The NHL appears headed toward a 48-game season for the second time in two decades.

"I think 48 is most likely at this point, unless the players can expedite their ratification process," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email Monday to The Associated Press.

The NHL and the players' association are working on a memo of understanding, to be voted on by owners and players. The league circulated a memo to teams telling them to be ready to play by Jan. 19, the date the shortened season is expected to start.

The NHL shortened its 82-game slate to 48 games for the 1994-95 season after a 103-day lockout. In 2004-05, the NHL became the first major North American pro sports league to lose an entire season.


Berkman signs with Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas - Lance Berkman accepted the Texas Rangers' offer this time and is returning to his home state to be their designated hitter in what may be his final stop.

The Rangers completed a $10 million, one-year deal Monday for the switch-hitter Berkman, 36, who played only 32 games last season for St. Louis, after he passed a physical. The deal includes an option for 2014.

Berkman provides a potential big bat for the middle of the lineup the Rangers need after losing slugger Josh Hamilton and catcher Mike Napoli in free agency.

• Ex-Washington lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez, 34, and Milwaukee have finalized a $2.25 million, one-year contract.

• Former All-Star infielder Jose Lopez signed a one-year, $911,000 deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan's Central League.

• Ex-Boston manager Bobby Valentine will be an NBC Sports Radio commentator.

Women's basketball

Tucson High grad Clark honored

Harvard guard Christine Clark, a former Tucson High star, earned her fifth Ivy League player of the week award Monday.

The junior averaged 20 points with a 51.7 shooting percentage in wins over UMass and Rhode Island. She's averaging a team-leading 16.6 points a game for Harvard (9-5).

• Pima College center A'jha Edwards, a Tombstone High grad, was named the ACCAC Division 2 player of the week after averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, and shooting 67 percent last week.


Messi captures FIFA award again

ZURICH - Lionel Messi became the first four-time winner of the FIFA Player of the Year award after shattering the world record with 91 goals last year for Barcelona and Argentina. Messi, 25, won for the fourth straight time, beating Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona's Andres Iniesta in voting announced Monday.

• Defending champs Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka will be the top-seeded players for the Australian Open.

Djokovic is followed by Roger Federer, Andy Murray and David Ferrer. After Azarenka is Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska.

Includes material from news releases