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Kevin Youkilis, Yankees finalize $12 million deal

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Kevin Youkilis, Yankees finalize $12 million deal

NEW YORK (AP) After spending 8 1/2 years in Boston and delivering a pair of World Series titles to the Fenway Park faithful, Kevin Youkilis was surprised when the New York Yankees expressed interest in fitting him for pinstripes.

``At first, it was kind of like, `Wow!''' he said Friday after finalizing a $12 million, one-year contract with New York. ``There's a lot of great Red Sox fans that just wanted the best for me going forward and I know there's going to be some that don't like the decision, and you can't worry about that.''

A three-time All-Star, Youkilis becomes the Yankees' starting third baseman for at least the first half of next season while Alex Rodriguez recovers from hip surgery. A-Rod's operation is scheduled for next month.

``Obviously, he certainly cushions the blow of losing Alex,'' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. ``That's a difficult loss. When you have a healthy Alex Rodriguez, you have really one of the game's more productive players. But I couldn't think of anybody better to replace him in the short-term with as Kevin Youkilis.''

While announcing the deal for Youkilis, the Yankees closed in on a $13 million, two-year contract with outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, according to a person familiar with the negotiations. The sides still had to finalize language and the deal will be subject to a physical, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the agreement was not complete. Suzuki will get $6.5 million a year.

Youkilis, traded from the Red Sox to the Chicago White Sox in June, joined Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon as Boston players who made the switch to the Bronx in the heated rivalry. He'll get an early look at his old club: The Red Sox are set to open at Yankee Stadium on April 1.

``I reached out to Johnny. He just said you're going to love the experience. It's a great place to play,'' Youkilis said.

But Damon also has felt the wrath of Red Sox fans.

``He's had a hard time in Boston. I saw him the other day. It's kind of upsetting to him, the fact that they've been pretty rough on him,'' Youkilis said.

He also plans to speak with Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain. The pair feuded in the past over tight fastballs.

``It's not a big deal to me,'' Youkilis said. ``If it was that big of a deal, I wouldn't be signing with the Yankees.''

Chamberlain left Youkilis a voicemail this week, but they haven't spoken.

``I haven't been able to return so many calls,'' Youkilis said. ``But I'll reach out to him and talk to him.''

If and when Rodriguez returns, Youkilis figures to see time at first base backing up Mark Teixeira. He also could get some games at designated hitter.

``And they told me I'm going to play shortstop, too,'' Youkilis said before quickly adding he had no intention of taking time away from Yankees captain Derek Jeter: ``I'm just kidding. They're definitely not going to put me at short. If they put me at short, we're going to be in a lot of trouble.''

Rodriguez, who turns 38 in July, will have surgery in mid-January, and the Yankees said the anticipated recovery time is six months.

``I'm not going to guarantee anything about when he's coming back or how he'll come back. So we'll just have to wait and see,'' Cashman said. ``We hope we can bring him back into the fold and have the high-caliber player that we hoped to have prior to these injuries. But our season and our team is going on regardless, and therefore that's why this was such an important acquisition.''

Rodriguez is owed $114 million by the Yankees as part of his record $275 million, 10-year contract.

``I'm not in a position here to guarantee anything or frame what the realistic expectations are as we move forward over the next five years with what we're going to get from him,'' Cashman said. ``I just think we have to play it out and see.''

To make room for Youkilis on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated left-hander Josh Spence for assignment.

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Dustin Hopkins isn't 100-percent so the Redskins reportedly worked out five kickers

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Dustin Hopkins isn't 100-percent so the Redskins reportedly worked out five kickers

Lost in the fact that Tress Way is having a stellar season is that his fellow specialist, Dustin Hopkins, is getting it done, too.

The Redskins' kicker has made 17 of 19 field goals so far in 2018, giving him an 89.5-percent conversion rate on kicks. Against Carolina, he nailed a career-long 56-yarder, plus he's 17-for-17 on extra points.

But on Tuesday, a report came out saying that Hopkins is "a bit banged up." As of now, the Redskins don't know if they'll have Hopkins or not this weekend vs. the Texans, which is why they worked out five kickers five days before the Houston matchup, per Field Yates.

