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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Young sailor starts world voyage

Michael Perham
Michael Perham, 16, setting out from Portsmouth to sail around the world

A teenage student attempting to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world has admitted he is "a little crazy" to do it at his age.

Michael Perham, 16, from Potters Bar in Hertfordshire is the youngest person to have sailed across the Atlantic alone.

He set out on his latest voyage from Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, on his Open 50 Racing Yacht on Saturday morning.

He will be alone at sea for over four months and his only contact with family will be through satellite link-ups.

Michael said: "I'm a little bit nervous but otherwise really, really excited.

"It's just the feeling of being completely in control, relaxed and at one with nature. It's just fantastic. But you don't look forward to the fact you are alone for about four months."

A look around Mike Perham's boat

Psychologists have helped prepare him mentally for the challenges ahead and he said his experience crossing the Atlantic would also stand him in good stead.

His mother, Heather, said the family was right behind him: "We're all really excited, we're so proud of what he's going to be doing.

"He's just such an inspiration for other young people - for anyone really - we're just amazed we've got to this point."

His family have also put a pile of gifts and decorations on board his yacht for Christmas.

By then he is expected to be in the South Atlantic, near the Cape of Good Hope off the coast of South Africa.

His parents, Heather, 51, and Peter, 49, and 18-year-old sister Fiona all support him.

Mr Perham, a chartered quantity surveyor and experienced sailor, introduced his son to sailing at the age of seven.

"As a parent there is always anxiety, even he has anxiety.

"But whether he is 16, 26 or 36, as a parent you are always concerned for your children," said Mr Perham.

I couldn't have done what he is doing at his age
Peter Perham, Michael's father

"But it will be an amazing achievement. I take my hat off to him completely. I couldn't have done what he is doing at his age.

"Hopefully he will inspire other young people."

He is expected to arrive back in Portsmouth some time near his 17th birthday on 16 March 2009.

The current holder of the youngest non-stop circumnavigator title is 18-year-old Australian, Jesse Martin, who arrived home in Melbourne on October 31, 1999.

To set a new record, Michael's journey must be entirely unassisted and completed under sail by wind and muscle power alone.

His journey will pass the coast of Africa, cross the Pacific Ocean and the Southern Ocean via the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa, Cape Leeuwin in Australia and Cape Horn on the southern tip of South America.

His adventure does not get him out of school work either.

He is taking assignments with him as part of his BTEC National Diploma in Sport (Performance and Excellence) at Oaklands College in St Albans, Hertfordshire.

Money raised from the epic voyage will be donated to Save the Children and the Tall Ships Youth Trust.

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Can a Soccer Star Block Google Searches?

By Uki Goni/Buenos Aires

Diego Maradona.
Diego Maradona.

Argentines clicking on the local version of Yahoo in search of information about their country's most legendary soccer star (and current national team coach) are in for a disappointment. All they'll see is a disclaimer in Spanish stating: "Due to a court order requested by private parties, we find ourselves obliged to temporarily suspend all or some of the results related to this search." The only exceptions are links to major news media sites. Nor is this peculiar result exclusive to searches for Diego Maradona. The soccer star is just one of 110 major public figures in Argentina to have secured a court order restraining the Argentine versions of Google and Yahoo from serving up search results on their names.

What worries the search engines is that the ruling's legal principle effectively holds them responsible for the content of web sites turned up in their searches.

A spokesperson for Google Argentina labeled the lawsuit "completely illogical. It would be like suing the newsstand for what appears in the newspapers it sells. Or demanding the newsstand vendor to tear out offending pages from the newspapers. The lawsuits should be against the websites carrying the information, not us." Google Argentina has appealed the court order, and says it will not filter any links until the appeal has been decided.

The lawsuit is the work of Martin Leguizamon, 48, a Buenos Aires attorney who has taken on the local versions of the two internet giants on behalf of many of Argentina's best-known actors, models, sports personalities and judges. "We started our first lawsuit two years ago," says Leguizamon. "When Maradona found out about what we were doing he came to see me and asked me to represent him as well."

