In Sports from United Press International

Oct. 16, 2002 at 3:33 PM
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Lakers owner hospitalized

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss was hospitalized late Tuesday night after injuring his neck at a charity function.

Buss was attending the Carousel of Hope Ball, a celebrity-studded fundraising event at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., when he suffered an apparent torn muscle in his neck. He never lost consciousness, said Lakers spokesman John Black.

"Dr. Buss said he turned his head quickly and tore a muscle or partially tore a muscle in his neck," Black said.

Buss, 69, was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was listed in stable condition, according to a hospital spokesman.

"They're treating him and may be running some tests," said Black, adding he expected Buss to be released shortly.

Buss purchased the Lakers and the Great Western Forum in 1979, the year before the team acquired Magic Johnson. The Lakers have won three straight NBA championships, bringing their total to eight under Buss' ownership.

Hamilton to injured reserve

NEW YORK, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- The New York Giants have placed veteran defensive tackle Keith Hamilton on injured reserve, which officially ends his season.

Hamilton ruptured his right Achilles tendon in the first quarter of Sunday's 17-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The 11-year veteran will undergo surgery before the week ends.

The 1992 fourth-round draft pick has missed only

eight games in 10 years. He began the season fourth on the franchise's all-time sacks list with 61 1/2, and is a solid run-stopper.

Rehabilitation will take at least six months, time Hamilton will use to ponder his future.

New York Newsday reported Wednesday that Hamilton considers retirement "a possibility" after the initial shock about his injury wears off.

"Once all that stuff goes away, the one thing I am going to do is fight to get back," he told the paper.

A bigger factor, according to the paper, is whether or not he can negotiate to return to the Giants when he get healthy. Injuries have ended his last two seasons.

"We have every expectation he'll come back if he wants to," General Manager Ernie Accorsi told the paper. "When I make my list of all-time players I've loved, he'll be on the list. He could play in any era."

To take Hamilton's spot on the roster, the Giants signed defensive end Byron Frisch, who had three sacks in 13 games with Dallas last season.

Packers re-sign Brooks; waive Swiney

GREEN BAY, Wis., Oct. 16 (UPI) -- The Green Bay Packers, in one of several roster moves, have re-signed veteran offensive tackle Barrett Brooks.

Brooks, a seventh-year pro, originally was signed as a free agent on Sept. 26. He was terminated two days later, re-signed Oct. 1, and released Oct. 12.

Originally a second-round draft choice out of Kansas State by Philadelphia in 1995, Brooks, a 6-5, 314-pounder, has played in 95 career games, including a streak of 88 straight games to begin his NFL career. He started 62, spending his first four years with the Eagles and two subsequent seasons with the Detroit Lions.

Meanwhile, cornerback Erwin Swiney was placed on waivers to make room for Brooks on the team's 53-player roster.

Swiney, a rookie free agent from Nebraska, had been re-signed Oct. 12. He originally had been signed as a free agent April 26, 2002, gone through training camp, and the preseason before being waived Sept. 1 in the team's final roster reduction for the regular season.

Swiney, who played in Sunday's victory over the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, had been on the team's practice squad when signed to the active roster on Saturday.

Also, the Packers signed cornerback Bruce Branch, a rookie free agent from Penn State, to their practice squad.

He lettered four times for the Nittany Lions at three different positions, including punt returner, returning 109 punts for 1,170 yards, a 10.7-yard average, and four touchdowns.

Branch, 24, was with the Jaguars in the preseason until Aug. 27, the date of the first mandated roster reductions to 65 players. He has been out of football since.

The 5-11, 189-pounder was with Jacksonville during training camp. He replaces cornerback Brandon Jennings, who was released from the practice squad.

49ers lose Bronson, Jackson

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- When the San Francisco 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks Monday night, the lost two key players to crippling injuries.

Fullback Terry Jackson tore his right ACL and starting free safety Zack Bronson broke his left foot.

Jackson is expected to miss the rest of the season, and that leaves a big hole in the 49ers' backfield because backup Paul Smith is out for several more weeks with a torn hamstring.

In his fifth year out of Florida, he was backing up Fred Beasley.

