B.J. Ryan and the Toronto Blue Jays have reached a preliminary agreement on a five-year, $47 million contract, a high-ranking baseball official said yesterday.
Ryan, a left-hander who turns 30 next month, is getting the largest deal given to a reliever, topping the four-year, $39.99 million contract Mariano Rivera had with the New York Yankees from 2001 to '04. Rivera just completed the first season of a two-year, $21 million deal with the Yankees.
Ryan had 36 saves in 41 chances last season for the Baltimore Orioles and went 1-4 with a 2.43 ERA, striking out 100 in 701/3 innings. He had a $2.6 million base salary, earned $200,000 in performance bonuses based on games finished and $25,000 for making the AL all-star team.
The baseball official spoke on condition of anonymity because Toronto had not yet announced the agreement.
"We're still talking to him," Blue Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "To me, this whole thing is premature."
Ricciardi said he did not anticipate any announcements during the weekend. Pat Rooney, the head of the Chicago office of Ryan's agent group, declined to comment. Ryan's agreement with Toronto was first reported by the New York Daily News on its Web site. . . .
The Phillies and the White Sox completed their deal that sends slugger Jim Thome to Chicago for center fielder Aaron Rowand. The trade was announced on Wednesday, but wasn't official until the players passed their physicals.
* GOLF: Michelle Wie, 16, missed the cut by one stroke at the Casio World Open in Kochi, Japan, and promised to learn from her mistakes and keep playing in men's tournaments.
She bogeyed the final two holes for a 3-over-par 75, leaving her with a two-round total of 4-over 148 in the Japanese tour event.
With a par on No. 18 Wie could have made the cut.
"I was just trying to play a good hole and make par, but it didn't work out that way," she said.
* GYMNASTICS: Chellsie Memmel edged Nastia Liukin by 1/1000th of a point in an American gold-silver finish in the women's all-around final at the world championships in Melbourne, Australia.
Memmel, who placed behind Liukin in the U.S. nationals, ended the world championships with a total score of 37.824.
Liukin took silver with 37.823, making the all-around result the closest since 1985, when Soviet gymnasts Yelena Shushonova and Oksana Omelianchik tied for gold.
* COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Gonzaga forward Josh Heytvelt will have surgery on Monday and likely will miss the rest of the season. The 6-foot-11 redshirt freshman broke his left ankle while scrambling for a loose ball Wednesday in No. 8 Gonzaga's 65-63 loss to Connecticut in the championship game of the Maui Invitational.
* HORSE RACING: Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, 42, a three-time Kentucky Derby winner, retired and will take a job as a horse racing analyst. The retirement was announced less than a month after he picked up his 5,000th win.
* FIGURE SKATING: Three-time world champion Evgeni Plushenko unequivocally answered questions about his conditioning with a personal best to take a firm lead after the short program in the Cup of Russia in St. Petersburg.
Plushenko's 87.20 score put him nearly nine points ahead of Switzerland's Stephane Lambiel, the current world champion. American Johnny Weir, also on the comeback trail after spraining an ankle last month, was third in the short program.
-- From News Services