Maradona, widely viewed as one of the greatest soccer players of all time, has had a career of highs and lows. His two goals against England at the 1986 World Cup — one of them scored illegally with his hand, which he famously attributed to "the hand of God" — helped to symbolically avenge Argentina's defeat in the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas war, and he went on to lead Argentina to victory over Germany in the final that year. But he was banned from the professional game in Italy in 1991 for cocaine use, and he tested positive for drugs at the 1994 World Cup tournament. He recently reclaimed the public spotlight by accepting the job of Argentina's national coach, although in keeping with his mercurial personality, within a week he was threatening to resign if he couldn't get his way on coaching-staff appointments. (See pictures of the UEFA Euro 2008 Soccer Championships.)

But it's not only Maradona and other celebrities who are looking to protect their image by joining Leguizamon's suit; the litigants also include three important judicial figures, among them high-profile judge Maria Servini de Cubria, many of whose rulings have been questioned in the blogosphere and even in the mainstream media. "She is a public official," said the Google Argentina spokesperson. "Where do we draw the line? What should we do regarding critical articles about her in the major online newspapers? Should we block those too? Her presence in the list of lawsuits has made this a political question concerning freedom of information."

To find a way around the ruling, users of Yahoo Argentina, which has complied with the ruling, need only go to the international version of the search engine (not covered by the ruling). Even entering an alternate spelling, such as "Maradon," still turns up a massive number of links to actual Maradona articles.

Google Argentina says it wants to cooperate with the courts, but that it cannot put in place a "wholesale blockage of a name search; it would be absurd, especially because the information would still be available on the web and on other search engines that are not being sued."

Leguizamon argues that the search engines do not discriminate between links to appropiate material and links to pornographic sites that use the images of some of the models he represents. Maradona claims to have seen images of himself on porn sites linked to by Google.

Although Google Argentina denies it has started filtering any links to sites with Maradona content, Leguizamon claims that in the last two months many offending links no longer appear. But the lawyer is not content merely to shut down what he deems offensive searches; he is seeking compensation both for any damages resulting from those searches and even for innocent pictures of Maradona turned up by Google's "Images" search. The lawyer says these are at odds with Argentina's legal restrictions on unauthorized commercial use of photographic portraits. Although Leguizamon would not disclose the amounts being demanded in court, sources close to the case say that the compensation being sought in each case is between 100,000 and 400,000 pesos ($30,000-$120,000), although in Maradona's case the amount is certain to be much higher.

Leguizamon says he wants to see big search engines such as Google and Yahoo filtering all their results for pornographic or other content offensive to his clients. "Search engines have the capability of doing that, and we want to see it implemented," says Leguizamon. "Without the link in Google or Yahoo," he adds, "nobody would even know these sites exist."

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More than 50,000 migrant workers move into Olympics borough

By Andrew Pierce

The Daily Telegraph can disclose that Newham, which will host the games, has had the biggest surge in new National Insurance numbers than any other part of Britain since the 2012 decision was made in 2005.

The 51,000 surge in migrant workers into Newham, where the Stratford Olympic stadium and village is situated, is the equivalent of a town the size of Keighley, the Yorkshire town, being added to the impoverished London borough. Most of the foreign workers have come from Eastern Europe and the Baltic states.

Last year there were 20,500 new registrations in Newham compared to 13,000 for Birmingham, Britain's Second City, and 11 million for Manchester.

The revelation has sparked fears that any jobs boom generated by the £9.4 billion Olympics budget will not benefit the local workforce in a borough which is one of the most deprived in the country. In a week in which unemployment surged to 1.8 million there are now 12,000 unemployed in Newham, or 10.7 per cent, the second highest in London.

The revelation that 50,000 migrant workers have poured into Newham in the last three years came after Tessa Jowell the Olympics minister, said Britain would not have bid for the games if the government had known that there was a recession approaching.

Labour MP Frank Field, said: "This is the biggest public expenditure programme in the history of the country yet the benefits appear to be going abroad. The extraordinary number of national insurance registrations in Newham suggest it is not providing much additional employment for British people. This is not what we were told when we secured the Olympic games."

