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Nationals Make a Pair of Roster Moves, Span Excercises Option


Mike McGinnis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Washington Nationals are already preparing for the 2015 regular season as they've made a couple of decisions on their roster that could help shape the team going forward.

Center Fielder Denard Span decided to exercise his option for the 2015 season that will keep him  in Washington next season while getting paid $9 million.

Span just wrapped up his second season with the Nationals and batted .302 with 31 steals. He also was tied for the league record for 184 hits, which was also a Nationals' record.

The team did decide, however, to decline the options on first baseman Adam LaRoche as well as closer/reliever Rafael Soriano.

LaRoche has been one of the team's most consistent hitters the past few seasons, and led the team with 26 home runs and 92 RBIs. The Nationals decided to decline a mutual option in 2015 that would pay him $15 million. The team will instead pay him $2 million.

Soriano's contract included a $14 million club option for 2015, but he will become a free agent instead. He saved 32 games in 2014, but he blew five of 15 save chances after the All-Star break while Drew Storen emerged as a capable replacement towards the end of the season.

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Russell Westbrook Suffers Fractured Hand, Out Indefinitely


Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The injuries are piling up fast for the Oklahoma City Thunder as All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook suffered a small fracture of the second metacarpal in his right hand Thursday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Westbrook suffered the injury with 6:35 left in the second quarter and underwent X-rays at the Staples Center.

It is unknown just how long Westbrook will be out of action, but the typical recovery time for the injury is about 6-8 weeks.

Already without league MVP Kevin Durant and free agent acquisition Anthony Morrow, the Thunder, who were expected to be among the NBA's best teams this season, find themselves without a couple of their best players for at least the next month of the season.

"It's unfortunate the way it is right now, but we have to figure out how to get better from all of our experiences," coach Scott Brooks said. "Good teams and good players bounce back from adversity, and our guys understand that."

Westbrook is in his seventh season in the NBA, all with the Thunder. He's averaged 20.1 points, 6.9 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game since entering the league.

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Despite Short Turnaround, Saints Handle Panthers, 28-10


Chris Graythen/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- Despite playing on short rest on the road against a division opponent, the New Orleans Saints easily handled the Carolina Panthers, 28-10 on Thursday Night Football.

Quarterback Drew Brees and running back Mark Ingram led the way for New Orleans on Thursday. Brees completed 24 of 34 passes for 297 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Ingram wound up carrying the ball 30 for 100 yards while also scoring two touchdowns.

The Saints still managed a win after playing on Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers and then traveling to Charlotte for an early turnaround.

"The offensive line and tight end did a great job of hitting them, hitting them and hitting them," Ingram said. "I think they started to wear down and we were able to get some leaky yards and some big gains."

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton struggled all night as he completed 10 of 28 passes for 151 yards an an interception.

With the win, the Saints improved to 4-4 on the season and are now in first place in the NFC South.

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Kevin Youkilis is Retiring


Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Former Boston Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis is calling it a career.

Youkilis' agent announced Thursday that the man known as "The Greek God of Walks" is retiring.

The 35-year-old Youkilis played for three teams during his ten major league seasons, but is most known for his time as a member of the Red Sox. He played over nine years in Boston, winning two World Series (2004, 2007).

Youkilis was traded to the White Sox in the middle of 2012 before signing with the Yankees in 2013. He played last season in Japan.

Youkilis, a three-time All-Star who played third base, first base and some outfield, finishes his MLB career as a .281 hitter with 150 home runs, 618 RBIs, and a .382 on-base percentage.

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ESPN: Cavs Close To Signing Varejao to 3-Year Extension


NBA Via Cleveland Cavaliers (CLEVELAND) -- The Cleveland Cavaliers are close to signing center Anderson Varejao to a three-year, $30 million extension that would begin at the start of the 2015-16 season, according to ESPN.com.

The 32-year-old Varejao has played all of his 10 NBA seasons in Cleveland and is said to be one of LeBron James' "most beloved teammates," according to ESPN NBA Insider Marc Stein.

Varejao will earn $9.7 million this season, the final of his previous six-year, $49 million deal.

For his career, Varejao has averaged 7.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game.

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Still Perfect: (2) FSU Erases 17 Point 3rd Quarter Deficit vs. Louisville


Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- No. 2 Florida State rallied from a 17 point third quarter deficit to beat No. 25 Louisville 42-31 Thursday night.

Florida State (8-0, 5-0 ACC) has now won 24 straight.

It looked early like there was no stopping the Cardinals, especially running back Michael Dyer. Dyer had two second quarter touchdown runs, the second giving Louisville a 14-0 lead. Will Gardner then threw an 11 yard touchdown to Gerald Christian to put the Birds up by 21.

But the second half was a different story. After a Louisville field goal made it 24-7, Florida State scored 21 unanswered points, 12 coming off the arm of Jameis Winston, to take the lead. The Cardinals regained the lead on Dyer's third touchdown dash of the day, but Seminoles freshman running back Dalvin Cook's 38-yard touchdown run with 3:46 remaining put FSU up for good.

"We've been there before," Winston said. "Being down is nothing when you've got heart and you persevere. Personally, we play better when we're down, honestly."

