Bel­tram signs on dot­ted line

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGEN­CIES in Los An­ge­les

The New York Yan­kees beefed up their bat­ting strength and prob­a­ble post­sea­son prow­ess by for­mally sign­ing free agent out­fielder Car­los Beltran, an eight-time All-Star, to a three-year con­tract worth $45 mil­lion on Thurs­day.

The agree­ment was reached on Dec 6 but the sign­ing was de­layed un­til Beltran had passed a med­i­cal. He was to be in­tro­duced at a Yan­kee Sta­dium news con­fer­ence on Fri­day.

Beltran, 36, has a .283 ca­reer bat­ting av­er­age in the ma­jors with 1,346 runs, 446 dou­bles, 358 home runs, 1,327 runs bat­ted in and 308 stolen bases and earned the nick­name “the new Mr Oc­to­ber” be­cause of his clutch hit­ting in the play­offs.

Hall of Famer and five- time World Se­ries cham­pion Reg­gie Jack­son was the orig­i­nal “Mr. Oc­to­ber” be­cause of his post­sea­son ex­ploits with the Oakland A’s and the Yan­kees in the 1970s.

In 17 post­sea­son games for the Na­tional League cham­pion St. Louis Car­di­nals last sea­son, in­clud­ing his first trip to the World Se­ries, Beltran bat­ted .268 with three dou­bles, two home runs and 15 RBIs.

Last month he be­came a free agent af­ter de­clin­ing a one- year deal with the Car­di­nals re­port­edly worth $14.1 mil­lion.

Born in Puerto Rico, Beltran was the Amer­i­can League Rookie of the Year in 1999 and has played for five teams in the ma­jors — the Kansas City Roy­als, Houston Astros, New York Mets, San Fran­cisco Gi­ants and St. Louis.

He ranks fourth among ac­tive play­ers in ca­reer runs scored, trail­ing only Alex Rodriguez (1,919), Derek Jeter ( 1,876) and Al­bert Pu­jols (1,425).

Beltran is the only player in the ma­jors to have recorded four con­sec­u­tive sea­sons with at least 100 runs scored, 20 home runs, 100 RBIs and 30 stolen bases, do­ing so from 2001-2004.

A three-time win­ner of the Gold Glove Award, he was orig­i­nally se­lected by Kansas City in the sec­ond round of the 1995 Draft.

Beltran in­jured ribs in the World Se­ries opener when he banged into Fen­way Park’s right- fight fence while rob­bing Bos­ton’s David Or­tiz of a grand slam.

New York seems to have a log­jam among out­field­ers on its ros­ter, a group that now in­cludes Ja­coby Ells­bury, Brett Gard­ner, Ichiro Suzuki, Al­fonso So­ri­ano and Ver­non Wells.

To open a ros­ter spot, the Yan­kees des­ig­nated right-han­der Brett Mar­shall for as­sign­ment. In other MLB news: The Cleve­land In­di­ans an­nounced on Thurs­day the club has signed free agent right-handed closer John Ax­ford to a one-year, $4.5 mil­lion con­tract.

Ax­ford split the 2013 sea­son be­tween the Mil­wau­kee Brewers and St. Louis Car­di­nals, go­ing a com­bined 7-7 with a 4.02 ERA in 75 relief ap­pear­ances.

Ax­ford, 30, was the Brewers’ closer from 2010-12, and he led the Na­tional League with 46 saves in 2011. He wound up as a mid­dle re­liever in 2013, then was dealt to St. Louis in Au­gust.

Tampa Bay Rays in­fielder Tim Beck­ham might be able to re­turn in the mid­dle of the 2014 sea­son af­ter un­der­go­ing right knee surgery this week.

The team an­nounced the pro­ce­dure was a suc­cess and said the rookie would be side­lined up to eight months.

Beck­ham, 23, sus­tained the in­jury dur­ing an off­sea­son work­out. The No 1 over­all pick in the 2008 draft, he made his ma­jor league de­but in 2013, go­ing 3-for-7 with one RBI in five Septem­ber games. right-han­der Wang Chien-ming on Thurs­day to a mi­nor league con­tract with an in­vi­ta­tion to spring train­ing.

The 33-year-old Wang went 8-7 with a 2.87 ERA in 18 ap­pear­ances, in­clud­ing 17 starts, in Triple-A in 2013, but was only 1-2 with a 7.67 ERA in six ma­jor league starts for the Toronto Blue Jays be­fore be­ing re­leased..

Wang pitched for the New York Yan­kees from 2005-08, go­ing 54-20 with a 3.79 ERA un­til he suf­fered an in­jury to his foot in 2008.

Wang won 19 games in 2006 and again in 2007.

The Bal­ti­more Ori­oles have reached an agree­ment with vet­eran Xavier Paul on a mi­nor league con­tract, ac­cord­ing to a re­port in the Bal­ti­more Sun.

Paul, a free agent, played in 97 games for the Cincin­nati Reds last sea­son and bat­ted .244 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs.

The left- handed- hit­ting Paul has a .254 ca­reer bat­ting av­er­age in parts of five ma­jor-league sea­sons with the Los An­ge­les Dodgers, Pitts­burgh Pi­rates and Reds.

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