Mr Field suggested, however, that the deepening recession might bring a silver lining to London 2012. "It must now be perfectly reasonable for the government to strike a much harder bargain on contracts to reduce the cost," he said.

"It should not be £9.4 billion; it should come in much lower as we know there are hardly any orders being placed in the construction world. We should also try to ensure at the same time that the additional jobs go to British workers."

Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham, said that the statistics on foreign workers were deeply depressing. "I am absolutely determined to ensure that the residents of Newham benefit from the 2012 Games.

"As the employment market becomes ever more competitive, no one in Newham or anywhere in Britain can assume they will be first in line for jobs and opportunities. We have to show that we have the skills and the energy to rise to grasp the opportunities that the Games will bring.

"There are many reasons why some people do not work, and I believe it is rarely because they are idle. But it may be that the benefits system will leave them worse off if they take a job; it may be that they lack the necessary skills; it can simply be a matter of psychology some individuals lack confidence and drive because they have little or no experience of work. Unless we face those realities we can never help people to realise their full potential."

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Stanley Cup rings among items stolen from Bronfman mansion

The Canadian Press A photo of one of the Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup rings taken in the Bronfman heist, as shown at a Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008 Toronto police news conference.

TORONTO — Two Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup rings are among the $1 million haul from a Toronto mansion belonging to the Bronfman family.

One ring commemorates the team's 1973-74 Stanley Cup victory, the other is from the 1975-76 championship. Those are the years when Peter and Edward Bronfman owned the storied NHL team.

Thieves made off with 60 items including precious diamonds and expensive pearls and a safe. But police say it's the hockey rings that the Bronfmans really want back.

NHL spokesman Gary Meagher says the rings are an important keepsake for Stanley Cup winners.

Police are putting pawnshops and jewelry stores on alert to be on the lookout for the missing loot.

Both of the Stanley Cup rings bear the Bronfman name on the side.

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New golf club improves flow of the game - it's a urinal

BY OREN YANIV
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Ever had to go while playing golf? Can't hold it for all 18 holes?

A New York-born urologist came up with a solution to golfers' bothered bladders - a faux club that fits in a golf bag, but is really a mobile urinal.

"I wanted people to feel a level of comfort," said Dr. Floyd Seskin, inventor of the UroClub. "Worry where the pin is, not where's the next bathroom."

His inspiration came after a patient who underwent a prostate procedure came back months later to rave about his improved condition.

READ ALSO: PEEING JERSEY POL THREAT AT NIGHTCLUB

"I used to hit my ball directly into the woods so I can urinate," the man told Seskin. "You took five strokes off my game."

Seskin, 49, who lives in Miami Beach, set out to find a device that can help other golf enthusiasts, many of whom are over 50 and suffer from prostate problems.

He came up with a contraption that looks like a 7-iron with a wider opening on top, a handle that can hold about half a liter of liquid and - most importantly - a tight-fitting seal.

READ ALSO: POL SAYS HE'LL QUIT DRINKING AFTER PEE INCIDENT

It comes with a golf towel that attaches to the belt and the club to allow a private, hands-free relief.

"You can do it anywhere," Seskin insisted. "It looks like you're practicing your swing or something."

He said many golf courses, especially ones near homes, fine players for passing water outdoors and that a lot of golfers don't hydrate enough to avoid the urge.

Though initial reactions to the UroClub often include quizzical stares, the response has been positive, Seskin said. About 1,000 have been sold in the few months since the product went on the market.

"It makes a great gift item for any golfer," said Seskin, who grew up in Syosset, L.I., and went to medical school in Brooklyn and Albany.

The UroClub is not available in stores, but can be bought through uroclub.com or by calling 866-999-4URO. It retails for $24.95 plus shipping.

Now what about a similar gizmo for lady golfers?

"Women's experience is completely different," Seskin said with a laugh. "You'd need an entire tent to pop out up of the bag."

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Report: Dan Rooney, son will own 80 percent of Steelers after brothers sell

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney's four brothers have agreed to sell a controlling stake of the team to him and his son, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported.

