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Originally published December 31, 2013 at 7:28 PM | Page modified December 31, 2013 at 10:19 PM

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All-Star reliever Jesse Crain agrees to contract with Houston Astros

Reliever Jesse Crain, an All-Star last season, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Houston Astros. He had a 0.74 earned-run average with the Chicago White Sox in 2013.


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Baseball

All-Star relief pitcher Crain agrees to 1-year deal with Astros

Reliever Jesse Crain, an All-Star last season, has agreed to a one-year deal with the Houston Astros.

Crain, 32, had a 0.74 earned-run average in 37 appearances for the Chicago White Sox in 2013. The right-hander struck out 46 batters in 362 / 3 innings.

Crain had a streak of 29 straight appearances without allowing a run from April 17 to June 22. He was traded to Tampa Bay on July 29, but didn’t appear in a game for the Rays because of a strained right shoulder.

The Astros’ bullpen was one of the biggest problems last season on a team that lost a franchise-record 111 games and had the worst record in the major leagues.

General manager Jeff Luhnow called Crain, who played college ball at Houston, a “proven reliever” who will “help us win games in 2014.”

Auto racing

Schumacher has 2nd surgery

Retired driver Michael Schumacher underwent a second surgery after a brain scan showed small, “surprising” signs of improvement, but grim doctors said they could offer no insight into the prognosis for the seven-time Formula One champion.

Schumacher, 44, suffered critical head injuries when he fell and struck a rock Sunday while skiing on a family vacation in the French Alps. His manager confirmed the accident cracked his helmet; doctors credited the helmet for giving Schumacher a chance at survival.

Schumacher’s condition stabilized somewhat after the second surgery, but he remains in a medically induced coma — and doctors gave no prediction on how long that would last.

“We cannot tell you any more about the future,” said Gerard Saillant, a surgeon and friend of the family who is in Grenoble, France. Saillant said it would be “stupid” to make any predictions about Schumacher’s recovery.

Doctors cautioned Schumacher’s condition was still grave.

Schumacher’s manager, Sabine Kehm, said a member of the media attempted to gain access to Schumacher’s hospital room disguised as a priest.

Golf/tennis

McIlroy, Wozniacki are engaged

Golfer Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and tennis ace Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark announced their engagement on Twitter.

McIlroy, 24, is ranked sixth in the world and Wozniacki, 23, is No. 10. Both have been No. 1.

McIlroy popped the question in Sydney, where Wozniacki is starting to prepare for the Australian Open in Melbourne.

“Happy New Year everyone! I have a feeling it’s going to be a great year!! My first victory of 2014,” McIlroy tweeted. He added a hash tag, “She said yes!!”

Wozniacki sent out a similar tweet that said, “Happy New Year everyone! Rory and I started 2014 with a bang! ... I said YES!!!!”

That should put to rest two reports out of Ireland at different times in 2013 they were splitting up. McIlroy and Wozniacki first began to see each other in the summer of 2011.

Meanwhile, in prep events for the Australian Open, top-ranked Serena Williams of the United States beat Andrea Petkovic of Germany 6-4, 6-4 at the Brisbane International and top-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy lost 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 to 259th-ranked Ana Konjuh of Croatia in the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.

Hockey

U.S. junior team loses to Canada

Connor McDavid and Curtis Lazar scored in a 2:19 span in the third period and Canada beat the United States 3-2 in Malmo, Sweden, to win Group A in the world junior tournament.

In the quarterfinal round, Canada will play Switzerland and the defending champion United States will face Russia.

Anaheim wins, shares NHL lead

Ryan Getzlaf scored his 20th goal and added two assists as the host Anaheim Ducks beat the San Jose Sharks 6-3 for their 11th victory in 12 games. The Ducks share the NHL lead with the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Handicapping

Chicago man strikes it rich

The newest champion of football handicapping is a Chicago trader who consults for a major professional team.

David Frohardt-Lane, 36, earned $557,850 for beating more than 1,000 competitors to win the SuperContest run by the LVH casino-hotel in Las Vegas. Frohardt-Lane said he plans to donate half the winnings to GiveWell, a nonprofit that evaluates charities.

The SuperContest has a $1,500 entry fee; each week, entrants selected five NFL games against the pointspread.

Frohardt-Lane got into sports betting while studying math at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. As a sophomore, he used NFL statistics as the basis for a project — and realized if he had used his model to place bets, he would have won 60 percent of the time.

Last summer, Frohardt-Lane began consulting with a professional sports team, using predictive modeling to help with scouting. He said his employer asked him not to identify the team.

ELSEWHERE

Shani Davis of Chicago won the men’s 1,500 meters and Heather Richardson of High Point, N.C., took the women’s title at that distance at the U.S. long-track speedskating Olympic trials in Kearns, Utah.

The Olympics are next month in Sochi, Russia.

Richardson won and Brittany Bowe of Ocala, Fla., finished second in the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 at the trials.

Wilbur “Moose” Thompson, the shot-put winner in the 1948 London Olympics, died last Wednesday. The Long Beach, Calif., resident was 92.

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