Redskins

Ludwick signs 2-year, $15 million deal with Reds

Ludwick signs 2-year, $15 million deal with Reds

CINCINNATI (AP) Ryan Ludwick left the Reds to see if there was a better deal available on the free agent market. He found at least one, but turned it down to stay with Cincinnati.

The left fielder signed a two-year, $15 million deal on Monday that includes a mutual option for the 2015 season. He agreed to the contract over the weekend and came for the formal announcement.

The 34-year-old outfielder batted .275 with 26 homers and 80 RBIs in 125 games last season, when he started 107 times in left field. After first baseman Joey Votto got hurt at midseason, Ludwick emerged as one of the team's most consistent run producers, helping the Reds win the NL Central for the second time in three years.

``I think ultimately I've always wanted to prove that one All-Star year wasn't a fluke and I can be an All-Star again,'' said Ludwick, an All-Star with St. Louis in 2008. ``The ultimate goal would be to win a World Series. That's one of the reasons I came back here. I think we have guys in place one through nine (in the batting order). We brought back pretty much the whole team.''

Ludwick hit three homers during the Reds' first-round loss to the San Francisco Giants in the playoffs.

He came to Cincinnati on a one-year, $2 million deal for 2012 that included a mutual option for 2013 at $5 million. Instead, he took a $500,000 buyout, interested in seeing what other teams would offer. General manager Walt Jocketty made an offer, then waited to see what Ludwick decided.

``He had several clubs chasing after him, two or three in particular that would have been attractive places,'' Jocketty said. ``At least one had more money on the table. I think it's a credit to Ryan that we tried to make a deal that was fair, that we felt comfortable with.''

Ludwick struggled in the first half of the season. When Votto needed knee surgery and missed 48 games, Ludwick became one of Cincinnati's top hitters, batting .340 with 12 homers and 36 RBIs while the first baseman recovered. Jocketty made keeping him a priority.

``He was a very important part of our success last year as a middle-of-the-order bat,'' Jocketty said. ``It was a bat we had to replace somehow, and I wanted Luddy back for a lot of reasons. I think he'll continue to do well in this ballpark and he'll continue to provide leadership with this ballclub.''

It's the Reds' second major deal in the offseason to keep their roster intact.

Closer Ryan Madson also exercised his contract option after the season and signed with the Angels. The Reds gave Jonathan Broxton a three-year, $21 million deal, which allows them to use him as the closer and move Aroldis Chapman back into the rotation. The Reds got Broxton in a trade from Kansas City in July, and he became a free agent after the season.

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.