Capitals

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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Capitals playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly ready for his second chance in Game 5

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Capitals playoff hero Devante Smith-Pelly ready for his second chance in Game 5

ARLINGTON — Devante Smith-Pelly will skate onto the ice at Capital One Arena tonight and the crowd will roar. They will chant “D-S-P!” and give him an ovation and he will try to keep a stone-faced focus, though it will be hard.

Not bad for a player who was cut in February, passed on by 30 other NHL teams and banished to the minors after a disappointing season and a salary-cap crunch. But that is life as a Stanley Cup playoff folk hero. After scoring seven goals with 19 points during last year’s postseason, including the game-tying goal in the decisive Game 5 of the final series against the Vegas Golden Knights, Smith-Pelly bought himself a lifetime of good will. 

Now, an injury to T.J. Oshie gets him another chance with the Capitals. Smith-Pelly will be in the lineup tonight when Washington hosts the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 5 of a first-round playoff series (8 p.m., NBC). 

“I don’t know if weird is the word. It’s a business,” Smith-Pelly said. “It’s hard to go through something like that. I missed the guys a lot. I still kept in touch with pretty much everyone. It was just going there and doing what I had to do and waiting for a shot. It’s unfortunate that [Oshie] had to get hurt.”

Smith Pelly had just four goals and four assists in 54 games this season and was held out of several preseason games to get his conditioning where it needed to be. When the Capitals traded for forward Carl Hagelin on Feb. 21 they needed salary-cap space to make the move, according to general manager Brian MacLellan. He chose waiving Smith-Pelly over Dmitrij Jaskin. 

When Smith-Pelly cleared waivers, Washington sent him to AHL Hershey so he could play and be ready if needed again. That didn’t seem likely when the playoffs began and the salary cap was no longer an issue. MacLellan said the team had no immediate plans to recall Smith-Pelly just so he could sit. 

But the Capitals wanted him to stay in game shape in case injuries struck – and they finally did on Monday in Game 4. T.J. Oshie is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. Smith-Pelly got the recall and is in the lineup tonight at right wing on the fourth line. It is another chance for a player who was once a second-round draft pick, but has been let go by three previous organizations (Anaheim, Montreal, New Jersey) and found himself on tenuous ground with the Capitals. This isn’t how he wanted it to be. But now he’s back. 

“I wasn’t really thinking too much about it. I was watching the games and cheering the guys on,” Smith-Pelly said. “I wasn’t really sure. I definitely didn’t want to get a chance by someone else getting hurt. That’s for sure. So I don’t know. It’s kind of a weird spot. I’m focused on playing the playoffs there and helping the team there. I wasn’t really thinking about too much about what would happen.”

News and notes

Still no update on Oshie other than he’s out indefinitely, according to coach Todd Reirden. He will obviously not play in Game 5 after crashing into the boards following a nudge from behind by Carolina forward Warren Foegele. … Reirden’s lineup changes include Carl Hagelin moving to right wing on the second line and Chandler Stephenson joining Smith-Pelly and Nic Dowd on the fourth line. … After a nice first playoff game, rookie Jonas Siegenthaler will start with John Carlson, who moves to his natural right side. He'd been starting games on the left with Nick Jensen.  

Game 5 lineup

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Carl Hagelin

Andre Burakovsky – Lars Eller – Brett Connolly

Chandler Stephenson – Nic Dowd – Devante Smith-Pelly

 

Jonas Siegenthaler – John Carlson 

Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen

Brooks Orpik – Nick Jensen 

 

Braden Holtby 

 

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NHL Playoffs 2019 Roundup: Maple Leafs pull ahead of Bruins, Avalanche eliminate Flames

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NHL Playoffs 2019 Roundup: Maple Leafs pull ahead of Bruins, Avalanche eliminate Flames

Thursday's games gave us another tied series with the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes, a slugfest between the St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets, and the San Jose Sharks avoiding elimination at the hands of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Friday's games pushed the Boston Bruins to the brink of elimination, and the Colorado Avalanche eliminated the Calgary Flames in the Saddledome.

Here are all of Friday's results.

Maple Leafs take 3-2 series lead with 2-1 win over Bruins

Frederik Andersen and Tuukka Rask were sharp for the first two periods, but Auston Matthews broke the scoreless tie with a controversial goal 10 minutes into the third period. Boston challenged for goaltender interference, but the goal stood. Matthews now has four goals in the last three games of the series.

Kasperi Kapanen gave the Leafs the game winner on a 3-on-2 just two minutes later.

The Bruins battled back to make it 2-1 with a backdoor feed for David Krejci, but they couldn't force a tie to send the game to overtime. Should the Leafs hold on to win, not only would they reverse their two-year trend of losing in the first round of the playoffs, they would win a series for the first time since the 2003-04 season.

Avalanche extinguish Flames, win series with 5-1 victory

The upstart Avalanche had four players hit three points in their Friday night upset over the Flames. Mikko Rantanen continued his punishing pace with two goals in the game, including the opening and closing goals.

Colin Wilson also notched a two-goal night, and Philipp Grubauer held steady with 28 saves.

This is Colorado's first series win since the 2007-08 season, and the Flames became the second first seed to be knocked out of these playoffs, as the Tampa Bay Lightning were swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets earlier this week.

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