Oscar Colás Signs Agreement with Chicago White Sox

Oscar Colás is headed to the Windy City

The 23-year-old Cuban professional baseball pitcher and outfielder has agreed to a contract with the Chicago White Sox, adding another name to the team’s rich Cuban history.

Oscar ColásConsidered one of the top international free agents, Colás received a $2.7 million signing bonus. The team also announced it had agreed to terms with outfielder Erick Hernández in a deal that included a $1 million bonus.

Colás hails from Santiago de Cuba. He bats and throws left-handed and hit .282 with 28 homers and 116 RBIs in 187 games over his foreign league career.

Colás also has worked as a pitcher, but Marco Paddy, an executive for international operations for the White Sox, said he’ll concentrate on developing him as an outfielder.

“He wants to be a position player and he feels that he’s got a better chance to be successful as a position player,” Paddy said, “and we feel like his development as a pitcher would take much longer than a position player.

“So, for that kind of player with that type of power, that type of ability on the field, obviously we’re looking for a guy that has the opportunity to get to the major leagues a lot quicker.”

The White Sox have experienced a long run of success with Cuba natives that includes Minnie Miñoso, who was good dating profile female examples in December, and extends all the way to their current team with first baseman José Abreu, centerfielder Luis Robert, catcher Yasmani Grandal and third baseman Yoán Moncada. The team also has Yoelqui Cespedes, Norge Vera, and Yolbert Sánchez in the minors.

Colás said he talked to Robert, Cespedes and Sánchez before finalizing his decision.

“What they told me is this is a very good organization, that they’re very excited having me,” Colás said through an interpreter, “and that they just want me to join them and play hard as they are doing here.”

The 17-year-old Hernández is from Moca, Dominican Republic. He bats and throws left-handed.

The team said it expects to make more international signings in the coming weeks.

“We feel very good with what we were able to accomplish this year,” Paddy said. “Having the ability to sign two high-level prospects with impact-type tools like Colás and Hernández, I would categorize that as a solid year.”

David Ortiz is This Year’s Sole Inductee into Baseball Hall of Fame

David Ortiz is a lone wolf…

The 46-year-old Dominican-American former professional baseball designated hitter and first baseman who played 20 seasons in Major League Baseball, nicknamed “Big Papi,” is the sole player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year, while others like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were shut out.

David OrtizOrtiz was the only player to clear the required 75% threshold, according to results of this year’s voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Ortiz finished with 77.9% in becoming the 58th player elected in his first year of eligibility. At 46, he will also be the youngest of the 75 living members of the Hall.

“I learned not too long ago how difficult it is to get in on the first ballot,” Ortiz said. “Man, it’s a wonderful honor to be able to get in on my first rodeo. It’s something that is very special to me.”

Bonds, baseball’s all-time home run leader; 354-game winner Clemens; 600-homer-club member Sammy Sosa; and longtime ace pitcher Curt Schilling were in their 10th and final year of eligibility in the annual BBWAA balloting.

Bonds, Sosa and Clemens posted numbers that marked them as surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famers, but they became avatars for the era of performance-enhancing drugs. While Bonds and Clemens in particular have long denied using PEDs, accusations have dogged them in the media and in books, and have been the subject of court dramas and testimony in front of Congress. In the end, about a third of the voters decided the allegations were too egregious to overlook, enough to bar their entry to the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, at least via the writers’ vote.

Ortiz is a different story, despite his own PED suspicions. A 2009 story in The New York Times reported that Ortiz was among 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing substances during a round of tests conducted in 2003. Those results were supposed to remain confidential, and the tests were done to see if the league had reached a threshold to conduct regular testing.

Ortiz has long denied that he used banned substances, and in 2016, commissioner Rob Manfred said the tests in question were inconclusive because “it was hard to distinguish between certain substances that were legal, available over the counter and not banned under our program.”

Manfred added that during subsequent testing Ortiz “has never been a positive at any point under our program.”

When asked about those suspicions Tuesday, Ortiz said, “We had someone coming out with this one list, where you don’t know what anybody tested positive for. All of a sudden people are pointing fingers at me. But then we started being drug tested and I never tested positive. What does that tell you?”

