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White Sox move on after AL Central run falls short

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White Sox move on after AL Central run falls short

CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago White Sox made a surprising run at a division title. Now, big changes could be in store.

They might be saying goodbye to Jake Peavy and A.J. Pierzynski, and the front office could be in for some shuffling, too after the White Sox lost their grip on the AL Central lead and finished three games behind Detroit at 85-77.

Chicago led by as many as 3 1/2 games and spent 117 days in first place, scenarios that few would have envisioned when the season began.

``I can't say enough about these guys for their effort and commitment,'' general manager Ken Williams said. ``It's one thing to talk about it, (and say), `Let's pay greater attention to fundamentals and all these things,' but once you leave spring training, a lot of times, some of those things fall to the wayside. Not with this group. So I can sit here and only be so disappointed in us for not closing this thing out because if there is such a thing as losing the right way, this group did.''

So now what?

The White Sox reportedly will promote their top two baseball executives, with Williams becoming the new vice president of baseball operations and assistant general manager Rick Hahn replacing him as the GM.

Williams is the fourth-longest tenured GM in baseball at the moment, and he just completed his 12th season, a run that included a championship in 2005 to end an 87-year drought along with another division title in 2008. Hahn has been credited with negotiating contracts with Paul Konerko, John Danks, Alexei Ramirez and Gavin Floyd along with evaluating and signing first-round picks Gordon Beckham (2008) and Chris Sale (2010) during his 12 seasons in the organization.

The White Sox have been consistent contenders during that span, finishing at or above .500 nine times. Now, they reportedly will give Williams and Hahn fancier titles in a move that would seem to mirror the one chairman Jerry Reinsdorf made with the NBA's Chicago Bulls in May 2009, when he promoted John Paxson to executive vice president of basketball operations and Gar Forman to general manager.

Job descriptions aside, the task remains the same. And the White Sox have some big decisions to make.

They can exercise a $22 million option on Peavy or buy him out for $4 million. If they do that, they could try to bring him back at a lower rate, but he might be attractive on the open market. After all, the former NL Cy Young winner put aside three injury-riddled seasons to make 32 starts, posting a 3.37 ERA and going 11-12.

Kevin Youkilis also could be gone after being acquired from Boston in late June, with the White Sox not expected to pick up his option.

Then, there's Pierzynski.

His contract is up, and if his eight-year run in Chicago is over, he's ending it on a strong note. He set a career high with 27 homers and matched one with 77 RBIs while hitting .278.

``I would love to come back and finish my career here, but at the same time I know how baseball works,'' Pierzynski said. ``I know the way things work and we'll see. Maybe we can work something out. If not, I'll always look back fondly on my time here and appreciate it. I love the city of Chicago. I love the fans here. I love the people here. I love the organization and you'll never hear me say anything bad about them.''

As disappointing as the finish was for the White Sox, there were still plenty of positives they can take away from this season.

Robin Ventura was a success in his first season as a manager, bringing a sense of calm after the Ozzie Guillen era. Players praised him and Ventura gave it right back to them, saying, ``I enjoy the people I work with, the guys on the team, what they've done, so that part's been fun.''

It helped that Adam Dunn (41 homers, 96 RBIs) and Alex Rios (.304, 25 homers, 91 RBIs) rebounded from miserable seasons. Sale emerged as an All-Star in his first year as a starter, with a 17-8 record and a 3.05 ERA, and Konerko got off to a blazing start before finishing a .298 average and 26 homers. He had surgery Thursday on his left wrist and is expected to be ready for the start of spring training.

Considering the disarray they were in a year ago, with the Williams-Guillen saga having come to its explosive end, this wasn't a bad season for the White Sox.

``There are things that went on this year that just can't be denied as far as positives,'' Konerko said.

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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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