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AP source: Napoli, Boston strike $39M, 3-year deal

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AP source: Napoli, Boston strike $39M, 3-year deal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Adding offense following a disappointing season, the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a $39 million, three-year contract with catcher Mike Napoli, a person familiar with the deal said.

The agreement is subject to Napoli passing a physical, which will take place later this week, the person said Monday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet final.

``Awesome addition to our team!'' Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester tweeted.

A 31-year-old who also plays first base, Napoli hit .320 with 30 homers and 75 RBIs as the Texas Rangers won their second straight AL pennant in 2011, then slumped to a .227 average with 24 homers and 56 RBIs this year as he became a first-time All-Star. His on-base percentage dropped from .416 to .343.

Napoli is a .306 career hitter at Fenway Park (19 for 62) with seven homers and 17 RBIs. He is the third free agent this offseason to join the Red Sox following outfielder Jonny Gomes, who got a $10 million, two-year contract, and catcher David Ross, who received a $6.2 million, two-year deal.

``He's a guy who is getting on base, has power, would be a good fit for our ballpark,'' Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said, without confirming the agreement. ``We like his offense at Fenway. We like the versatility.''

The right-handed-hitting Napoli could see most of his playing time at first base because Adrian Gonzalez was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August along with pitcher Josh Beckett and outfielder Carl Crawford.

``We knew when we made the Dodger trade and we moved Gonzalez that we were going to have to try to find a way to replace that offense,'' Cherington said.

Texas was unwilling to guarantee three seasons for Napoli, who hit .350 with two homers and 10 RBIs in the 2011 World Series against St. Louis.

``They were very upfront with us throughout the process. So not a surprise,'' Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. ``I'm hesitant to use the word disappointment because ultimately we had a decision to make.''

Boston now has four catchers, with Napoli joining Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Ryan Lavarnway and Ross. Saltalamacchia started 95 games behind the plate last season, with Kelly Shoppach getting 42 starts and Lavarnway 25.

The Red Sox could trade one of their catchers, but that might wait until spring training.

``We're pretty comfortable where we are,'' Cherington said.

Boston still is looking for a left-handed bat and starting pitching. The Mets are discussing whether to trade NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, but the price in prospects would be high.

``It's always steep for the better guys, a valuable commodity, so if a team is going to move someone, especially if there's any length of control, they're asking for a lot,'' Cherington said, ``as we would.''

Boston is coming off its first last-place finish in two decades, a year when the Red Sox went 69-93 and lost 26 of their last 33 games. Manager Bobby Valentine was fired and replaced by John Farrell.

``You've got to add a lot of wins (from) where we finished to compete in this division,'' Cherington said. ``I think players and agents understand that despite what happened this year, Boston is Boston. We're committed to having a winning team. We have a history of a winning team. We're going to commit resources to the team.''

At last year's session in Dallas, Cherington called the winter meetings a ``cesspool of information flow and dialogue.''

``You go through the cycle once and you're a little bit more comfortable with everything you have to do,'' he said, ``and maybe more aware of the potential pot holes and able to navigate those hopefully.''

But he did have some levity. Asked what player he was looking at to play right field, Cherington responded: ``Dwight Evans.''

NOTES: 3B Pedro Ciriaco, who was playing in the Dominican Winter League, had right shoulder soreness checked out by the Red Sox, and Cherington said it was minor and he should be ready for spring training. ... Boston agreed to minor league contracts with RHP Jose De La Torre, RHP Terry Doyle, OF Mitch Maier, utility man Drew Sutton and RHP Oscar Villarreal.

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Capitals have been their own worst enemy, and they were again on Friday

Capitals have been their own worst enemy, and they were again on Friday

The Capitals managed to earn a point on Friday in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, but the game felt like a missed opportunity for Washington. After giving up four goals in the first period, seven power plays including two 5-on-3s, and two power play goals, the Caps knew they had no one to blame but themselves for the loss.

“We were still not quite there maybe emotionally,” Lars Eller said.

At least not for the first period. The Caps allowed four goals in the opening 20 minutes to dig themselves into a 4-1 hole. Each goal came from the slot as the Caps had no control over the front of their own net.

“Just tough to start that way, to kind of dig ourselves a big hole,” Brett Connolly said. “Obviously, it’s good to come back and get a point but we don’t need to do that to ourselves. It takes a lot of energy to get back in that game.”