Patrick and Art Rooney Jr. confirmed the deal in a story posted on the paper's Web site Friday night. They and their other two brothers -- Timothy and John -- could get a total of $750 million after debt is taken out, according to the report.

Art Rooney Jr. said the brothers hope to get the deal wrapped up before a board meeting in December. Both sides want to get a deal done by then because they are worried about possible higher taxes once the Obama administration is in office.

"It's a good deal. I'm happy for Dan. I'm happy for the rest of the family. I think young Art, Dan's son, will do a fine job," Patrick Rooney told the paper. "I think we're doing the right thing."

Art Rooney II, Dan's son, is the team president.

Each brother owns 16 percent of the team, adding up to 80 percent, with another Pittsburgh family, the McGinleys, owning 20 percent. Those shares are not being sold. The Rooneys' father, Hall of Famer Art Rooney Sr., bought the franchise in 1933 for $2,500.

Several brothers wanted to focus their business efforts on racetracks and other non-football interests. The family owns racetracks in New York and Florida and has added forms of gaming that are inconsistent with NFL gambling policy, but Dan Rooney has no interests in the racing industry.

The Rooney family has owned the team since its inception, except for a brief period in 1941 when Art Rooney Sr. sold the team to Alexis Thompson and bought into the Philadelphia Eagles. Rooney regained control of his hometown Steelers in less than a year.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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NBA fight fallout: Nash, Alston, Barnes suspended

By Marc Stein
ESPN.com

Wednesday night's third-quarter shoving match involving members of the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets resulted in the NBA handing out three suspensions Friday.

Rockets guard Rafer Alston and Suns forward Matt Barnes were suspended for two games each for their roles in Wednesday's skirmish, with Suns guard Steve Nash receiving a one-game suspension for what the league deemed "escalating the altercation."

The league also fined Suns center Shaquille O'Neal $35,000 and Rockets swingman Tracy McGrady $25,000 for their actions during Houston's 94-82 road victory.

"We got in a little pushing match and I get suspended for two games?" Barnes asked the Arizona Republic. "Rafer gets two games and Rafer threw two punches at Steve. Basically what they're saying is you might as well throw two punches because you got the same suspension as someone who threw two punches. Steve comes and tries to break it up and gets thrown to the ground and he gets suspended and T-Mac [McGrady] doesn't get anything. Ridiculous."

Nash was even angrier, saying that he took a punch to the chin from Alston and telling the newspaper: "I understand I did run over to the situation, but who are [league officials] to judge if I was an aggressor or diffuser? I got pushed to the ground. At that point, what was I supposed to do? Get thrown on the ground and get trampled?"

The skirmish started when Barnes plowed through an Alston screen with his shoulder, responding to a previous tangle with Alston and McGrady's earlier hard screen on Nash. Alston charged at Barnes after a long McGrady jumper put Houston up by 19, with Nash insisting that he ran over from the baseline because he believed Barnes had been "attacked" and was "surrounded" by three Rockets. After McGrady shoved Nash down, O'Neal shoved McGrady, Alston and Yao Ming.

"I felt maybe a one-game suspension [was coming], but I can understand them making it 2," Alston told ESPN.com's J.A. Adande via text message. "Barnes should have got more of a fine for the cheap shot."

NBA executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson told ESPN.com: "Steve Nash was penalized for escalating the situation at a time when it appeared that peacemakers [McGrady and Yao] had come between the two combatants [Barnes and Alston]. Nash ran to the scrum not to make peace, but to engage Alston.

"McGrady initially acted as a peacemaker. I think Yao had Matt Barnes and it appeared that Tracy was trying to calm Rafer Alston, but what Nash did by running over there was escalate the altercation. And then it was on, so to speak."

Nash and Barnes sat out the Suns' 97-95 overtime victory Friday night at Sacramento, with Barnes also scheduled to miss Sunday's home game against Detroit. Alston sat out Houston's 77-75 loss Friday night at San Antonio and will miss Saturday's home game against New Orleans.

