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Nationals hire Williams as manager

WASHINGTON – Former major league third baseman Matt Williams is the new manager of the Washington Nationals.

The Nationals will hold a news conference today to introduce Williams as the team’s fifth manager since it moved to Washington from Montreal in 2005. He replaces Davey Johnson, who is retiring.

It is Williams’s first job as a major league manager. He has only brief managerial experience at any level, having spent time in the Arizona Fall League and five weeks at Double-A in the minors.

He’s been the Arizona Diamondbacks third-base coach the past three seasons.


Royals exercise option on Shields for 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Royals exercised their $13.5 million option on right-hander James Shields for 2014 after he anchored one of the league’s best starting rotations last season.

Shields, acquired last offseason in a trade from Tampa Bay, went 13-9 with a 3.15 ERA and an AL-leading 228 2∕3 innings. He was especially good after the All-Star break, going 9-3 with a 3.06 ERA to help the Royals get into playoff contention.


Cardinals decline option on Westbrook

ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Cardinals declined their $9.5 million option for next season on pitcher Jake Westbrook, who was not on their postseason roster after battling elbow and back injuries much of the year.

The 36-year-old Westbrook, who was 7-8 with a 4.63 ERA, gets a $1 million buyout.


Rockies reliever Betancourt becomes free agent

DENVER – The Colorado Rockies declined their half of a mutual option on Rafael Betancourt, making the right-handed reliever who’s coming off an arm injury a free agent.

Betancourt was 2-5 with a 4.08 ERA and 16 saves for the Rockies last season before tearing a ligament in his pitching elbow. He considered undergoing platelet-rich plasma therapy to fix his arm, but announced in August his decision to have Tommy John surgery.


Seitzer hired as hitting coach of Blue Jays

TORONTO – Former All-Star third baseman Kevin Seitzer has been hired as hitting coach of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Seitzer replaces Chad Mottola, who got the job after the 2012 season when Dwayne Murphy moved from hitting coach to first-base coach.

The 51-year-old Seitzer was hitting coach for Arizona during the first half of the 2007 season and for Kansas City from 2009-12. He had a .295 average with 74 home runs and 613 RBI for the Royals, Milwaukee, Oakland and Cleveland in 12 major league seasons.


Ivanovic beats Stosur at Tournament of Champions

SOFIA, Bulgaria – Ana Ivanovic beat Sam Stosur, 6-2, 5-7, 6-2, yesterday for her second straight victory in the group stage at the season-ending WTA Tournament of Champions.

Ivanovic will play Russia’s Elena Vesnina today, with both still trying to secure a spot in the semifinals. Vesnina outlasted Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-2, 4-6, 6-0, for her first victory at the tournament.

In Thursday’s last match, top-seeded Simona Halep of Romania swept past Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, 6-1, 6-1, to finish the round-robin phase unbeaten. She had already qualified for tomorrow’s semifinals.


Djokovic beats Isner to reach Paris quarterfinals

PARIS – Novak Djokovic rallied from a set down yesterday to beat John Isner, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 6-2, and reach the quarterfinals of the Paris Masters.

Djokovic next plays Stanislas Wawrinka, who stayed in contention for one of the two remaining ATP finals spots by defeating Nicolas Almagro of Spain, 6-3, 6-2.

Roger Federer also moved into the quarterfinals by dismissing Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, 6-3, 6-4.

Federer, who won the Paris Masters in 2011, next faces Juan Martin del Potro in a rematch of last weekend’s Swiss Indoors final. The fourth-seeded Argentine overcame Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Defending champion David Ferrer also advanced, beating Gilles Simon of France, 6-2, 6-3.


Emelin signs 4-year deal with Canadiens

MONTREAL – Hard-hitting defenseman Alexei Emelin signed a four-year contract with the Montreal Canadiens.

The deal is reportedly worth $16.4 million and takes effect in the 2014-15 season. The 27-year-old Russian has yet to play this season because of a knee injury. He is earning $2 million this season.


Senior leads Charles Schwab Cup Championship

SAN FRANCISCO – Australia’s Peter Senior shot an 8-under 63 yesterday to take a one-stroke lead in the Champions Tour’s season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

Senior had nine birdies, an eagle and three bogeys at TPC Harding Park.

David Frost shot 64, missing a short putt on the 18th hole. Fred Couples was third at 65, and Mark O’Meara had a 66. Bernhard Langer, Steve Elkington and Duffy Waldorf shot 67.


Crew’s Gaven retires after 11 seasons in MLS

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Crew announced that midfielder Eddie Gaven is retiring after 11 seasons in Major League Soccer.

The 27-year-old concludes a career that includes 278 appearances, 51 goals and 37 assists in MLS regular-season competition. Since joining the Crew from the New York/New Jersey MetroStars in 2006, Gaven helped the club to the 2008 and 2009 Supporters’ Shields, along with the 2008 MLS Cup title against his former club.

His final game was on May 29 when he sustained a season-ending knee injury.

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