Washington battled back to tie the game at 4, but penalties ultimately derailed their momentum, allowing Florida to retake the lead.

After scoring three straight goals, the Caps took three minor penalties in the final three minutes of the second period.

Alex Ovechkin was called for interference on Aaron Ekblad as he made no attempt to play a loose puck that trickled past the Florida defenseman. He was clearly focused on delivering the hit and nothing else.

Less than a minute later, Eller was caught on the ice a tad early, and Washington was called for too many men.

“I see Backy coming for a change, they had full possession,” Eller said. “I don't see behind my back, I think the guys are telling me he has one skate over so I think it was an unnecessary call, but what am I going to say? It's a tough one.”

With 1:15 of a two-man advantage to work with, Jonathan Huberdeau scored the go-ahead goal late in the period.

Even after a furious comeback, the Caps could not escape the second with the score tied because of the penalties.

Just 43 seconds after Huberdeau’s goal, Washington went right back to 5-on-3. Evgeny Kuznetsov was tossed from a faceoff by the linesman and argued the call, eventually earning himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

“He said something he shouldn't have said to the referee,” Reirden said of the call.

The Caps' penalty problems were exacerbated by the continued problems of the penalty kill.

Heading into Friday's game, Washington was only killing off 72.2 percent of the power plays they faced. They allowed another two power play goals Friday as they continued to struggle when facing the extra man.

“We have room for improvement for sure,” Reirden said of his penalty kill. “It’s a new system, new with the way we’re killing, its new personnel. We’re learning. We’re missing a key guy in Tom on that as well. It’s not easy, either, when you’re 5-on-3 when they’ve got talented players that can convert in that spot. It’s definitely a work in progress and I didn't expect it to go smoothly to start with. That’s one of the areas that we knew was gonna be new to our team this year and it’s gonna continue to take some work. It’s something that definitely is a work in progress.”

Mistakes put the Caps down 4-1, they put them down 5-4, they cost them a valuable point against a previously winless Panthers team before a four-game road trip through Canada, and they are ultimately why the defending Stanley Cup champions are only 3-2-2 to start the season.

And they know it.

“We’re still trying to find our game,” Connolly said. “Would we have liked to have picked up where we left off? Yes. But it’s not easy. We played a lot of hockey last year and a short summer and you come in here and there’s a lot of distractions, a lot of that kind of stuff. We’ve done some good things and we’ve done some not so good things.

"I think if you look at last season we weren't very good either at the start. We weren't at our best. Just take the positives and know that we can overcome that. It hasn’t been disastrous. We’re still getting points, we’re still above .500 right now with a tough couple back-to-backs to start the year. So not the worst start, but obviously we have another level.”

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Panthers head coach calls for league to review Ovechkin’s hit to Pysyk

Panthers head coach calls for league to review Ovechkin’s hit to Pysyk

The Florida Panthers played over half of Friday’s game with five defensemen after a hit from Alex Ovechkin ultimately knocked Mark Pysyk out of the game.

Early in the second period, Ovechkin attempted to enter the offensive zone with the puck, but it was swept away at the blue line back to Pysyk. Pysyk quickly chipped the puck away and then was on the receiving end of a hit from Ovechkin.

In real time, the hit did not appear to be a big one. It wasn't even the biggest hit Ovechkin delivered in the game, as in the third period he sent Aleksander Barkov flying with a shoulder hit. But Pysyk went down to the ice after the hit and left the game soon after.

After the game, Florida head coach Bob Boughner did not mince words.

“Pysyk got a high hit to the head,” he said.

When asked if he thought the league should review the hit, Boughner said, “I hope they do because if you see the replay, it's high. It's a head shot. And the league's trying to clamp down on that. Whether there's no call, I don't blame the refs. Maybe they missed it. That happens. But those are the kind of plays that need to be reviewed.”

Based on the replay, it is hard to determine if the principal point of contact was the head. Ovechkin does not launch himself, but does appear to take an upward trajectory into Pysyk. Still, it seems like a hard sell to say Ovechkin was targeting the head.

But the hit did send Pysyk out of the game, and in today’s NHL, when head hits are a big topic of conversation and when a player is injured on a play, the NHL has shown it takes those plays more seriously.

Pysyk returned to the game for one more shift after receiving the hit, but left the game after and did not return.

“Right now we're still getting him checked out, but we'll see more in the morning,” Boughner said.

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