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Twins Reward Starting Pitcher Phil Hughes with Three-Year Extension

Twins Reward Starting Pitcher Phil Hughes with Three-Year Extension

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Minnesota Twins and starting pitcher Phil Hughes enjoyed their first season together so much, the two sides have already decided to extend the relationship as the team has agreed on a three-year extension with Hughes worth $42 million.

Hughes' new deal will give him a $1.2 million annual raise from his previous deal. He originally had two years left on his deal worth $16 million.

The overall value of Hughes' deal is now for five years and will pay him $58 million. It is the largest deal ever the team has ever spent on a pitcher.

The 28-year-old Hughes spent the first seven seasons of his career with the New York Yankees where he was a highly touted pitching prospect. He never quite lived up to expectations, and was let go by the team following the 2013 season.

In his first season with the Twins in 2014, Hughes went 16-10 with 3.52 ERA in 32 starts. He also had an impressive K/BB ratio of 182/16 in 202.2 innings.

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Brad Stevens Denies Rumors He’s Going Back to the College Ranks

Brad Stevens Denies Rumors He’s Going Back to the College Ranks

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the Boston Celtics dive further and further into their rebuilding effort, head coach Brad Stevens has denied any rumors that he will eventually leave the team for a college job.

“I’ve committed to being here,” Stevens told Paul Flannery of SB Nation. “I’ve already left a situation once and that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to choose to do. This is something that as long as they want me to be here, this is what I want to be doing and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got."

As the team slips further into the standings, there have been whispers saying Stevens will jump ship back to the collegiate ranks -- specifically replacing Tom Cream at Indiana.

"I know it’s all specific to the rumor mills and the discussion of one spot," Stevens continued. "I think they’ve got a good coach who’s done a helluva job. He doesn’t deserve that speculation."

Stevens experienced tremendous success at Butler, which led him to being hired by the Celtics last season at the age of 36. He signed a six-year deal with the Celtics prior to the 2013-2014 season.

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Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin Returning to Team in 2015

Dolphins Head Coach Joe Philbin Returning to Team in 2015

National Football League(MIAMI GARDEN, Fla.) -- Despite another season that will have them sitting out of the playoffs, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says head coach Joe Philbin will return to the team next season.

At 8-7, the Dolphins flirted with the playoffs but ultimately came up short in Philbin's third season as the team's head coach.

"It's frustrating that we didn't make the playoffs. I feel as bad as everybody," Ross said. "But I think we're building something here, and I believe in the coach."

Despite a mediocre season, Philbin has support from his players.

"Coach Philbin is a big part of this franchise," Linebacker Cameron Wake said. "He's obviously part of the success of this team. That's great news and I'm looking forward to it."

Since taking over the team, Philbin has a 23-24 record, not quite what they were hoping for when they hired him.

The Dolphins haven't made it to the postseason since 2008 when Tony Sparano was the head coach.

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Packers Pace Buccaneers

Packers Pace Buccaneers

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images(TAMPA BAY) -- The Green Bay Packers took care of business Sunday with a 20-3 win over the Buccaneers.

Aaron Rodgers continued his magnificent season, picking apart the Bucs secondary, completing 31 of 40 passes for 318 yards and a touchdown.

Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson proved to be the reliable targets that Rodgers has trusted all seasons. Cobb caught 11 passes for 131 yards and Nelson 9 passes for 113 yards and the one Packers aerial touchdown.

Eddie Lacy provided balance for the Packers offense, rushing for 99 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. 

The Packers' defense clamped down on Tampa Bay, as they held Bucs running back Doug Martin to 17 yards on the ground and kept Josh McCown in check. McCown threw for just 147 yards and tossed an interception.

The Packers host the Detroit Lions next week, with the winner earning the NFC North title.

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Cowboys Crush Colts, Capture NFC East Crown

Cowboys Crush Colts, Capture NFC East Crown

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

(DALLAS, Tx) -- The Dallas Cowboys beat down the Indianapolis Colts Sunday with a 42-7 victory to capture their first NFC East title since 2009.

Tony Romo was magnificent as he completed 18 of 20 passes for 218 yards and 4 touchdowns. Romo also surpassed Troy Aikman to become the franchise leader in passing yards.

Tony has obviously been a great quarterback for this franchise for a long time," head coach Jason Garrett said. "I think we've done a good job, organizationally making the team better around him. 

I think the way he has played this year is the way great quarterbacks in this league have played for a long time.  I know that's the way Troy played."

Romo's supporting cast was equally impressive.  Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and Dez Bryant all caught a touchdown pass from Romo. Williams would add another after the rout was on and Brandon Weeden came on in relief.

