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Twins Finalize $49 Million Deal for Nolasco

Minneapolis — The Minnesota Twins finalized a $49 million, four-year contract with right-hander Ricky Nolasco, an expensive first step toward restoring a ragged rotation.

The deal was announced Tuesday at Target Field, six days after the 30-year-old agreed to terms. The contract includes a club option for 2018 that could become guaranteed.

Nolasco made 33 starts last season for the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers, going 13-11 with a 3.70 ERA over 1991/3 innings with 165 strikeouts and 46 walks. He’ll move immediately to the front of Minnesota’s starting staff, which had a majors-worst 5.26 ERA this year.

Over the last six seasons, Nolasco was tied for fourth in the NL with 77 wins.

Ex-Player Becomes Union Head

San Diego — Tony Clark became the first former big leaguer to lead the baseball players union, pending a vote by the general membership.

The MLBPA’s executive board voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Clark to replace Michael Weiner, who died Nov. 22 of brain cancer.

Clark was an All-Star in 2001 and played for 15 seasons with Detroit, Arizona, the New York Mets, New York Yankees, Boston and San Diego.

He went to high school in the San Diego area and later played basketball at San Diego State. Clark said he intends to carry out Weiner’s vision and “to continue to bring our fraternity together.”

Jeremy Guthrie of the Kansas City Royals called this “a unique time” for the union and said he can’t think of a former player who’s as prepared, intelligent, powerful and knowledge as Clark to take the job.

Three-Team Trade Made

St. Petersburg, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan from the Cincinnati Reds and reliever Heath Bell from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade.

The deal was announced after Hanigan agreed to a $10.75 million, three-year contract that runs through 2016 an includes a club option for 2017.

Tampa Bay sent minor league pitcher Justin Choate and a player to be named to the Diamondbacks. Arizona dealt left-hander David Holmberg to Cincinnati.

The 33-year-old Hanigan is expected to become Tampa Bay’s primary catcher. The trade was completed a day after free agent catcher Jose Molina was re-signed to a $4.5 million, two-year contract.

Bell will be a candidate to become the Rays’ closer.

NFL Football

Steelers’ Coach: On-Field Foray ‘Inexcusable’

Pittsburgh — Mike Tomlin was “mesmerized.” He was also, the Pittsburgh Steelers coach admits, out of position. Way out of position.

Tomlin was so awed by the way Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones raced through the Steelers crumbling kickoff return unit in the third quarter Thanksgiving night, Tomlin couldn’t take himself away from watching it all unfold in high definition on one of M&T Stadium’s video boards.

Only when Tomlin — standing on the white strip of grass meant to separate the playing field from the sideline — saw his black-and-gold jacket and black baseball cap flash across the screen did he realize it might be a good time to move.

As Tomlin danced to his left, Jones edged right to avoid bowling the coach over. Pittsburgh’s Cortez Allen made the tackle after a 73-yard return, a bizarre play that will be remembered far longer than Baltimore’s eventual 22-20 victory.

It’s an ill-timed two-step the 41-year-old Tomlin allows was a lot of things, namely “embarrassing, inexcusable, illegal and a blunder.”

Tomlin was not flagged on the play, and pointed out he was following his normal routine when he stood at the Pittsburgh 35 following a touchdown that pulled the Steelers within 13-7 midway through the third quarter.

He prefers to watch kickoffs on stadium scoreboards because it gives him a better perspective on how the play is developing and couldn’t recall a specific time when officials told him to step back.