In Sports from United Press International

April 1, 2003 at 3:13 PM   |   Comments

Jeter suffers shoulder injury

TORONTO, April 1 (UPI) -- Derek Jeter, a key cog in the New York Yankees' run of seven straight postseason appearances, suffered a dislocated left shoulder Monday night.

He will be sidelined indefinitely, and the Yankees already are bracing for an extended absence, possibly for a minimum for two months.

Jeter is scheduled to have an MRI Thursday in Tampa, where the Yankees will play a weekend series against the Devil Rays.

Even Jeter himself is pessimistic.

"It's going to be a while, I guess," said Jeter, who wore a sling when addressing the media after Monday's game, an 8-4 win at Toronto.

The defending American League East Division champions were dealt the potentially devastating blow when their unofficial captain collided with Toronto catcher Ken Huckaby at third base in the third inning of the season-opening contest at SkyDome.

Jeter was trying to go from first base to third on a groundout by Jason Giambi in the third inning. Huckaby was covering third and landed on Jeter's shoulder after catching the throw from first baseman Carlos Delgado.

"He sort of jumped on me and I felt something pop," Jeter said. "I didn't know if it was broken. They tried to (put it back in place) on the field, but it wouldn't go in, so they eventually did it in the training room."

Following the collision, Jeter immediately began writhing in pain. He remained on his back and was holding the shoulder for 12 minutes as New York players, coaches, and medical staff came onto the field.

Toronto team physician Dr. Ron Taylor and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Erin Boynton addressed the injury before Jeter was carted off the field. He was taken to a hospital for X-rays, which were negative. He is expected to have an MRI in the next few days.

"When it happens, you're kind of scared," Jeter said. "It's pretty painful. It's kind of ironic. I was healthy coming into the season and then something like this happens. It's disappointing."

"I know he was excited about starting the season, the kid loves competition," said New York Manager Joe Torre. "To have this happen, it's just bad luck. This kid never shows any pain. He played with pain I can't tell you how many times, but this was something he couldn't hide."

Jeter doubled and scored in his first at-bat, and walked with one out in the third. He was replaced by Enrique Wilson. He is the team's lone reserve infielder, and likely will take over at shortstop for the next few days.

Entering his eighth season, Jeter has been a cornerstone of the Yankees' recent success, which includes four World Series championships, five American League pennants, and six AL East titles.

The normally durable Jeter has not missed more than 14 games in any of his first seven seasons. He has had more than 190 hits in six consecutive years, and has scored at least 100 runs in seven straight.

Jeter is a career .317 hitter.


Piazza suspension reduced to four games

NEW YORK, April 1 (UPI) -- The New York Mets learned Tuesday that the suspension of catcher Mike Piazza has been reduced from five games to four.

Piazza met with Major League Baseball President Bob DuPuy following Monday's 15-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs to appeal his suspension, stemming from a bench-clearing brawl in a March 12 Grapefruit League game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Naturally, I'm glad the suspension has been reduced," Piazza said. "I just want to put this all behind me so I can concentrate on baseball the rest of the season."

Piazza was suspended for charging Dodgers reliever Guillermo Mota after being hit by a pitch. Mota also was suspended five games, but had it knocked down to four without having to appeal.

Piazza attempted to enter the Dodgers' locker room after both players were ejected, but Mota already had left the ballpark.

"I was able to reason my position," Piazza had said Monday. "I can't say I'm optimistic, but I do believe we argued my case effectively."

The 10-time All-Star will serve a suspension for the first time in his career.

He will miss games against the Cubs Wednesday and Thursday, and the first two games of the weekend series against Montreal.

The Mets kept three catchers on their 25-man roster.

Vance Wilson will start in Piazza's absence, and rookie Jason Phillips will serve as the backup.


NIT semifinals on tap Tuesday

NEW YORK, April 1 (UPI) -- The National Invitation Tournament moves into the semifinal round Tuesday night, with two games played at Madison Square Garden.

One of the four, St. John's, has a clear-cut homecourt advantage. The Redmen play a number of their home games at the Garden each year, including the one against their Big East Conference foes.

Their foe Tuesday night will be Texas Tech, whose coach, Bob Knight, makes his first appearance at the Garden in over six years.

He last coached in New York City with Indiana in the 1996 Preseason NIT, when his team beat Evansville and Duke to claim the title. The matchup with Duke was best known for the fact that Knight brushed off a pregame handshake from Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski, his former assistant at Army.

This is Knight's sixth trip to the NIT semifinals. He took Army to the semifinals twice and Indiana three times.

Texas Tech (21-12) failed to make the NCAA Tournament despite playing one of the toughest schedules in the country. Knight offered to give up his salary as a result. The Red Raiders have taken advantage of three home games in the NIT to reach the semis.

In the other contest, another Big East team, Georgetown, will tangle with Minnesota.

Georgetown (18-14) won three straight road games to get to New York, the only team that was forced to do that. The Hoyas posted a 79-74 victory at North Carolina last Wednesday for their sixth straight road triumph.

