Oakland, Calif. The Oakland Athletics added another veteran arm to their young rotation, agreeing to terms Tuesday with free-agent righty Ben Sheets on a $10 million, one-year contract.
The 31-year-old Sheets has been plagued by injuries. The four-time NL All-Star didn’t pitch in the majors last season while recovering from elbow surgery but last week held a pitching session for several scouts in Louisiana.
The A’s sent two representatives to watch Sheets throw, director of player personnel Billy Owens and minor-league roving pitching instructor Gil Patterson.
Sheets spent his first eight major league seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers, going 86-83 with a 3.72 earned-run average. He struck out a career-best 264 batters in 2004.
Oakland, which recently re-signed two-time All-Star Justin Duchscherer, still had a spot to fill in the rotation.
Tejada back with Orioles
Baltimore — Six years after signing Miguel Tejada to a top-dollar contract, the Baltimore Orioles welcomed back the 2002 AL MVP at a bargain price.
Tejada received a $6 million, one-year contract Tuesday after passing a physical. In December 2003, Tejada signed a six-year, $72 million contract.
Tejada played shortstop for four seasons with Baltimore before being traded to the Houston Astros for five players, a key deal in the Orioles’ effort to rebuild with youth.
Now, the 35-year-old Tejada will be asked to provide veteran leadership at a new position: third base.
Royals agree with four
Kansas City, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals have agreed to terms with four players on major league contracts for 2010. Details of the agreements announced Tuesday with catcher Manny Pina, right-handed pitcher Blake Wood and left-handers Dusty Hughes and Edgar Osuna weren’t disclosed.
Pina, 22, was acquired from the Texas Rangers with outfielder Tim Smith last September. He was a Texas League all-star and batted .259 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs last year.
Hughes is 27 and went 0-2 with a 5.14 ERA in eight appearances last September for the Royals, including one start.
Osuna, 22, was 7-10 with a 4.02 ERA in the Braves system last year. Wood, 24, was 2-8 and had a 5.83 ERA in 17 appearances in the Royals system.
Twins, Thome reach deal
Minneapolis — Jim Thome has hit 57 of his 564 career home runs against the Minnesota Twins. Now it’s time to even it out a little. Thome and the Twins agreed Tuesday on a one-year, $1.5 million contract, allowing the 39-year-old slugger to return to the division he knows well and play for a contender with his time in baseball winding down.
Thome has fought back problems throughout his career, and his production has dipped in recent years after hitting 42 homers with 109 RBIs for the Chicago White Sox in 2006.
Thome’s career batting average is .277. The five-time All-Star only had a total of 362 at-bats last year.
Phils, Ruiz finalize deal
Philadelphia — Catcher Carlos Ruiz finalized an $8.85 million, three-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, avoiding salary arbitration.
Padres sign Garland
San Diego — Right-hander Jon Garland agreed to a $5.3 million, one-year contract with the San Diego Padres on Tuesday. Garland, who grew up in the L.A. area, saw his first NL action in 2009, splitting the season between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was a combined 11-13 with a 4.01 ERA.
Venus falls in Australia
Melbourne, Australia — Venus Williams was one service game away from holding up her end of a projected sisters semifinal at the Australian Open, until she stumbled in a flurry of errors and lost to No. 16 Li Na. Li reached the Grand Slam semifinals for the first time with the 2-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 quarterfinal win today, giving China two players into the last four of a tennis major for the first time.
Raiders name coordinator
Alameda, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders hired Hue Jackson as offensive coordinator on Tuesday, hoping the man who helped develop Joe Flacco in Baltimore can do the same for JaMarcus Russell.
Jackson is the second new assistant hired by the Raiders since the end of the season, joining defensive line coach Mike Waufle. While owner Al Davis has not yet committed to bringing Tom Cable back as head coach in 2010, he has hired two assistants with ties to Cable.
Jackson and Cable worked together on the staff at Cal-State Fullerton in 1990 and at the University of California in 1996. Waufle and Cable also worked together at Cal in the 1990s.
The Raiders have pointed out Cable’s ties with the new coaches in their news releases announcing the hires.
Vikings will wait on Favre
Eden Prairie, Minn. — The Minnesota Vikings must wait to hear from Brett Favre about whether he’ll play next season. Coach Brad Childress says he won’t set a deadline for the 40-year-old quarterback to decide.
Childress said Tuesday at his season-ending news conference that he’d prefer to know sooner rather than later, but that the team will plan for both possibilities.
Favre insisted after the NFC championship game loss in New Orleans that he wouldn’t take months to reach a decision, unlike last summer’s back and forth.
Atlanta receiver added
Flowery Branch, Ga. — Atlanta Falcons receiver Roddy White is replacing Sidney Rice on the NFC roster for Sunday’s Pro Bowl game in Miami. White will make his second straight Pro Bowl appearance after leading the Falcons with 85 catches for 1,153 yards and a career-high 11 touchdowns. He is the Falcons’ first receiver to have at least 80 catches and 1,100 yards receiving in three straight seasons. White will be the Falcons’ only player in the game.
Vikings CB needs surgery
Eden Prairie, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings cornerback Cedric Griffin will have surgery to repair an injured left knee and may not be ready for the start of next season. Griffin was injured covering the overtime kickoff in Minnesota’s loss at New Orleans in the NFC championship game.
USC QB has surgery
Los Angeles — Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley had what was described as minor arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist Tuesday morning.