Hernandez, Seattle finally reach deal
VIERA - Felix Hernandez and Seattle reached agreement Tuesday on a contract that is expected to make the Mariners ace the highest-paid pitcher in baseball. "I think it's a great thing for the Seattle Mariners," Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "It's a great thing for Felix Hernandez, and looking forward to this guy being here for a very long time, obviously." Hernandez's deal is expected to be for $175 million over seven years. Terms of the contract were not released by the team. Hernandez and Zduriencik will hold a news conference in Seattle this afternoon where Hernandez is expected to sign the contract. The new contract will encompass the final two years of his current deal, which is scheduled to pay Hernandez $40.5 million in 2013 and 2014. He'll receive $134.5 million over the additional five years.Hernandez's total dollars would top CC Sabathia's original $161 million, seven-year contract with the New York Yankees, and his $25 million average would surpass Zack Greinke's $24.5 million under his new contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers and tie him for the second-highest in baseball with Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard behind Alex Rodriguez ($27.5 million). Hernandez's new money would average $26.9 million over five years. A-Rod stays in New York for rehab Alex Rodriguez will not report to spring training with the Yankees' position players and will work on his rehabilitation from hip surgery in New York. The third baseman is expected to be sidelined until at least the All-Star break following the Jan. 16 operation. "I spoke to him last week. He was still barely, I think, on the crutches," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said during his opening spring-training remarks. "There's not a lot that he can do here." The Miami New Times last month published records that allege Rodriguez purchased performance-enhancing substances in recent years from Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed clinic in Coral Gables. Rodriguez has denied the allegations. Four years ago, Rodriguez admitted using PEDs from 2001-03 with Texas. "Him being in New York has nothing to do with trying to get rid of a distraction. It's the best place him for him to be." Gonzalez maintains innocence Gio Gonzalez arrived at spring training for the Washington Nationals and maintained he has not used performance-enhancing drugs. The Miami New Times reported last month that Gonzalez was among a half-dozen major-league players listed as receiving PEDs in purported records of Biogenesis of America LLC. "I feel very confident," the 27-year-old right hander said. "I think that at the end of the day I've never taken performance-enhancing drugs, and I never will." Gonzalez, a 21-game winner last year, denied the allegations on Twitter on the day they were reported. "You're stunned. You're shocked," he said Tuesday. "Your name has been brought up out of nowhere. You can't do nothing about it. You just have to wait it out and listen to what's going on." Gonzalez said he had been contacted by Major League Baseball officials and has cooperated with their investigation. METS: Closer Frank Francisco is bothered by the same elbow inflammation that ended his 2012 season on Sept. 16. Manager Terry Collins said that Bobby Parnell and Brandon Lyon will be given the first chance at the closer's job. REDS: Right-hander Mat Latos agreed to an $11.5 million, two-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration. Also, third baseman Scott Rolen has declined the Reds' offer to attend spring training to compete for a reserve role. TIGERS: First baseman Prince Fielder joined about 100 youngsters at Lakeland's Peterson Park for the unveiling of what was billed as the world's largest baseball card. Created by Topps, the card measured approximately 90 feet by 60 feet, leaving center field covered with the giant image of Fielder swinging.