Minnesota (18-12) lost four straight games entering the NIT, but has played better in this tournament. The Golden Gophers, who won a pair of road games to get this far, posted a 63-58 overtime victory at Temple last Wednesday.

The Gophers are 22-8 all-time in NIT play, and captured the 1993 title with a 62-61 win over the Hoyas.

The title game will be played Thursday night.


Everhart gets contract extension

BOSTON, April 1 (UPI) -- Ron Everhart has been rewarded for leading Northeastern to its first winning season in eight years.

The school has signed its men's basketball coach to a two-year extension through the 2007-08 season.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

"We are delighted with Ron's work and with his commitment to Northeastern, even when his alma mater, Virginia Tech, recently came calling," said Athletic Director Dave O'Brien.

Virginia Tech is looking for a coach after firing Ricky Stokes last month.

Everhart, who had three years left on his contract before the extension, has orchestrated a dramatic turnaround from 7-21 in 2001-02 to 16-15 last season. It was the first winning season for the Huskies since the 1994-95 campaign.

"I'm proud and honored by Northeastern's commitment to me and to the basketball program," Everhart said. "We made significant progress this season, and I think we are in position to make even greater strides in the coming years."

Everhart came to Northeastern in April 2001 after six seasons at McNeese State, culminating with a 22-9 record in 2000-01 and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament.


Alexander takes Tennessee State job

NASHVILLE, April 1 (UPI) -- Cy Alexander, who led South Carolina State to four NCAA Tournament berths in the last eight years, is headed to Tennessee State.

The school officially named Alexander as its men's basketball coach on Tuesday.

"I am excited to have someone of Cy's experience and integrity to become our men's basketball coach," said Tennessee State Athletic Director Teresa Phillips. "He brings immediate credibility to our program because of how successful and how well-respected he is in the college basketball community."

Phillips made history this past season, becoming the first woman to coach a men's Division I basketball team in a 71-56 loss at Austin Peay on Feb. 13.

The former women's coach at Tennessee State took over the team after suspending interim coach Hosea Lewis following a Feb. 11 game against Eastern Kentucky in which 19 players were ejected following a benches-clearing brawl.

That was just part of a disastrous 2-25 season for the Tigers.

Nolan Richardson III began the season as coach, but resigned Jan. 8, two weeks after Phillips suspended him indefinitely for bringing a gun into the school's gym.

Alexander spent the last 16 years at South Carolina State and built it into one of the winningest programs in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. He compiled an overall record of 277-202, including a 191-79 conference mark.

The Winston-Salem, N.C., native led the Bulldogs to five MEAC Tournament titles, and the team finished first or second in the league every year but once since the 1991 season.

This past season, South Carolina State was 20-11 overall and 15-3 in the conference. The Bulldogs lost to top seed Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.


Giants put Nen on disabled list

SAN DIEGO, April 1 (UPI) -- The defending National League champion San Francisco Giants opened the 2003 season without Robb Nen.

Their closer has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strain in his pitching shoulder. He threw an inning against Oakland on Saturday in his first action since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder in November.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday that the team's brass decided it would be unfair for Nen and the rest of the pitchers to activate him at less than 100 percent.

"We're strapped," pitching coach Dave Righetti told the paper. "We're not in the kind of position to do that. They knew my opinion. I didn't feel right about it. We're in a bind. Going with 11 guys. We can't tax the other guys like that right off the bat."

"I knew he didn't want to (go on the DL), but he knows it's the best road for him," fellow pitcher Tim Worrell told the Chronicle. "You can't keep pitching with pain all of the time, especially now. There's no need to do that."

Nen, 33, went 6-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 43 saves last season on the way to garnering All-Star honors for the fifth straight season. He ranks 11th all time with 314 saves, and has amassed 206 saves since joining the Giants in 1998.

In his absence, the Giants will use Felix Rodriguez in the closers' role. The hard-throwing righthander went 8-6 with a 4.17 ERA in 71 games last season. He has eight saves in 354 career games.

To take Nen's spot on the roster, the Giants recalled righthander Jim Brower from Triple-A Fresno of the Pacific Coast League. In five major league seasons, Brower has a career record of 15-16 with a 4.60 ERA.


Bills sign Sam Gash

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y., April 1 (UPI) -- The Buffalo Bills continued their busy offseason Monday, agreeing to terms with free agent fullback Sam Gash.

Terms were not disclosed for Gash, who returns to Buffalo after playing the last three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

Gash, 34, spent two Pro Bowl seasons with the Bills before signing with Baltimore in 2000 and helping the Ravens win a Super Bowl title.

Gash gives the Bills one of the NFL's best blocking fullbacks. They had lacked that the last two seasons with pass-catching fullback Larry Centers, who was released last month.

Gash has been one of the league's top blocking backs for much of his career, and will compete with third-year man Phillip Crosby for the starting fullback job. Both are pure blocking backs who will try to make holes for the Bills' third-year runner, Travis Henry.

He was cut by the Bills after the 1999 season as part of the salary cap purge that included Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed. He played his first six seasons in New England.

