Sports

A's, Street avoid arbitration with deal

OAKLAND -- Earlier this week, A's assistant general manager David Forst cautioned observers from reading too much into the team's acquisition of Atlanta's Joey Devine, a possible closer in the future. Forst reissued that warning Thursday when the A's agreed to terms on a one-year, $3.3 million contract for incumbent closer Huston Street.

"The contract really has nothing to do with any of that," Forst said when asked what the agreement might do for speculation regarding Street's future with the team. "The bottom line is that he is under our control for three years, and whether we sign him to a one-year or multiyear contract, it has no bearing on his status."

For the time being, Street's status is status quo. The contract ensures the A's won't have to take Street to arbitration and keeps him penciled in as the team's closer for the coming season. As the A's have shown already this winter, though, that could change at any point.

A right elbow injury last season limited him to a career-worst 16 saves, but Street received rave reviews when he was evaluated by the team's medical staff last month in Arizona.

"He's had no elbow issues this offseason," Forst said. "He's in great shape. The guys were very happy with how he looked."

Street's signing leaves starting pitchers Joe Blanton and Chad Gaudin as the team's only arbitration-eligible players not under contract. Forst said numbers for each of the sides will be filed to the league office today, after which a date for a hearing will be determined. Forst said the team would like to reach a settlement with both players before then.

NFL

The Dallas Cowboys promoted Jason Garrett to assistant head coach and gave him a raise, perhaps approaching the $3 million per season made by head coach Wade Phillips. ... The NFL will return to Britain next season. The league, which held its first regular-season game outside North America in London in October, said it would return in 2008. The teams, date and venue will be announced during Super Bowl week or in early February. ... The NFL's divisional playoffs drew the most television viewers for the round in 12 years.

College Football

Kansas coach Mark Mangino won the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award as the college football coach of the year.

Motor Sports

Following a difficult -- some may even call it disastrous -- inaugural season at NASCAR's top level, Toyota has made marked improvements in its Sprint Cup program. The two weeks of preseason testing at Daytona International Speedway showed the 11 Camrys are fast and ready to challenge for wins. Although Kasey Kahne posted the fastest overall speed in a Dodge, Toyota drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch had the next-best speeds and Tony Stewart was 10th fastest. In single-car runs, Camry drivers posted five of the top six speeds and 10 of the top 15.

Mixed Martial Arts

After two failed title bids, Hawaiian mixed martial arts star BJ Penn vowed he won't be denied the vacant UFC lightweight championship when he fights Joe Stevenson on Saturday night. "I'm just going to go out there and rush him real fast and just annihilate him," Penn told The Associated Press. "You know, like a lion just bites the head off -- that's what I'm going to do."

Soccer

The United States will play Poland in an exhibition March 26 in preparation for the European Championship.

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