PHILADELPHIA (AP) After years of trade speculation, Cole Hamels' time in Philadelphia is ending.
Two people familiar with the deal say the Phillies have agreed to trade the ace left-hander to the Texas Rangers for a package of prospects.
Both people spoke to The Associated Press late Wednesday night on condition of anonymity because the trade had not been finalized. Hamels has a limited no-trade clause but does not have to approve a deal to the Rangers.
Hamels would become the first pitcher in major league history traded during a season immediately after throwing a no-hitter - he no-hit the Chicago Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field.
"He's definitely a great pitcher," Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland said after Texas beat the New York Yankees 5-2 Wednesday. "Obviously watched the no-hitter the other day, pretty impressive. He's got a long track record of great success. It will be huge for us."
The 2008 World Series MVP was an integral part of the greatest run in franchise history when the Phillies won five straight NL East titles, two pennants and one World Series from 2007-11.
"He's been here a long time, but that's baseball," Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz said following an 8-2 loss at Toronto. "Definitely it's sad when you're around one of your teammates for a long time and then they have to go away."
The rebuilding Phillies, a big league-worst 38-64, traded All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon to Washington on Tuesday. Both players made it clear they wanted to play for contenders.
Texas is seven games behind AL West-leading Houston and four games behind Minnesota for the AL's second wild-card spot.
There was thought the Phillies might wait to move Hamels in the offseason after recently hired executive Andy MacPhail officially replaces Pat Gillick, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. pulled the trigger with MacPhail's input.
Hamels was 114-90 with a 3.30 ERA in 10 seasons in Philadelphia. He went 7-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 13 postseason starts and also earned MVP honors in the `08 NLCS.
Hamels has three years remaining in a $144 million, six-year contract, a deal that includes a club option for 2019. He's owed $22.5 million per year through 2018 with a club option for 2019 at $20 million or a $6 million buyout. His option becomes guaranteed at $24 million if he throws 400 innings or more in 2017-18, including at least 200 in 2018, and isn't on the disabled list at end of 2018 with left shoulder or elbow injury.
More Phillies could be on the move before Friday's deadline to trade players without first securing waivers. Outfielders Jeff Francoeur and Ben Revere and righty Aaron Harang could help teams in the pennant race.
Philadelphia would like to deal 2006 NL MVP Ryan Howard but his contract makes it difficult. He's owed $25 million this year and next, and the team has a $23 million option for 2017 with a $10 million buyout.
Howard, Ruiz and Chase Utley are the only remaining players from Philadelphia's 2008 championship team.
AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum and Stephen Hawkins, and AP freelance writer Ian Harrison contributed to this report.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Tom Brady took the fight over his "Deflategate" suspension to social media and federal court Wednesday, and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft backed the three-time Super Bowl MVP, saying "I was wrong to put my faith in the league."
One day after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell rejected Brady's appeal, the star quarterback posted a 507-word statement on Facebook with his firmest denial yet, writing: "I did nothing wrong." Kraft followed with an unscheduled address to the media gathered at Gillette Stadium for the opening of training camp and the team's defense of its fourth Super Bowl championship.
"It is completely incomprehensible to me that the league continues to take steps to disparage one of its all-time great players, and a man for whom I have the utmost respect," the Patriots owner said. "I have come to the conclusion that this was never about doing what was fair and just."
Just before the courts closed in Minnesota, the NFL Players Association asked the court to overturn Brady's four-game suspension - or at least put it on hold until the case can be heard. The union asked the court to throw out the suspension before Sept. 4; that would keep Brady from missing any practices before the Patriots' Sept. 10 season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"We need to free him up for that first week," union attorney Jeffrey Kessler told The Associated Press. "We don't believe this discipline can ever be sustained."
The lawsuit argues that the NFL made up its rules as it went along and misapplied the ones that were already on the books. In an interview with the AP, Kessler called it "offensive" that the league accused Brady of destroying his cellphone to obstruct the investigation, a claim NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made in upholding the suspension on Tuesday.
"We believe they highlighted this issue solely to inflame the public, to suggest there is some secret information being withheld, and that's wrong," Kessler told the AP. "It's an unfair character assassination of a player who has done nothing but be a model citizen for this league."
Brady defended the cellphone swap on Facebook.
"To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong," he said. "There is no `smoking gun' and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing."
Brady was suspended four games and the Patriots were docked $1 million and two draft picks in May for what the league found was a scheme to provide improperly inflated footballs for the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. Investigator Ted Wells zeroed in on two equipment managers - one who called himself "The Deflator" - and said Brady was "at least generally aware" of the illegal deflation scheme.
Kraft said the Patriots did nothing wrong, but the team fired the two equipment managers. He said he didn't fight the team's penalty because he thought the league would go easy on the star quarterback.
Now, he said, he regrets his decision.
"I truly believe that what I did in May ... would make it much easier for the league to exonerate Tom Brady. Unfortunately, I was wrong," Kraft said, apologizing to the team's fans and to Brady. "Six months removed from the AFC championship game, the league still has no hard evidence of anybody doing anything to tamper with the PSI levels of footballs."
Kraft said the team turned over every cellphone not belonging to a player - including the one belonging to coach Bill Belichick. The powerful owner, who had been one of Goodell's most loyal allies, said the league's claim that Brady trashed his phone to obstruct the investigation was just the latest in a series of statements and leaks that "intentionally implied nefarious behavior" where there was none.
"Tom Brady is a person of great integrity and is a great ambassador of the game, both on and off the field," Kraft said.
Brady, who had earlier denied cheating accusations with the tepid "I don't think so," more forcefully defended himself in the Facebook post, claiming he cooperated with the investigation except where doing so would have set a bad precedent for his union brethren.
