In Sports from United Press International

Aug. 13, 2002 at 3:20 PM
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Priestley transfered; progressing

INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Well-known actor and Infiniti Pro Series driver Jason Priestley has been transferred by airlift to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis to continue his recovery from serious injuries suffered in an accident during practice at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta on Sunday.

Priestley, 32, a native of Vancouver, was transferred to Methodist, a renowned location for its treatment of injured race drivers, from the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington. There, he was in the intensive care unit. His condition remains serious but stable.

Doctors at UK Hospital announced that Priestley's pulse and blood pressure are normal, he continues to breathe on his own, he responds to commands, and voluntarily moves all his extremities.

"Priestley's condition has improved and stabilized to the point where a transfer can be safely completed," said Dr. Stephan Stapczynski, professor and Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and Medical Director at Kentucky Speedway.

Priestley sustained a moderate concussion as well as a fracture of his ninth thoracic vertebra, or broken back. Additionally, he suffered a contusion around the left eye, and has has lacerations on the bridge of his nose and left cheek, neck lacerations and fractures in both feet.

"He is becoming more and more aware of his surroundings," Stapczynski said at a new conference.

"He's lucky to be alive," his brother, Billy Hallisky, told the Indianapolis Star.

Priestley will undergo orthopedic surgery in a few days, after he has recovered from the transfer. The former star of the 10-year television cult hit "Beverly Hills 90210" is expected to make a full recovery.

Rams rookie has fractured kneecap

MACOMB, Ill., Aug.13 (UPI) -- St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, one of their three first-round picks in 2001, will be out at least two weeks with a fractured right kneecap.

Pickett missed several days of practice last week with soreness in the knee before a medical exam revealed the fracture.

The Rams are counting on Pickett to rotate at defensive tackle with starters Brian Young and Jeff Zgonina and reserves Damione Lewis and Tyoka Jackson. However, Young is sidelined with a knee injury, Lewis is recovering from foot surgery, and Jackson is coming off knee surgery. The injuries forced the Rams to use defensive end Jonathan Brown at tackle in Saturday's preseason opener at Tennessee.

The 6-2, 297-pound Pickett was the third of St. Louis' three first-round picks last season, following Lewis and safety Adam Archuleta.

Royals set to activate Sweeney

KANSAS CITY, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Kansas City Royals All-Star first baseman Mike Sweeney will return Tuesday after missing a month with a strained left hip and sore lower back.

The Royals are expected to officially activate Sweeney before Tuesday night's game against the New York Yankees.

"He's ready to go," said Royals General Manager Allard Baird. "I'm scared that he's going to come in here and swing hard enough to blow everybody out of the stadium in his first at-bat.

He's anxious to go and healthy."

Sweeney last played for the Royals on July 13. He joined Triple-A Omaha of the Pacific Coast League earlier this month, but did not begin playing until last Friday. He hit a home run in his first at-bat and was 3-for-12 in three games at Omaha.

Sweeney, 29, is Kansas City's best hitter, batting .355 with 16 homers and 49 RBI in 84 games.

The Royals re-signed Sweeney to a five-year, $55 million contract last spring. He has averaged 27 homers, 115 RBI and a .318 batting average over the previous three seasons.

Indians bring back P Dave Burba

TAMPA, Fla., Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The Cleveland Indians Tuesday purchased the contract of veteran pitcher Dave Burba from Double-A Akron and optioned righthander Jason Beverlin to Triple-A Buffalo of the International League.

Burba, who was born in Dayton and attended Ohio State, was released by the Texas Rangers July 30 and signed a minor league contract with the Indians eight days later.

The 36-year-old righthander went 4-5 with a 5.42 ERA in 23 games with Texas, including 18 starts. He made one start with Akron last Friday and allowed one hit in 4 2/3 scoreless innings.

Burba went 46-25 with Cleveland from 1998-2000 before struggling in 2001 with a 10-10 record and 6.21 ERA in 32 games. He also has played with Seattle, San Francisco and Cincinnati and is

109-85 with a 4.52 ERA in 431 games.

The 28-year-old Beverlin made four relief appearances with the Indians, allowing seven runs and nine hits in 7 1/3 innings.

Bengals LB Spikes has chest injury

GEORGETOWN, Ky., Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Veteran outside linebacker Takeo Spikes, the heart and soul of the improving defense of the Cincinnati Bengals, will be on the sidelines for a while after suffering a chest injury in the team's preseason win at Buffalo Friday night.

Spikes suffered a partially torn right pectoral muscle on a play in which he sacked Bills quarterback Drew Bledsoe at the end of the first quarter. He ran off the field holding his chest.

"I was trying to go for the extra effort, trying to pick him up and dunk him," Spikes told the Cincinnati Post on what turned out to be a strained right pectoral muscle. "As soon as I had done it, I knew it. The only thing I was hoping and praying for was that it didn't tear."

Spikes, a four-year veteran who has not signed a new contract, likely will be out 2-4 weeks. He might be able to play in the Bengals' preseason finale Aug. 29 at Atlanta.

The 6-2, 245-pounder from Auburn has never missed a regular season contest because of injury and, if he does not play again in the exhibition season, he definitely is pointing toward being healthy for the first game of the regular campaign at home Sept. 8 against San Diego.

"I'll be back by the opener. I'm not worried about that," Spikes said. "My big goal this week is to be back on the field by Thursday or Friday, but I can't have any contact. It's like a hamstring, but the good thing is it doesn't take as long as a hamstring to get better, depending on how bad it is."

Last season, Spikes was credited with 109 tackles, 6 sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery while being double-teamed on nearly every play.