Bronson intercepted Trent Dilfer in the second quarter, then broke his foot with 1:58 left in the period, playing two more downs before leaving the game.

"That's a big blow to us and the defense," said Coach Steve Mariucci. "He's our center fielder. He's done a great job of stealing the ball and lining up our defense."

"I'm not hanging my head," Bronson said after the game.

Bronson, a 1997 undrafted free agent who became a starter last season, will be sidelined 6-8 weeks.

Also, defensive end John Engleberger suffered a high ankle sprain the team doctors say will sideline him 1-3 weeks.

Dolphins sign Dickenson

DAVIE. Fla., Oct. 16 (UPI) -- The Miami Dolphins, who will be without starting quarterback Jay Fiedler for about a month, have signed journeyman Dave Dickenson.

The Dolphins also waived cornerback Paul Miranda off the 53-man roster and guard Antwan Kirk-Hughes off the practice squad, and signed wide receiver Margin Hooks to the practice squad.

Fiedler underwent surgery this week on the broken thumb he suffered in Sunday night's win at Denver. Team doctors now say he will be sidelined 6-8 weeks instead of about a month.

Dickenson, 29, who starred in college at Montana, was in training camp with San Diego this year before being waived on Aug. 31. He was claimed by Seattle on Sept. 2, and spent each of the first three games with the Seahawks this year before being waived on Sept. 24.

He did not see action with Seattle, and was designated as the third quarterback for two contests.

Dickenson spent the 2001 season with the Chargers and was the third quarterback for all 16 regular season games.

In the preseason with San Diego this year, he went 16-of-29 for 197 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Last year in the preseason, he hit 20-of-38 for 219 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Before joining San Diego in 2001, the 5-11, 180-pound Dickenson played four seasons (1997-2000) with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian League. During that time, he led the team to a record of 21-8-1 as a starter. He completed 651-of-998 passes for 9,261 yards with 64 touchdowns and 21 interceptions.

The Great Falls, Mt., native also rushed for 622 yards and nine touchdowns on 105 carries. He was named the League's MVP in 2000, when he led Calgary to a playoff berth and threw a league-high 36 touchdown passes and just six interceptions. The year before, he guided the Stampeders to the Grey Cup game, throwing for 3,048 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and completing 64 percent of his passes.

In 1995, Dickenson led Montana to the NCAA Div. I-AA national title and won the Walter Payton Award as the nation's MVP.

To make room on their roster, the Dolphins waived cornerback Paul Miranda.

Trojans lose Cody for season

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- No. 20 Southern California Tuesday suffered a huge blow when it learned that star defensive tackle Shaun Cody will be out for the rest of the 2002 season with a knee injury.

Cody has a torn ligament in his left knee that will require surgery.

The 6-7 sophomore was injured late in the second quarter of last week's 30-28 Pac-10 loss to California. It was first thought that Cody suffered only a bad sprain, but an MRI revealed damage to the ACL.

"It was a freak play," Cody said. "I got cut from behind."

Coach Pete Carroll said Cody's loss will be immeasurable.

"Shaun has been a true Trojan," Carroll said. "He has lived up to it from the moment he stepped on campus. He's a leader and has been an inspiration. He's a great football player. We are going to miss him. We know we will get him back next season. In the meantime, he has just been a perfect performer. He has done everything that we could have asked of him. He helps everyone out and the kind of guy you can build around so that's a great loss for us. We expect we will get some play from Bernard Riley and Mike Patterson will do a good job inside. It's hard to replace a guy like Shaun who has all of that stature."

Meanwhile, offensive lineman Jacob Rogers also sprained his knee and was on crutches after the Cal game. He's expected to be out for several weeks.

Patterson, a sophomore, will move from nose tackle to fill Cody's spot in the lineup. Riley, a senior, takes over at nose tackle.

Cody was a freshman All-America in 2001, and already had 20 tackles, one fumble recovery, and a blocked field goal this year.

The Trojans (4-2) host No. 17 Washington on Saturday.

Successful surgery for Gutierrez

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Veteran shortstop Ricky Gutierrez of the Cleveland Indians has undergone surgery on his injured neck at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

A team spokesman said Gutierrez will wear a neck brace for six weeks.