Brady said he replaced his broken phone only after his lawyers told league investigators they couldn't have it. "Most importantly, I have never written, texted, emailed to anybody at any time, anything related to football air pressure before this issue was raised at the AFC Championship game in January," he wrote.
The post was liked by 51,000 people - including his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen - in the first 30 minutes after it was posted on Facebook. By the time the lawsuit was filed at 6 p.m. Boston time, the number was 250,000.
Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater said Brady's teammates support him.
"The guys in this locker room, we feel we are part of a family," he said. "Good or bad things happen in life, you stick with your family."
Belichick had been scheduled to speak to the media first on Wednesday morning, but Kraft took the podium instead. The coach, as is his practice, declined to comment on the scandal.
"Nothing really to talk about there," he said. "We're going to take it day to day, just like we always do."
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and Associated Press writer Amy Forliti contributed to this report.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) There was a moment in the early stages of chemotherapy when Eric Berry was having breakfast with his father, and the enormity of what faced him was so great that he broke down and cried.
For 30 minutes, one of the toughest players on the Kansas City Chiefs wept.
Then, he resolved to beat cancer.
Eight months later, Berry walked triumphantly onto the practice fields at Missouri Western State University, joining rookies and select veterans Wednesday for the start of training camp.
Six merciless rounds of draining, debilitating drugs had rid his body of Hodgkin's lymphoma, but they had also stoked the passion that Berry still harbors for the game.
"It's been a roller coaster," he said, "but I wouldn't change it for the world."
Flanked by his father, James, and his mother, Carol, Berry spoke publicly for the first time since he was diagnosed with cancer last December. He recalled the terror that gripped him when the mass was first found in his chest, and the dark days that immediately followed.
The days he didn't want to get out of bed. The days he struggled to choke down food, all of it tasteless. The seemingly endless trips to the hospital for each round of treatment.
"In the beginning it was hard, it really was," James Berry said. "Those possibilities go through your mind - `What if he can't play again?' You think of those types of things, but then you kick those to the side. And when you looked at Eric you said, `This guy is a fighter."'
Such a fighter that he chose to receive treatment through an IV rather than a PICC line, a semi-permanent catheter that would have prevented him from training.
Between each round of chemo, Berry would squeeze in 10 to 12 workouts, sometimes struggling just to do five push-ups. But he never lost sight of an audacious goal: Be back with the Chiefs by the time their season opens Sept. 13 in Houston.
"Everybody wants you to be strong in this situation," Berry said, "but you can't be strong every day. If you want to be mad today, be mad. If you want to be sad, be sad. But the thing is, don't stay that way. Get it out of your system and go back to work."
Berry passed a battery of tests before he was cleared to practice late Tuesday, but it remains unclear when he'll fully participate in practice. Chiefs trainer Rick Burkholder said Berry will be monitored constantly, especially during the early portion of camp.
Veterans report Friday. The first full-squad workout is Saturday.
"One of the things Eric and I talked about was just being honest with us about how you're feeling out here," coach Andy Reid said, "and sometimes that's hard for a player to do, especially with his makeup. He's been great with that up to this point and I think that will continue through."
After all, he's in a much better place than he was eight months ago.
The three-time Pro Bowler first knew something was amiss in November, when he felt oddly out of breath after a couple of games.
When things got worse during a game against Oakland, Berry was put through a series of tests that revealed a mass in his chest. The diagnosis was Hodgkin's lymphoma, a treatable form of cancer that affects about 9,000 people in the U.S. each year.
His treatment began Dec. 10 at Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute, near his home in Atlanta.
And it wasn't easy: "It literally feels like you're dying," Berry recalled, "but you're not really battling chemo, you're battling yourself the whole time. It was me versus me."
The final round of treatment was May 13, followed by a month of recovery.
"He tolerated chemotherapy extremely well," said Dr. Christopher R. Flowers, who directs the cancer institute's lymphoma program. "He achieved a complete response to treatment."
On June 22, a follow-up PET scan showed Berry was cancer-free.
The Chiefs had just finished their mandatory minicamp, so he headed to Florida, where he trained with teammates. Then last week, Berry headed back to Kansas City for another round of testing to make sure he was in football condition.
"It was a battle, every day, to the point where I had to set goals to get out of bed," he said. "But I had a great support system, between my mom and dad being in the trenches with me, day in and day out, making sure I had everything I needed."
The Chiefs are cautiously optimistic Berry will be ready for the regular season, and such a rapid return would not be without precedent: Reid said they looked at case studies involving other athletes, such as Mario Lemieux, in deciding how to proceed.
The Hall of Fame hockey player was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1993, went through a similar course of treatment and returned to finish his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
There is plenty of work ahead for Berry.
But on a warm, humid morning in northwest Missouri, as he trotted out of the locker room, he had already surpassed nearly all expectations.
"At the beginning, you kind of put football aside. Your mind goes to, `Hey, we're hoping and praying he can be healthy and live a good life,"' Reid said. "Anything else is icing on the cake."
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Winter Classic is coming to the home of the New England Patriots.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman joined officials from the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday to say the Original Six rivals would meet at Gillette Stadium on New Year's Day. The Bruins will be the first team to host the event twice. They also hosted it in 2010, at Fenway Park.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft also spoke at the ceremony, just hours after his impassioned "Deflategate" defense.
Bettman notes that the three organizations are among the most successful in their sports, with 34 championships. The Canadiens have won 24 of those, but the Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champs.
Bettman also says the league has extended the game's title sponsorship with Bridgestone for another five years.
GENEVA (AP) Michel Platini has launched his campaign to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, aiming to give the scandal-hit governing body "the dignity and the position it deserves."
Platini, the UEFA president and a FIFA vice president, wrote to member federations in Europe on Wednesday saying he will stand in the election and is counting on their support.
