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AP source: Pierzynski set for 1-yr deal with Texas

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AP source: Pierzynski set for 1-yr deal with Texas

Free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski has passed a physical, clearing the way for a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers.

A person familiar with the deal said Pierzynski had a physical Friday and everything was OK. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Rangers had not added Pierzynski to their 40-man roster.

With the Major League Baseball office closed for Christmas, the roster move won't be made until at least next week. The Rangers don't have an open spot on their 40-man roster after claiming left-handed reliever Jeff Beliveau on waivers from the Chicago Cubs earlier in the day.

The deal for Pierzynski comes after the Rangers lost catcher Mike Napoli in free agency.

Pierzynski, who turns 36 later this month, hit .278 with a career-high 27 homers and 77 RBIs, matching a career best, in 135 games for the Chicago White Sox last season.

Still, Pierzynski was left off the AL All-Star roster by Rangers manager Ron Washington when the final selections were made last summer. Washington chose Minnesota's Joe Mauer for the final catcher's spot.

At the time, Washington said he considered Pierzynski ``a winning player'' and that he felt ``really bad'' about him not have room for him on the All-Star roster.

Pierzynski's response when he was snubbed was, ``If he felt that bad, he would have put me on the team. ... He had an opportunity to do it. He didn't do it.''

Now Pierzynski will have a chance to be a starter for the Rangers, who need catching after Napoli left. They also need some left-handed power after losing All-Star slugger Josh Hamilton in free agency to the Los Angeles Angels last week.

Pierzynski is a .284 career hitter in 1,629 games with the White Sox (2005-12), San Francisco (2004) and Minnesota (1998-2003). He was part of a World Series championship team with the White Sox in 2005.

Texas acquired catcher Geovany Soto in a trade from the Chicago Cubs at the end of July, and he hit .196 with five homers and 25 RBIs in 47 games last season as Napoli's primary backup.

Pierzynski could also play some games as the designated hitter. Pierzynski caught 121 games last season.

Soto became a free agent when the Rangers didn't agree to a contract before a deadline earlier this month. But he eventually agreed to a $2.75 million, one-year contract, a more than 20 percent decrease from his $4.3 million payroll last season.

Napoli, who also played first base, hit .320 with 30 homers and 75 RBIs when Texas its second straight AL pennant in 2011, then slumped to a .227 average with 24 homers and 56 RBIs this year. His on-base percentage dropped from .416 to .343, but he still became a first-time All-Star after being selected as a starter by the fan vote.

Boston reached a $39 million, three-year deal with Napoli at the start of the winter meetings more than two weeks ago. But that deal hasn't been finalized yet while the Red Sox address their concerns about his health.

Beliveau made his major league debut with the Cubs in 2012, going 1-0 with a 4.58 ERA in 22 relief appearances. He spent the remainder of last season with Triple-A Iowa, going 4-5 with a 3.89 ERA over 37 games.

The 25-year-old lefty, originally selected by the Cubs in the 18th round of the 2008 draft, was designated for assignment on Dec. 12 when the Cubs signed third baseman Ian Stewart.

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Team USA reclaims women's hockey gold from Canada in instant Olympic classic

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Team USA reclaims women's hockey gold from Canada in instant Olympic classic

GANGNEUNG, South Korea  -- The Americans' gold medal drought in women's hockey -- finally -- is over.

Even though they needed the first shootout in an Olympic women's final to do it.

Twenty long years after taking gold when the sport debuted in 1998 at Nagano, the United States snapped Canada's streak of four straight Olympic golds Thursday with a 3-2 shootout victory.

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored in the sixth round of the shootout to start the Americans piling over the boards, throwing gloves in the air before huddling and hugging on the ice.

Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel also scored in the shootout. Monique Lamoureux-Morando tied it up with a breakaway with 6:21 left in regulation.

Hilary Knight also had a goal.

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Maddie Rooney made 29 saves for the win against their archrival. The 20-year-old goalie stopped the last two Canadian shooters in the shootout in Brianne Jenner and then Meghan Agosta on her second attempt.

It was sweet redemption for the 10 Americans who watched the Canadians snatch gold from their hands in 2014 at Sochi after tying it up with 54.6 seconds left in regulation and winning 3-2 in overtime.

Not only did the Americans snap the Canadians' stranglehold on Olympic gold, they ended a skid of five straight against their rival coming into this game, including a 2-1 loss to wrap up pool play a week ago.

Marie-Philip Poulin and Haley Irwin each scored goals for Canada. Agosta and Melodie Daoust scored in the shootout.

The Americans had been dominating in non-Olympic years, winning the last four and eight of the last 10 world championships, including a 3-2 overtime victory over Canada last spring.

Their domination on the world stage only made the lack of gold at the Olympics all the more noticeable, and Canada has been in their way since losing the inaugural gold in Nagano. Canada had won 24 straight Olympic games to go along with four consecutive gold medals. It's a streak of success in a women's team sport second only to the United States' basketball team's current streak of six straight gold.

This was the eighth time these North American rivals met in the Olympics and the fifth with gold on the line. None of the previous seven were decided by more than two goals.

U.S. coach Robb Stauber went with the 20-year-old Rooney in net for the biggest game of her career, but she was the goalie for each of the three games the Americans beat Canada last fall during their pre-Olympic exhibition tour, including Four Nations Cup title in November.

Canada had Shannon Szabados, 31, in goal for her third Olympic gold medal game, and her teammates made her job very easy by keeping the puck in front of Rooney for most of the first period by dictating play. The Americans couldn't use their speed or get organized even with two power plays until Sarah Nurse went in the box for interference late in the period.

Knight gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead with 25.4 seconds left in the first, redirecting a shot from Sidney Morin through Szabados' pads giving the Americans a jolt of energy.

That lasted only 2 minutes into the second when Irwin tipped a pass from Blayre Turnbull over Rooney's left leg for Canada. When Morin lost the puck, Melodie Daoust grabbed it and passed to Meghan Agosta who hit Poulin for the wrister into the left side of the net at 6:55 for a 2-1 lead.

 

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

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Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

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