Arlington, Texas Ivan Rodriguez is coming home to the Texas Rangers.
The 14-time All-Star catcher who started his career with the Rangers at age 19 was acquired in a trade Tuesday with the Houston Astros for minor-league pitcher Matt Nevarez and two players to be named later.
“He brings experience,” Rangers president Nolan Ryan said. “He’s a veteran, and he brings us a lot of things.”
The 37-year-old Rodriguez signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Astros in March and went on to hit .251 with eight home runs and 34 RBIs in 93 games. But the Astros have faded in the NL playoff chase, while the Rangers went into Tuesday night’s game against Minnesota with a one-game lead in the AL wild card.
Rodriguez is one of the most popular players in Rangers history, winning 10 of his 13 Gold Gloves with the team. He helped lead the franchise’s only three playoff teams in 1996, 1998 and 1999, when he won the AL MVP award. Rodriguez caught 1,426 games in Texas, second in club history to Jim Sundberg’s 1,495. He hit .305 with 215 home runs and 829 RBIs with the Rangers.
He left when the club refused to offer salary arbitration after the 2002 season.
Rangers outfielder David Murphy said he will give up his No. 7, the number Rodriguez wore throughout his time with the Rangers and much of his career. Murphy said he’ll switch to No. 14.
Known to fans by his childhood nickname “Pudge,” Rodriguez received several standing ovations in Arlington in June when he set the major-league record for games caught with 2,227. Rangers manager Ron Washington said Rodriguez would back up Taylor Teagarden, who became the starting catcher when Jarrod Saltalamacchia went on the disabled list last week.
Pitcher’s condition stable
Birmingham, Ala. — Minor-league pitcher Darin Downs is in a hospital after getting struck in the head by a line drive. The left-hander remained in serious but stable condition Tuesday, according to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Vickers’ contract extended
Charlotte, N.C. — Brian Vickers was rewarded Tuesday for his win at Michigan with a multiyear contact extension from Red Bull Racing.
Talks about a new contract had been ongoing for several months, with Vickers insistent he wanted to stay with the team. Although verbal agreements had been made, Austria-based ownership had been slow to present paperwork that would have finalized a deal.
It finally came Tuesday, two days after Vickers’ stretched his final tank of fuel to the first victory for Red Bull. The pole-sitter won when leader Jimmie Johnson ran out of gas with two laps left, giving Vickers just the second Sprint Cup Series win of his career.
Vickers left Hendrick Motorsports at the end of the 2006 season to be the face of the new Red Bull team.
Renault driver named
Paris — French driver Romain Grosjean will replace Nelson Piquet Jr. behind the wheel of a Renault at Sunday’s European Grand Prix.
The Formula One team said Tuesday in a statement that Piquet’s departure follows a “mutual agreement that this course of action is in the best interests of both parties.”
Grosjean will race alongside Fernando Alonso at the European GP in Valencia, Spain, and for the remainder of the 2009 season.
TRACK AND FIELD
Richards cruises in 400
Berlin — Sanya Richards shook off years of disappointment Tuesday with her first major title in the 400 meters, pumping her fist after crossing the line at the world championships.
Her main rival, Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu of Britain, was back in fifth. And for Shericka Williams of Jamaica, it was silver again.
With a time of 49.00 seconds, Richards set the fastest mark of the year. It was good news for the struggling U.S. team, which had been unable to keep Jamaica from celebrating in the sprint events.
Paulus to start for Syracuse
Syracuse, N.Y. — Former Duke point guard Greg Paulus is the starting quarterback at Syracuse. He won the job after transferring and getting an NCAA waiver to play football as a graduate student at the Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Paulus was a Parade All-American as a record-setting quarterback in high school in Syracuse.
Coach Doug Marrone announced the decision. Senior Cam Dantley, last year’s starter, and two underclassmen were also in the running to start.
Syracuse says Tuesday it will play three home games at the new Meadowlands stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The first will be against Southern California in 2012 and then two against Notre Dame in 2014 and 2016.
Utah QB to transfer
Salt Lake City — Utah quarterback Corbin Louks plans to transfer to Nevada. Louks said Tuesday that transferring would give him a better opportunity to continue playing quarterback. He was listed at No. 1 on the depth chart entering fall camp, but was passed last week by freshman Jordan Wynn and junior college transfer Terrance Cain.
Brown’s eligibility at issue
Knoxville, Tenn. — Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin says the NCAA is investigating an eligibility problem involving freshman tailback Bryce Brown. At issue is Brown’s amateur status as a high school athlete, a person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press. The NCAA is reviewing whether money was raised for Brown to visit colleges during his sophomore year. Brown was recruited out of Wichita, Kan., as one of the top high school prospects in 2009 and committed to the Volunteers after letting a scholarship offer from Miami expire.
USC center ailing
Los Angeles — Southern California center Kristofer O’Dowd could be out for a few weeks after dislocating his right kneecap during a scrimmage. O’Dowd is likely to be replaced in practice by Alex Parsons.
Bucks acquire Delfino
Toronto — The Toronto Raptors completed a trade with the Bucks on Tuesday, sending Carlos Delfino to Milwaukee as part of a four-player deal.
Toronto acquired forward Amir Johnson and guard-forward Sonny Weems and sent Roko Ukic to Milwaukee along with Delfino, who spent last season in Russia.
Delfino appeared in 82 games with the Raptors in 2007-08, averaging 9.0 points and 4.4 rebounds.
Venus tumbles in Toronto
Toronto — Venus Williams’ tuneup for the U.S. Open hit a surprising roadblock Tuesday with a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 loss to Ukraine’s Kateryna Bondarenko in the second round of the Rogers Cup.
Williams, seeded third, lost to an opponent ranked No. 64. Williams was playing at this tournament for the first time since 1997 when she was 17. She has lost all three of her matches at the Rogers Cup.
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL
ESPN to debut GameDay
Bristol, Conn. — ESPN is planning to debut a women’s basketball version of its College GameDay program in January before a game between Notre Dame and Connecticut. The network announced on Tuesday that the program will originate from Gampel Pavilion on the UConn campus in Storrs on Saturday, Jan. 16.
NCAA moving 2010 games
Albuquerque, N.M. — Citing issues associated with a $60 million renovation of The Pit, the NCAA is moving 2010 first- and second-round women’s basketball tournament games from Albuquerque to Stanford, Calif. The games are scheduled for March 20-23.
Daly returning to Australia
Sydney — John Daly plans to return to the Australian Open a year after being fined for smashing a fan’s camera into a tree during the tournament. Golf Australia announced Tuesday that the two-time major winner will join the field for the tournament at Sydney’s New South Wales Golf Club from Dec. 3-6.