The Colts (10-5) did not have much to play for as they had already sewn up the AFC South, but the effort was far from what they would likely desire heading into the playoffs.  

Andrew Luck was lackluster, completing 15 of 22 passes for 109 yards and tossing two interceptions before being replaced by Matt Hasselbeck.

Dallas (11-4) now has an opportunity to earn a first round bye as they travel to Washington for the regular season finale against the Redskins. 

 

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Falcons Sweep Saints; Set Up NFC South Title Bout with Panthers

Falcons Sweep Saints; Set Up NFC South Title Bout with Panthers

Leon Halip/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS, La) -- With the season sweep of the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons guaranteed that the winner of the NFC South will have a losing record.

The Falcons defeated the Saints 30-14 Sunday, giving both teams a 6-9 record on the season.

Matt Ryan led the Atlanta charge, completing 30 of 40 passes for 322 yards and one touchdown pass to Eric Weems. 

Julio Jones returned from injury and looked in fine form, as he caught seven passes for 107 yards.

Drew Brees and the Saints offense continued their season-long inconsistencies. Jimmy Graham fumbled on the Falcons' 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, and Drew Brees threw two interceptions, including one to Robert McClain that set up an Atlanta field goal.

The Falcons will host the Carolina Panthers (6-8-1) next week in Atlanta, with the winner earning the NFC South crown. 

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Muhammad Ali Hospitalized with Mild Case of Pneumonia

Muhammad Ali Hospitalized with Mild Case of Pneumonia

Jay Reilly/Getty Images(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- Boxing legend Muhammad Ali was hospitalized with a mild case of pneumonia on Saturday night.

Doctors caught the pneumonia early enough for Ali to be in stable condition, family spokesman Bob Gunnell said.

"Muhammad Ali who suffers from Parkinson's Disease is being treated by his team of doctors and is in stable condition," Gunnel told ABC News Radio.

Gunnell would not release where Ali is being hospitalized and no other details are being released due to the Ali family's request for privacy.

"Because the pneumonia was caught early, his prognosis is good, with a short hospital stay expected," Gunnel continued.

Ali, 72, retired from boxing in 1981 and his last public appearance was at the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards in September.

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Lions Prepare for Bears QB Jimmy Clausen

Lions Prepare for Bears QB Jimmy Clausen

Leon Halip/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- The Lions (10-4) enter Sunday's game against the Bears tied with the Green Bay Packers for first place in the NFC North.

Chicago announced this week that they benched quarterback Jay Cutler and are going with backup Jimmy Clausen, who hasn't made a start since 2010.

Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said on Friday that with the news coming on Thursday, the team still had a chance to prepare for it.

"We heard fairly early, so we had a chance to take a look at him," Caldwell said. "There's always still a question of whether they'll do the same things that they've been doing with him."

"So, they'll certainly be a bit of an unknown there but we certainly have a chance," Caldwell continued. "There's enough tape on him in preseason and things of that nature to get a good look at him."

Caldwell said that despite Clausen's little experience as a starter, their defense will be ready for him.

"This year we've had a couple backup quarterbacks that have stepped in and played pretty well against us," Caldwell said. "Obvious (Drew) Stanton played pretty well and (Kyle) Orton stepped in and played extremely well. We're guarded about all that stuff, we're trying to make sure that we're functioning as well as we possibly can.

"It doesn't matter, if he's got on a uniform in the National Football League, that guy can play, they can make some things happen."

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Ron Rivera on Newton Starting: ‘Pointing in the Right Direction’

Ron Rivera on Newton Starting: ‘Pointing in the Right Direction’

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE) -- Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is probable for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, head coach Ron Rivera said on Friday.

Newton sat out last week's game after he had minor injuries due to a car crash, but is doing his best to be ready come game time.

"Everything is pointing in the right direction," Rivera said. "He did a lot of turning and twisting today. We put a lot of pressure on him, did some things on purpose so we could see, and he seems to be right on track.""He did really well today in terms of the amount of stress we put on him," Rivera continued.  "He's done a nice job and has a good handle on what we want to do. I like the way he practiced. Everything is positive."

The Panthers want Newton to be close to 100 percent before they choose him over Derek Anderson, who led them to a 19-17 win over the Buccaneers.

"They both bring a lot to the table," Rivera said of his two quarterbacks, "but Cam brings that extra dimension with his ability to run. That was big for us against New Orleans. He had a really good rhythm, and we're hoping he can recapture some of that."

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Spurs’ Forward Kawhi Leonard has Torn Ligament in Right Hand

Spurs’ Forward Kawhi Leonard has Torn Ligament in Right Hand

Andy Lyons/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The San Antonio Spurs will be without one of their best players for a little while as forward Kawhi Leonard has a torn ligament in his right hand, and it is unknown when he'll return.