(After six weeks), he will begin an "aggressive" therapy program in three months," said Paddy Jarit, the Indians Director of Medical Services. "If all goes according to plan, Gutierrez should be healthy enough to take part in spring training."

Gutierrez had said he hurt his neck early in the season, and that he tried to play through the discomfort. He complained of discomfort on Aug. 19. The Indians put Gutierrez on the disabled list after that.

The surgery was to clear tissues that were putting pressure on Gutierrez's spinal canal.

Thomas could become a free agent

CHICAGO, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Veteran DH/first baseman Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox apparently is in the market to find a new employer.

According to various media reports, the White Sox have invoked a "diminished skills" clause in his contract, which means Thomas can become a free agent.

The team will not confirm or deny the reports.

"Frank expressed a desire to keep his contract situation private, so, unless we hear a public comment from Frank," said Scott Reifert, the team's Director of Public Relations. "We will not discuss the matter publicly."

The Chicago Tribune has reported that Thomas "has retained an agent to shop him around during the upcoming free-agency period, which begins two weeks after the World Series ends."

If Thomas chooses to become a free agent, he will have 45 days to negotiate a contract with a new club. If he does not find an acceptable alternative, he could return to the Sox.

The club could then reportedly ask the 6-5, 275-pounder to defer as much as $10.125 million of his guaranteed $10.375 million salary for the 2003 season.

His contract currently runs through the 2006 season, and guarantees more than $40 million over the final four years. The White Sox can exercise the "diminished skills" clause if Thomas fails to meet at least one of several items in any season, including finishing in the top ten in the balloting for AL MVP.

In 2002, Thomas struggled during the first half of the season, but finished strong, ending with a .252 average, 28 homers and 92 RBI. He played in only 20 games during the 2001 season after tearing his right triceps on April 27.

The five-time All-Star won the AL MVP Award in 1993 and '94, leading the White Sox to a division title in 1993. He is the only the player to in Major League history to hit .300 with 20 homers, 100 RBI, 100 walks and 100 runs scored in seven straight seasons (1991-1997).

Over his first nine full seasons in the majors, Thomas batted .319 and averaged 33 homers, 112 RBI, 103 runs and 115 walks.

Ausmus exercises contract option

HOUSTON, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- The Houston Astros, who have several promising young pitchers, again will have veteran catcher Brad Ausmus to work with them in 2003. He has exercised the option on his contract for the 2003 season.

Ausmus is in his second tenure with the Astros after being acquired from the Detroit Tigers in a six-player trade in December 2000.

In 2001, the Gold Glove Award winner batted .257 with six home runs and 50 RBI in 130 games.

"We're very pleased and excited about Brad returning for the 2003 season," said Astros General Manager Gerry Hunsicker. "He is an important part of our recent success, and in particular, he has been a major influence on our young pitching staff."

Ausmus, 33, who also played with the Astros in 1997-98, has a .259 batting average with 59 homers and 383 RBI in 1,171 games over 10 seasons.

Houston made the playoffs four of five years before finishing second in the National League Central with an 84-78 record in 2002. Their top three starters -- Roy Oswalt, Wade Miller and Carlos Hernandez -- will all be 26 or younger at the start of next season.

Chandler suffers concussion

CHICAGO, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Chicago Bulls center Tyson Chandler Wednesday suffered a concussion after colliding with rookie forward Lonnie Baxter during practice.

The 7-1 Chandler was taken to Highland Park Hospital in Chicago and it was not immediately clear how long he would be sidelined. General

Manager Jerry Krause said Chandler would miss at least Friday's preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Chandler apparently dove for a loose ball along with Baxter and fell face-first after he was accidentally kneed in the neck by the former Maryland star.

"I didn't hear his head hit the floor, but when I looked back I saw him laying there," Baxter said. "I asked if he was OK, but he didn't say anything."

Bulls Coach Bill Cartwright added that Chandler likely chipped a tooth during the fall.

As a rookie himself last season, Chandler, who turned 20 on Oct. 2, averaged 6.1 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest. He was acquired in a draft day trade with the Clippers.

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