The FIFA election is on Feb. 26 and would-be candidates must apply by Oct. 26.
"There are times in life when you have to take your destiny into your own hands," wrote Platini, who turned 60 last month. "I am at one of those decisive moments, at a juncture in my life and in events that are shaping the future of FIFA."
Platini has for years been the obvious candidate to succeed Blatter, his mentor in FIFA politics. But a rift between the long-time allies deepened when Blatter broke a promise to leave office in 2015.
The former France great chose last year not to oppose Blatter, who won a fifth presidential term on May 29. Four days later, Blatter announced his resignation plans under pressure from American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption implicating FIFA.
"However, recent events force the supreme governing body of world football to turn over a new leaf and rethink its governance," Platini said.
Platini chose to run after getting encouragement from some of his fellow FIFA vice presidents last week in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Five of the six confederation leaders, including Platini, were there for the 2018 World Cup qualifying draw with only the North American regional body missing.
Platini then traveled to Philadelphia for the Gold Cup final on Sunday, and briefed CONCACAF leaders on his plans. They included FIFA executive committee colleague Sunil Gulati, the U.S. Soccer Federation president.
The U.S. body was among the five FIFA members which nominated Prince Ali bin al-Hussein to challenge Blatter two months ago. The Jordanian prince was publicly supported by Platini but Blatter had pockets of support across Europe in a 133-73 victory.
Platini met the prince in the south of France last week and discussed the FIFA election.
Though not the first would-be candidate to launch a formal bid, Platini is the most serious contender in the contest so far.
Another former FIFA vice president, Chung Mong-joon of South Korea, has suggested he will run after stating last week that he doubted Platini was serious about wanting the job. Former Brazil great Zico and Liberia federation president Musa Bility have said they want to seek the five nominations required to be a candidate.
Diego Maradona also said he wants the FIFA job, although the colorful former Argentina great is unlikely to be taken seriously.
The most detailed manifesto by any recent presidential hopeful was issued by Jerome Champagne, the former FIFA international relations director whose exit in 2010 was engineered with Platini's support.
However, Champagne did not take part in the last election after failing to get the five nominations required by a January deadline.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) With Boston no longer in contention, IOC President Thomas Bach urged U.S. Olympic leaders on Tuesday to pick "the most appropriate city" as a substitute candidate for the 2024 Games. Two-time Olympic host Los Angeles could fit the bill perfectly, according to several IOC board members.
The U.S. Olympic Committee severed ties with Boston on Monday, finally pulling the plug on a bid that had been hampered by dismal poll ratings, strong local opposition and months of political wrangling.
The USOC now has until Sept. 15 to submit a candidate to the International Olympic Committee and formally enter a race that already includes Paris; Rome; Hamburg, Germany; and Budapest, Hungary. Toronto and Baku, Azerbaijan, are also likely contenders.
The IOC has been consulting with potential bids, including Boston, as part of a new "invitation phase"' for interested cities. The IOC is eager to have a strong candidate from the U.S., which hasn't hosted a Summer Games since Atlanta in 1996.
"For the IOC this was always about an American bid put forward by the United States Olympic Committee,"' Bach said in a statement. "This invitation phase is also an opportunity to determine which city will eventually be chosen by an NOC. We are confident that USOC will choose the most appropriate city for a strong U.S. bid."
IOC officials had just learned of Boston's withdrawal as they gathered for an executive board meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The rest of the IOC membership will be arriving later for a general assembly highlighted by Friday's vote to determine the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics, with Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, as the two candidates.
"It's always a shame when a national Olympic committee selects a city and then is incapable or unable to bring it to the next stage of the contest," IOC vice president Craig Reedie told The Associated Press. "But I suppose after mature reflection and looking at what's happened, it might be a wise decision."
"Personally, I hope the United States do find another candidate and produce another applicant city for 2024," Reedie said.
Boston had been chosen by the USOC as its bid entry ahead of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington. But the USOC was left with little choice but to drop Boston after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declined to commit to the bid.
"It's not (only) bad for the U.S., but it's bad for everybody," IOC board member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. told the AP. "Boston was an extraordinary city, very attractive for the Olympic games, a very sporty town. I am very said to hear this."
But he said there was enough time for the USOC to change course.
"I don't think they need to save face," Samaranch said. "They presented what they thought was a great candidate. It's preseason. They have all the right to change the team and make their final adjustments."
After New York failed in a bid for the 2012 Olympics and Chicago lost in the first round of the vote for the 2016 Games, the USOC took steps to try to improve relations with the IOC. Two years ago, the two sides signed a new revenue-sharing agreement, ending a long-running dispute that had helped undermine previous U.S. bids.
The U.S. chances for 2024 had seemed strong, but the Boston debacle caught many by surprise.
"We were all excited when they (Boston) were announced, but it seems to have stumbled since," IOC vice president John Coates said. "But it's better to face up to these things early if you don't have full public support."
Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics and now seems poised to enter the 2024 contest. Los Angeles was the only city to bid for the 1984 Games at a time when the Olympics were torn by boycotts and financial problems. The success of those games helped revive the Olympic movement.
"They won't have to build temporary stadiums, which is expensive," Reedie said. "It could be the third-time lucky for LA; it was third-time lucky for London."
London is the only city which has hosted the OIympics three times. Paris, which staged the games in 1900 and 1924, is also aiming for a third Olympics.
Sergei Bubka, the Ukrainian pole vault great who sits on the IOC executive board, said it's important for a U.S. city to be in the running.
"Los Angeles has great history, lots of experience," he said. "Why not?"
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Memphis leading scorer Austin Nichols has transferred to Virginia.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett announced Nichols' transfer Monday.
