- The Washington Times - Friday, January 9, 2009

After more than two decades with the Atlanta Braves, John Smoltz is likely to finish his stellar career wearing a different uniform.

In a stunning end to one of baseball’s longest runs, Smoltz reached preliminary agreement on a contract with the Boston Red Sox after failing to work out a deal to return for his 22nd season with the Braves.

A person familiar with the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Smoltz will sign a guaranteed deal with the Red Sox worth about $5 million and also have the possibility to earn another $5 million in performance bonuses. …

The final cost of Nationals Park is expected to be $693 million - $62 million more than the price tag anticipated when the city agreed to use public money to provide a home for its new baseball team. The final tally was over budget because the costs of securing the property and the subsequent environmental cleanup were greater than expected.

mCOLLEGES: Ohio State tailback Chris “Beanie” Wells is giving up his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. Wells said the move is in the best interest of his family. …

Wisconsin junior running back P.J. Hill will enter the draft, ending his college career third on the Badgers’ all-time rushing list with 3,996 yards.

mSOCCER: Veteran Columbus Crew defender Ezra Hendrickson retired, ending a 14-year professional career that included three MLS Cup titles. …

Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo escaped injury after crashing his sports car in a tunnel in England. Ronaldo’s Ferrari collided with a roadside barrier in a two-lane tunnel near Manchester Airport, police said.

mSHORT TAKES: The Pittsburgh Penguins ended any debate about whether they should re-sign Jordan Staal, locking up the 20-year-old center with a four-year, $16 million contract that begins next season. …

Top-ranked Rafael Nadal was eliminated from the Qatar Open in Doha, while Roger Federer advanced to the semifinals of the tuneup for the Australian Open. Nadal lost to Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4; Federer saved three set points to defeat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-2, 7-6 (6).

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