Blazers sign G Jeff McInnis

PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The Portland Trail Blazers, looking to upgrade their size in the backcourt, have signed veteran guard Jeff McInnis to a three-year contract.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The signing of the 27-year-old McInnis comes on the heels of last week's acquisition of 6-4 guard Antonio Daniels in a five-player deal with the San Antonio Spurs. Portland also has veteran Damon Stoudamire in its backcourt.

"We are very pleased to announce the signing of Jeff McInnis," said Portland General Manager Bob Whitsitt. "Since the beginning of the offseason, we have said we wanted to address our size and depth in the backcourt. Jeff and Antonio Daniels, who we acquired last week, give us two players who fulfill that need. We believe we have definitely upgraded this area for next season."

The 6-4, 180-pound McInnis, who was also being pursued by the Minnesota Timberwolves, started 80 games last season for the Los Angeles Clippers and averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists per game. He ranked seventh in the NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio.

"I am very excited to have Jeff join our team," said Blazers Coach Maurice Cheeks. "Jeff and Antonio give us two big bodies in our backcourt that make us that much tougher in this area. Jeff is a big guard who can defend and run a basketball team."

The former University of North Carolina star, who has started 177 of 235 games in the NBA, has career averages of 11.1 points and 4.8 assists per contest. He spent the 1996-97 season with the Denver Nuggets and was with Washington in the 1998-99 season before joining the Clippers for the 1999-2000 campaign.

Whitsitt told the Oregonian that the signing of McInnis does not mean Stoudamire is on the trading block.

"It doesn't say anything," Whitsitt told the paper. "All it says is that Erick Barkley and Ricky Brunson are gone, and Jeff McInnis and Antonio Daniels are in. We have increased our depth, created competition and we've increased our size back there, which is something we wanted. In terms of our depth, point guard was one of our weakest areas last season. Now we think it is one of our stronger areas."

Astros SS Lugo suffers broken forearm

CHICAGO, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The late charge of the Houston Astros toward a National League playoff spot hit an unexpected snag Monday night when starting shortstop Julio Lugo suffered a broken left forearm after being hit by Chicago Cubs righthander Kerry Wood.

Lugo was hit by Wood, one of the hardest throwers in the major leagues, in the third inning of the Astros' 9-6 win. He immediately left the game and, following the contest, the team revealed that their leadoff hitter will be sidelined 6-to-8 weeks.

The 26-year-old Lugo is among the streakiest players in the game and was in the middle of one of his hot stretches when he suffered the injury. He had eight hits in his last 15 at-bats and his added offensive production since the All-Star break has helped the Astros get back into the thick of both the National League Central and wild card races.

For the season, Lugo is hitting .261 with eight homers and 35 RBI. He also has scored 45 runs and stolen nine bases, and played well defensively, committing just eight errors in 87 games.

To fill Lugo's roster spot, the Astros recalled shortstop Adam Everett from Triple-A New Orleans of the Pacific Coast League.

Everett was hitting .275 with two homers and 25 RBI for the Zephyrs, but batted just .182 with three RBI in 44 at-bats with Houston earlier this season.

The Astros are 28-13 in their last 41 games and within three games of first-place St. Louis in the Central Division. Houston is 4 1/2 games behind Los Angeles for the NL wild card.

Former Packers reporter dies

GREEN BAY, Wis., Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Al Sampson, who for years reported on the Green Bay Packers for two local television stations, died Monday at his home. He was 75.

Sampson is a former host of the "Vince Lombardi Show," and was given the nickname "Big Al" by the former Packers' coach while doing the show when he was sports director at WBAY.

He later went to WLUK, where he was host of two programs -- "Packerama" with Bart Starr and Doug Hart, and "Quarterback Club" with Fuzzy Thurston and Max McGee.

Over the years, he worked less because of throat cancer and finally retired in 1998. The Green Bay Press-Gazette reported that Sampson was battling brain cancer at the time of his death.

Bruins sign Berard

BOSTON, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- The Boston Bruins Tuesday signed veteran defenseman Bryan Berard, who returned to the NHL last season after suffering a serious right eye injury.

Berard received a one-year contract with a one-year club option. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Boston is hoping that Berard will provide much-needed scoring from the blue line. Sean Brown led Bruins defenseman with just six goals last season.

"We feel that Bryan will help our team," said Bruins General Manager Mike O'Connell. "He proved a lot last year by playing in all 82 games after being out of hockey for a year. He is still an excellent skater and he has offensive talents that will blend well with our defense."

Berard, the Calder Trophy winner in 1996-97 as the NHL's top rookie, suffered what was believed to be a career-ending injury when he played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and was accidentally high-sticked in his right eye by Ottawa winger Marian Hossa in a game on March 11, 2000. He underwent three operations on the severely-damaged eye and missed the entire 2000-01 season.

The 25-year-old defenseman signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers last October and played all 82 games for them, recording two goals and 21 assists.

The Woonsocket, R.I., native was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1995 draft by the Ottawa Senators, but was traded to the New York Islanders. He scored a career-high 14 goals in 1997-98.

The Maple Leafs acquired Berard from the Islanders in a deal for goaltender Felix Potvin in January 1999. He played in 102 games over parts of two seasons with the Maple Leafs before suffering his career-threatening eye injury.

The 6-2, 218-pound Berard has 36 goals and 145 assists for 181 points in 372 career games. He also played for Team USA in the 1998 Olympics at Nagano, Japan.

Oilers defenseman wins arbitration case

EDMONTON, Alberta, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Edmonton Oilers defenseman Jason Smith Tuesday was awarded a one-year, $2.3 million contract in arbitration.

Smith was seeking $2.8 million while the Oilers countered with $1.95 million, more than the 10 percent minimum requirement for a qualifying offer. He earned $1.525 million last season.

Despite battling injuries, Smith, 28, led all Oilers' defensemen with a plus-14 rating last season, and had five goals, 13 assists and 103 penalty minutes.

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