Bennett says Nichols is a "great fit for our program and system."
Nichols averaged 13.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.4 blocked shots per game as a sophomore with the Tigers.
The 6-foot-9 Nichols will have two years of eligibility remaining and must sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules.
Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen granted Nichols a conditional release earlier this month.
Nichols becomes the third Memphis player to transfer since the end of the season.
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans have placed outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney on the physically unable to perform list.
The move means the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft will not be ready for the start of training camp this weekend. But Clowney will be able to return to practice whenever he is ready.
Clowney played just four games as a rookie last season before having season-ending microfracture surgery in December. Monday's move isn't a surprise. The Texans have said they weren't sure if he would be ready for the start of training camp, but they still hope that he will be healthy in time for the season opener.
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals have hired Jen Welter to coach inside linebackers through their upcoming training camp and preseason.
The Cardinals say Welter is believed to be the first woman to hold a coaching position of any kind in the NFL. Welter played running back and special teams in 2014 for the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League, becoming the first woman to hold a non-kicking position for a men's professional sports league.
"I am honored to be a part of this amazing team," Welter said on Twitter on Monday night.
Welter coached linebackers and special teams for the Revolution last season, becoming the first woman to coach in a men's pro football league. Her general manager with the Revolution was 2015 NFL Hall of Fame inductee Tim Brown.
Welter played linebacker for more than 14 seasons in the Women's Football Alliance, mostly with the Dallas Diamonds, where she helped the team win four championships. Welter holds a master's degree in sports psychology. A rugby player at Boston College, she also earned two gold medals on Team USA at the International Federation of Football Women's World Championships in 2009 and 2013.
A news conference was scheduled for Tuesday to introduce Welter and Levon Kirkland, a former Pro Bowl linebacker who is the inaugural participant in the Bill Bidwill Coaching Fellowship established to give recently retired NFL players a chance to coach in the league. He will work with outside linebackers for the next two seasons.
Four months ago at the NFL meetings, Arizona coach Bruce Arians was asked about the possibility of a woman coaching in the NFL.
"The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they'll be hired," Arians said.
Speaking to azcardinals.com on Monday, Arians said: "Coaching is nothing more than teaching. One thing I have learned from players is `How are you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don't care if you're the Green Hornet, I'll listen."'
"I really believe she'll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her," Arians said.
It's the second such barrier to be broken in the NFL this year. The league announced in April that Sarah Thomas would be the first woman to be a full-time NFL official.
In the NBA, Becky Hammon is an assistant coach with San Antonio and served as the head coach for the Spurs' team that won the Las Vegas Summer League championship.
NEW YORK (AP) The New York Mets acquired infielder Juan Uribe, infielder-outfielder Kelly Johnson and cash considerations from the Atlanta Braves on Friday night for minor league pitchers John Gant and Rob Whalen.
The Mets announced the trade after their 7-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta's 4-2 loss at St. Louis.
In corresponding roster moves, the Mets designated outfielder John Mayberry Jr. for assignment and optioned infielder Danny Muno to Triple-A Las Vegas. Third baseman David Wright, sidelined with a spinal condition, was also transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
Before the game, the Mets promoted top prospect, outfielder Michael Conforto, from Double-A Binghamton, hoping to give their light-hitting lineup a boost. The Mets are last in the majors in batting average and second-to-last in runs scored.
The struggles reached their lowest point on June 9, when the team was no-hit by San Francisco Giants rookie Chris Heston. Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw nearly matched the feat in the series opener, throwing six perfect innings, shutting the Mets out for the 11th time this season.
The pair is also expected to provide defensive flexibility for manager Terry Collins.
Uribe, acquired by the Braves on May 27 as part of a five-player deal with the Dodgers, is batting .272 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs while primarily playing third base.
"I feel very good because I got traded to another team that is a contender," Uribe said through an interpreter. "I would have felt bad if I got released or sent home, so I know that I'm going to go to a good team and have the chance to be in the playoffs."
He was a key contributor to a pair of World Series-winning teams, helping the Chicago White Sox in 2005 and San Francisco in 2010. The Mets have struggled to replace Wright's production in their lineup, receiving only three home runs from the third base position since Wright went down in April.
"Juan was really good for us," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "He's a guy that played a great third base."
In St. Louis, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he knew the trade was coming but didn't get confirmation until about 70 minutes before the first pitch. That forced him to quickly scratch Uribe from the lineup and move Chris Johnson from first to third with Joey Terdoslavich filling in at first base.
"You're getting ready to lose two guys that are really pretty good guys on our club," Gonzalez said. "Uribe's only been here about two months, but he fit in right away with these guys and you're going to miss that and Kelly's professionalism."
Added Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner: "One of the best teammates I've ever had and a good baseball player. I already told a couple of guys, `You're going to love (him),' and he's going to be great for the clubhouse over there."
Johnson is batting .275 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs while playing all over the diamond, logging innings at five different positions. The versatile Johnson will be returning to the New York area spending part of last season with the Yankees. Johnson will become the 126th player to play for both New York teams.
He has been surging in July with a .311 average, three home runs, and team-high 12 RBIs.
"You find a good routine and when it's working it's hard to think about getting out of that," said Johnson, who was surprised to be traded to a division rival. "Now the toughest thing will be finding that routine there."
Mayberry, signed in the offseason, mostly struggled as a right-handed bat off the bench. The 31-year-old Mayberry is hitting .164 with three homers and nine RBIs in 59 games this season.
Muno has hit .148, going 4 for 27 in limited appearances with the Mets this year.
Gant, 22, pitched for the Mets at Class A and Double-A, while Whalen, 21, made 14 starts for Class A St. Lucie.
