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Press Box: Hurdle, Francona win Manager of Year honors

The SportsXchange

For helping his franchise end a national record of futility, the Pittsburgh Pirates' Clint Hurdle was selected the National League Manager of the Year on Tuesday.

The American League honor went to Terry Francona, who led the Indians to the postseason during his first year in Cleveland.

The Pirates snapped their run of 21 consecutive losing seasons, the longest streak in the major North American sports leagues, and advanced to the playoffs. As a result, Hurdle received 25 of 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, easily outdistancing runner-up Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Mattingly garnered two first-place votes for guiding a midseason turnaround that led the Dodgers to the NL West championship.

Francona edged Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell for the AL honor, with the Cleveland skipper receiving 16 of 30 first-place votes. Farrell received 12 first-place votes.

The Indians went 68-94 in 2012 under managers Manny Acta and Sandy Alomar, but they bounced back this year after hiring Francona, who led the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. Cleveland finished 92-70 this season before falling to the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL wild-card game.

--The Philadelphia Phillies signed free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd to a two-year contract, multiple media outlets reported.

The deal is for $16 million, according to ESPN New York.

Byrd's signing is the first major free agent deal of the offseason.

Byrd, 36, revitalized his career this year with the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates. He batted a combined .291 with a career-high 24 homers and 88 RBIs during the regular season, then drove in five runs in six postseason games with Pittsburgh.

NBA

The Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to approve the term sheet on a $97 million plan to renovate the Minnesota Timberwolves' home arena of Target Center, which is 23 years old and in need of a facelift.

The deal is between the Timberwolves and WNBA's Lynx, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) Facilities, and the city of Minneapolis. The public-private partnership is a 50/50 split, with half the money coming from the city and half coming from private entities. Minneapolis will contribute $48.5 million to the project, the Timberwolves and Lynx will pay $43 million and AEG Facilities will pay $5.5 million.

After months of negotiations and two Minneapolis City Council Committee meetings, the approval by the Council allows the project to begin moving forward. The first step will be convening a design group to start the process of designing and planning the renovation.

NASCAR

Former Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne said that he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but he received medical clearance to continue racing.

The clearance has come from physicians at the Mayo Clinic and from NASCAR, said Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner who drives for Roush Fenway Racing.

"I appreciate everyone's concern and their willingness to call and to want to find out more and all their support," said Bayne, 22. "(We wanted) to make this announcement because we didn't want to keep everybody in the dark about things once we got information and got a diagnosis."
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