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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman has made his philosophy well known by now: construct the foundation through the draft and use free agency to supplement the core of the roster. Coming off of a five-win season and with so many holes to fill, Spielman needed to be a little more aggressive on the open market to take some of the pressure the looming draft. Spielman capped a busy first week of free agency by signing receiver Jerome Simpson and cornerback Derek Cox to one-year deals on Friday, saying he needed to move quickly to shore up the defence and give them some freedom for the May draft. The Vikings spent big money to keep defensive end Everson Griffen and sign defensive tackle Linval Joseph to replace Jared Allen and Kevin Williams. They also worked hard to keep quarterback Matt Cassel and get cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to help beef up the struggling defensive backfield, while sprinkling in Simpson, Cox and Fred Evans on one-year deals for depth. "By doing that, it sure helps you head into the draft not to get boxed in; well, youve got to take this position," Spielman said on Friday. "Now we have that flexibility to see how the draft is going to fall -- and I do believe this is a very deep draft and the potential of moving up or down in the draft to accumulate picks -- youre still going to be able to add a lot of youth and a lot of young talent that can come in and help our ball club." The Vikings pick No. 8 overall in the draft, which starts May 8. Addressing many of their most pressing needs in free agency frees Spielman to get creative. With Cassel, he doesnt have to draft a quarterback early. With Joseph there to occupy double teams, he doesnt have to get a run stuffer to play next to last years first-round pick, Sharrif Floyd. With Munnerlyn on one corner opposite Xavier Rhodes, and Cox added to a group that also includes Marcus Sherels and Josh Robinson, he doesnt have to draft a cornerback right away. The aggressiveness also gives a new coaching staff that includes head coach Mike Zimmer, offensive co-ordinator Norv Turner and defensive co-ordinator George Edwards, a solid veteran base with which to work. "I think by the activity that weve done so far, its by no means the end of what were going to do," Spielman said. "Well continue to monitor the market and work through the next couple weeks. But it gives us the flexibility that well need heading into the draft, where you dont have to hone and say you have to take this position. Again, with the opportunity as we develop our draft board to take the best available player." Simpson bounced back from an injury-plagued first season in Minnesota in 2012 with a solid season last year. He caught 48 passes for a career-high 726 yards in 2013 and expressed a desire to return to the Vikings when the season closed. Spielman said the Vikings like the deep threat Simpson brings to the table alongside fellow receivers Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson. But Simpson could face discipline from the league for a drunken driving arrest when next season opens. "He does have explosive speed down the field and does give us a vertical threat, but we felt confident enough and comfortable enough after the new coaching staff had met with him and understand the whole circumstance behind that last arrest that we re-signed him back to a one-year deal," Spielman said. Spielman said the Vikings were in talks to bring back left guard Charlie Johnson and were not closing the door on a possible return for Williams, the stalwart defensive tackle who has anchored Minnesotas line since 2003. The Vikings hosted defensive tackle Henry Melton for a visit, but he left on Thursday without a deal. "Theres no decision thats been made," Spielman said of Williams. "I told him wed leave it open. 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The cause of his death is as of yet undetermined, but police said foul play is not suspected.(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Blue Jays will look to snap a three-game skid Friday night when they continue their road trip in the opener of a three-game set against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Toronto has lost seven of its last nine and was just swept in three games by the New York Yankees. Thursdays 6-4 setback saw the Blue Jays get swept in a series of at least three games for the first time since Sept. 10-12. The Jays lost Thursdays finale despite two-run homers by Melky Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion as Drew Hutchison yielded four runs over 4 1/3 innings. "We didnt play good baseball," Hutchison said. "Thats what it is. Its over now. We just have to move on and continue forward." The Blue Jays will shuffle their rotation, adding an extra arm in the form of right-hander Liam Hendriks. Hendriks will make one start to give the rest of the rotation some extra time off, including R.A. Dickey. The knuckleballer will instead start on Sunday instead of tonight after exiting his last start early with a groin injury. Hendriks made two starts earlier this season for Toronto, going 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA. He is 6-0 with a 1.92 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) at Triple-A Buffalo. "We think its important to protect that rotation a little bit," manager John Gibbons told Torontos official website. "(Hendriks) will come along, he pitched well for us in a couple of outings earlier in the year. Hopefully, he gives us a boost too. Hell be here for one start and hell go back (to Buffalo), and it will give those guys an extra breeather.dddddddddddd." The 25-year-old Hendriks has never before faced the Reds. Toronto is 8-4 versus Cincinnati dating back to the 2003 campaign. Mat Latos, meanwhile, aims to build off an excellent season debut on Friday evening as he gets the call for the Reds. A 14-game winner in three of the last four seasons, Latos had a rough go of things to begin the year. He underwent knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the spring, then had his return delayed due to an elbow strain while rehabbing. Latos finally took the mound on Saturday versus Milwaukee and got a no- decision despite hurling six scoreless innings. He scattered two hits and fanned four without a walk, exiting after 87 pitches in a game the Reds eventually lost. "(It) was emotional for sure," said Latos. "First time back in a while. I felt good. The outcome kind of sucks but thats baseball. Well come back strong tomorrow." Latos will face the Blue Jays for the second time in his career looking to get the Reds back into the win column after they lost a 4-3 decision to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday. They had won three in a row and six of their last seven. Devin Mesoraco tied the game for Cincinnati with a solo homer in the top of the ninth, but Pittsburgh scored the winning run in the 12th frame on a two- out, bases-loaded walk. Cincinnati righty Homer Bailey went 5 2/3 innings, giving up nine hits and three runs while striking out five. "I feel like throughout the whole game, they had maybe one or two balls that were hit real solid," said Bailey. ' ' '

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