Leonard must wait for swelling to reside before considering returning.

Not as bad as it sounds,” he said. “I should be back soon,” Leonard said via Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News said.

There is some speculation/hope that Leonard will only miss a few games, which would be best-cast scenario for the team.

Leonard is the reigning NBA Finals MVP and a key cog of the team's offense as well as defense.

In 22 games this season, Leonard is averaging 15.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Since his rookies year during the 2011-2012 season, Leonard's points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks per game have improved each season.

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Marlins Trade Third Baseman Casey McGehee to the Giants

Marlins Trade Third Baseman Casey McGehee to the GiantsMike McGinnis/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The San Francisco Giants have found their replacement for former third baseman Pablo Sandoval as the team has acquired Casey McGehee from the Miami Marlins. In exahcange for McGehee, the Giants are sending t...

Dodgers Designate Reliever Brian Wilson for Assignment

Dodgers Designate Reliever Brian Wilson for Assignment

Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Reliever Brian Wilson and his infamous beard are out of Los Angeles as the Dodgers have designated the former All-Star for assignment.

Despite the decision, the Dodgers will still pay Wilson his 2015 salary worth $9.5 million.

"At this point, we did not feel he was one of the best seven relief options," Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said on a conference call with reporters.

At one point in his carreer, Wilson was one of the most dominant relievers in Baseball and one of the more colorful personalities in baseball.

From 2008-2011, Wilson averaged over 40 saves during his time with the San Francisco Giants.

Despite his dominance, Wilson underwent multiple elbow reconstruction surgeries and he never quite recovered from it.

In 2014, the 32-year-old Wilson went 2-4 with a 4.66 ERA and a WHIP of 1.61. Those were his highest marks since his rookie year back in 2006.

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Report: Rockets Acquire Corey Brewer

Report: Rockets Acquire Corey Brewer

National Basketball Association(HOUSTON, Tx.) -- The Houston Rockets are adding some much needed depth to their bench.

Corey Brewer has been traded to the Houston Rockets from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Friday, according to Yahoo Sports.

 The Timberwolves will receive guard Troy Daniels as well as two second round draft picks - one via Sacramento.

Houston is currently 18th in scoring offense in the NBA, averaging 99.8 points per game.  Their bench is also last in the NBA with 21.4 points per game.

Brewer will likely improve those numbers as he is averaging 10.5 points per game this season and shooting 41.8% from the field. 

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Scoreboard Roundup – 12/19/14

Scoreboard Roundup – 12/19/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NBA:  Utah Jazz 101 (8-19) - Orlando Magic 94 (10-19)

Charlotte Hornets 109 (7-19) - Philadelphia 76ers 91 (2-23)

Boston Celtics 114 (10-14) - Minnesota Timberwolves 98 (5-20)

Toronto Raptors 110 (20-6) - Detroit Pistons 100 (5-21)

NHL: New Jersey Devils 3 (11-16-6) - Tampa Bay Lightning 2 (20-10-4)(F/SO)

NCAAM:  Eastern Kentucky 72 (6-4) - (18) Miami Fl 44 (9-2)

(20) St. Johns 53 (6-3) - Saint Mary's 47 (9-1)

 

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Yankees and Marlins Swap Prado and Eovaldi

Yankees and Marlins Swap Prado and Eovaldi

Major League Baseball(NEW YORK) -- The Yankees and Marlins have completed a five-player trade that will send Martin Prado to Miami and Nathan Eovaldi to New York.

Friday, the Yankees sent Prado and relief pitcher David Phelps to Miami, in exchange for the 24-year-old right handed fireballer Eovaldi, utility player Garrett Jones and minor league pitcher Domingo German.

Eovaldi, was 6-14 last season with a 4.37 ERA while also surrendering the most hits in the National League with 223.

The Yankees have made similar moves in the past; buying low on young inconsistent talent.

Last season, the team acquired pitcher Brandon McCarthy in a low risk move.  After a few tweaks to his mechanics and pitching tendencies McCarthy lowered his ERA from 4.53 in 2013 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, to 2.89 over 14 games for the Yankees last season.  McCarthy signed with the Dodgers this offseason for $48 million over four years.

According to Marc Craig of Newsday, the Yankees are also including $6 million in the trade to cover the salary of Prado. 

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Report: Padres Acquire Outfielder Justin Upton from the Braves

Report: Padres Acquire Outfielder Justin Upton from the Braves

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The San Diego Padres have struck again this offseason by acquiring another big-time bat. According to reports, the team has acquired outfielder Justin Upton from the Atlanta Braves.

According to reports, the Padres will send Braves pitcher Max Fried, third baseman Dustin Peterson and outfielder Mallex Smith.

Still just 27 years old, Upton hit .270 with 29 home runs and 102 RBIs in his eighth season in the big leagues. He will be a free agent following the 2015 season.

The Padres now have a completely revamped offense/outfield. Not only have they acquired Upton, they've also made trades for former All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp and former American League Rookie of the Year outfielder Wil Myers.

The Padres also recently acquired All-Star catcher Derek Norris from the Oakland Athletics, and reportedly they've acquired third baseman Will Middlebrooks from the Boston Red Sox for Ryan Hanigan.

In 2014, the Padres ranked 30th in Major League Baseball in runs scored, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage.

San Diego hasn't made the playoffs since 2006.

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Seahawks Reward Linebacker K.J. Wright with Four-Year Extension

Seahawks Reward Linebacker K.J. Wright with Four-Year Extension

Scott Boehm/Getty Images(RENTON, Wash.) -- The Seattle Seahawks have locked up another key member of their dominant defense. ESPN reports they've rewarded linebacker K.J. Wright with a four-year extension, worth $27 million.

Since the team drafted him in the fourth round back in 2011, Wright has emerged as a fantastic defensive player who's a key member of the team's top-ranked defense.

"In the offseason, we identified K.J. as one of our core players moving forward and aimed to keep him as a part of the Seahawks family for a long time," general manager John Schneider said in a statement. "The timing of this signing gives us the ability to keep as many of our core players together as we possibly can. Since Day 1, K.J. has been a true professional in his daily approach and we are excited for K.J., his family and the 12s to keep him in the organization."

In 14 games this season, Wright has 96 tackles, two away from tying a career-high. He has started all three linebacker spots for the team as well.

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Giants Re-Sign Starting Pitcher Jake Peavy

Giants Re-Sign Starting Pitcher Jake Peavy

Brandon Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Starting pitcher Jake Peavy enjoyed his brief time with the San Francisco Giants so much, he agreed on a two-year deal with the club on Friday morning.

ESPN reports that Peavy's deal is worth $24 million to go along with a $4 million signing bonus.

The Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins were reportedly among the teams who were also pursuing Peavy.

Peavy is a three-time All Star and former Cy Young winner who rebounded strongly after the Boston Red Sox dealt him to the Giants prior to the trade deadline.

In 20 starts with the Red Sox in 2014, Peavy went 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA. In 12 starts with the Giants after getting traded, he went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA.

Peavy did fall apart in the postsesaon though despite the team winning the World Series. In four starts, Peavy went 1-2 with a 6.29 ERA.

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Jay Cutler Benched

Jay Cutler Benched Nick Laham/Getty Images(LAKE FOREST, Ill.) -- Jay Cutler will be the backup quarterback when the Chicago Bears host the Detroit Lions Sunday. Bears head coach Marc Trestman announced Thursday that Jimmy Clausen would start over the NFL's highest-paid offensive player on Sunday.

Cutler just signed a seven-year, $126.7 million contract with the Bears this past off-season.

"Certainly it was not an easy decision," Trestman said. "In my mind those types of decisions never are. As I told our team today, this doesn't void us of our offensive struggles that we have or the team struggles that we have by making this change. And I think our guys are well aware of that. But for the present moment, I think this is in the best interest of our football team." It may be true. The 31-year-old Cutler currently leads the NFL with 24 turnovers. The Bears are also one of only four teams that hasn't scored at least 30 points in a game this season -- the Jaguars, Raiders, and Titans are the others.

Now Clausen, who is 1-9 as a starter in the NFL, takes over. "I think we need a lift at quarterback. I think we need a spark," Trestman said. "The weight of the world should not be on Jimmy Clausen. He's going to get an opportunity to play and I'm hoping that against a very, very good defense there will be some response from our football team."

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Celtics Send Rondo to Mavericks

Celtics Send Rondo to Mavericks

NBA via Boston Celtics(NEW YORK) -- The Boston Celtics traded point guard Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks for Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, and a future first and second round pick, the teams announced Thursday.

"My time in Boston has meant so much," Rondo tweeted. "I've grown up with this city both as a basketball player and person. The love I have for the most loyal And supportive fans in the league is unmatched. I look forward to building something special in Dallas."

The Celtics will also send forward Dwight Powell to the Mavericks and will waive center Vitor Faverani. The C's also receive a $12.9 million trade exception.

"We would like to thank Rajon for everything that he has done for the Celtics organization and the success we have experienced during his tenure with us," Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said.The 28-year-old Rondo is in the final year of his current contract and is averaging a league high 10.8 assists per game this season.With Rondo the Mavericks (19-8) would get a pure point guard to help deliver the ball to current starters Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler, and Chandler Parsons.

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