TOKYO (AP) -- Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is set to move to the majors next season after his Japanese team, Rakuten Eagles, announced it was prepared to let him leave, reversing its earlier rejection.
Rakuten Eagles president Yozo Tachibana told a news conference that the team has decided to release him through the posting system, paving the way for his departure. Tachibana said Tanaka's outstanding performance over the past seven years, including this season, meant he deserved to be allowed to move to the U.S.
Tanaka, a 25-year-old right-hander, went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA with the Eagles during the regular season and sought a move to the majors. But he has two years remaining on his contract and Rakuten was under no obligation to release him.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Los Angeles Dodgers bolstered their bullpen, announcing deals with J.P. Howell, Chris Perez and Jamey Wright. They also brought back third baseman Juan Uribe.
Howell returns to Los Angeles for a two-year contract that includes a third-year vesting option. He held opponents to a .193 batting average last season and had a 2.03 ERA, both career bests.
Coming off his best season with Los Angeles, Uribe received a two-year deal. He batted .278 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs in 132 games. He also had a big postseason homer that helped the Dodgers clinch their NL division series against Atlanta.
Perez signed a one-year deal two months after the five-time All-Star was released by Cleveland. General manager Ned Colletti said Perez expressed interest in joining the Dodgers and pitching in any role that is asked of him.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Winter of Winston continues for Florida State's redshirt freshman quarterback.
Jameis Winston is The Associated Press national player of the year, adding to his cadre of postseason accolades. He's this year's Heisman Trophy winner, the Walter Camp national player of the year, the Davey O'Brien quarterback of the year and the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year.
Seminole football fans should send a thank you note to Florida State's baseball program.
If not for coach Mike Martin Sr. and one of his assistants, Mike Martin Jr., Winston - a two-sport athlete - might not be preparing to lead the No.1-ranked Seminoles against No. 2 Auburn in the BCS championship game Jan. 6 with the opportunity to bring a third national title back to the Florida State campus.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Kurt Roper's lengthy interview at Florida must have been impressive.
Roper has agreed to leave Duke to become the offensive coordinator for the Gators, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday night on condition of anonymity because the hiring has not been announced.
Roper spent several hours with Florida coach Will Muschamp in Gainesville on Monday. He is expected to remain with the Blue Devils through the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31.
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) - Intent on ending its long losing streak against its archrival, Army hired former Navy assistant Jeff Monken as its football coach.
Monken spent the past four seasons as the head coach at Georgia Southern after learning the triple-option offense under Paul Johnson during stints with the Middies and Georgia Tech. He had a 38-16 record at Georgia Southern and helped guide the program's transition to the Football Bowl Subdivision from the Football Championship Subdivision ranks.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - Southern Illinois assistant Kyle ''Bubba'' Schweigert was hired as the football coach at North Dakota, returning to the school where he was the defensive coordinator when it won the 2001 NCAA Division II national title.
He inherits a team that went 3-8 this year and succeeds Chris Mussman, who was fired after six seasons. Schweigert will be introduced at a news conference Friday.
IRVING, Texas (AP) - The Dallas Cowboys are close to bringing Jon Kitna out of retirement to serve as the team's emergency quarterback with Tony Romo at risk of missing the season finale against Philadelphia.
The team reported on its website Tuesday night that Kitna would join the team in time for practice Christmas Day. The move is pending a physical for the 41-year-old Kitna, who retired after the 2011 season.
Romo injured his back in a 24-23 win over Washington that set up the Cowboys for their third straight playoffs-or-bust finale against an NFC East rival.
The Cowboys say Romo is getting treatment and being evaluated daily. Kyle Orton is the backup.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - The Denver Broncos promoted linebacker Brandon Marshall from their practice squad to replace Von Miller, who went on injured reserve with a knee injury.
Marshall is a second-year player who played in five games as a rookie for Jacksonville after being drafted in the fifth round out of Nevada.
NEW YORK (AP) - NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld the 15-game suspension of Boston Bruins forward Shawn Thornton.
Thornton appealed the ban last week after he was sanctioned for punching and injuring an unsuspecting opponent against Pittsburgh on Dec. 7. He knocked Brooks Orpik's feet from under him and landed gloved punches to his head.
Orpik was knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion.
Bettman heard Thornton's appeal at a hearing in New York last Friday. The commissioner's decision was announced Tuesday.
NEW YORK (AP) - Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce has been fined $15,000 for his flagrant foul on George Hill of the Pacers.
Pierce was ejected in the third quarter of Indiana's 103-86 win Monday. George Hill stole a bad pass and was going in for a layup, and Pierce hustled back and appeared to be trying to wrap him up. But his arm ended up going around Hill's neck for a clothesline tackle.