As for the last-chance candidates, Sosa’s support never approached the threshold for election, but the cases of Bonds and Clemens were more divisive among the selectors. Both climbed over the 50% mark in 2017 only to see their support plateau in recent seasons. The tallies for their last go-arounds were 66% for Bonds and 65.2% for Clemens.

Among first-time eligibles on this year’s ballot were MLB All-Star infielder Alex Rodriguez, who finished with 696 home runs and 2,086 RBIs, totals that both rank fourth all-time in their respective categories. Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating baseball’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was the only other first-time eligible beyond Ortiz and Rodriguez to draw enough support to remain on the ballot.

Ortiz, widely known for his gregarious personality and endearing nickname, became the second career designated hitter to be selected via the writers’ balloting. Seattle Mariners great Edgar Martinez was the first when he was elected in 2019. A member of three World Series-winning teams in Boston, Ortiz hit 541 career home runs and added 17 more while putting together a celebrated postseason résumé.

 

“David Ortiz is the most important player to ever wear a Red Sox uniform,” Red Sox president & CEO Sam Kennedy said in a statement put out by the team. “He came to Boston in relative anonymity and with his captivating personality and his formidable bat he shattered expectations and paved the franchise’s future in championships.”

Ortiz will become the second Hall of Famer from the 2004 Red Sox, who famously broke Boston’s 86-year championship drought by winning that season’s World Series, joining pitcher Pedro Martinez. He also cements his place in the pantheon of Boston sports stars like Ted Williams, Bobby Orr and Bill Russell, something he said he never thought could happen.

“When I first got to Boston, I used to look up at those guys like, ‘Wow, I don’t think you can be part of that pack at all,'” Ortiz said. “You’re talking about real legendary, real OG. But they began their career just like I did. Not with the thought that they were going to end up where they are.”

Martinez was with Ortiz on Tuesday at a gathering in the Dominican Republic, where Ortiz received news of his election. Ortiz is the fourth Dominican-born player to be elected to the Hall, joining Martinez, Juan Marichal and Vladimir Guerrero.

“I can imagine how New England feels about one of its babies getting into the Hall of Fame today,” Ortiz said. “I don’t even have to tell you about the Dominican Republic. It’s a country that breathes baseball. And people are very excited right here. Everything is going crazy right now.”

Ortiz will enter the Hall during the July 24 induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown. He will join six players selected by a pair of era committees last month: Brooklyn Dodgers great Gil Hodges, Twins slugger Tony Oliva, longtime White Sox star Minnie Minoso, pitcher Jim Kaat, Black baseball pioneer Bud Fowler and Negro League legend and ambassador Buck O’Neil. All but Ortiz, Kaat and Olivo will be inducted posthumously.

In addition, late broadcaster Jack Graney will be honored as the Ford C. Frick award winner for excellence in broadcasting, while ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian will be recognized as this year’s winner of the BBWAA Career Excellence Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing.

With Ortiz standing as the lone winner from this year’s BBWAA balloting, the writers have now elected just one player total over the past two cycles. The sudden drought comes on the heels of a fertile period for inductees, which saw the writers select 22 players during the period from 2014 to 2020.

Manchester City Reportedly Closing Deal for Julian Alvarez

Julian Alvarez is thisclose to heading to Manchester City

ManCity is close to sealing a deal for the 21-year-old Argentine professional footballer and River Plate forward, according to ESPN sources.

Julian AlvarezCity believe they have seen off competition from AC Milan for Alvarez with the final details to be ironed out before an agreement is reached. Sources have told ESPN the overall cost of the transfer could be less than £20 million.

It;s likely that Alvarez, who has already been capped five times by Argentina, won’t move to the Etihad Stadium until next summer at the earliest but sources have told ESPN he would be considered a first-team signing.

Until he is ready to move to England, City will consider loaning him back to River Plate or arranging another loan elsewhere.

Asked about Alvarez following the 1-1 draw with Southampton on Saturday, Pep Guardiola remained tight-lipped.

“I don’t have any information from the club, anything,” he said.

“Not one word. I don’t know anything. I don’t have any information about the club.”

Alvarez is considered to be one of the best young players in South America and should City get a deal over the line, it would be a coup of the Premier League champions following interest from Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

City remain open to the idea that he could be part of Guardiola’s senior squad next season but sources have told ESPN his arrival would not change their plans to sign an established striker in the summer.

