First baseman Prince Fielder and the Milwaukee Brewers reached a preliminary agreement yesterday on an $18 million, two-year contract.

The agreement is subject to a physical exam, Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said. Melvin declined to discuss the contract's value. The club and Fielder were headed for arbitration.

In 2007, Fielder became the youngest player to hit 50 home runs. He batted .288 with 119 RBIs. The 24-year-old hit .276 with 34 homers and 102 RBIs last year as Milwaukee reached the postseason for the first time since 1982, when it was in the American League.

Oldest player dies.

Bill Werber, 100, the oldest living ex-major-leaguer and a former teammate of Babe Ruth, died yesterday.

His son, Bill Jr., said his father died of "old age" after moving into an assisted-care facility in Charlotte, N.C., three weeks ago.

A career .271 hitter who led the American League in stolen bases three times, Werber played with Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove at various times.

Werber also was an all-American basketball player at Duke.

He played briefly (seven games in two seasons) with the New York Yankees, four seasons with the Boston Red Sox, two with the Philadelphia Athletics, three with Cincinnati, and one with the New York Giants.

In 1940, Cincinnati beat the Detroit Tigers in seven games to win the World Series as Werber led the Reds with a .370 average (going 10 for 27). Werber still holds one Major League record; he is the only player to hit four consecutive doubles in both leagues (with the Boston Red Sox in the American League and with the Reds in the National League).


A 1927 Yankees team photo signed by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and 45 others is expected to sell for $75,000 to $100,000 in a sale by SCP Auctions of Laguna Niguel, Calif.

The photo was given by Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert to James Hanes, manager of the Hollywood Beach Hotel in Hollywood, Fla., as a token of Ruppert's gratitude on a spring-training visit.

Cubs have a buyer.

The billionaire Ricketts family has been selected by Tribune Co. as the winning bidder for the Chicago Cubs, according to several reports.

The bid is worth about $900 million, according to the Web site of the Chicago Tribune, which also is owned by Tribune Co.

The selection of Tom Ricketts, a member of the founding family of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., and chief executive of InCapital LLC, first was reported by the Chicago Sun-Times' Web site.

Both reports cited an unidentified source.

The Cubs have been on the market since opening day of 2007, when real estate magnate Sam Zell bought out Tribune.

Brother points to McGwire.

Mark McGwire's youngest brother says in a book proposal that he injected the former baseball star with steroids, according to

Jay McGwire is circulating a manuscript titled

The McGwire Family Secret: The Truth About Steroids, a Slugger and Ultimate Redemption

, the Web site reported Wednesday. Jay McGwire, a bodybuilder, said that his brother started using steroids in 1994 and that he injected Mark with Deca-Durabolin.

Jay McGwire, who says he has a strained relationship with his brother, could not be reached for comment.

Mark McGwire repeatedly has denied using illegal performance-enhancing drugs.


Third baseman Troy Glaus will be sidelined for about three months after arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. He likely will miss St. Louis' opener on April 6. . . . Alex Cora and the New York Mets finalized a $2 million, one-year contract, giving the team a backup infielder who also could displace Luis Castillo at second base. . . . Catcher Gregg Zaun returned to the team that drafted him in 1989, finalizing a $2 million, one-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles.