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Feb. 11, 2013 at 11:00 PM
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Strasburg: Ready to pitch 200 innings

VIERA, Fla., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg says he's ready to play a full season in 2013 after his innings were limited by the team last season.

The Nationals' 24-year-old ace, speaking to reporters at the Nationals' spring training home in Viera, Fla., said he's set to pitch 200 or more innings in the upcoming season.

Strasburg was shut down late last season after throwing 159 1/3 innings while racking up a 15-6 record with a 3.16 ERA and 197 strikeouts.

He missed the National League East champions' first post-season appearance after being taken out as a precaution following his recovery from 2010 elbow reconstruction surgery.

"It's going to be a challenge. It's going to be a test, and I think I'm ready for it," Strasburg told MLB.com. "I trained really hard this off-season.

"Hopefully, I'll answer the bell, throw 200-plus innings and be the guy in the rotation that can be reliable -- go six, seven, eight, hopefully nine innings every time out this year.

"I'm excited to get into the season as far as having a target on our backs now. It should be a good test for all of us."

Reports: Hernandez, M's close to deal

PEORIA, Ariz., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez was close to reaching a deal on a contract extension with the team, multiple reports indicated Monday.

Citing sources close to the team, The Seattle Times said an announcement about Hernandez's contract extension could come before Wednesday.

Contract talks with the Mariners ace were held up last week when a physical exam revealed an unspecified "elbow issue" with the durable right-hander, but sources indicated the injury wasn't seen as serious.

Hernandez has tentatively agreed to a seven-year, $175 million extension, Fox Sports reported.

The seven-year veteran threw a perfect game last season while compiling a 13-9 record with a 3.06 ERA over 33 starts. He struck out 223 batters over 232 innings.

For his career, the five-time all-star has compiled a 98-76 record over 238 games -- all starts -- with a 3.22 ERA and 1,487 strikeouts.

Ex-Cub Mark Grace heads to jail for DUI

PHOENIX, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Former Major League Baseball player Mark Grace reported to Maricopa County Jail Sunday to begin serving his four-month term for driving drunk.

Grace, a first baseman for the Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks, was arrested in August on endangerment and DUI charges -- his second DUI arrest since 2011, police said.

Grace had been a commentator on Diamondbacks broadcasts, but was fired in the wake of his second arrest. He has since been hired by the team as a minor league trainer and coach, KNXV-TV, Phoenix, said.

Grace will be granted work release from the infamously tough jail that includes a tent city for misdemeanor inmates run by the controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

NBC News noted Grace's four months, beginning now, will allow him to serve out his sentence before the worst of the Phoenix summer heat sets in.

A's close to new spring training deal

MESA, Ariz., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- After failing in a bid to keep the Chicago Cubs, Mesa, Ariz., city officials have cleared a hurdle to host the Oakland Athletics' spring training facility.

The A's and Mesa officials have reached a handshake deal to relocate the team's spring training facility at Hohokam Stadium in Mesa, provided millions in renovations can be financed.

An initial request by Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and A's owner Lew Wolff to a municipal authority controlling infrastructure funds for Cactus League facilities was approved. Smith and Wolff requested $8 million from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, a Glendale, Ariz., municipal entity originally created to help finance the construction of a new stadium for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals.

Part of the authority's responsibility, though, is collecting and disbursing hotel and car rental taxes generated each year by Major League Baseball spring training.

Mesa had played host to the Cubs but a deal to expand Hohokam Stadium fell through. The Cubs, with a typically larger fan base, sought to expand the complex to accommodate more people. The smaller market Athletics actually want to downsize the stadium and create a more intimate fan experience, team officials told The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic.

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