CHICAGO, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The Chicago White Sox, who have been searching for a different closer this offseason, apparently have acquired hard-throwing Billy Koch from the Oakland Athletics as part of a five-player deal.
ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago and MLB.com, the official web site of Major League Baseball, both reported the trade Tuesday.
The reported deal would send Koch and two players to be named later from Oakland in exchange for current Sox closer Keith Foulke, catcher Mark Johnson, minor league pitcher Joe Valentine, and cash considerations.
Koch went 11-4 with a 3.27 ERA and 44 saves in 84 appearances during his only season with Oakland in 2002. He converted 44 of 50 save opportunities.
In four big-league seasons with Toronto and Oakland, Koch owns a 22-17 mark with a 3.48 ERA, converting 144 saves in 167 opportunities.
Foulke, 30, was 2-4 with a 2.90 ERA and 11 saves in 65 relief appearances last season. He tied Antonio Osuna for the team lead in saves with 14, but had just three save chances after the All-Star break.
The righthander posted a 1-4 record with a 4.74 ERA and nine saves in 36 appearances over the first half before losing his closer's role. In the second half, Foulke posted a 1-0 mark with a 0.74 ERA and two saves in 29 appearances, striking out 27 and walking three over 36 2/3 innings.
Osuna (11-for-14) and Damaso Marte (10-for-12) teamed up for 21 saves in 26 opportunities for the Sox.
In six seasons with the White Sox, Foulke posted a record of 18-19 with a 2.87 ERA and 100 saves. He was acquired from the San Francisco Giants on July 31, 1997, as part of an nine-player deal, and his 100 saves rank third all-time in club history, trailing only Bobby Thigpen (201) and Roberto Hernandez (161).
The White Sox received Foulke as part of the so-called "White Flag" trade, along with Lorenzo Barcelo, Mike Caruso, Bob Howry, Brian Manning, and Ken Vining, and sent Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin, and Hernandez to the Giants.
Johnson, 27, hit .209 with four homers and 18 RBI in a career-high 80 games behind the plate in 2002. Splitting time with Sandy Alomar Jr., Josh Paul and Miguel Olivo, Johnson threw out 16 of 58 base stealers, and guided the staff to a 4.38 ERA during his starts.
Chosen by the White Sox in the first round in the 1994 first-year player draft, Johnson owns a .222 average with 16 homers and 76 RBI in 302 games.
Valentine, 22, was 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA and 36 saves this season with Double-A Birmingham of the Southern League.
He allowed just 13 earned runs and 35 hits over 59 1/3 innings in 55 relief appearances, with 3o walks and 63 strikeouts. The righthander made three relief appearances in the Arizona Fall League, allowing three runs over three innings, before being shut down as a precautionary move. He was added to the 40-man roster last month.
Expos dump Yoshii
MONTREAL, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The Montreal Expos Tuesday released righthander Masato Yoshii.
He went 4-9 with a 3.61 ERA in 31 games last season, including 20 starts. He missed the final month of the season with soreness in his pitching shoulder, and underwent surgery on Sept. 26.
Yoshii, 37, joined the Expos as a free agent on April 13, 2001. In two seasons with Montreal, he compiled a record of 8-16 with a 4.42 ERA in 73 games, including 31 starts.
Kerry Kittles to IR
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The New Jersey Nets Tuesday placed starting shooting guard Kerry Kittles on the injured list with a sprained left knee.
Kittles was injured in the third quarter of Saturday night's game at Portland. He sat out the following night at Seattle.
It is the first significant injury for Kittles since he returned to the club after sitting out the entire 2000 season with a knee injury.
Kittles played in all 82 games last season, helping the Nets reach the NBA Finals for the first time in club history. He averaged 13.4 points while being an integral member of the Nets' fast-break offensive style.
In 17 games this season, Kittles is averaging 12.6 points while shooting 49 percent (85-of-173) from the field.
To take his spot on the roster, the Nets activated guard Brandon Armstrong from the injured list. Armstrong has not played this season.
The Nets also transferred guard Chris Childs from the suspended list to the injured list with tendinitis in his right Achilles.
Childs, who signed with the team to be the backup point guard behind Jason Kidd, was suspended during training camp after reporting to the team overweight.
New Jersey suspends Danton
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The New Jersey Devils Tuesday suspended rookie center Mike Danton. The action was taken by General Manager Lou Lamoriello.
