DETROIT — Instead of honing his swing this offseason, Miguel Cabrera focused on getting sober.
"My drinking was a problem, and I feel good without it. I feel like a new man," he said Thursday.
The Detroit Tigers slugger spent three months in an outpatient treatment program for alcoholism following a much-publicized drinking binge during the final weekend of last season, a program that general manager Dave Dombrowski said will continue into spring training and the upcoming season.
Cabrera said he has turned his life around. He said he hasn't had a drink since he was taken into custody by police after a domestic-abuse complaint was filed by his wife in the early morning of Oct. 3 — hours before a crucial game against the Chicago White Sox.
The All-Star first baseman with a $152.3 million contract got drunk enough between Friday night's game and Saturday morning to have what police said was a 0.26 blood-alcohol reading — three times above Michigan's legal limit for driving — and a bruised and cut left cheek.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Eric Chavez is already embracing his new role with the Oakland Athletics this season: backup.
The six-time Gold Glove third baseman has ordered himself a first baseman's mitt and one to play the outfield, too. He's not about to be picky about where he plays — he's just happy to be returning to the A's at all following season-ending back surgery last June.
Chavez has undergone five operations since Sept. 5, 2007, including two microdiscectomy surgeries in different spots in his back.
PHILADELPHIA — Joe Blanton got his reward for consistency and durability.
Blanton and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract that avoided a salary arbitration hearing next month. The 29-year-old right-hander was 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA last year.
Later Thursday, a person familiar with negotiations said the Phillies and All-Star center fielder Shane Victorino agreed to a $22 million, three-year contract. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal hasn't been announced.
LOS ANGELES — Right-hander Vicente Padilla decided to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers after his outstanding performance down the stretch last season, agreeing Thursday to a one-year contract worth $5,025,000.
Padilla gets a $1 million signing bonus that is deferred and a $4,025,000 salary this season.
Los Angeles signed Padilla for a prorated share of the $400,000 minimum on Aug. 19 after the Texas Rangers abruptly released their No. 2 starter. Padilla went 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in seven starts for the Dodgers, bolstering the NL West champions' inconsistent rotation.
Padilla then allowed just one earned run over 14 1-3 innings in his first two career playoff appearances for the Dodgers before losing Game 5 of the NL championship series to Philadelphia.
The Nicaraguan pitcher is 98-85 with a 4.03 ERA in his 11-year career with Arizona, Philadelphia, Texas and Los Angeles. He made $12 million in 2009, the final season of a $33.75 million, three-year contract he signed with the Rangers.
DENVER — The Los Angeles Clippers will be without guards Eric Gordon and Sebastian Telfair against the Denver Nuggets because of injuries.
Gordon and Telfair were both hurt during Wednesday's 104-97 victory over the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center and were not available to play Thursday night as the Clippers opened a season-high eight-game road trip against Denver.
Gordon sprained his left big toe and Telfair sustained a strained groin against the Bulls.
During a pre-game news conference, Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said Telfair did not accompany the team to Denver and would be seeing a specialist on Friday for further evaluation.
CLEVELAND — Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant is the 15th player in NBA history to reach 25,000 career points and the youngest to hit the milestone.
Bryant reached the mark by making one free throw late in the second quarter of Thursday night's showdown against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
At 31 years, 151 days, Bryant got to 25,000 in 35 fewer days than Wilt Chamberlain, who finished his career with 31,419 points.
Earlier, Bryant was voted into his 12th All-Star game.
Next on the list for Bryant is Lakers legend Jerry West (25,192) and former Pacers guard Reggie Miller (25,279).
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the NBA's career leader with 38,387 points.
The Vikings remained without two key members of their defensive line Thursday as they continued preparations for the NFC title game Sunday against New Orleans.
Tackle Kevin Williams and left end Ray Edwards missed a second consecutive day of practice. Coach Brad Childress indicated that while he hopes both can practice on Friday, he isn't making any promises. "We'll see how much progress they've made," he said.
Edwards suffered a sprained right knee in the third quarter of the Vikings' playoff victory over Dallas last Sunday; Williams also injured his left knee in the game. Williams left the field Thursday morning following the Vikings' walk-through wearing a protective sleeve on his left knee.
NEW YORK — Manhattan is now "Revis Island."
The unofficial name change came during a pep rally for the New York Jets held during rush-hour Thursday in Times Square.
Gang Green faces the Indianapolis Colts Sunday for the AFC championship game. The Jets are just a win away from the Super Bowl.
Thousands of Jets fans roared their approval when Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a large municipal-style sign printed "Welcome to Revis Island" with the team's logo in one corner.
SAN FRANCISCO — The University of California has approved a $321 million renovation of UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium.
The UC Board of Regents signed off on the renovation and seismic retrofit of UC Berkeley's 87-year-old Memorial Stadium, which straddles the Hayward Fault. The project will reduce seating from about 72,000 to 63,000 and upgrade restrooms, food service and public safety facilities.
The project is expected to begin later this year and be completed by the start of the 2012 football season. The stadium will be closed during Cal's 2011 season, when the team will play at another location.
LUBBOCK, Texas — The judge in Mike Leach's lawsuit against the university has ordered the sides to try to work out a resolution.
State District Judge William Sowder on Thursday ordered Leach, Texas Tech and their attorneys to complete mediation by Feb. 5. He also placed gag order on the talks. The university fired Leach on Dec. 30, two days after it suspended him amid allegations he mistreated a player with a concussion. His suit includes allegations of libel and slander and breach of contract.
STONEHAM, Quebec — Graham Watanabe has secured his spot on the U.S. Olympic snowboardcross team with a second-place finish at a World Cup event in Canada.
Watanabe finished behind Pierre Vaultier of France on Thursday in the final qualifying event of the season. This will be his second Olympics. He made the 2006 Games after heading to Turin as a wax technician, then grabbing a spot when a teammate got injured.
Watanabe joins Nate Holland in earning an automatic spot on the team. Defending Olympic champion Seth Wescott should earn a spot when the full team is announced Monday.
Shaun Palmer, the 41-year-old snowboarding pioneer, finished third Thursday, making him a longshot to make the Olympics.
SALT LAKE CITY — Snowboarder Danny Davis is having surgery on a broken pelvis he injured when he crashed his off-road vehicle into a gate last weekend.
— The Associated Press
The surgery scheduled for Thursday comes days after doctors repaired a vertebrae in his back that he broke in the same accident.
An update on his Facebook page said Davis was responding well after the first operation and that doctors thought the two procedures would complement each other and help his recovery.
Davis will not compete for the rest of 2010. He was a shoo-in for the U.S. Olympic halfpipe team before the accident and his absence opens up at least one spot on the U.S. team.
The final two Olympic qualifiers are scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Park City.