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PRESS BOX: Yankees sign 2B Roberts

The SportsXchange

BASEBALL

In their ongoing effort to replace the gaping hole at second base created by All-Star Robinson Cano's departure, the New York Yankees agreed to a one-year deal with former Baltimore Orioles infielder Brian Roberts.

Roberts, 36, is not considered an everyday player but in a possible platoon with Kelly Johnson and others vying to fill Cano's spot, he could offer a decent return on the team's $2 million investment.

In his prime, Roberts was a sparkplug as a leadoff man for the Orioles and a dynamite defender. But injuries have haunted him in his career. Roberts appeared in 192 of a possible 648 games over the past four seasons with Baltimore.

He was a two-time All-Star with the Orioles but since 2009 hasn't played in more than 77 games in a season.

Johnson and utility infielder Eduardo Nunez are second base options entering spring training. A streaky hitter with 124 career home runs, Johnson managed an on-base percentage of .305 in 2013. Nunez is a natural shortstop but his defense could push him into a more regular role, at least as a late-inning replacement, if manager Joe Girardi isn't getting enough out of his primary options.

--The Yankees also added to their bullpen.

Left-handed reliever Matt Thornton agreed to a two-year, $7 million contract, according multiple reports. The deal is pending a physical.

The Yankees are in need of bullpen help since Mariano Rivera retired after the season and Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan left via free agency.

Thornton, 37, was limited by injury last season, including an oblique issue, with the Boston Red Sox. He appeared in 20 games for Boston, throwing 15 1/3 innings. He was traded to the Red Sox from the Chicago White Sox last season but was left off Boston's playoff roster. He finished the season with a 3.74 ERA in 60 appearances spanning 43 1/3 innings.

ARENA FOOTBALL

ESPN and the Arena Football League agreed to a multi-year agreement giving the family of networks the broadcast rights to more than 10 regular season and postseason games per year, including ArenaBowl and one conference championship game.

Beginning in 2014, at least 75 games can be aired by ESPN3, ESPN's live multi-screen sports network. An affiliated video player will also be available on the AFL website, ArenaFootball.com.

"ESPN has a long history of working with the Arena Football League and this new agreement is a great opportunity to showcase the AFL as part of our year-round commitment to football," said Matthew Volk, ESPN director, programming and acquisitions.

ESPN televised the inaugural ArenaBowl in 1987 and held broadcast rights from 1995-99. ABC presented the ArenaBowl for five years from 1998-2002.

"The AFL's return to ESPN is the latest example of the strides our sport has made in recent years," said AFL Commissioner Jerry B. Kurz. "Having the ArenaBowl on the ESPN family of networks for years to come puts our Championship game alongside some of the most prominent events in television."

The Arena Football League is comprised of 14 franchises.
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