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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: Brewers sign free-agent Reynolds

MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Brewers may have found their new first baseman.  The team announced this morning that it signed veteran Mark Reynolds to a minor-league contract, with a good chance of making the Brewers' roster at Spring Training.

CBS Sports said the 30-year-old Reynolds will get two-million dollars -- and he could get another half-million in performance bonuses if he makes the Milwaukee roster.  The Brewers have been looking for a more solid first baseman ever since Corey Hart missed all of last season with injuries to both his knees.  A parade of possible replacements didn't pan out last season, although Juan Francisco remains on the Milwaukee roster -- and catcher Jonathan Lucroy showed some potential at first.  After the season, Hart left for Seattle -- still leaving the Brewers in need of a viable option at first.  Reynolds batted .220 with Cleveland and the New York Yankees last season with 21 homers and 67 RBI's.  Like Francisco, Reynolds has a tendency of providing either the "big hit" or a strikeout. He set a Major League record by fanning 223 times with Arizona in 2009.  Reynolds also hit 44 homers that year with 102 RBI's.  


Milwaukee Brewers agreed to new contracts today for their only two players eligible for salary arbitration.  Right-handed starter Marco Estrada accepted a one-year deal worth a reported three-point-three million dollars.  And infielder Juan Francisco agreed to sign a one-point-three-five million dollar package for this season.  Both players can get more by achieving performance incentives in their packages.  But they've already gotten big raises from a year ago when Estrada made just under two-million-dollars, and Francisco $496,000.  The Brewers had until noon today to wrap up the new deals, or else they would have had to exchange salary proposals with the players in advance of arbitration hearings in February.  Brewers' vice president Teddy Werner tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the agreements were both done within 10 minutes of today's deadline.  He said the team was happy to reach contract agreements because an arbitration hearing is quote, "an unpleasant process to go through."  The 30-year-old Estrada was in his second year of being arbitration-eligible.  He went 7-4 last year with a 3.87 ERA.  Francisco batted .227 a year ago with 18 homers and 48 RBI's, including time spent with both Atlanta and Milwaukee.


Ryan Braun could start Spring Training with a lawsuit hanging over his head.  A judge in Milwaukee has refused to throw out 5-of-12 charges in a civil suit filed by a former friend of the Brewers' slugger.  Ralph Sasson claimed that Braun wanted him to do research to clear the player of his failed 2011 drug test, investigate the man who took the test, and give prank calls to two reporters working on stories about it.  Sasson said Braun reluctantly paid him seven-thousand dollars for his work -- and he accused the 2011 MVP of lying when asked why his relationship with Sasson went south.  Braun's lawyer said the allegations were not true, and he wanted charges dropped against Braun and two agents.  But Circuit Judge Paul Van Grunsven refused to drop the most serious charges of libel, fraud, and causing emotional distress.  Sasson says he's open to a settlement, but he believes the case will go to trial.


Some of the world's fastest snowmobile racers will compete in Eagle River this weekend.  It's the 51st year for the AMSOIL World Championship Snowmobile Derby.  The feature race is set for three o'clock Sunday afternoon.  Racing takes places throughout the weekend in other classes, along with qualifying heats.  Organizers say the derby normally attracts about 40-thousand spectators.  Malcolm Chartier of Marine City, Michigan is the defending champion.  He completed the 30-lap feature in 20-minutes, 41.282 seconds.  Nick Van Strydonk of Tomahawk hopes to win his second title in three years.  He won the crown in 2012, but finished eighth last year in a race hampered by several restarts.


Only one school is in action tonight in Wisconsin Division III college basketball.  Northland College of Ashland plays a men's-and-women's double-header at Crown.  Both Northland teams are struggling.  The Lumberjacks are 2-9 overall, and 0-1 in Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.  The Lumberjills are also 0-1 in league play, and 2-8 overall.  Conference play resumes tomorrow for most of Wisconsin's other D-III schools.  


The Milwaukee Admirals will play a two-game set at Oklahoma City tomorrow night and Sunday.  The Admirals are tied for second with Chicago in the American Hockey League's Midwest Division, after a 5-4 shootout loss at San Antonio last night.  The Admirals have 55 points, 12 in back of first-place Grand Rapids.  Milwaukee's record is now 18-11-5-2.  They'll play an Oklahoma City team that's tied for fourth in the West Division with 34 points, and a mark of 14-19-1-5.


The UW-Green Bay men's basketball team will try to extend its winning streak to nine games tonight, when it plays at Wright State.  The Phoenix are 3-0 in the Horizon League and 13-3 overall, after a seven-point overtime win at UW -Milwaukee last Sunday. Wright State is 9-0 at home, after a five-point win on Monday night against Illinois-Chicago.  The Raiders are 3-1 in the conference, and 11-8 overall.  Green Bay guard Keifer Sykes scored 34 points against UWM.  He and center Alec Brown have averaged almost 40 combined points during the team's last eight victories, in their longest winning streak in 10 years.


The second-ranked University of Wisconsin women's hockey team will play a pair of games at Bemidji State this afternoon and tomorrow.  The Badgers have won six-of-their-last-seven, after splitting a pair of contests last weekend against fourth-ranked North Dakota.  Wisconsin is 13-3-2 in the WCHA, and 17-3-2 overall.  They'll face a Bemidji team that's 6-9-1 in the conference, and 9-11-2 overall.  The Beavers also had a split last weekend at home against Saint Cloud State.  Wisconsin has nine players that have scored at least 10 points this season.  Brittany Ammerman leads the way with 13 goals and 14 assists.  Sophomore Kaitlyn Tougas is Bemidji State's top scorer with four goals and eight assists.  Portage native Alex Ehlert is playing her 100th career game for Bemidji State this weekend, as a senior defenseman.  Meanwhile, the Badger men's hockey team has the weekend off.  They'll host Ohio State next weekend.


The Milwaukee Wave has a home-and-home series with the Missouri Comets this weekend.  Game-One is tonight in Independence Missouri.  The second contest will be played tomorrow night at Milwaukee's U.S. Cellular Arena.  The Wave leads the Major Indoor Soccer League by one game over the Baltimore Blast.  Milwaukee is 8-1.  Missouri handed the Wave its only loss, 15-to-6 in Independence on December 13th.  Milwaukee leads the MISL in team scoring with just over 17 points a game.  They've passed the 20-point mark in five games.  Carlos Munoz leads the Wave with 39 points, including five three-point goals.  Vahid Assadpour is Missouri's top scorer with 49 points, including 15 two-point scores.


The 26th annual Badger State Winter Games begin tonight in the Wausau area, and they'll run for the next three weekends.  Fifteen events will be featured.  "Fat tire biking" is one of the new competitions this year.  Richard Barrett of the Central Wisconsin Sports Authority says the bikes have wheels up to five-inches wide, and the low-pressure tires are good for snow racing.  The Games will have Fat Tire races of seven, 14, and 21 miles.  Bowling and archery will also competition this weekend.  Trap shooting and sporting clays will return after a hiatus.  They'll take place two weekends from now.  Last year, skiing and some other events had to be canceled due to a lack of snow cover.  That's no problem this year, considering all the snow that fell in December and January.  Barrett says today's snow will be groomed by the weekend -- and with temperatures in the teens, he says it should be a good time to be outdoors.