Chicago Cubs sign Marlon Byrd to three-year deal

Staff And Wire Reports

The Chicago Cubs found the center fielder they’d been searching for, agreeing Thursday to a $15-million, three-year contract with Marlon Byrd.

And the Cubs are hoping to have more success with this former Texas Rangers outfielder than the one they signed last off-season -- Milton Bradley.

Byrd hit .283 with 20 home runs and 89 runs batted in last season for Texas. He will take over in center from Kosuke Fukudome, who will move to right field full time after the trade of the troubled Bradley to Seattle.

A career .279 hitter with 60 homers and 335 RBIs in 785 major league games with Philadelphia, Washington and Texas, Byrd will be reunited with former Texas and current Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. In three seasons working with Jaramillo in Texas, Byrd batted .295 with 40 homers and 212 RBIs.

“When I knew I had the opportunity to become a Cub, I was really hoping that this would be my landing ground,” Byrd said.


He will pretty much replace Bradley, who signed a $30-million, three-year deal with the Cubs and lasted only one contentious season.

Bradley hit .257 with 40 RBIs and was suspended the final two weeks of the season by General Manager Jim Hendry after criticizing the atmosphere surrounding the Cubs.

Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his younger brother, New York Yankees infield prospect Brandon Laird, were arrested following a brawl in the lounge area of Phoenix’s NBA arena, according to police.

Phoenix police said Gerald Laird, 30, was cited for assault Wednesday night and 22-year-old Brandon Laird was cited for disorderly conduct. Police said the Lairds and a third man were arrested at U.S. Airways Center after the fight during the Phoenix Suns-Boston Celtics game.


Pearce injures head on halfpipe

American snowboarder Kevin Pearce sustained a head injury while training on the halfpipe in Park City, Utah, and was taken to the hospital for surgery.


Pearce, a top-ranked halfpipe rider with a good chance of making the U.S. Olympic team, was knocked unconscious when he hit his head on the halfpipe during a training run.

He was taken to University of Utah hospital, but neither his agent nor officials from U.S. Ski and Snowboarding offered immediate updates on Pearce’s condition Thursday night.

The 22-year-old from Norwich, Vt., was preparing for next week’s Olympic qualifying events in Mammoth Mountain.

Former Olympic cross-country ski champion Christian Hoffmann retired after Austria’s national anti-doping agency provisionally suspended him for his alleged involvement in blood doping.

“I won’t have a chance now to qualify [for the Vancouver Olympics],” Hoffmann told the Austria Press Agency. “And as it would have been my last season anyway, I quit immediately.”

Hoffmann, 35, won gold in the 30-kilometer race at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

Garrett Gomez rode Cenizo to a 1 1/4 -length victory in the last race of the year at Santa Anita, giving the jockey his fourth consecutive national purse earnings title.


Gomez overtook Julien Leparoux by $10,606 to join Laffit Pincay Jr. (1971-74) and Braulio Baeza (1965-68) as riders with four straight money titles. Bill Shoemaker owns the record of seven consecutive years from 1958-64.

Gomez finished with purse earnings of $18,571,171. Leparoux had earned $18,560,565 before returning to his native France for the holidays.