Among the group of free agents was former 'Skin Kai Forbath, who made 32-of-38 three-pointers for the Vikings in 2017. He was with the Burgundy and Gold from 2012-2014 and also briefly in 2015. 

Washington also reportedly tried out two maligned kickers in Roberto Aguayo and Blair Walsh. 

The Bucs drafted Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 draft but he flamed out in Tampa and was gone after a single year and poor 2017 preseason. Walsh, meanwhile, hasn't been the same since missing a 27-yard game winning playoff attempt versus Seattle while he was with Minnesota.  

Rounding out the group was Sam Ficken and Jon Brown.

The Redskins have been very reliant on both Hopkins and Way this season, seeing as their offense has had its issues. They've needed Hopkins to cash in on field goals to avoid wasting points and Way to help win the field position battle each week.

For some franchises, losing a kicker for a week or two wouldn't be much of a problem. And while Washington could very well be OK without Hopkins, they'd rather not have to bring in a new foot for any amount of time.

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Otto Porter Jr., Ian Mahinmi react to new reality under Scott Brooks where minutes aren't guaranteed

Otto Porter Jr., Ian Mahinmi react to new reality under Scott Brooks where minutes aren't guaranteed

Through his first two seasons in Washington, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks was not known to make significant adjustments to his lineup. In his first season coaching the Wizards, 2016-17, he didn't really need to. They had the best season for the franchise, 49-33, since the 1970s.

Last year, the tweaks he made were largely by necessity. John Wall missed 41 games and he had to adjust.

What Brooks has been doing in recent games with his Wizards' rotation are something we haven't really seen before. First, he benched Ian Mahinmi for three games. Then, he sat Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr. in the fourth quarter. 

Morris returned to play fourth quarter minutes on Monday in their win against the Magic, but Porter remained on the bench, sitting in the last seat on the end with a towel over his head, rising periodically to clap and cheer on his teammates.

Such is life for the Wizards right now. They are off to a 4-9 start, well below their standards, and Brooks is doing whatever he can to right the ship. So far, those decisions have paid off, as they have won two straight games for the first time this season.

"We weren't winning, so I had to make some changes," Brooks said.

Brooks, it appears, has reached a new point in his tenure with the Wizards. He is willing to sit key players in his rotation, and ones that happen to make a good deal of money. Porter is the highest-paid player on the team, carrying a salary of $26 million and Mahinmi is not far behind at $15.9 million.

As Brooks insists, it isn't quite as simple as him deciding to bench a player. It has much to do with the flow of the game and how he simply has more options at his disposal this year.

Instead of Morris and Porter, he has rolled with Austin Rivers and Jeff Green in the fourth quarter. Both Rivers and Green weren't on the team last season.

Rivers gives them more speed in a three-guard lineup and plays physical defense on the perimeter. Green has been shooting lights-out and is one of their most versatile players on both ends of the floor.

The added depth on the Wizards' roster has set in a new reality for Brooks. The players are beginning to understand that.

"We do have depth. That's the thing," Porter said. "We have so many good players that are interchangeable. We're just finding ways to win."

"It is definitely evolving into something different that I haven't seen before," Mahinmi said. "I remember a few years back, it was a defined first unit and second unit. If the second unit was going, he would let them run and let it ride. With this roster, we have even more flexibility than last year."

Porter played just 22 minutes against the Magic. He has been held to under 24 minutes in three straight games. The lack of playing time has crushed his numbers. He has just 21 total points in those three outings.

Mahinmi is averaging only 14.1 minutes per game this season, his fewest since 2010-11. And that number is skewed by the fact he started six games to begin the year with Dwight Howard nursing an injury.

The evolving rotation has required an adjustment for the players. Though it doesn't change how they prepare for games, they now understand that surprises can happen.

"He's made a whole lot of change from a game-to-game basis. I'm with [everyone else]. I'm seeing it has it goes," Mahinmi said. "[It's like] 'I guess I'm not playing tonight.' Just stay ready. That's part of being a professional."

Mahinmi says he and other players aren't owed an explanation from Brooks when he makes those changes. And he is quick to say it doesn't bother him.

"As long as we win, I'm happy," he said.

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