AP freelance writers Steve Overbey and Luke Thompson in St. Louis contributed to this report.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) Three dominated on the mound, the other excelled at three positions up the middle. Together, pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and multi-talented Craig Biggio left a remarkable imprint on baseball.
Playing through an era tainted by steroids and dominated by offense - compliments of bulked-up sluggers, a smaller strike zone and smaller ballparks - the trio of pitchers combined for 735 wins, 11,113 strikeouts and nine Cy Young Awards. And the indefatigable Biggio became the only player in major league history with at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles, 400 stolen bases and 250 home runs while being asked to play four positions in his 20-year career.
All four, elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January, will be inducted Sunday in Cooperstown.
"I don't condone anybody doing anything bad as far as cheating the game," said Martinez, who joins former Giants right-hander Juan Marichal (1983) as the only natives of the Dominican Republic elected to the hall. "How did I feel pitching in the juice era? I wouldn't want it any other way. For me, there's no crying. I mean, as far as the way I did compete, I know I did it right. I did it the right way."
Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz were elected by big margins their first time on the ballot and represent the first trio of pitchers voted in together. Biggio made it on his third try.
The 6-foot-10 Johnson was an intimidating figure standing atop a pitching mound. During a 22-year career, spent mostly with the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks, the dominant left-hander with the imposing fastball won 303 games and five Cy Young Awards, including four in a row from 1999 to 2002 with the Diamondbacks.
A 10-time All-Star, the native of Walnut Creek, California led his league in strikeouts nine times and had a career total of 4,875, second all-time only to Nolan Ryan. In 2001, Johnson was 3-0 in the World Series to help Arizona, in only its fourth year of existence, to the title. Small wonder he received 97.3 percent of the BBWAA vote, eighth-best all-time.
Still, it took time before everything clicked for the man known as the Big Unit.
"The 10 years that I spent in Seattle was really like my apprenticeship, if you will, on understanding how to pitch and then somewhat evolving into the pitcher that I was going to become," said Johnson. "I was really coming into my own as a successful pitcher and being able to harness my fastball, and understanding what it took to pitch at this level.
"I didn't know I was going to be half as good as I turned out to be," added Johnson, who had three back surgeries, four knee surgeries and pitched his final season in 2009 with a torn rotator cuff.
Born on the outskirts of Santo Domingo, Martinez grew up with five brothers and sisters in a one-room home. Baseball became his escape. He signed with the Dodgers in 1988 and made his major league debut in September 1992 at age 20. The next season he was a regular in the bullpen, posting a 10-5 record in 65 games while striking out 119 in 107 innings, then was traded to Montreal after the season.
After a four-year stint with the Expos that culminated with his first Cy Young Award - he was 17-8 with a 1.90 ERA in 1997 - and with free agency looming, Montreal traded its ace to Boston and he wasn't exactly happy.
"I wanted a team that would give me an opportunity to win, and Boston wasn't a team that looked anywhere near that they were going to win it, so I didn't think I was going to sign," Martinez said.
Boston general manager Dan Duquette had other ideas. He had acquired Martinez from the Dodgers while serving in the same capacity with the Expos and convinced the rising Dominican star to sign with the Red Sox.
The first Red Sox pitcher to be enshrined, Martinez signed for seven seasons that would endear him forever to the Boston faithful. He won 117 games and two Cy Youngs in hitter-friendly Fenway Park and, most importantly, helped Boston snap an 86-year jinx in his final year with the team. His seven shutout innings in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series on the road in St. Louis staked the Sox to a commanding 3-0 series lead en route to a sweep and the team's first title since 1918.
Martinez finished his 18-year career with a 219-100 record and 3,154 strikeouts.
Smoltz is the first player elected to the Hall of Fame with Tommy John arm surgery on his resume. He won 213 games and saved 154, the only pitcher with 200 wins and 150 saves and the last of only 16 to reach 3,000 strikeouts, registering 3,084. He also was 15-4 in the postseason during a 21-year career spent almost entirely with the Atlanta Braves after being drafted and then traded by his hometown Detroit Tigers.
Through five surgeries, the hard-throwing right-hander persevered - from starter to reliever to starter again - as the Braves and their amazing pitching staff, which also included Hall of Famers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, won an unprecedented 14 straight division titles.
"I had to just really reinvent myself many, many times, and find ways to overcome," said Smoltz, who did not play in 2000 after undergoing ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction on his right arm.
A native of Kings Park on New York's Long Island, Biggio was a football star in high school poised to make his mark as a running back in college when he decided to accept a partial baseball scholarship at Seton Hall.
In three collegiate seasons, he batted .342, hit 27 homers, drove in 148 runs, stole 90 bases and led the Pirates to their first Big East title. A first-round pick by the Astros in 1987, Biggio played just 141 minor league games over parts of two seasons before getting called up. He took over as Houston's regular catcher in 1989.
Two years later, he made his first All-Star team, then was asked to make the improbable transition to play second base in 1992 in an effort to lengthen his career. He appeared in all 162 games and made his second All-Star team.
Biggio, the first Astro elected to the Hall of Fame, said making the switch was by far the hardest thing he ever had to do in his career.
"We zipped up the catcher's gear and didn't look back," Biggio said. "I believed in myself and we made it work. I mean, it was never ever done in the history of the game, and that was kind of fun to kind of prove them (the critics) wrong a little bit."
CHICAGO (AP) Olympic champion gymnast Shawn Johnson threw out a ceremonial first ball at Wrigley Field - and wound up with quite a catch.
Johnson was walking off the field Friday before the Chicago Cubs hosted Philadelphia when she was surprised by longtime boyfriend Andrew East, a rookie long snapper for the Kansas City Chiefs.
East dropped to one knee near home plate and presented the 2008 gold medalist with a diamond engagement ring. A stunned Johnson put her hands over her mouth, bobbed her head up and down, then jumped into his arms.
