Sports Update

Dec. 20, 2001 at 3:39 PM
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In Sports from United Press International

Red Sox sign free agent RHP John Burkett

BOSTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The Boston Red Sox added another veteran pitcher to their rotation on Wednesday night, signing free agent righthander John Burkett to a two-year contract.

The Boston Globe reported Thursday that Burkett will receive $11 million over the two years.

The 37-year-old Burkett was 12-12 in 2001 and led the Atlanta Braves with a 3.04 ERA. Burkett had a career-high 187 strikeouts, held opponents to a .230 average and was named to the National League All-Star team.

The Red Sox have added two other starters this month. Lefthander Darren Oliver was acquired from Texas in the deal for Carl Everett and righthander Dustin Hermanson was obtained from the St. Louis Cardinals for three minor leaguers.

In his past 56 starts dating back to August 29, 1999, Burkett is 26-16 with a 3.55 ERA. He has a 141-119 career record with a 4.23 ERA in 12 major league seasons with San Francisco, Florida, Texas and Atlanta.

Bengals sign QB Covington, place CB Roman on injured reserve

CINCINNATI, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Deciminated by injuries at quarterback, the Cincinnati Bengals brought back Scott Covington on Thursday, signing the third-year pro from Miami to a one-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Covington was on the Bengals' roster to start the season before being waived on September 10. He played in three games for Cincinnati in 1999, completing four-of-five passes for 23 yards.

Covington could see action as early as Sunday's game at Baltimore.

Jon Kitna has been bothered by a sprained middle finger on his throwing hand and did not start in Sunday's 15-14 loss to the New York Jets. Akili Smith started in his place and suffered a torn hamstring that will sideline him for the season. Backup Scott Mitchell, another possibility to start this week, strained his rib cage in practice.

In another move, the Bengals placed cornerback Mark Roman on the injured reserve list.

Tiger Woods PGA Player of Year

PONTE VEDRA, Fla., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods, who won five official events and posted over $5.5 million in earnings, has been named the winner of the Jack Nicklaus Trophy as the PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Allen Doyle and Chad Campbell won Player of the Year honors on the Senior Tour and Tour, respectively.

Woods, who celebrates his 26th birthday on December 30, received the prize for the third straight year and the fourth time in five full seasons on the tour.

Woods became the first man to possess all four major titles at the same time with his victory at the Masters in April.

For the third consecutive year, Woods also picked up the Arnold Palmer Award as the tour's leading money winner and the Byron Nelson Trophy as the scoring average leader, posting a 68.81 mark.

Woods outpolled David Duval, Phil Mickelson and David Toms for the Player of the Year award.

Doyle, 53, had two victories and 25 Top-10 finishes in his 34 starts. He also topped the Senior Tour money list, earning over $2.5 million.

Campbell, a 27-year-old rookie who made 21 of 23 cuts this season, recorded three wins and eight Top-10 finishes. He set a new single-season Tour earnings mark with $394,552.

North Carolina State, Pittsburgh meet in Tangerine Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The Tangerine Bowl has one tough act to follow.

North Carolina State and Pittsburgh meet in the return of the Tangerine Bowl at Orlando, Florida on Thursday, one night after East Carolina and Marshall staged the highest-scoring game in bowl history.

Byron Leftwich engineered a stunning comeback on Wednesday in the GMAC Bowl as the 25th-ranked Thundering Herd rallied from a 30-point halftime deficit to stun East Carolina, 64-61, in double overtime.

The teams combined for 125 points and more than 1,100 yards in a 4 ½-hour marathon. It was the highest-scoring bowl game ever, surpassing the 96 points in the 1995 Copper Bowl between Texas Tech and Air Force.

Like Marshall, Pittsburgh (6-5) staged a respectable comeback of its own this season. Pittsburgh won its final five games, including a 38-7 rout of bowl-bound Virginia Tech on November 3.

Pokey Reese moves to Boston

BOSTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Pokey Reese, who fell out of favor in Cincinnati, finally may have found a home.

Just over 24 hours after they acquired him from the Reds, the Colorado Rockies dealt the talented but underachieving second baseman to the defense-desperate Boston Red Sox on Wednesday for catcher Scott Hatteberg.

The 28-year-old Reese, who once was one of baseball's most promising shortstops, joins a team that can support his anemic bat. The Red Sox need infield defense, even with the return of star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra.

Reese was traded with lefthander Dennys Reyes to Colorado on Tuesday for pitchers Gabe White and Luke Hudson. But the Rockies have prospect Jose Ortiz at second base and quickly turned Reese around for Hatteberg, who hit .245 with three home runs and 25 RBI in 2001.

Hatteberg is a lefthanded-hitting backstop who could see significant time with Colorado.

Reese, who won Gold Gloves in 1999 and 2000, is eligible for arbitration and figures to earn more than $4 million in 2002. But he could flourish in Boston, which boasts one of the game's better lineups. Reese has recorded at least 25 steals in four of his five major league seasons and has a career success rate of 84 percent. The speed is a welcome addition to a lineup that is among the slowest in baseball. Last season, he took a step backward offensively and defensively, hitting just .224 with nine homers and 40 RBI. He spent more time at shortstop than second base and tied a career high with 15 errors.

Montana, Furman to clash in Division I-AA title game

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., Dec. 20 UPI) -- While top-seed Montana made its way back to the Division I-AA championship game for the second year in a row, the Grizzlies will not get a chance to avenge last year's 27-25 loss to Georgia Southern.

But they will be facing another Southern Conference team in the title game. It will be No. 3 seed Furman, which ended Georgia Southern's bid for a third straight title with a 24-17 win last week in the semifinals.

Montana (14-1) and Furman (13-2) clash for the first time on Friday at 5:30 p.m. EST at Finley Stadium/Davenport Field. The contest will be televised by ESPN.

Montana reached the championship with a 38-0 victory over Northern Iowa, its best performance of the postseason. The Grizzlies shut down a team that averaged 52 points in its first two playoff wins.

Wolves point guard faces surgery

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Terrell Brandon was scheduled for arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday and will be sidelined two to three weeks.

The Timberwolves announced before Wednesday's 117-112 overtime loss to the New Jersey Nets that Brandon would have the procedure to remove a loose body in his left knee.

One of the keys to the team's strong start, Brandon was placed on the injured list Tuesday. The Timberwolves are 0-2 without him. An 11-year veteran, Brandon is averaging 13.2 points and 9.0 assists in 22 games. He is fifth in the NBA in assists, first in free-throw percentage (.981) and 11th in steals per game (1.82).

Lakers' broadcaster has heart surgery

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Chick Hearn's streak of 3,338 games and 36 years behind the microphone will end on Thursday night.

Hearn, the long-time voice of the Los Angeles Lakers, underwent open heart surgery on Wednesday at Northridge Hospital Medical Center.

The Hall of Fame broadcaster underwent a procedure to correct a condition known as aortic stenosis. According to a Lakers' spokesman, the 85-year-old Hearn had been bothered by the condition for some time and had surgery scheduled for next week. But Hearn was feeling "tired and weak" when he awoke Wednesday and the procedure was moved up.

In his 42nd year behind the microphone, Hearn became just the third broadcaster inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1991.

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