In Brief: Steelers Sign Running Back From Patriots
Pittsburgh — The Pittsburgh Steelers and free agent running back LeGarette Blount have agreed on a two-year contract that will give the team needed depth in the backfield behind budding star Le’Veon Bell.
The 27-year-old Blount ran for 772 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns in 2013 for the New England Patriots. He added 166 yards rushing and set a team playoff record with four touchdowns in a playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts.
The Steelers need bodies in the backfield after Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones were not re-signed after last season. Blount has 2,711 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns in 56 games, with 28 career starts.
The 6-foot, 250-pound Blount also gives the Steelers a big back near the goal line to complement the 6-2, 230-pound Jones.
Raiders Add RB
Alameda, Calif. — Free agent running back Maurice Jones-Drew is coming back home to Oakland after signing a three-year contract with the Raiders on Friday.
Jones-Drew returns to his native Bay Area after spending his first eight seasons with Jacksonville and starring in college at UCLA.
MLB Toughens Drug Agreement
New York — Baseball players suspended during the season for a performance-enhancing drug violation will not be eligible for that year’s postseason under changes to the sport’s drug agreement announced Friday.
In the most significant toughening to the drug rules in eight years, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association said the penalty will increase from 50 games to 80 for a first testing violation and from 100 games to a season-long 162 for a second.
A third violation remains a lifetime ban.
Baseball started testing with penalties in 2004, established a 10-day suspension for a first testing violation in 2005 and increased the discipline to 50 games in 2006.
While there were two to four major league suspensions annually from 2008-11, the number increased to12 in 2012 and 14 players were penalized following last year’s investigation of the Biogenesis of American anti-aging clinic.
Among them were All-Stars Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz, former NL MVP Ryan Braun and three-time AL MVP Alex Rodriguez, who is suspended for the entire 2014 season.
Mickelson Makes Cut
San Antonio — Phil Mickelson made the cut on the number in the Texas Open on Friday, blasting out of a greenside water hazard to 5 feet to set up a birdie on the final hole.
Mickelson shot a 2-under 70 after opening with a 77 at TPC San Antonio’s AT&T Oaks Course. Lefty was 11 strokes behind leader Steven Bowditch, the Australian who had a 67 to reach 8-under 136.
Bowditch holed out from 83 yards for an eagle on the par-4. The 30-year-old topped the leaderboard at the end of a round for the first time in his PGA Tour career.
Chad Collins and rookie Andrew Loupe were a stroke back.
Nadal, Djokovic in Final
Key Biscayne, Fla. — No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic advanced to the Sony Open final without playing a point Friday.
Both received walkovers when their semifinal opponents withdrew for health reasons. That left Nadal and Djokovic to play for the title Sunday in their 40th career meeting and their first of 2014.
Djokovic was given a walkover for the second time in the tournament when Kei Nishikori withdrew because of a left groin injury. Four hours later, Tomas Berdych pulled out before his match against Nadal due to gastroenteritis.
The wave of ailments left the tournament with only two women’s doubles matches for disappointed spectators. Former No. 1 Martina Hingis advanced to her first doubles final since 2007 when she and Sabine Lisicki beat Cara Black and Sania Mirza 6-3, 6-4.
Today, No. 1 Serena Williams will try for her seventh Key Biscayne title when she plays No. 2 Li Na — health permitting.
NCAA Hockey Tournament
Providence 4, Quinnipiac 0
Bridgeport, Conn. — Jon Gillies made 37 saves to help Providence beat Quinnipiac.
Mark Jankowski, Anthony Florentino, Shane Luke, and Trevor Mingoia scored for Providence (22-10-6). The Friars led 1-0 after the first, and scored three second-period goals.
Quinnipiac finished the season 24-10-6.
Ferris State 1, Colgate 0
Cincinnati — Gerald Mayhew scored a power-play goal midway through the first period, and C.J. Motte made it stand up by turning away 35 shots in Ferris State’s victory.
The second-seeded Bulldogs (29-10-3) advanced to the Midwest Regional final today against the Wisconsin-North Dakota winner. Colgate finished the season 20-14-5.