Later, she put her feelings onto her Twitter feed.
"Today the love of my life asked me to be his forever.AND I SAID YES!" she posted.
The 23-year-old Johnson won the balance beam title at the Beijing Olympics. The next year, she won the title on ABC-TV's "Dancing with the Stars."
NEW ORLEANS (AP) The New Orleans Saints have cut Junior Galette, who has been among their most productive pass rushers the past two seasons, but also has dealt with off-the field trouble.
Galette's agent, Alvin Keels Jr., said Friday that his client has been informed he'll be released after he undergoes a physical.
Galette, who signed a four-year, $41.5 million extension just last year, led the Saints with 10 sacks last season. His 12 sacks ranked second on the club in 2013.
The Saints did not return multiple messages seeking comment on the move, but the timing indicates that coach Sean Payton was concerned about whether the NFL's ongoing review of Galette's conduct outside of football could become disruptive for the club.
Galette was arrested in January after an alleged domestic dispute. Charges were dropped, but the incident remains under review by the NFL. The league also is reviewing a video which shows a man resembling Galette in an altercation on a beach.
Keels said Galette is expected to undergo a physical on Saturday, and, if he passes, should be released by Monday.
"He appreciates the organization and the fans, coaches and teammates for the opportunity," Keels said. "Things obviously didn't work out and he's looking forward to the next chapter in his playing career.
"He's motivated to get back on the field and I think he'll use this as a building block," Keels added. "He'll bounce back."
Galette was elevated to a starting role in 2013 in part because of injuries to former Saints outside linebackers Will Smith and Victor Butler. Galette finished that season within one sack of defensive end Cameron Jordan's team-leading 12 1/2 sacks.
"The Saints made a big mistake to kick me when I'm down," Galette told WWL-TV in New Orleans on Friday. "I'm not mad. It'll be the worst call they ever made. I will be the best player in the league next year."
In 2014, Galette was named a defensive captain and received a new contract, seemingly consummating an inspirational rise from a challenging childhood and a significant setback in college.
Galette, who describes an early childhood spent in poverty in Haiti, moved to New York later in his youth. He initially attended college at Temple, but was kicked out when a relative staying with him was caught with a stolen laptop. He then transferred to Division II Stillman.
In 2010, he signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent and made the squad as a long-shot, playing in four games as a rookie. He served primarily as a reserve defensive end in the 2011 and 2012 seasons, compiling 9 1/2 sacks combined during those two campaigns before his breakout season in 2013.
Galette's release will cost him nearly $24 million in base salary from 2016 through 2019, but he has already been paid close to $17 million.
"I'm set for life. My mom's set for life. My son's set for life," Galette told NOLA.com. "This is not adversity. Adversity is getting kicked out of Temple with no money in your pocket."
The guaranteed portions of Galette's contract will also count against the Saints' salary cap the next two seasons, likely in excess of $10 million in 2016, depending on whether he signs with another club.
Meanwhile, New Orleans' decision to release Galette raises prospects for playing time for eight-year veteran Anthony Spencer and rookie second-round draft choice Hau'oli Kikaha.
Spencer, who played under Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan when he held the same job in Dallas, joined the Saints this offseason as a free agent. He took a number of first-team snaps during voluntary practices and mandatory minicamp this summer.
Kikaha registered 19 sacks for Washington last season, the most by any player in the NCAA's Division I Football Bowl Subdivision.
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) Braden Holtby signed a $30.5-million, five-year contract with the Washington Capitals on Friday, a day before an arbitrator was expected to rule on an amount for a one-year deal for the goaltender.
The 25-year-old Holtby, who was a restricted free agent, had a career season with 41 victories, a 2.22 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and nine shutouts in 73 games. He is the third goaltender to reach 100 wins with the Capitals, joining Olie Kolzig and Don Beaupre.
The deal came a day after an arbitration hearing in Toronto.
"It was hard for both sides to put apples-to-apples comparisons on the comparable goaltenders," general manager Brian MacLellan said. "In the arbitration process, both sides present their stories. You get a better sense of where each side is at and where you can compromise. And that's what happened."
Holtby's contract will count $6.1 million against the salary cap over the next five seasons. He's coming off a strong playoff performance - a 1.71 goals-against average and .944 save percentage to help the Capitals reach the second round before losing a seven-game series to the New York Rangers.
"With last year it was trying to prove yourself for a contract," said Holtby, a fourth-round pick by the Capitals in 2008. "This year, you're trying to prove the contract you got. Obviously, it's going to be a new set of challenges. The low points of seasons are going to be a little harder to get through because of the added pressure."
Holtby has gradually turned into Washington's top goaltender over the past three seasons, getting more appearances and starts in each one. Now that question is settled, possibly for years to come. His career record is 101-51 with a 2.44 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage.
"He's a perfect fit for what we think we have," MacLellan said. "He fits well with his teammates, fits well with the defensemen. The coaches like him. I don't know what the ceiling is on him, but you know he has the right attitude and the right work ethic. Obviously we think we have a chance to win a championship with him."
The Capitals also added a defenseman Friday, signing Ryan Stanton to a one-year, two-way contract. He scored 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in 54 games with Vancouver last season. The 26-year-old has 119 career NHL games with the Canucks and Chicago.
Panama and Costa Rica have formally asked for reviews of CONCACAF'S referee procedures after both countries had questionable calls go against them late in Gold Cup knockout round games against regional power Mexico, according to a person in CONCACAF with knowledge of the requests.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because he was not authorized to discuss the matter. CONCACAF had announced that the issue had been added for discussion to the agenda of Saturday's executive committee meeting but did not detail the requests.
