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LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander has agreed to a $180 million, seven-year contract, topping Felix Hernandez for the richest deal for a pitcher in baseball history. The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner had been signed through 2014 and set to earn $20 million in each of the next two seasons.  The new deal announced Friday keeps those salaries and adds $140 million in new guaranteed money: $28 million each season from 2015-19. It includes a $22 million option for 2020 that would become guaranteed if he finishes among the top five in 2019 Cy Young voting. The deal could be worth $202 million over eight seasons. Verlander's agreement topped the record for pitchers set when Hernandez and Seattle agreed in February to a $175 million, seven-year contract.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - When it comes to college basketball, coaching chess matches don't get much better than Mike Krzyzewski vs. Tom Izzo. Two of the nation's most successful coaches are squaring off in Friday night's Midwest Regional semifinals. Krzyzewski has an NCAA record 956 career wins and four national championships at Duke, winning two titles in Indianapolis. Tom Izzo has a school-record 493 wins and one national title at Michigan State. He won his title in Indy, where Friday's game will be played. And few have been better in the postseason. Both coaches have winning percentages of .736 or better in the NCAA tourney. Krzyzewski's 11 Final Four appearances are the most of any active coach. Izzo is tied for third with six. Tip off Friday is at 9:45 p.m.
 

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Michigan coach John Beilein briefly lost track of how long it's been since the Wolverines reached the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament. Sixteen years, he said. No, 18. Wait. 19. He was right the third time, but here's how to make it a little simpler. The Fab Five era of the early 1990s was the last time the No. 4 seed Wolverines (28-7) made it this far. For top-seeded Kansas (31-5) -- the opponent in the South Regional semifinals Friday night -- Fab Five means something more like five trips at least this far in the past six NCAA tournaments, not to mention a championship in 2008 and another appearance in the title game last year. Tip off Friday is at 7:37 p.m.

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - The Detroit Tigers have optioned rookie reliever Bruce Rondon to Triple-A Toledo, leaving the AL champions without an announced closer as they prepare for Monday's opener at Minnesota. Rondon went 2-1 with a 5.84 ERA in 13 spring training games with nine walks and 19 strikeouts in 12 1-3 innings. Jose Valverde struggled in the postseason last year and became a free agent, and the Tigers brought the 22-year-old Rondon to camp as his potential replacement. Manager Jim Leyland said Thursday that any of his seven relievers could be used to close games early in the season. Luis Marte also was optioned to Toledo, leaving the Tigers with 12 pitchers.

Friday, 29 March 2013 10:18

Astros tee off on Tigers' Sanchez

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - Jonathan Singleton hit two home runs and Jason Castro and Rick Ankiel each hit one, and a Houston Astros split squad beat the Detroit Tigers 11-4 despite a three-run homer by Prince Fielder. Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez gave up nine runs and 11 hits in five innings. Castro connected for his sixth homer and Ankiel his fourth. Ankiel drove in four runs for Houston and Ronny Cedeno had three hits and scored twice. Fielder homered off Houston starter Philip Humber, who pitched six innings and allowed four unearned runs. The Astros will play two weekend games in Houston against the Chicago Cubs before opening their first season as a member of the American League on Sunday night against the Texas Rangers. Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30 the Tigers wrap up the preseason with the Tampa Bay Rays at 1 p.m. both days on 97.7 WTGV-FM. The regular season starts Monday, April 1 for the Tigers against the Twins in Minnesota with pre-game at 3:45 p.m. on 97.7 WTGV-FM.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Antii Niemi made 27 saves for his second shutout in two nights and the San Jose Sharks won their third straight game in regulation, beating the Detroit Red Wings 2-0 on Thursday. Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns each scored for the third consecutive game for the Sharks, who are on their longest winning streak since starting the season with seven straight wins. San Jose had won just three of its previous 25 games in regulation before this current streak that started with a home-and-home sweep of first-place Anaheim and ended with a shutout of the rival Red Wings. The Sharks have moved from ninth place to seventh in the Western Conference with the three wins this week, all coming after bruising defender Douglas Murray was dealt to Pittsburgh for two draft picks. Easter Sunday the Red Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks at the Joe at 12:30 p.m.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Michigan and Cincinnati have agreed to play each other for football and basketball over the next decade. Michigan said Wednesday that the Wolverines and Bearcats will play a football game at the Big House in 2017. The two men's basketball programs will play during the 2015-16 and 2018-19 seasons on dates and in arenas to be determined later. Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon says the Wolverines recruit the Cincinnati area heavily in all sports. The Wolverines and Bearcats have not faced each other in football and have played four basketball games.

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) - Outfielder Quintin Berry has been optioned to Triple-A Toledo by the Detroit Tigers, who said Don Kelly had made their opening-day roster. Berry was a contender for left field but was sidelined for much of spring by patellar tendinitis. He hit .258 in 94 games for the Tigers last season and led the team with 21 stolen bases. His demotion Wednesday leaves Andy Dirks and Matt Tuiasosopo as the Tigers' left fielders. Kelly was signed as a minor league free agent during the offseason after batting .186 in 75 games for the Tigers last year. 

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) - Police say Detroit Lions safety Amari Spievey has been arrested in his Connecticut hometown after a child support dispute. The Middletown Press reports Wednesday the 24-year-old Spievey was arrested Tuesday on charges of third-degree assault, risk of injury to a child and disorderly conduct. His girlfriend, 26-year-old Lisamarie Santos, also was charged with risk of injury and disorderly conduct. Santos told police Spievey pushed her and put his hand on her neck when they argued. Spievey said he pushed Santos after she grabbed his throat and punched his chest while he held their 2-year-old daughter. They were to appear in court Wednesday. It's not immediately known who is representing them. The Lions said they had no immediate comment. Spievey has played three seasons for Detroit, which drafted him in 2010. He recently agreed to a one-year contract.

Thursday, 28 March 2013 11:13

Logano, Hamlin text following crash

UNDATED -- NASCAR drivers Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano have traded text messages and it didn't go well. The exchange came after their final lap wreck Sunday in Fontana, Calif. that knocked Hamlin out of action for six weeks with a compression fracture in his back. Hamlin told the Associated Press the conversation was "short and unproductive." Logano twice refused interview requests as he and team owner Roger Penske (PEHN'-skee) played in a pro-am golf tournament near Houston. Penske also says he's texted back and forth with Hamlin. Logano and Hamlin were battling for the win Sunday when they got tangled up, sending Hamlin head-on into the interior wall of the track.

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