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Twins bolster rotation by agreeing with Ortiz

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Former Angels right-hander Ramon Ortiz and the Minnesota Twins agreed Monday to a $3.1- million, one-year contract.

Ortiz went 11-16 with a 5.57 earned-run average with 64 walks and 104 strikeouts in 190 2/3 innings over 33 starts last season for the Washington Nationals. That was the fifth time that Ortiz, 33, made 30 or more starts in his career, which began in 1999 with the Angels and includes six full major league seasons -- one each with the Nationals and Cincinnati Reds.

Ortiz is 79-76 with 4.85 ERA in 220 career appearances, including 200 starts. His best year came in 2002, when he went 15-9 with a 3.77 ERA and a career-high 162 strikeouts over 217 1/3 innings for the championship Angels.

Last season, Ortiz -- who took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in a game Sept. 4 -- became the anchor of Washington’s injury-depleted rotation down the stretch.

With Minnesota, he’ll be counted on to provide stability behind American League Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. With Francisco Liriano out for the season after major elbow surgery and Brad Radke retired, the Twins are unsettled on starting pitching after Carlos Silva and Boof Bonser.

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Right-hander Rudy Seanez returns to the Dodgers, agreeing to a minor league contract that could pay the reliever $1.2 million if he meets performance incentives.

Seanez, a 15-year veteran who split last season with the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres, will earn $700,000 if he makes the team and get $100,000 for every five appearances beginning at 45 and ending at 65.

The Red Sox signed Seanez, 38, to a $1.9-million deal after he put up the best numbers of his career with the Padres in 2005, posting a 2.69 ERA in 57 appearances. But he fell out of favor with Red Sox Manager Terry Francona and was released in August. The Padres signed him and he made eight appearances for them in September and one in the playoffs.

Seanez pitched for the Dodgers in 1994 and 1995.

The Dodgers are trying to bolster their questionable middle relief cheaply -- signing Seanez and right-hander Chin-Hui Tsao to minor league deals in the last week -- because they already have committed more than $9 million to converted starters Brett Tomko, Mark Hendrickson and Elmer Dessens.

Left-handed reliever Joe Beimel remains the only arbitration-eligible player who hasn’t signed, and the Dodgers have explored signing left-hander Joey Eischen, 36, who missed most of last season after having surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. He is expected to be ready for spring training.

-- STEVE HENSON

Left fielder Jason Michaels, who struggled in his first season with the Cleveland Indians, completed a $4.25-million, two-year contract that includes a $2.6-million club option for 2009.

Michaels, 30, who had been eligible for salary arbitration, batted a career-low .267 with nine home runs and 55 runs batted in.

Outfielder Cliff Floyd and the Chicago Cubs were close to agreement on a one-year contract, a deal that may include an option for 2008 that Floyd can control.

Limited to 332 at-bats last year with the New York Mets because of an injured Achilles’ tendon, Floyd, 34, probably would be a backup with Chicago. He batted .244 with 11 home runs and 44 RBIs last season.

Infielder Felipe Lopez and the Washington Nationals avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $3.9-million, one-year deal.

Lopez, 26, acquired from Cincinnati in July, batted .274 overall last season, with 11 home runs, 52 RBIs and 44 steals.

Seeking help for an unsettled bullpen, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays agreed to a one-year contract with right-handed reliever Scott Dohmann.

Dohmann split 2006 between the Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals, appearing in a career-high 48 games with a combined record of 2-4, a 7.08 ERA and one save.

Right-handed reliever Justin Duchscherer and the Oakland Athletics avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $1.1-million, one-year contract. Duchscherer, 29, was 2-1 with a 2.91 ERA and a career-best nine saves in 53 appearances last season.

Right-hander Brian Lawrence, who missed last season because of a shoulder injury, reached agreement on a one-year contract with Colorado that guarantees him $750,000.

Lawrence is 49-61 with a 4.10 ERA in 162 major league games, all with San Diego.

SOCCER

Real Madrid: Beckham won’t leave Spain early

David Beckham will not leave Real Madrid before the end of the season, sporting director Predrag Mijatovic said in Spain.

“One thing is clear, he still has six months left in his contract,” Mijatovic said. “He has to complete his contract.”

Real Madrid’s season ends in mid-June.

Beckham hasn’t played for Madrid since agreeing Jan. 11 to a five-year deal with the Galaxy.

MISCELLANY

Tyson pleads not guilty to drug charges

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson pleaded not guilty in Phoenix to charges of drug possession and driving under the influence of drugs on Dec. 29.

Tyson spoke only to give his name and birth date during the brief hearing before Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner Lisa Vandenberg, who entered the plea on Tyson’s behalf. He didn’t speak to reporters.

Tyson is due back in court Feb. 26. If convicted of all four charges, he could be sentenced to up to 7 1/2 years in prison.

Beverly Hills-based Creative Artists Agency, which last year hired some of the pro sports world’s top player agents, said it has added three outside executives to direct its CAA Sports division.

The new executives are Howard Nuchow, most recently president of Mandalay Sports Entertainment; David Rone, former executive vice president of Fox Sports Networks; and Michael Levine, president of Van Wagner Sports Group.

CAA Sports now represents more than 350 athletes, including the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart and soccer’s Beckham.

-- GREG JOHNSON

In a deal that will earn each school at least an extra $1 million, the Kansas-Missouri football game is coming to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., for the next two seasons.

When played on their campuses, the game would net about $1 million, but only for the home team.

The international cycling union criticized France’s anti-doping agency for pursuing a case against Tour de France runner-up Oscar Pereiro, a Spaniard who reportedly tested positive for an asthma medication during last summer’s race.

He stands to inherit the title if winner Floyd Landis loses an appeal of his positive doping test,

The French anti-doping agency AFLD said it wanted Pereiro to provide a valid justification for using the drug.


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