Tigers bring Leyland back for eighth year

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Tigers bring Leyland back for eighth year

DETROIT -- Jim Leyland is returning next year as manager of the Detroit Tigers.

The team and its manager quickly ended any remaining speculation about his status by announcing Tuesday that Leyland's contract was extended through 2013. He managed on a one-year deal this year and led the Tigers to the World Series, where they were swept by the San Francisco Giants.

"Detroit is a tremendous baseball town and I couldn't dream of a better place to manage," Leyland said in a statement. "Tigers fans and the people of Michigan have supported us so well during my time here, I can't even begin to express how much that means to me."

The team said Leyland's coaching staff also has been invited to return.

Next season will be Leyland's 22nd as a major league manager and his eighth in Detroit. He's led the Tigers to the postseason three times and the World Series twice.

The 67-year-old Leyland leads all active managers with 1,676 wins, a total that puts him 15th on the career list.

"Jim is as fine a manager as there is in baseball, he has done a fantastic job for the organization and we are thrilled to have him back managing the Tigers in 2013," general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jim and his ability to lead our club on the field. I am confident that you will not find a harder working or better prepared manager in the game."

Detroit faced high expectations this year after signing slugger Prince Fielder in the offseason. By mid-September, Leyland's future seemed uncertain as the Tigers struggled to keep pace in the AL Central, but they overtook the Chicago White Sox to win the division and then beat Oakland and the New York Yankees in the American League playoffs.

By the time the World Series started, Dombrowski had indicated Leyland would be welcome back in 2013, but both the manager and GM sought to postpone any public discussion of his status until after the season.

NOTES: The Tigers exercised a 6 million option on 2B Jhonny Peralta and a 3.5 million on RHP Octavio Dotel. Each had carried a 500,000 buyout.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Morning Update: Bears beat 49ers; Blackhawks' offense struggles in loss to Jets

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USA TODAY

Morning Update: Bears beat 49ers; Blackhawks' offense struggles in loss to Jets

Here are some of the top stories from Sunday in Chicago sports:

Five Things to Watch: Bulls back in action against Trail Blazers

Tune in tonight for Chicago Bulls Charities Night

Blackhawks score late but can't get past Jets

Bears offense finds groove in win over 49ers

Winter meetings preview: Why teams will find trying to copy a ‘Cubs Way’ rebuild is easier said than done

White Sox revamp would mean fewer 'stopgaps' and 'half-measures'

Significance of Bears win over 49ers lies beyond records and score

Five Things from Blackhawks-Jets: Offense still anemic

Bears' Matt Barkley 'showing the world' he can be a starting QB in the NFL

Lars Johansson excited for Blackhawks call-up

Bulls pass out Christmas gifts to Chicago youth on Sunday

Bulls pass out Christmas gifts to Chicago youth on Sunday

It was hard to tell who was more excited Sunday afternoon: the Bulls players or the 400 kids who stopped by the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry as the team passed out Christmas gifts for kids who reside in the Chicago family housing development.

Robin Lopez was carrying about Benny the Bull, much to the surprise and delight of many kids who were in attendance, while Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo took photos and passed out gifts to every child.

Rondo established roots in Chicago long before becoming a Bull, but has become entrenched in the months since signing with the franchise, being a part of the 17th annual holiday party.

“It’s definitely an honor. An honor to be a Bull,” Rondo said. “Since Day 1 when I got here I thought they were the best organization as far as giving back to the community, and it shows. They do it without hesitation.

“Very welcoming. The people have been great. The kids have been here since Day 1 supporting us as well. It’s very exciting.”

Bulls volunteers served lunch provided by Papa John’s, Coca-Cola and Edy’s Ice Cream, as the holiday party is one of the 30 events the Bulls are organizing as part of the team and NBA Cares’ “Season of Giving.”

“It’s no problem for any of us,” Lopez said. “Look at Raj, look at Jimmy, they’re having a blast out there. They’re having as good of a time as the kids out there.”

Being a California native, the newfound snowfall added to the atmosphere for Lopez.

“This really feels like Christmas,” Lopez said. “I can feel the spirit inside with the kids and the looks on their faces when they walk in and see the toys, they see Jimmy Butler and they’re so excited to be a part of it.”

Whether it was Barbie Dreamhouses, or Nerf basketball rims, the kids were ecstatic to see the Bulls and to pick out the toys being distributed by the Bulls’ stars.

“Very humbling. Over 400 kids. And every kid comes through all smiling and excited,” Rondo said. “Some of them don’t get toys all year and this time of year is about giving. I’m very humbled.”

Butler has been around Bulls Charities since being drafted in 2011, so although this is old hat, he hasn’t lost any of the spirit that comes with doing events like this year after year.

He posed with kids for photos and cracked jokes to the younger basketball fans.

“Feels good. I just like being here. It’s what this time of year is all about, seeing these kids smile,” Butler said. “I love kids, I love this city, I want everybody to be happy all the time. However I can make that happen, especially around Christmas and the holidays, I’ll do.”

Lopez is quiet to many who see him on the floor, but his eyes lit up around the kids and made Benny the Bull his personal prop by picking him up and carrying him through the museum.

“Every time I see it, it’s a wonderful feeling. To think I’m a small part of it, I can’t begin to describe it,” Lopez said. “Any opportunity I get to work with kids, that’s always easy yes in my book. I’m a big kid at heart. Any time I can go play, I’m in.

“It’s indescribable. I got so many great gifts as a kid, and blessed in so many ways. Just to be able to give back in any facet, that’s an easy yes.”

Sunday's event leads up to Monday's Chicago Bulls Charities Night at the United Center. The Bulls host the Portland Trailblazers at 7 p.m. on CSN.