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MLB approves protective cap

Some big-league pitchers might feel safer on the mound this season.

Major League Baseball has approved a protective cap for pitchers, hoping to reduce the damage from line drives to the head that have caused some bloody scenes in the last few years.

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The heavier and bigger hat, introduced Tuesday, will be available for testing during spring training. No one will have to wear the cap.

Safety plates made by isoBLOX are sewn into the hat. They weigh an extra six to seven ounces — a baseball weighs about five ounces, by comparison — and offer protection to the forehead, temples and sides of the head. The hats are about a half-inch thicker in the front and around an inch wider on the sides.

Clayton Kershaw, two-time Cy Young Award winner for the Los Angeles Dodgers, said he isn’t opposed to the concept of the hat but added, “I think it’d take a lot of getting used to. You don’t look very cool, I’ll be honest.”

Charge against Puig is dropped

The state attorney’s office in southwest Florida has dropped a reckless-driving charge against Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig.

The 23-year-old Cuban defector was arrested Dec. 28 near Naples after a Florida Highway Patrol trooper reported clocking him at 110 mph in a 70 mph zone. Puig lives in the Miami area in the offseason.

In April, Puig was clocked going 97 in a 50 mph zone in Tennessee, though those charges were later dismissed.

Chapman, Reds have agreement

Closer Aroldis Chapman agreed to a $5 million, one-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds, avoiding an arbitration hearing.

Chapman, 25, went 4-5 with 38 saves and a 2.54 earned-run average last year. He had 112 strikeouts in 632
3 innings.

Angels sign Pena, Boesch

First baseman Carlos Pena, 35, and outfielder Brennan Boesch, 28, have signed minor-league deals with the Los Angeles Angels and will be invited to major-league spring training.

Balentien apologizes in Japan

Wladimir Balentien — who hit a Japan-record 60 homers last year for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows — has apologized, several days after pleading not guilty to domestic-violence charges in Florida.

Former Mariner Balentien, 29, bowed deeply and apologized to fans and teammates for the actions that led to his arrest on Jan. 13.


Woods expects to bounce back

Top-ranked Tiger Woods doesn’t sound too worried over matching his worst score in America on Saturday.

Woods, who will compete in this week’s Dubai Desert Classic, missed the 54-hole cut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego when he shot a 79.

“It was just one of those days that happens, and it was one of the trains I just couldn’t get off,” he said. “There was nothing different with my ball-striking today (Tuesday) compared to last Saturday.”

Woods said he spent Sunday in Florida before heading to Dubai.

“I went home and had a nice day off,” he said. “Worked on putting a bit in the backyard, and that was it. I am not that far off. It’s just that I had one bad day, and that happens.”


Anti-doping officials get tough

Go ahead — just try to get away with it. If you are willing to take the risk, you will pay the price.

That is the challenge laid down to drug cheats thinking they can dope their way to success at next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

International Olympic Committee and anti-doping officials are implementing the toughest drug-testing program in Winter Games history, using intelligence to target athletes and events considered most at risk.

Authorities are focusing their efforts on weeding out dopers through rigorous pre-Games and pre-competition tests. Armed with an improved scientific method that can detect drug use going back months rather than days, the IOC will conduct a record number of tests.

Urine and blood samples will be stored for about eight years for retroactive testing, providing further deterrence to anyone thinking they can avoid being caught.

“I think it would be stupid to try to cheat,” IOC medical director Dr. Richard Budgett said. “If there are any doping cases in Sochi, some of them may be because athletes are being stupid.”

The IOC plans to carry out 2,453 tests in Sochi, including 1,269 pre-competition controls.

That is a 57 percent increase in pre-Olympic tests from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C.


• Henrik Kristoffersen, a 19-year-old from Norway, upset the Olympic slalom favorites by winning a World Cup event before a crowd of about 45,000 in Schladming, Austria.

Kristoffersen had a two-run time of 1 minute, 47.43 seconds in the final World Cup slalom before the Olympics.

Marcel Hirscher of Austria placed second in 1:47.61, and Felix Neureuther of Germany finished third in 1:47.62.

Colby Granstrom of Lake Stevens finished 27th.

• Brazilian Olympic Committee officials said the gymnast who was expected to compete in freestyle skiing at the Sochi Games is unable to move her arms and legs after an accident while training Monday in Utah.

Doctors said Lais Souza, who competed in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics, is “awake and can follow commands” but is breathing with the help of ventilators.

Seattle Times news services

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