Buffalo has added eight players since the free agency period began. Included in that list are linebacker Takeo Spikes and defensive tackle Sam Adams.

An 11-year veteran, Gash played 11 games for the Ravens last season without a carry or a reception. He has rushed 120 times for 324 yards and two touchdowns while adding 158 catches for 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns in 93 NFL games.

The move to Buffalo reunites Gash with quarterback Drew Bledsoe, a teammate in New England from 1993-97. Gash caught Bledsoe's first career completion in a game at Buffalo in 1993.


Redskins send Brandt to Packers

ASHBURN, Va., April 1 (UPI) -- The Green Bay Packers have acquired center-guard David Brandt from the Washington Redskins for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2004 draft.

Brandt, 25, left the Redskins before the start of the 2002 season, but now has decided to resume his playing career. The 6-4, 313-pounder was signed by the Redskins as an undrafted free agent in 2001, and went on to play in 13 games for Washington as a rookie.

The Redskins also have re-signed guards Wilbert Brown and Alex Sulfsted.

Brown started nine of 14 games for the Redskins last season, mostly at right guard.

Sulfsted started three games and played in 14 for Washington in 2002, mostly at left guard.

Both likely will serve as reserves since the Redskins have signed free agent guards Randy Thomas and Dave Fiore in the offseason.


Zgonina signs with Dolphins

DAVIE, Fla., April 1 (UPI) -- The Miami Dolphins have signed veteran defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina to a four-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Zgonina, who turns 33 in May, started all 16 games at right defensive tackle for the St. Louis Rams last season, and recorded a career-high 81 tackles, four sacks, 15 quarterback pressures, and three fumble recoveries.

In Miami, he will rotate at the tackle positions behind starters Tim Bowens and Larry Chester.

Zgonina, originally a seventh-round pick in 1993, has appeared in 109 games for five NFL teams. He was a member of the Rams' 1999 Super Bowl-winning team.


Red Wings assistant suspended, team fined

NEW YORK, April 1 (UPI) -- Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Joe Kocur has been suspended two games and the team was fined $5,000 on Monday for is behavior Sunday against St. Louis.

Kocur tossed a chair onto the ice during the fight-filled third period of Saturday's win over the Blues.

Referees Dave Jackson and Stephen Walkom handed out 243 minutes in penalties, including 219 in the third period. After a second round of brawls with 35 seconds remaining, Kocur received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for throwing a folding chair onto the ice.

Kocur, who accumulated 2,519 penalty minutes during a 15-year playing career, missed Monday's game against Nashville, and will miss Thursday's game against the New York Islanders.

Detroit General Manager Ken Holland said the team will not appeal the suspension.

"Obviously, Robbie Ftorek threw a chair on the ice here at Joe Louis and basically got the same suspension," Holland noted. "It certainly was not a very nice way to finish the hockey game. Looked like 20 years ago. We had guys in fights that don't fight, it's not their game. The game was out of hand. We're happy nobody got hurt."

The Blues were fined $25,000 and Coach Joel Quenneville received a $5,000 fine for the conduct of his team in the final minute of the 6-2 loss.


Tamer suspended indefintely

NEW YORK, April 1 (UPI) -- Atlanta defenseman Chris Tamer Tuesday was suspended indefinitely for cross-checking Vladimir Orszagh in Saturday's 3-2 win over Nashville.

Tamer drew a game misconduct for intent to injure in the second period. He hit Orszagh in apparent retaliation for a hit on Dany Heatley by Nashville's Rem Murray.

Tamer had a hearing on Monday, and missed a 4-3 overtime win over the New York Rangers.

The Thrashers' next game is Wednesday at Buffalo.


Busch crew chief suspended, owner fined

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., April 1 (UPI) -- For the second time in as many weeks, an illegal front spring coil has gotten a NASCAR crew chief in trouble.

Busch series crew chief Eric Phillips was suspended two races by NASCAR on Monday, two days after a post-race inspection found an illegal left front spring coil in the victorious Chevrolet Monte Carlo of Joe Nemechek.

Phillips also was fined $5,000 while NEMCO Motorsports owner Andrea Nemechek, the driver's wife, was fined $25,000.

Joe Nemechek became the second two-time winner on the Busch circuit this season when he took advantage of a late red flag to capture the O'Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR made no announcement regarding the status of Nemechek's victory.

Last week, Craftsman Truck series crew chief John D. Monsam was suspended two races and fined $1,500 for using unapproved front springs in the Lucas Oil 250.


Tamer suspended indefintely

NEW YORK, April 1 (UPI) -- Atlanta defenseman Chris Tamer Tuesday was suspended indefinitely for cross-checking Vladimir Orszagh in Saturday's 3-2 win over Nashville.

Tamer drew a game misconduct for intent to injure in the second period. He hit Orszagh in apparent retaliation for a hit on Dany Heatley by Nashville's Rem Murray.

Tamer had a hearing on Monday, and missed a 4-3 overtime win over the New York Rangers.

The Thrashers' next game is Wednesday at Buffalo.


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