"Rafer and Matt Barnes, I didn't think [the infractions] were equal because I thought one guy initiated and one retaliated," McGrady told The Houston Chronicle. "The guy that really initiated should have had more games. I don't think Rafer deserved the same amount of games.

"About the [fine], I don't care about that."

McGrady also disputed Barnes' claim that McGrady had set a hard screen on Nash.

"A hard pick?" McGrady said. "That wasn't a hard screen. His [teammate] should have called out a screen. Any screen is hard if your man doesn't call it out and you don't see it. It wasn't a hard screen. [Nash] just didn't see it. I think he already had a pinched nerve in his neck. I don't set hard screens. I don't think [I've] set a hard screen in my career."

Suns president Steve Kerr confirmed that Phoenix will be appealing the rulings, but a successful appeal can only recoup lost fine money, with NBA commissioner David Stern serving as the final arbiter on such disputes.

Nash lost $111,364 in salary Friday night. Barnes will lose $7,251 per game.

Alston's bill comes to $44,545 for each of the two games he'll be forced to miss.

"I thought Phoenix's role was bigger than ours and the league was more severe on Phoenix, which I thought was appropriate," Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told the Chronicle.

Said Suns coach Terry Porter: "I just can't believe it. I don't know how exactly they evaluated the whole thing. The tape I saw, I don't come to that conclusion. I can't believe Steve's [suspension]. I just don't get it. He went in there to be a peacemaker and he gets shoved in the back and the guy who shoves him doesn't get suspended. I never saw this coming."

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Closers for sale as free agency opens

By Gordon Edes, Yahoo! Sports

Yahoo! Sports

PHOENIX – Attention K-Rod shoppers: As of 12:01 a.m. ET Friday, anyone willing to spend top dollar for a closer was free to negotiate with the record-setting Venezuelan right-hander. The doors have been flung wide open on another season of free-agent flesh peddling – the 171 players who filed for free agency now are permitted to negotiate with any of MLB’s 30 teams.

And while the likes of outfielder Manny Ramirez, pitcher CC Sabathia and first baseman Mark Teixeira are expected to land recession-proof megadeals, there are early indications that Francisco Rodriguez could find market conditions not quite as favorable.

K-Rod need look no further than at the Chicago Cubs, who elected not to spend the money it would have taken to keep their closer, Kerry Wood, and instead made a deal with the Florida Marlins Thursday for Kevin Gregg, a much more affordable option who is expected to compete for the closer’s job with Carlos Marmol, the Cubs’ incumbent setup man.

Plenty of teams need closers, among them the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians.

But it appears there could be a glut of closers on the market, most of whom will come cheaper than Rodriguez, whose former team, the Los Angeles Angels, has all but shut the door on him coming back, despite his record 62 saves in 2008.

Earlier this week, the San Diego Padres went through an ugly public divorce with their Hall-of-Fame bound closer, Trevor Hoffman, who at 41 and with declining stuff has limited appeal elsewhere. Wood now will be seeking a change of address, as will Colorado Rockies lefty Brian Fuentes, the other prize free-agent closer on the market.

But a number of other closers may be available via trade. The Chicago White Sox are willing to listen to offers for Bobby Jenks, according to scouts attending Arizona Fall League games this week. The Rockies, who just acquired Huston Street from the Oakland Athletics in the Matt Holliday deal, may be looking to flip him. Jack Zduriencik, the Seattle Mariners’ new general manager, must decide whether to keep Brandon Morrow, who threw 7 2/3 no-hit innings against the New York Yankees in his first big-league start, in the rotation or put him in the bullpen, where some Mariners’ people believe he belongs. If Morrow becomes closer, the Mariners would be in a position to move All-Star J.J. Putz.

Chad Cordero of the Washington Nationals is coming off shoulder surgery and should be ready by spring for any team willing to take a chance. Then there’s Jose Valverde, the Houston Astros’ All-Star closer. Valverde is not eligible for free agency until after the 2009 season, but if Houston GM Ed Wade decides to swing into cost-cutting mode, an early target could be Valverde, who was paid $4.7 million after losing his arbitration case last winter and can expect a hefty raise in arbitration. If the Astros decide to move Valverde, they could find a motivated buyer in Mets GM Omar Minaya.

