Sports briefs 12-22-13: Choo agrees to 7-year deal with Texas

STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Sports Writer Published:

The Rangers have made another Texas-sized deal to improve their offense.

Free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo agreed to a $130 million, seven-year contract with the Rangers, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement about the deal that is pending a physical for Choo. That person said the physical is expected to be done before Christmas, and that any formal introduction in Texas likely wouldn't come until after the holiday Wednesday.

The deal came a month after the Rangers acquired five-time All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder in a trade with Detroit for second baseman Ian Kinsler, their primary leadoff hitter.

Texas now gets the best offensive player left in free agency, with both additions to be under contract through the 2020 season.

Choo's deal, worth about $18.6 million per season, is the third-highest this offseason.

• Baseball

Part with Balfour: The Baltimore Orioles won't be closing a deal for All-Star closer Grant Balfour.

Days after reaching a preliminary agreement with the free agent pending a physical, the Orioles said Friday that they weren't satisfied with the results of Balfour's exam.

"This is a deal that's not going to come together," Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said on a conference call.

Duquette declined to say what specifically concerned him about Balfour, who turns 36 later this month. Balfour had shoulder and elbow surgeries that kept him out of the majors in 2005 and 2006.

Youkilis to Japan: Kevin Youkilis is leaving the major leagues after an injury plagued season and heading to Japan.

The three-time All-Star has agreed to a one-year contract with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan's Pacific League.

Sidelined from April 27 to May 31, he went back on the DL on June 13, had surgery a week later to repair a herniated disk and didn't return. Youkilis hit just .219 with two homers and eight RBIs over 28 games and 105 at-bats.

• Football

Reviewing scheduling: Syracuse athletic director Daryl Gross wants a change to the Atlantic Coast Conference's current eight-game league schedule and league officials will discuss the possibility during meetings in late January.

Gross raised the possibility in email to the league's athletic directors and Commissioner John Swofford. The email was obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request and it calls for a discussion on the subject due to the large time gap between road games involving cross-division teams.

The Syracuse AD contends that certain programs are at a disadvantage when the schedule keeps them from regularly playing in major markets such as Boston, Atlanta and Miami.

Bess done: Davone Bess had a disappointing and shortened first season with the Browns.

The wide receiver was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list Saturday, ending his season with two games left and after he missed practice time this week for "personal reasons." The Browns announced the move with Bess after traveling to New York to play the Jets on Sunday. The team gave no further details for Bess' absence or his abrupt end to his season.

He leads the NFL with 14 drops while catching 42 passes for 362 yards and two touchdowns. In a loss at Kansas City, Bess dropped three passes and also muffed a late punt, costing the Browns any chance of upsetting the Chiefs.

Briggs uncertain: The status of injured Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs will remain uncertain until just before game time tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Briggs is questionable for Sunday's game, although all indications are he'll be able to play. On Friday Briggs went through his first full practice since fracturing his left shoulder Oct. 20. Briggs practiced Wednesday and Thursday on a limited basis.

• Elsewhere

Hairston not returning: P.J. Hairston's career is over at North Carolina.

The school said Friday that it won't seek Hairston's reinstatement from the NCAA after the junior committed several rule violations. Hairston hasn't played all season while the school and NCAA worked to resolve eligibility questions stemming from the use of cars linked to a felon and party promoter earlier this year.

Coach Roy Williams said Friday it was "probably the most difficult and saddest thing I've ever gone through as a head coach."

Approve measures: The Detroit City Council on Friday approved two measures tied to the development of a new Red Wings hockey arena and entertainment complex just north of downtown.

The boundaries of the Downtown Development Authority district were expanded to include land where the project could be constructed. A tax financing plan also was green-lighted.

However, the six-member board postponed a vote on the transfer of city-owned land for the project until February.

Vonn optimistic: Lindsey Vonn is confident that her latest knee trouble will not stop her from competing at the Sochi Games in February.

With boyfriend Tiger Woods watching from the bottom of the slope, Vonn missed a gate in Saturday's World Cup downhill at Val d'Isere as her troublesome right knee buckled under her and gave way.

The American was clearly distressed after skiing off course and looked close to tears.

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