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Shortstop Reyes says he's happy to be a Blue Jay

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TORONTO -- He's a four-time all-star, a National League batting champion and Silver Slugger award winner and the New York Mets' all-time leader in triples and stolen bases.

But Jose Reyes wasn't the focal point of the blockbuster 12-player trade that made him a Toronto Blue Jay in November. On Thursday, the club officially unveiled its new star shortshop. However, when GM Alex Anthopoulos first called the Miami Marlins about making a deal, it initially involved pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.

"I've always talked about Jose Reyes in the office as one of my favourite players and I remember when we left our first meeting with the Marlins I had brought up Reyes at the end," Anthopoulos said. "That wasn't the game plan, I had to slide it in there and see if they wanted to talk about him.

"Once they said with the right players they would, we were going to try and find a way to get him."

The trade to Toronto surprised Reyes because he had received assurances prior to the deal from the Marlins that he wouldn't be moved. Ultimately, though, he was sent to the Jays less than a year after signing six-year, US$106-million deal with Miami.

On Thursday, he certainly didn't look or sound like a player who was holding a grudge. Reyes sported a broad smile as he spoke to reporters and said he's anxious to begin a new chapter in his career with a new team in a new country.

"As a baseball player you have to realize this is a business ... and that's going to happen sometimes," Reyes said. "As a player you need to understand that.

"(In Toronto) the team we're going to put on the field is going to be good. I can't wait."

Armstrong confesses doping sins to Oprah

CHICAGO -- He did it. He finally admitted it. Lance Armstrong doped.

He was light on the details and didn't name names. He mused that he might not have been caught if not for his comeback in 2009. And he was certain his "fate was sealed" when longtime friend, training partner and trusted lieutenant George Hincapie, who was along for the ride on all seven of Armstrong's Tour de France wins from 1999-2005, was forced to give him up to anti-doping authorities.

But right from the start and more than two dozen times during the first of a two-part interview Thursday night with Oprah Winfrey, the disgraced former cycling champion acknowledged what he had lied about repeatedly for years, and what had been one of the worst-kept secrets for the better part of a week: He was the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme on a U.S. Postal Service team that swept him to the top of the podium at the Tour de France time after time.

"At the time it did not feel wrong?" Winfrey asked.

"No," Armstrong replied. "Scary."

"Did you feel bad about it?" she pressed him.

"No," he said. "Even scarier."

"Did you feel in any way that you were cheating?"

"No," Armstrong paused. "Scariest."

"I went and looked up the definition of cheat," he added a moment later. "And the definition is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field."

Wearing a blue blazer and open-neck shirt, Armstrong was direct and matter-of-fact, neither pained nor contrite. He looked straight ahead. There were no tears and very few laughs.

Whether his televised confession will help or hurt Armstrong's bruised reputation and his already-tenuous defence in at least two pending lawsuits, and possibly a third, remains to be seen. Either way, a story that seemed too good to be true -- cancer survivor returns to win one of sport's most grueling events seven times in a row -- was revealed to be just that.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 18, 2013 C7

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