In the final minute of extra time in Sunday's quarterfinal, Mexico was awarded a penalty kick with the game tied 0-0 and converted to beat Costa Rica. Then in Wednesday's semifinals, Panama led 1-0 when it was called for a hand ball in the box. Mexico again converted in stoppage time, then went on to win in extra time.
The person said Panama requested investigations into the referee committee and its procedures, the people who assign referees to games, all unspecified "suspicious matches," and referee Mark Geiger.
In a separate letter, Costa Rica made similar requests. It also requested that certain referees not be assigned to its matches in the future.
CONCACAF said in a statement: "The confederation takes these claims extremely seriously and will look into them immediately."
Earlier Friday, the president of the Panamanian federation, Pedro Chaluja, told reporters that "we feel that that game was fixed."
"There are third parties with interests, and we know that it can't be possible that the best-ranked referee in CONCACAF has such a poor and suspicious performance in a game," he said.
He also noted that "we know that there have been suspicious and strange things going on in several matches in this Cup."
On Thursday, the federation demanded the removal of CONCACAF's referee selection panel after describing the officiating in the loss as "insulting and embarrassing." The statement also accused the match officials of favoring Mexico "in a vulgar and shameless way."
Two Panama players - forward Luis Tejada and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo - were each suspended two games by CONCACAF on Friday. Penedo was disciplined for pushing the assistant referee after Wednesday's match. Tejada received a red card, then was punished additionally for not leaving the field "in a timely manner."
The federation was also fined an undisclosed amount "for team misconduct both on and off the field."
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Glendale City Council voted unanimously in favor of a restructured arena lease agreement with the Arizona Coyotes on Friday, keeping the team in the desert for at least two more years.
The deal approved by the seven-member council replaces a 15-year, $225 million arena management agreement signed in 2013. The new deal cuts Glendale's annual arena management fee to the Coyotes from $15 million to $6.5 million, turns all hockey-related profits over to the Coyotes and rescinds a five-year out clause the team had in the original agreement.
"This is fair arrangement for the city, a fair arrangement for the taxpayers and a fair arrangement for the Coyotes and our fans and our sponsors," Coyotes co-owner, president and CEO Anthony LeBlanc said.
The new deal comes after the City Council voted June 10 to terminate the original arena lease agreement, citing a conflict-of-interest law. The Coyotes obtained a temporary restraining order two days later and the two sides were likely facing a long court battle with the team threatening to sue the city.
The new deal allows Glendale to cut costs and gives the Coyotes a chance to work out a new long-term deal or explore other options like a new arena in downtown Phoenix.
"It truly was a truly unpleasant process, but I think it was something that was necessary," Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said. "This is a decision that benefits the entire city, the Coyotes, the Coyotes fans, which have proven they are very vocal. At the same time, we represent our citizens and we have to uphold that. I think this accomplishes all of that."
The council voted to void the original arena lease agreement, citing an Arizona statute that allows a government entity to end an agreement if a person who worked on the deal later represents the other party. Former city attorney Craig Tindall was the Coyotes general counsel before being terminated under the new deal with the city and former Glendale communications director Julie Frisoni did consulting work for the team after leaving her job.
The Coyotes responded swiftly to the decision, threatening a multimillion-dollar lawsuit while vowing to stick to the original agreement signed by IceArizona shortly after it bought the team from the NHL two years ago.
The team's stance changed with the start of the NHL's free agency period.
While talking to agents, the Coyotes learned several players would not even consider playing in Arizona because of the team's uncertain future. The Coyotes were still able to land a decent free-agency haul, bringing back former players Antoine Vermette, Boyd Gordon and Zbynek Michalek, but could only get Mikkel Boedker - one of the team's best young players - to sign a one-year deal.
"It's one thing if we lose a suite or a sponsor, which are very important to us, but if our GM Don Maloney is handcuffed in putting together a roster, we have no choice but to fix it," LeBlanc said. "This isn't about saving face from either my perspective or the Coyotes perspective. This is about saving our franchise."
But with the deal will certainly come more speculation about the team's future.
The Coyotes have faced relocation speculation since former owner Jerry Moyes took the team into bankruptcy in 2009 and it continued even after IceArizona bought the team. Conjecture that the team was moving surfaced again last year when Philadelphia hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway bought a 51 percent stake in the team and ramped up again last month with the council's decision to end the lease agreement.
LeBlanc has said all along that the Coyotes are committed to remaining in the desert despite low attendance and struggles on the ice the past couple of seasons. He reiterated that stance after the new deal was ratified, saying the team is hoping to work out a long-term deal with Glendale.
"I have a message to those who are speculating on our plans: We did not agree to a two-year agreement so we could relocate in the future," LeBlanc said. "The simple truth is, if we wanted to leave we had the out to do so this summer. We didn't take it. We fought as hard as we needed to because we believe in this market. We have never changed our opinion on that simple fact. Anyone who says otherwise has no idea what he or she is talking about."
HOUSTON (AP) Rockets general manager Daryl Morey knows adding Ty Lawson is a risky move. He believes the possible reward is worth that risk.
Lawson was acquired in a trade with the Denver Nuggets on Monday, giving the Rockets needed depth at point guard, though he is currently dealing with off-court issues. He entered a 30-day residential treatment program last week after his second DUI arrest.
Morey noted there are always risks with players, whether it's concerns like Lawson's or with injuries or other issues.
"When you're trying to be the best team out of 30 you've got to risk all over the place," he said.
Morey vowed that the team will help him stay on track after he leaves the treatment program.
"Through our conversations with him we feel confident that he's getting the help he needs," Morey said.
The Nuggets receive a lottery protected first-round pick in 2016 and cash considerations along with Nick Johnson, Kostas Papanikolaou, Pablo Prigioni and Joey Dorsey in the deal that also sends a 2017 second-round pick to Houston.
