Redskins signed defensive end Marcus Smith and defensive back Alex Carter to their active roster. Reed leads the Redskins with 54 catches for 558 yards and 2 touchdowns in 13 games. McCoy played in three games, including two starts, and completed 34 of 54 passes for 372 yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

BASKETBALL

Bulls sign Sampson

The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Brandon Sampson to a two-way contract and waived guard Tyler Ulis. Sampson averaged 7.9 points in three seasons at LSU and went undrafted this year. He figures to split time between Chicago and the G League's Windy City Bulls. Ulis had arthroscopic surgery on his left hip last week. He appeared in one game for Chicago. The Bulls announced the moves on Thursday.

Magic's Ross fined

Orlando's Terrence Ross has been fined $25,000 for throwing a ball into the stands following a game. NBA executive vice president Kiki VanDeWeghe announced the action Thursday, a day after the Magic forward/guard tossed the ball into the crowd at Amway Center following a 122-120 overtime loss to the Phoenix Suns. It was Orlando's fourth consecutive defeat.

HOCKEY

All-Star captains named

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will be two of the four team captains at the NHL All-Star weekend next month in San Jose. McDavid (Pacific Division), Matthews (Atlantic), Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (Central) and Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin (Metropolitan) won fan votes to earn the captaincies and the first roster spots for the event, Jan. 25-26. Matthews will make his third All-Star appearance and first as captain, while McDavid will captain the Pacific Division for the third time in as many appearances. MacKinnon is heading to All-Star weekend for the third time, while Ovechkin makes his eighth appearance. The rest of the All-Stars will be determined by the NHL's hockey operations department.

FOOTBALL

Clemson trio fails second test, will miss bowl

DALLAS — The final ruling on the three Clemson players facing a suspension for the Cotton Bowl came down on Thursday, and it is bad news for the Tigers.

Clemson defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, tight end Braden Galloway and offensive lineman Zach Giella will miss Saturday’s matchup against Notre Dame after failing drug tests.

All three players had a trace of ostarine found in their systems. Ostarine is a substance currently being investigated in the treatment of muscle-wasting diseases. It is not approved for human use or consumption in the United States or any other country, according to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Clemson was notified Dec. 20 that the three players had failed a drug test. Their “B” samples were examined after the “A” samples were found to have ostarine in it, and the NCAA informed Clemson of the results of the “B” samples on Thursday. The results were the same as the “A” samples and all three players were suspended for the College Football Playoff semifinal.

In a statement Thursday evening, Clemson said, “The athletic department will have no further comment on the matter this evening as it considers all of our options, including appeals.”

Lawrence is the biggest loss for the Tigers as the junior defensive tackle is a three-time All-ACC performer. He was named first-team All-ACC each of the past two years.

Lawrence had 44 tackles this season with 7.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. The North Carolina native also leads Clemson with 15 quarterback pressures. Lawrence has started all 13 games this season and is likely to be a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft.

Galloway and Giella are lesser known players, but they have also contributed throughout the 2018 season.

Lawrence is expected to turn pro, but Galloway and Giella are now facing a year-long suspension.

Sports on 12/28/2018

Print Headline: Off the wire

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