Tino Martinez is headed back to the Bronx.
The popular first baseman and the New York Yankees finalized a $3-million, one-year contract Friday, a deal that gives manager Joe Torre a familiar option if Jason Giambi's health problems keep him out of the lineup again.
Martinez, 37, played for New York from 1996-2001, helping the Yankees win five AL pennants and four World Series titles. A close friend of shortstop Derek Jeter, Martinez hit .262 with 23 homers and 76 RBIs for the Devil Rays last season.
"The Florida Marlins probably were my other choice," Martinez said. "If the Yankees had any interest at all, whatsoever, it's where I wanted to be, where I wanted to finish my career."
Giambi, who replaced Martinez as New York's first baseman in 2002, missed much of last season because of a variety of illnesses, the most significant a benign tumor. He was ineffective at the plate when he returned late in the year, and New York did not include him on its postseason roster. Giambi, the 2000 AL MVP with Oakland, wound up hitting .208 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs.
During the offseason, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Giambi told a federal grand jury in 2003 that he used steroids, and the Yankees have been investigating whether they can void his contract, which has $82-million and four years remaining.
"It is a strange situation," Martinez said. "I spoke to Joe Torre last night. He gave me a call. I told him I'm willing to do whatever role he wants me to be in."
DAMON WEDS: Johnny Damon married girlfriend Michelle Mangan in Orlando on Thursday at a wedding attended by stars of the sports, TV and music worlds.
It was the second marriage for the 31-year-old Red Sox centerfielder, whose 5-year-old twins _ Madelyn and Jackson _ served as flower girl and ring bearer.
"Michelle's a great girl, and it's time I started settling down," Damon told the Boston Globe. "She's had a huge influence on me."
Teammates Doug Mientkiewicz, Mike Timlin, Kevin Millar, Bronson Arroyo and Kevin Youkilis were among the 175 guests. AC/DC lead singer Brian Johnson and celebrity chef Todd English also attended.
HALL OF FAMER HOSPITALIZED: Hall of Famer George Kell, 82, was hospitalized in Little Rock, Ark., and will need physical therapy after breaking his left leg and left arm in a car crash with a tractor-trailer, his wife, Carolyn, said.
Kell played with five teams during a 15-year career, all in the American League, beginning with the Philadelphia Athletics and then the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and Baltimore Orioles. He was a 10-time All-Star and the AL batting champion in 1949.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983.