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Report: Cubs interested in free agent Carlos Pena

11.29.10 at 9:18 am ET
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The Cubs are showing interest in free agent first baseman Carlos Pena, a major league source told The slugger is coming off a disappointing season with the Rays in which he hit only .196 in 144 games. He did hit 28 home runs and 84 RBIs, however, and could be a solid fit in the hitter-friendly Wrigley Stadium. The deal makes particular sense if agent Scott Boras plans to implement a similar, one-year plan that he used with Adrian Beltre last season.

Read More: Carlos Pena, Rumor Mill,

Monday’s Morning Mashup: LeBron James bumps coach

11.29.10 at 7:50 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

No games scheduled


‘™¦ The Internet is abuzz with speculation and analysis regarding LeBron James‘ bump of coach Erik Spoelstra as the pair crossed paths during a timeout in the Heat’s loss to the Mavericks on Saturday night. After the game, the Heat had a players-only meeting to discuss their 9-8 start. At AOL FanHouse, Brett Pollakoff considers whether there’s a problem at South Beach or if it’s OK to show some frustration while the team struggles to find its way.

Meanwhile, Pistons forward Tracy McGrady said the reason Miami is struggling is because James and Dwyane Wade both want the ball too much., and McGrady uses the Celtics as an example of a team with complementary players. “Both of those guys need the ball and they don’t shoot the ball like Ray Allen,” McGrady said, noting how Allen works well with Paul Pierce. “That’s why they’re having trouble scoring in the halfcourt because they can’t get a rhythm, because one of them is dominating the ball. That guy might be getting off, but the other guy [isn’t].”

Here’s the video of the LeBron bumping incident.

‘™¦ In Sunday’s Titans-Texans game, Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan and Houston receiver Andre Johnson were ejected after a fourth-quarter fight. In the Houston Chronicle, Richard Justice writes that Johnson’s actions were uncharacteristic, and he explains what led up to the confrontation.

‘™¦ The agent for former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress, who is due to be released from prison in 6½ months, insists two teams have stayed in contact about the player and he’s confident Burress will be playing in the NFL next season.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On Nov. 29, 1958, the Red Sox signed Carl Yastrzemski as an amateur free agent. Which college was Yaz attending at the time?

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Read More: Andre Johnson, Cortland Finnegan, Erik Spoelstra, LeBron James

Rodney Harrison on Titans: ‘They’re dirty, they’re cheap’

11.29.10 at 6:49 am ET
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NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison labeled the Titans a “dirty” team when discussing Sunday’s fight between cornerback Cortland Finnegan and Texans receiver Andre Johnson.

“This is no surprise to me,” said Harrison, who has a history of criticizing the Titans, dating back to when Harrison played for the Patriots. “This team, this is their personality. They’re dirty, they’re cheap. And whenever we played this team, the coaches would say before [the game], ‘Guys, beware. They’re going to tape a cheap shot at you, they’re going to try to provoke you [into] doing something.’ ”

Harrison wasn’t the only analyst to have negative things to say about Tennessee’s behavior.

“When I was at Indy, we played against Tennessee twice a year,” Tony Dungy said. “I always warned my players, ‘You have to keep your cool, especially against Cortland Finnegan. He’s going to try to get on your nerves.’ ”

Said CBS’ Shannon Sharpe: “Why is it I can close my eyes, and if there’s a team involved in a fight, I know it’s the Tennessee Titans? And if I keep my eyes closed, I know another guy is going to be involved, and it’s always Cortland Finnegan.

“I understand that [Titans coach] Jeff Fisher says, ‘We don’t coach this, we don’t condone this,’ but why is his team always involved in stuff like this?”

Read More: Andre Johnson, Cortland Finnegan, Rodney Harrison, Rumor Mill

Lakers coach Phil Jackson laments delayed return of Andrew Bynum

11.29.10 at 6:39 am ET
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Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Andrew Bynum‘s delayed return from offseason knee surgery is putting added strain on Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, who are playing additional minutes in Bynum’s absence.

“We’re playing Pau too many minutes [and we] don’t have a backup for either he or Lamar right now, so that’s a real problem,” Jackson said before Sunday night’s loss to the Pacers. “We put all our eggs in the basket of Andrew coming back and we hoped he’d be back by this time, by Nov. 15, by Thanksgiving time, by [our last] road trip, etc. We don’t know when Andrew is coming back.”

Bynum participated in his first full-contact workout Saturday and told reporters then that he planned to appear in a game within three weeks.

Read More: Andrew Bynum, Phil Jackson, Rumor Mill,

Andre Johnson, Cortland Finnegan ejected in brawl

11.28.10 at 4:01 pm ET
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Texans receiver Andre Johnson and Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan were both ejected in the fourth quarter of Sunday’€™s game after the players swung at each other during a Houston drive. Finnegan seemed to jump at Johnson first and Finnegan’€™s helmet came off while Johnson repeatedly swung at Finnegan’€™s head while the Titans cornerback was on the ground.