Ricardo Pepi Named to U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team for Upcoming World Cup Qualifiers

Ricardo Pepi is set to represent the United States…

The 18-year-old Mexican American professional soccer player, fresh off his transfer from FC Dallas to Augsburg earlier this month, appears on the United States men’s national team roster for manager Gregg Berhalter ahead of an upcoming three-game World Cup qualifying window.

Ricardo PepiPepi appears on a roster that includes Christian PulisicWeston McKennie and Tyler Adams.

Through eight of 14 matches, the United States sits second in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying standings with 15 points — a point behind first-place Canada and a point ahead of Mexico and Panama. The top three teams automatically qualify for the 2022 Qatar World Cup, while the fourth-place finisher will play a single-match qualifier in June.

The United States hosts El Salvador in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday and plays at Canada in Hamilton, Ontario, on January 30 before finishing the window against Honduras in St. Paul, Minnesota, on February 2.

The 28-man roster features Luca De la Torre, who has seen his profile rise recently through strong play with Heracles in the Dutch Eredivisie.

Borussia Dortmund attacker Giovanni Reyna, who recently returned to training in Germany following a hamstring injury he suffered on international duty in September, remains unavailable.

“That was another one that was a difficult decision in the end,” Berhalter said. “Together with Gio, we thought the best thing for him to do is to stay at Dortmund, train these weeks and try to get into their squad.”

Here’s a look at the roster:

GOALKEEPERS (4): Sean Johnson (New York City FC; 9/0), Gabriel Slonina (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Manchester City/ENG; 26/0), Matt Turner (New England Revolution; 13/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Reggie Cannon (Boavista/POR; 22/1), Sergino Dest (Barcelona/ESP; 15/2), Brooks Lennon (Atlanta United; 1/0), Mark McKenzie (Genk/BEL; 8/0), Chris Richards (Hoffenheim/GER; 6/0), Antonee Robinson (Fulham/ENG; 15/3), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United; 15/3), DeAndre Yedlin (Galatasaray/TUR; 71/0), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC; 23/2)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC; 45/2), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig/GER; 22/1), Luca De la Torre (Heracles/NED; 4/0), Sebastian Lletget (New England Revolution; 33/8), Weston McKennie (Juventus/ITA; 28/8), Yunus Musah (Valencia/ESP; 11/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders; 30/0)

FORWARDS (8): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg/AUT; 15/5), Paul Arriola (DC United; 42/8), Jesus Ferreira (FC Dallas; 5/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders; 40/10), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea/ENG; 42/17), Timothy Weah (Lille/FRA; 18/2), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew; 66/14)

LA Galaxy Pursuing Brazil’s Douglas Costa

Douglas Costa could be headed to Southern California.

The LA Galaxy are in pursuit of the 31-year-old Brazilian professional footballer and Brazil international midfielder, according to ESPN.

Douglas CostaCosta had been on loan at Gremio from Italian giants Juventus. But following Gremio’s relegation to Serie B last month, the club is facing a significant cut to its finances, and Costa is close to terminating his loan.

One source said that negotiations between Costa and the Galaxy were “moving along” but not done yet.

The Galaxy are in need of bolstering their midfield following the offseason departures of Jonathan dos Santos to Club America and Sebastian Lletget via a trade to the New England Revolution, even after they acquired Marky Delgado from Toronto FC last week.

Costa has played for some of the world’s biggest clubs. In addition to his time at Juve, he had two separate stints with Bayern Munich. He began his pro career with Gremio in 2008 before securing a move to Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk in 2010.

After spending five seasons in Donetsk, during which he won 11 trophies, Costa made the move to Bayern where he spent the next two campaigns. During his time in Munich, Costa won two Bundesliga titles as well as a DFB-Pokal. His stint in Turin was also prolific, winning three Serie A titles. A loan stint at Bayern during the 2020-21 saw him claim another Bundesliga title. He returned to Gremio on loan, but couldn’t prevent the club’s first relegation since 2004. All told he made 462 league and cup appearances scoring 68 goals.

At international level, Costa has made 31 appearances for Brazil, scoring three goals. He was part of the squad that reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Alex de Minaur Reaches Australian Open Fourth Round for the First Time

It’s a sweet 16 for Alex de Minaur

The 22-year-old Uruguayan & Spanish Australian tennis player has reached the Australian Open‘s round of 16 for the first time, the local hope winning his ninth straight set at Melbourne Park as he defeated Pablo Andujar.

