Pirates finalize deal with pitcher
PITTSBURGH – Jeff Karstens is staying with the Pittsburgh Pirates, finalizing a $2.5 million, one-year contract on Thursday.
Karstens can earn an additional $1 million in performance bonuses based on innings.
The 30-year-old right-hander was 5-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 15 starts and four relief appearances last year, when he missed time because of separate injuries to a hip, groin and shoulder. He made $3.1 million.
Karstens gives the club insurance after free agent left-hander Francisco Liriano injured his right arm last month, a deal that has led to a two-year contract not being finalized.
Karstens will be joined in spring training by two of the team’s most promising pitchers in former first round picks Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. Both received invitations to join the team in Bradenton next month to spend some time with the big club.
Cole, the top overall pick in the 2011 first-year player draft, went 9-7 with a 2.80 ERA in 26 minor league starts last year. The 22-year-old right-hander rocketed through the team’s farm system in 2012, beginning the season in Class A and ending it in Triple-A Indianapolis.
Taillon, the second overall pick in the 2010 draft, went 9-8 with a 3.55 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 26 combined starts between Class-A Bradenton and Double-A Altoona in 2012.
The Pirates also signed veteran outfielder/first baseman Brad Hawpe to a minor league contract. The 32-year-old Hawpe has a career .276 batting average with 124 home runs and 490 RBIs in 893 career games. He last played in the majors with San Diego in 2011, when he hit .231 with four home runs and 19 RBIs.
Pacino gets role as Joe Paterno
LOS ANGELES – Al Pacino will play Joe Paterno in a movie about the late Penn State football coach.
Producer Edward R. Pressman confirms Brian De Palma will direct “Happy Valley,” the tentative title of the film, based on Joe Posnanski’s best-seller “Paterno.”
“’Happy Valley’ reunites the ‘Scarface’ and ‘Carlito’s Way’ team of De Palma and Pacino for the third time and I can’t think of a better duo to tell this story of a complex, intensely righteous man who was brought down by his own tragic flaw,” Pressman said in a statement. No start or release dates were given for the film.
While Pressman said the plot remains “under wraps,” Posnanski’s book followed Paterno’s final years, as the winningest coach in college football history saw his career end in disgrace in 2011 with the sex abuse scandal involving assistant Jerry Sandusky.
O’Brien wins Bryant award
HOUSTON – Penn State coach Bill O’Brien won the Paul “Bear” Bryant College Coach of the Year Award on Thursday night.
O’Brien led the Nittany Lions through an 0-2 start and NCAA sanctions to an 8-4 finish in his first season at Penn State.
Other finalists for the award were Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, Stanford’s David Shaw and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.
Snyder, Sumlin and Shaw were each finalists at the end of last season.
Former Brigham Young coach LaVell Edwards was the ceremony’s other honoree, receiving the Bryan Lifetime Achievement Award given by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
Edwards retired in 2000 with 257 victories, 22 bowl appearances and one national championship in 1984.
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Bengals make low offer to Hawkins
Johnstown’s Andrew Hawkins grew up with the Cincinnati Bengals while following his older brother Artrell Hawkins Jr.’s NFL career.
The younger Hawkins could see himself wearing a Bengals uniform and playing wide receiver in Cincinnati for years to come. But the Bishop McCort High School graduate knows the business side of the NFL sometimes gets in the way of the storybook ending.
Liriano sharp in Pirates victory over Rays
Russell Martin homered for the third time this spring and drove in four runs to lead Francisco Liriano and the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 10-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.
Martin had an RBI single during a six-run first inning against Rays starter Matt Moore and added a three-run homer off Grant Balfour in the fourth.
McCutchen leads Pirates offense in loss to Twins
Andrew McCutchen homered, doubled and singled Friday for the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 6-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
McCutchen went 3 for 3, scored twice and drove in two runs. The reigning NL MVP is 8 for 11 in four games this spring.
Pirates, Jays rained out
The Toronto Blue Jays' spring training game at the Pittsburgh Pirates was rained out Thursday.
The game will not be made up.
Pirates rough up Blue Jays’ Morrow
Brandon Morrow allowed five runs and six hits over three innings in the Toronto Blue Jays’ 6-4 loss Wednesday to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Morrow was making his second appearance since a season-ending forearm injury last May. On Feb. 28, the right-hander gave up two hits and one run in two relief innings.
Steelers sign Polamalu, cut Foote
Troy Polamalu and Heath Miller are doing their part to help the Pittsburgh Steelers get under the 2014 salary cap.
The eight-time Pro Bowl safety and the venerable tight end both signed new three-year contracts with the team on Wednesday designed to give the Steelers some cap relief before the new league year begins next week.
Pens pick up pair of forwards
The Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t go for the big splash at the trade deadline this time.
General manager Ray Shero believes the little ripples his team made instead can be just as effective as the franchise pursues its fourth Stanley Cup.
Penguins snap out of slump
Matt Niskanen scored his second goal of the game 7:29 into the third period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Nashville Predators 3-1 on Tuesday night to snap a three-game skid.
Niskanen and the Penguins helped ruin the return of Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne in his first game since Oct. 22 following an E. coli infection in his surgically repaired left hip.
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