The two players had engaged in a shoving match on the previous play and both sides were given 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Johnson had caught a 2-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to put the Texans up 14-0. Johnson finished with nine catches for 56 yards. Earlier in the game he became the first wide receiver in NFL history to record at least 60 receptions in each of his first eight seasons.

Read More: Andre Johnson, Cortland Finnegan, Rumor Mill,

James Harrison flagged for helmet contact on quarterback

11.28.10 at 3:46 pm ET
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Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison was flagged once again for a roughing-the-passer penalty where the hard-hitting defender led with his helmet. In the third quarter against Buffalo, Harrison hit Ryan Fitzpatrick on an incomplete pass. The penalty gave Buffalo a new set of downs and Fitzpatrick connected with running back Fred Jackson for a 65-yard touchdown pass just three plays later. Harrison has been fined $80,000 for excessive hits this season and has been the most public figure of the NFL’€™s strict policy on helmet-to-helmet contact.

Read More: James Harrison, NFL Policy, Rumor Mill,

Fantasy Football Update: Injury Report

11.28.10 at 3:40 pm ET
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For fantasy football owners looking for late game options at key positions, here is a look at the injury report for the 4:15 P.M. slate of games.

Miami vs. Oakland (4:15)

Chad Henne (QB Miami): Henne has been cleared to play in Week 12 and is expected to start on Sunday. Tyler Thigpen started last week with both Henne and Chad Pennington injured. Henne has thrown for 2,140 yards with nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Oakland is ranked third in the league against the pass, allowing only 193.2 yards-per-game.

Brandon Marshall (WR Miami): Marshall did not travel with the team and is out with a hamstring injury. Look for Brian Hartline and Devone Bess to receive more attention in Marshall’€™s absence.

Zach Miller (TE Oakland): Miller is listed as questionable with a foot injury. He was limited in Friday’€™s practice and is expected to play. Miller has 36 receptions for 470 yards and four touchdowns on the season. Bruce Gradkowski is expected to start for Oakland against Miami’€™s fourth-ranked pass defense.

Kansas City vs. Seattle (4:15)

Mike Williams (WR Seattle): Williams has been rejuvenated under Pete Carroll with 52 receptions for 654 yards and one touchdown. Williams did not practice Friday with a foot injury, and he will reportedly sit against Kansas City. He was a game-time decision for Seattle against Kansas City’€™s 25th ranked pass defense. Deon Butler, John Carlson, and Ben Obomanu could all receive more passes.

Tony Moeaki (TE Kansas City): Moeaki was a full participant in practices this week and is expected to play on Sunday. Moeaki has 31 receptions for 378 yards and two touchdowns on the season.

Read More: Fantasy Football, Injury Report, Rumor Mill,

Football Hall of Fame committee reveals semifinalists

11.28.10 at 2:53 pm ET
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The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee has announced the 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011. Jerome Bettis, Marshall Faulk, Curtis Martin, Willie Roaf, and Deion Sanders joined the list in their first year of eligibility

Receivers Tim Brown (1987-2003 LA/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Buccaneers) and Cris Carter (1987-89 Eagles, 1990-2001 Vikings, 2002 Dolphins) are also included. Other notable candidates include former owner Art Modell, tight end Shannon Sharpe, former league Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, and running back Terrell Davis.

The list will be cut from 26 to 15 in early January. The 2011 class will be revealed Feb. 5, the day before Super Bowl XLV.

Read More: Curtis Martin, deion sanders, Hall of Fame, Jerome Bettis

Adrian Peterson limps off field

11.28.10 at 2:41 pm ET
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Vikings running back Adrian Peterson left the field during Sunday’s game against the Redskins with what appears to be a right ankle injury. Peterson was tackled by a group of Washington defenders on a 1-yard gain and limped slowly off the field. Trainers attended to Peterson on the sideline.

Earlier in the game, Peterson had eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth time in his four-year NFL career. Halfway through the second quarter, Peterson had rushed six times for for 36 yards and one touchdown. He also recorded one catch for 34 yards at the time of the injury.

Read More: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings, Rumor Mill,

Plaxico Burress could return to NFL in 2011

11.28.10 at 2:39 pm ET
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Former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress could soon follow in Mike Vick’s footsteps by returning from prison to the field, ESPN’€™s Adam Schefter reports. Burress plead guilty to felony weapons charges after taking a gun into a Manhattan nightclub where it accidentally went off.

Burress is open to full release on June 6, 2011 and will be on probation for two years following his sentence. Drew Rosenhaus, Burress’€™ agent, has been contacted by two teams about the future availability of the receiver. Burress caught the game-winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLII. Over his nine NFL seasons, Burress compiled 505 receptions for 7,845 yards and 55 touchdowns. He played for both the Steelers and the Giants.

Read More: Plaxico Burress, Rumor Mill,