Alex de Minaur,de Minaur, the 32nd seed, beat the Spanish veteran and regular hitting partner Andujar 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in another commanding display as Australian tennis great Rod Laver watched on in the stadium named in his honor on Saturday.

de Minaur will face Italian 20-year-old world No. 10 Jannik Sinner, who has beaten the Australian in both previous encounters, for a place in the quarterfinals.

de Minaur, ranked 42 in the world, lost the first set in his first round clash but has won his past nine to build his best home campaign.

Andujar, who will turn 36 on Sunday, joined the tour in 2003 and has returned from three separate surgeries on his right elbow to hit a ranking high of 32 in the world seven years ago.

He made the Australian earn it, but de Minaur obliged in trademark fashion to run down the Spaniard’s best and counter with some scintillating shot-making of his own.

de Minaur rifled a forehand down the line to secure the decisive break in the first set, while a pinpoint lob earned applause from his opponent in the second set after the Australian had somehow scrambled to stay in the point.

The cracks opened, a double fault handed de Minaur a break in the third set and he rammed home his advantage with another monster forehand in the next game.

“Pretty exciting to play here at Rod Laver Arena at 7pm in front of Rod Laver himself … it’s a pretty amazing feeling and I got the win so what more can I ask for,” de Minaur said on court.

“(I’m expecting) a lot of firepower from Jannik, he’s a hell of a player so I’m just looking forward to it.”

de Minaur is set to rise at least nine spots to No. 33 in the world thanks to his career-best performance at Melbourne Park.

Deiveson Figueiredo Defeats Brandon Moreno to Reclaim UFC Flyweight Title

Deiveson Figueiredo has reclaimed his belt…

The 34-year-old Brazilian professional mixed martial artist (21-2-1) reclaimed the 125-pound title he lost to Brandon Moreno (19-6-2) in August by defeating his Mexican rival in a unanimous decision.

All three judges scored the flyweight title fight, which co-headlined UFC 270 inside the Honda Center, in favor of Figueiredo, 48-47.

Saturday’s result brings the rivalry to an even record of 1-1-1. The two fought to a draw in December 2020, before Moreno dominated Figueiredo in their second meeting. After losing by submission in the rematch, however, Figueiredo looked like a completely different fighter in the trilogy, as his cardio and mental preparation was obvious.

“Today is my day,” Figueiredo said. “For this moment, for Brandon, for us to give you the gift of a fight of the night, for everyone who was here. I’ve been away from my family for four months. I’m ready for a fourth fight against Brandon in Mexico.”

According to UFC Stats, Moreno outlanded Figueiredo 106-95 in total strikes. But Figueiredo landed several devastating strikes, including a heavy right hand that knocked Moreno down, badly hurting him, at the end of the third round.

“I feel like I threw the better combinations with more speed, maybe he connected a little bit more power,” Moreno said. “Obviously, I thought I won, but it is what it is right now. I feel I was putting better pace on the fight. I don’t know. I need to watch the fight again and see what happened.”

The trilogy bout saw the best of both men. Moreno’s boxing and footwork were on display all night. He had great success with his left hook at the end of exchanges and was hard to track down in wrestling scrambles. Figueiredo answered with heavy low leg kicks that knocked Moreno off balance and powerful right hands.

Figueiredo left his native Brazil ahead of Saturday’s fight to train with former flyweight and bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo in Arizona, and his adjustments clearly paid off. His patience was better, and his weight cut during fight week was noticeably improved from August.

 

Moreno’s popularity exploded after he won the belt. Saturday’s crowd was heavily in his favor and played a big role in the UFC setting a new gate record at the Honda Center.

 

The loss was Moreno’s first since May 2018.

Miguel Angel Jimenez Wins Mitsubishi Electric Championship for Third Time

Miguel Angel Jimenez is feeling electric

The 58-year-old Spanish professional golfer birdied the par-4 18th hole in regulation for a 6-under 66 and then beat Steven Alker on the second playoff hole to win the PGA Tour Champions season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship for the third time.