Danton failed to report to the team's minor league affiliate in Albany, N.Y.
It is the second time in as many seasons that the Danton, 22, has been suspended by Lamoriello.
Danton, who changed his name from Mike Jefferson last year, was assigned to Albany on Nov. 29, but elected to go home to Kingston, Ontario.
Last season, Danton contended he had a serious abdominal injury and could not skate for a long period of time. He decided to get a second medical opinion on the west coast, and did not fulfill an assignment to Albany.
Lamoriello suspended him without pay and Danton filed a grievance with the NHL Players Association.
After getting scratched in a game earlier this season, Danton also drew the ire of Lamoriello for complaining to the local media about his playing time. Danton has asked the team to trade him at that time.
Augusta member quits in protest
NEW YORK, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Former CBS Chief Executive Officer Thomas H. Wyman has resigned from the Augusta National Golf Club in protest of the all-male club's refusal to admit a woman, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Wyman, who belonged to the club for 25 years, told the newspaper that the position taken by the club's leadership is "pigheaded" and estimated as many as 75 of Augusta's roughly 300 members also support the admission of a woman.
Wyman was CEO of the network from 1979 to 1986. The Masters, one of golf's major events,is broadcast each year by CBS.
"We are disappointed that Mr. Wyman has chosen to publicize a private matter," said club spokesman Glenn Greenspan. "While we respect the fact that there are differences of opinion on the issue, we intend to stand firm behind our right to make what are both appropriate and private membership choices."
The Times said that, in a letter to Augusta Chairman Hootie Johnson, Wyman wrote that he hoped his resignation would spur others inside and outside the club to speak out in favor of a woman joining Augusta National.
"Excluding a woman from the membership is not right," Wyman said. "And it could be fixed so easily. The course Hootie is choosing, and it is completely his choice, will bring about a downhill slide that will only hurt Augusta National, the game of golf, and our modern sense of diversity as a desirable thing."
Wyman, 72, previously had encouraged Johnson to announce that Augusta, which hosts the prestigious Masters golf tournament each year, could have a woman by next year.
Johnson, who has been opposed to allowing a female member, asserted that many club members share his view.
"I want you to also know that there is no timetable for the admission of women into our membership, nor do I expect there to be one in the foreseeable future," Johnson wrote in a letter to Wyman.
AD at Cincinnati gets contract extension
CINCINNATI, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- The University of Cincinnati Tuesday rewarded Athletic Director Bob Goin with a two-year contract extension.
The extension will keep Goin, whose original contract was set to expire on June 30, 2003, as the leader of the school's athletic department during the transition of a new university president.
"I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to come here originally, and I'm thrilled that the leadership has the confidence in me that they want me to stay during the transition to the new administration," said Goin, who has been AD at Cincinnati since October 1997.
Goin has steered the Bearcat intercollegiate program to unprecedented success on and off the field.
UC teams entered the present year with a winning percentage of 62 percent, claiming 23 conference titles, making 30 postseason appearances, and producing 31 All-Americans.
Owens Award winners announced
Established in 1981, the award is the highest honor in USA Track & Field, presented annually to the outstanding U.S. male and female track performers.
This year, Jones became the first U.S. athlete in seven years to complete an undefeated season. She was perfect with 16 wins in the 100 meters, four wins in the 200 meters, and one 400-meter victory.
Jones swept the Golden League meets in the 100 meters, giving her the IAAF overall Grand Prix title.
The last American track athlete to achieve the feat was Michael Johnson in 1995.
Consequently, Jones joins Johnson as the only Americans to win the award three times. Jones also won in 1997-98. Johnson won three straight from 1994-96.
Montgomery captured the most important title in track and field -- the World's Fastest Human -- when he ran 9.78 seconds for the 100 meters at the 2002 IAAF Grand prix Final on Sept. 14.
The mark was the only world record this summer in the sprints or field events.
Montgomery earned $250,000 for breaking Maurice Greene's previous time of 9.79 seconds.
Jones and Montgomery are training partners.
"Marion and Tim had historic seasons in 2002," said USA Track & Field CEO Craig Masback. "By training together and drawing on each other for support and motivation, they showed the importance of teamwork in an individual sport. Marion is unquestionably one of the all-time greats in track and field. Tim has now entered the pantheon of World's Fastest Human."
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