Dyer finishes the day with 134 yards rushing and those three touchdowns for Louisville (6-3, 4-3 ACC).

Winston completes 25-of-48 passes for 401 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in the loss.

Next up for the second-ranked 'Noles: a visit from Virginia next Saturday.

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Knicks Spoil James' Return to Cleveland


Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images(CLEVELAND) -- LeBron James' first game back in Cleveland as a member of the Cavaliers didn't have a fairy tale ending.

Carmelo Anthony scored a game-high 25 points to help the New York Knicks beat the Cavaliers 95-90 Thursday night, ruining James' homecoming.

With 2:58 left in the game, the Cavaliers went on a 8-2 run to cut the Knicks' lead to three. But Anthony's jumper with 25.9 seconds to play made the score 92-87, ultimately sealing the deal for New York.

James finished the game with 17 points on 5-for-15 shooting while also grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists. Kevin Love had a team-high 19 points and 14 rebounds in his first game as a Cavalier.

James, who left the Cavaliers for Miami in the summer of 2010, re-signed with his home-state squad this summer. Since then, the team has acquired a multitude of new faces including Kevin Love, Mike Miller, and Shawn Marion.

Before the game, thousands of fans gathered in downtown Cleveland to celebrate King James' return. There was a free concert featuring Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons in a parking lot across from Quicken Loans Arena.

Tickets for the game were selling for more than $10,000 a pop on the secondary market and celebrities such as a Michael Strahan, David Beckham, and Justin Bieber all attended.

James will now have to wait until Nov. 10, when New Orleans comes to town, to get another chance for his first win in Cleveland this season.

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Scoreboard Roundup 10/29/14


Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- College Football - Top 25: (2) Florida State 42 (8-0) - (25) Louisville 31 (6-3)

NFL: New Orleans Saints 28 (4-4) - Carolina Panthers 10 (3-5-1)

NBA: Washington Wizards 105 (1-1) - Orlando Magic 98 (0-2)

New York Knicks 95 (1-1) - Cleveland Cavaliers 90 (0-1)

Minnesota Timberwolves 97 (1-1) - Detroit Pistons 91 (0-2)

Dallas Mavericks 120 (1-1) - Utah Jazz 102 (0-2)

Los Angeles Clippers 93 (1-0) - Oklahoma City Thunder 90 (0-2)

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning 4 (7-3-1) - Philadelphia Flyers 3 (4-4-2)

Boston Bruins 3 (6-6-0) - Buffalo Sabres 2 (2-8-1) - Overtime

New Jersey Devils 2 (5-3-2) - Winnipeg Jets 1 (4-5-1) - Shootout

Pittsburgh Penguins 4 (6-2-1) - Los Angeles Kings 0 (6-2-2)

St. Louis Blues 2 (5-3-1) - Anaheim Ducks 0 (8-3-0)

Minnesota Wild 4 (6-3-0) - San Jose Sharks 3 (6-4-2) - Shootout

Florida Panthers 2 (3-2-3) - Arizona Coyotes 1 (3-5-1)

Chicago Blackhawks 5 (6-3-1) - Ottawa Sentators 4 (5-2-2) -Shootout

Colorado Avalanche 5 (3-4-4, 10pts) - New York Islanders 0 (6-4-0, 12pts)

Vancouver Canucks 3 (7-3-0, 14pts) - Montreal Canadiens 2 (8-2-1, 17pts) OT

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Red Sox and Reliever Koji Uehara Agree on Two-Year Extension


Jared Wickerham/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Boston Red Sox were not about to let one of the most dominant relievers in recent years hit the free agent market as the team and closer Koji Uehara have agreed on a two-year deal through the 2016 season.

Even though he'll be 40 years old in early April, the Red Sox are confident that Uehara will keep up his effectiveness out of the bullpen.

In 64 appearances this past season for Boston, Uehara posted a 2.52 ERA, posted a career-high 26 saves, and struck out 80 batters in 64.1 innings pitched.

Uehara came up big for the Red Sox during their World Series season back in 2013. He saved seven games and recorded a .66 ERA in 13 appearances. He was the named the MVP of the AL Championship Series.

Prior to joining the Red Sox in 2013, Uehara pitched for the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles.

In six seasons in the Majors, Uehara is 15-15 with a 2.44 ERA with 61 saves.

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Knicks' Jose Calderon Out 2-3 Weeks


Ingrim Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With the regular season barely a day old for the New York Knicks, they've already lost their starting point guard: Jose Calderon will be out the next 2-3 weeks with a right calf strain.

Up until about 90 minutes before the Knicks' season opener against the Chicago Bulls, the team expected Calderon in the starting lineup until he aggravated the calf injury during warm-ups.

The Knicks brought in the 33-year-old Calderon to help stabilize the position for the team. He had spent the last season with the Dallas Mavericks where he averaged 11.4 points and 4.7 assists per game for the team.

He was part of the trade that sent center Tyson Chandler back to the Mavericks.

Replacing Calderon in the lineup will be second-year guard Shane Larkin, who was also acquired in the Chandler trade.

In the first start of his NBA career on Wednesday, Larkin scored six points and three assists in 26 minutes of action in what proved to be a 24-point loss.

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