Miguel Angel Jimenez“It’s a nice way to start a season. It’s nice to be here, winning again in Hualalai,” said the cigar-smoking, free-spirited Spaniard. “The golf course, I like it very much. The golf course is set up in beautiful condition this year. They make it very good here at Hualalai.”

Jimenez won two years ago in a playoff, along with winning outright in 2015. The season opener is for winners from the last two years and senior major champions from the last five years, along with a few sponsor exemptions.

Alker had no PGA Tour Champions status late last year under getting it through a qualifier and then finishing in the top 10 each week to keep playing, eventually winning. He also closed with a 66 to join Jimenez at 17-under 199.

They finished one shot ahead of Vijay Singh and Stephen Ames, who each birdied the final hole for a 68.

Ernie Els, who had the lead going into the final day, couldn’t keep up and had to settle for a 70. He finished three shots behind.

Alker had a chance to win with a birdie at the 18th on the first extra hole, narrowly missing the cut. Playing the 18th again in the playoff, his approach came off the green and into a bunker, and he failed to save par.

“It was fun to get in position and have a chance,” Alker said.

Jimenez joined Bernhard Langer as the only three-time winner of the tournament.

It was his 11th career victory on the PGA Tour Champions, four of them in playoffs.

Glover Teixeira to Defend UFC Light Heavyweight Title Against Jiri Prochazka

Glover Teixeira is going on the defensive…

The 42-year-old Brazilian mixed martial artist and UFC light heavyweight champion will defend his title against Jiri Prochazka on May 7, according to ESPN sources.

Glover TeixeiraBoth Teixeira and Prochazka have committed to the date and opponent.

The 205-pound title fight will take place on a UFC 274 pay-per-view event. The UFC has not announced an official venue for the event.

Teixeira (33-7) capped off an improbable run to the UFC title in October, when he submitted Jan Blachowicz at UFC 267 to capture a belt at age 42. The victory came more than seven years after Teixeira came up short in his first title bid against Jon Jones in 2014. 

Originally from Brazil, now fighting out of Connecticut, Teixeira has won six in a row, including finishes of Blachowicz, Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith.

Prochazka (28-3-1) has been a dark horse in the 205-pound division ever since signing with the UFC in 2020. He’s fought only twice inside the Octagon, but he’s been supremely impressive in finishes of Volkan Oezdemir and Dominick Reyes.

Prochazka, of Czech Republic, has recorded 10 consecutive knockout finishes.

Julián Périco Sets 36-Hole Record at Latin America Amateur Championship

Julián Périco is makin’ history…

The 22-year-old Peruvian professional golfer shot a second-round 66 on Friday to set a new Latin America Amateur Championship 36-hole record and take the tournament lead by three strokes.

Julián PéricoPerico sits at 9-under at Casa de Campo‘s Teeth of the Dog course, which broke the previous tournament record set by Brazilian André Tourinho during the first LAAC in 2015.

This is Perico’s fifth LAAC appearance, and though he’s finished in the top six twice but never won, he’s positioned himself as the favorite to win an automatic bid to the Masters, the Open Championship and the final rounds of U.S. Open qualifying with a victory.

“I feel I am doing things right, particularly my attitude and staying positive on the course,” said Perico, who birdied 11 through 14 and the par-5 18th. “Whenever I had a chance to attack the pin, I went for it. But it was a very clean round. I never forced anything.”

Argentina’s Segundo Oliva Pinto, a teammate of Périco’s at the University of Arkansas, is three strokes behind.

“I was not feeling that good with my game in the morning,” said Oliva Pinto, who had a slow start to Friday’s round but had four birdies on the back nine. “But I was able to keep being aggressive.”

Three more Argentines, including defending champion Abel Gallegos, Vicente Marzilio and Mateo Fernández de Oliveira, are tied for third along with Mexico’s Santiago De La Fuente, Aaron Jarvis from the Cayman Islands and Puerto Ricans Jerónimo Esteve and Roberto Nieves.

“I never thought about being in [this] position,” said the 20-year-old De La Fuente, who is playing his second LAAC. “I am just thinking about playing solid and if it happens, it happens.”

Périco and Oliva Pinto are also joined by Arkansas teammates Fernandez de Oliveira and Colombian Juan Camilo Vesga (4-under) in the top 10.

Only 15 players remain under par after the second round. The tournament cut (+6) leaves the top 53 players heading into weekend play.