Lawson was a first-round pick by the Timberwolves in 2009 before being traded to the Nuggets that day. He averaged 14.2 points and 6.6 assists in his six-year career with Denver. The 27-year-old started a career-high 75 games last season and averaged 15.2 points and a career-best 9.6 assists.
Morey believes Lawson's threat as a scorer will help take some pressure off superstar James Harden, who finished second in MVP voting in 2015.
"He's one of the best playmakers in the league," Morey said of Lawson. "We struggled against teams that would really load up on James and we feel like that will be a lot more difficult for teams to do that now."
Lawson is friendly with Harden, Corey Brewer and Trevor Ariza and indicated to the Nuggets that Houston was a place he would like to play.
None of the four players the Rockets gave up were key members of last year's squad that reached the Western Conference finals before being eliminated by Golden State. Papanikolaou averaged 4.2 points in 43 games in the regular season last year, but played just 21 minutes in the postseason, and Johnson, another rookie, averaged only 1.3 points in the playoffs.
The 38-year-old Prigioni backed up Jason Terry late in the season after Beverley suffered a season-ending injury, but his contribution was minimal and he averaged only 3.1 points in the playoffs. Denver waived him just after the trade was announced.
Dorsey appeared in 69 games in the regular season and helped fill in when Dwight Howard was out by starting 17 games. But he fell out of favor with the team late in the season and played just 13 minutes in the playoffs as the Rockets gave rookie Clint Capela his spot in the rotation.
The deal was first reported by Yahoo Sports.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) Titans wide receiver Justin Hunter has been arrested and is being held without bond for an assault that allegedly took place at a bar during the Fourth of July weekend.
Hunter, 24, was booked into his hometown jail at the Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office on Monday afternoon for a charge listed as malicious intent, stabbing, cutting, wounding. Neither a sheriff's office spokesman nor the Virginia Beach Police Department immediately returned messages left by The Associated Press.
Officer James Cason told The Virginian-Pilot that Hunter is charged with felonious assault. Cason said police broke up a large brawl July 3 at the Sandbar Raw Bar, which is in an oceanfront tourist area, with one person taken to a hospital for treatment. He declined to give further details.
Tennessee traded up six spots to draft the 6-foot-4, 207-pound Hunter out of the University of Tennessee in 2013 with the 34th pick overall. Hunter played in 14 games as a rookie, catching 18 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns. He played 12 games before a season-ending injury in 2014 and finished with 28 receptions for 498 yards and three TDs.
"We are aware of the situation and are continuing to gather more facts," the Titans said in a statement.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The committee that puts together the field of 68 for the NCAA men's basketball tournament will have more flexibility to set the First Four and give No. 2 seeds more favorable matchups.
The NCAA announced Monday that the Division I selection committee will now be allowed to slide every team up or down the seed list, including the last four at-large teams selected. Until now, the last four teams voted into the tournament field were locked into the First Four, the eight-team playoff that serves as the tournament's first round.
Going forward, the last four at-large teams on the overall seed list - after the seeds have been tweaked by a process known as scrubbing - will play in the First Four.
"It's a small, yet significant, alteration to the language outlining our seeding process," said Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, the chairman of the Division I men's basketball committee. "Making this change gives the committee the opportunity to properly seed every team, whereas previous procedures did not permit appropriate scrubbing of the last four at-large teams."
Selecting teams usually involves looking at teams in groups of eight, Castiglione said. Scrubbing is comparing two teams against one another, from their records against each other and common opponents to their wins against tournament teams.
"This tweak provides us with the opportunity to scrub teams even more thoroughly," he said.
Last season, the seeding process placed Dayton into the First Four, playing at home. UCLA, another team that was among the last to get into the field, was placed in the main bracket. The old procedures did not allow the committee to switch Dayton and UCLA.
The First Four started in 2011 when the field expanded to 68 teams. The last four at-large teams selected to the field are paired off in two games and the last four teams on the overall seed list are matched in two other games played on Tuesday and Wednesday at Dayton's home arena. A First Four participant has reached the round of 32 each season since, including Dayton last season.
The other change allows the committee to move the team seeded fifth overall out of its natural geographic area to avoid the best No. 2 seed being placed in the same region as the top overall team. The committee nearly was faced with the prospect of having Wisconsin as the No. 2 seed in Kentucky's bracket last season because of rules regarding geographical advantage.
The Badgers ended up as a No. 1 seed and played - and beat - Kentucky in the Final Four before losing to Duke in the championship game. But if Wisconsin had ended up as a 2 seed, and clearly the best team on that line, the rules would have locked the Badgers into the Midwest Region with No. 1 overall seed Kentucky.
"This change doesn't mean we are going to a true S-curve but if we can achieve it, or come closer to having more competitive balance on the top two lines without compromising our existing principles and without putting a team at a great disadvantage, we will consider it," Castiglione said.
The committee also adjusted procedures to prevent a committee member from being present during discussion or participating in a vote involving a team in which an immediate family member is employed by the school's athletic department, or is an athlete on the basketball team.
SAO PAULO (AP) Pele has been released from a Brazilian hospital after successfully undergoing back surgery.
Doctors say the 74-year-old soccer great left the Albert Einstein hospital on Monday, less than a week after undergoing a procedure for nerve root decompression.
The surgery had been scheduled to fix discomfort in Pele's back and hip.
Pele's manager Paul Kemsley said it was the first of two corrective procedures Pele will undergo in Brazil over the next few months to ensure the former player is "strong and healthy for the Rio Olympics and all of its related travel."
Pele underwent prostate surgery in May, and in December he was hospitalized for two weeks because of a urinary tract infection that stemmed from surgery to remove kidney stones.