The Mets, with closer Billy Wagner already lost for the 2009 season after undergoing late-summer elbow surgery, project as the ideal landing place for Rodriguez. But the Mets already are on the hook to pay Wagner $10.5 million next season, and Minaya told clubs last week at the GM meetings that his priority is starting pitching. The Mets still could make a play for K-Rod, but don’t be surprised if Minaya exhausts other options first.

Angels owner Arte Moreno has told his people to spare no effort in attempting to re-sign Teixeira, the switch-hitting first baseman who is the enviable position of also being coveted by the Yankees and Boston Red Sox, teams that historically drive up the price while competing against each other (see: Mussina, Mike; Damon, Johnny; Williams, Bernie; Contreras, Jose, etc.).

If the Angels fail to keep Teixeira, they are expected to shift their attention to either Sabathia, who has indicated he intends to live in Southern California, or Ramirez, whose agent, Scott Boras, publicly derided the Dodgers’ offer for the 36-year-old outfielder ($45 million guaranteed over two years, including a buyout) by saying he expects to start fielding “serious” offers Friday.

And what about K-Rod?

“Believe it or not, we really spent a lot of time and effort trying to re-sign Frankie,” Moreno said in a radio interview this week. “There were six different offers on the table at different times, and this time last year, we thought we had him signed. Then [Mariano] Rivera got his deal. I’m not one of these never-never people, but I think as a whole, it’s time to turn the page and move forward and get to things we need to do.”

Rodriguez, who turned down a three-year, $34 million offer last winter from the Angels after Rivera signed a new $45 million deal with the Yankees, may yet get his money. But he may have to sweat a little first.

There should be no such high anxiety for Ramirez, who could find himself courted by both Southern California teams and both New York teams, or Sabathia, who is dealing with the same set of suitors as well as his last team, the Milwaukee Brewers, whose reported $100 million is expected to fall woefully short. Scouts here insisted that Sabathia, not Ramirez, is the Dodgers’ true object of affection, a contention bolstered by the team’s lukewarm offer to Manny. A.J. Burnett, Ryan Dempster, Ben Sheets, and Derek Lowe all occupy the rung below Sabathia among those looking for starting pitching. Another intriguing name is Randy Johnson, the 45-year-old Big Unit who was among the last to file Thursday when he could not come to terms with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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Yankees make offer to Sabathia, have Burnett and Lowe on radar

By Buster Olney
ESPN The Magazine

As expected Friday, the New York Yankees officially tendered an offer to free-agent pitcher CC Sabathia.

CC Sabathia

Sabathia

Starting Pitcher
Milwaukee Brewers

Profile

2008 Season Stats
GM W L BB K ERA
35 17 10 59 251 2.70
The offer is expected to be six years in length and have a total value of slightly more than the record $137.5 million deal that pitcher Johan Santana signed with the Mets before last season.

Santana's deal had been the largest ever for a pitcher.

Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner confirmed Friday night at the team's spring training complex in Tampa, Fla., that an offer was made to Sabathia, and that proposals will be forthcoming for pitchers A.J. Burnett and Derek Lowe.

"Yes," Steinbrenner told The Associated Press when asked if an offer was made to Sabathia. "And we're prepared to make offers to Burnett and Lowe."

Steinbrenner declined to give details about the Sabathia offer.

Friday represented the first day that free agents can be signed. Burnett has a four-year, $54 million offer from Toronto, while Lowe is looking for a five-year contract.

The Milwaukee Brewers opened the bidding for Sabathia last week, when general manager Doug Melvin made a contract proposal to Sabathia. Melvin wasn't willing at the time to discuss terms of the offer or assess the team's chances of keeping its prize pitcher.

"It's in their hands," Melvin said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "He hasn't really had a chance to talk with other teams."

Sabathia, who went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA for Milwaukee after he was traded from the Cleveland Indians on July 7, filed for free agency on Nov. 1.

Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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