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King Felix, Mariners Finally Reach New Deal

Peoria, Ariz. — Felix Hernandez and Seattle reached agreement yesterday on a contract that is expected to make the Mariners ace the highest-paid pitcher in baseball.

“I think it’s a great thing for the Seattle Mariners,” Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “It’s a great thing for Felix Hernandez, and looking forward to this guy being here for a very long time, obviously.”

Hernandez’s deal is expected to be for $175 million over seven years. Terms of the contract were not released by the team. Hernandez and Zduriencik will hold a news conference in Seattle this afternoon where Hernandez is expected to sign the contract.

Earlier yesterday, Zduriencik said the sides were having significant talks to try to finalize a new contract for the three-time All-Star and 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner. Zduriencik said then that a deal of that magnitude in years and dollars, “takes time to work things out.”

It didn’t take too long. By the afternoon, Hernandez’s deal was done and Seattle had its ace locked up through the 2019 season.

The new contract will encompass the final two years of his current deal that is scheduled to pay Hernandez $40.5 million in 2013 and 2014. He’ll receive $134.5 million over the additional five years.

Hernandez’s total dollars would top CC Sabathia’s original $161 million, seven-year contract with the New York Yankees and his $25 million average would surpass Zack Greinke’s $24.5 million under his new contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers and tie him for the second-highest in baseball with Josh Hamilton and Ryan Howard behind Alex Rodriguez ($27.5 million). Hernandez’s new money would average $26.9 million over five years.

Nats Pitcher Denies PED Use

Viera, Fla. — Gio Gonzalez arrived at spring training with the Washington Nationals yesterday and maintained he has not used performance-enhancing drugs.

The Miami New Times reported last month that Gonzalez was among a half-dozen major league players listed as receiving PEDs in purported records of Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed anti-aging clinic in Coral Gables, Fla. Gonzalez hopes to be exonerated.

“I feel very confident,” the 27-year-old left hander said. “I think that at the end of the day I’ve never taken performance-enhancing drugs, and I never will.”

Gonzalez, a 21-game winner last year, denied the allegations on Twitter on the day they were reported.

“You’re stunned. You’re shocked,” he said yesterday.

“Your name has been brought up out of nowhere. You can’t do nothing about it. You just have to wait it out and listen to what’s going on. You can’t jump the gun. You can’t jump to conclusions. At the end of the day you just have to listen in and wait patiently.”

Gonzalez said he had been contacted by Major League Baseball officials and has cooperated with their investigation. Gonzalez said he has “done everything that they want, and I feel strong with their program and what they’re doing, and at the end of the day I’m waiting on them.”

A’s Add Okajima

Phoenix — The Oakland Athletics and free agent left-hander Hideki Okajima finalized a minor league contract yesterday after he passed a physical and immediately got to work.

Okajima played last season for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan’s Pacific League, going 0-2 with a 0.94 ERA and nine saves in 56 relief appearances. He allowed only one home run and walked six batters in 472∕3 innings

Okajima spent the 2007-11 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, then signed a minor league deal with the New York Yankees and was released at the start of 2012 spring training when he failed a physical.

Football

4 Alabama Players Arrested

Montgomery, Ala. — Three University of Alabama football players have been charged with knocking students unconscious and stealing their wallets, while a fourth player has been charged with using a stolen debit card, officials said yesterday.

Linebacker Tyler Hayes, 18, and safety Eddie Williams, 20, confessed to robbing a student who was punched in the head and face and kicked in the ribs and back early Monday morning, according to court documents. Williams said D.J. Pettway, 20, a defensive lineman, and Hayes waited in a nearby vehicle about an hour later while he knocked out and robbed another student. Williams and Hayes both admitted to their involvement, according to the documents.

Williams and running back Brent Calloway, 20, both admitted to using a stolen credit card to buy snacks from vending machines inside a dormitory, the documents said.

All four students were indefinitely suspended by coach Nick Saban.

Pettway and Hayes were charged with second-degree robbery. Williams was charged with fraudulent use of a credit card and second-degree robbery. Calloway was charged with fraudulent use of a credit card. Williams was released on $65,000 bond, while Hayes and Pettway were released on $60,000 bond each.

Calloway was released on $5,000 bond.