In Sports from United Press International

Nov. 14, 2002 at 7:55 PM
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Yankees exercise option on Pettitte

NEW YORK, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The New York Yankees settled one of the issues regarding their 2003 rotation on Thursday, exercising the $11.5 million contract option of lefthander Andy Pettitte.

The 30-year-old Pettitte was 13-5 with a 3.27 ERA last season and won nine of his last 11 starts. He is the only pitcher in the major leagues since 1961 to win at least 12 games in each of his first eight seasons in the major leagues.

With Pettitte under contract for next season, the Yankees must decide if they will pursue Roger Clemens, who collected a $10.3 million payment and remains a free agent.

The candidates for the rotation already include Mike Mussina, Jeff Weaver, David Wells and Orlando Hernandez.

Pettitte has 128 career wins, tying him for 10th on the Yankees' all-time list with Hall of Famer Jack Chesbro. The lefthander ranks fourth among active pitchers with a .646 winning percentage (128-70), trailing only Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens.

Pettitte signed a three-year contract with a club option on Jan. 25, 2000.

Green wins NASCAR Busch Ford 300 pole

HOMESTEAD, Fla., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Jeff Green set a qualifying record and claimed the pole Friday for Saturday's NASCAR Busch Grand National series Ford 300.

Driving a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Green clocked a lap around the flat 1 1/2-mile oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 35.519 seconds, averaging 152.031 miles per hour. He broke the series qualifying mark for the track of 151.490 mph set by Bobby Hamilton, Jr. two years ago.

Green's performance added some excitement to a race that will be anticlimactic. Last week, Greg Biffle clinched the series championship by finishing third in the Bashas 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Green is looking for his third win of the season. He claimed the Channellock 250 at Bristol in March and the Carquest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May.

The record run by Green bumped rookie Brian Vickers, who will start on the outside of the front row after clocking 151.882 mph in a Dodge Intrepid.

Hamilton also surpassed his old mark with a speed of 151.801 mph in a Ford Taurus. He will be joined on the second row by the Dodge of Casey Mears, who clocked 151.532 mph. Joe Nemecheck starts fifth in a Chevrolet. The fastest Pontaic Grand Prix belonged to Mike McLaughlin, who will start 10th.

Biffle starts 18th in a Ford. He has won four races this season, tying him with Jason Keller for most in the circuit. Keller will start ninth in a Ford.

Scott Wimmer, who won last week's race in Phoenix, starts 26th in a Pontiac.

Saturday's race is the series season finale and will consist of 200 laps around the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Four Cardinals win Gold Gloves

ST. LOUIS, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The St. Louis Cardinals were at the head of the class Thursday when announcements were made about the 2002 winners in the National League of Gold Gloves.

The team had four winners named. They were centerfielder Jim Edmonds, third baseman Scott Rolen, shortstop Edgar Renteria, and second baseman Fernando Vina.

The Cardinals are the first National League team since the 1993 San Francisco Giants to have as many as four Gold Glove winners in the same season.

Also making the team were pitcher Greg Maddux and outfielder Andruw Jones of the Atlanta Braves, catcher Brad Ausmus of the Houston Astros, and first baseman Todd Helton and outfielder Larry Walker of the Colorado Rockies.

Of the players names, all but one was a repeater from 2001, that being Renteria.

Maddux now has won the NL honor at his position every year since 1989, a record 13 straight times.

Edmonds was a winner for the third straight year. He now has earned five, including the two he won while in the American League as a member of the Anaheim Angels.

Helton, who led the league with 1,477 total chances, was among the league leaders with a .995 fielding percentage, while Ausmus has a .997 fielding percentage, tops among all NL catchers who played at least 100 games. He also threw out 31 of 96 baserunners attempting to steal.

Jones has garnered the award five years running, and Rolen made it three straight and four out of five.

The Rawlings Gold Glove Award is presented annually to eighteen players, one for each position in both leagues.

U.S. Championships to join PGA Tour

PONTE VEDRE, Fla., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The PGA Tour on Thursday announced the creation of the Deutsche Bank U.S. Championship, a new event that will debut next year on Labor Day Weekend.

The event was announced jointly by the PGA Tour, Deutsche Bank and sports marketing agency IMG.

The tournament will be a 72-hole full-field event and take place at the Tournament Players Club of Boston. It will offer a first prize of $900,000 and be televised by both USA Network and ABC Sports.

The final round will take place on Labor Day, Sept. 1.

The event's charitable proceeds will benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation, which promotes children's health, education and welfare.

Greer out for 2003

ARLINGTON, Texas, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Texas Rangers outfielder Rusty Greer, who was hampered by injuries the last two years, is expected to miss all of the 2003 baseball season after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Greer played just 113 games the last two seasons, and was on the disabled list from June 4-July 11 with back and neck problems. He also underwent surgery on Aug. 22 to fuse the C5-C6 vertebrae in his neck.

Greer, 33, who will undergo surgery again on Wednesday to repair a tear in his left rotator cuff, also is bothered by problems in his right hip and buttocks. He likely will need surgery for those problems as well.

"After a full consideration with our medical staff, it is apparent that Rusty Greer will not play for the Rangers in 2003," said General Manager John Hart. "We are hopeful that, once Rusty completes these medical procedures, he will begin a rehabilitation that will allow him to return for 2004."

Greer batted .296 with one home run and 17 RBI in 51 games last season. He has spent his entire career with the Rangers, and has a career .305 batting average with 119 homers and 614 RBI in 1,027 games.

He is signed through 2005.

White Sox lock up Konerko

CHICAGO, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Chicago White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who enjoyed an All-Star season in 2002, Thursday was rewarded with a three-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Konerko, 26, who would have been eligible for arbitration, batted a career-high .304 with 27 homers and 104 RBI in 151 games last season. He was named to the American League All-Star team.

Konerko finished second on the team in hits (173), doubles (30), slugging percentage (.498), total bases (284), average, and RBI.

His emergence as a star player prompted the White Sox to move Frank Thomas, now a free agent, to designated hitter.

Konerko has a .291 average with 104 homers and 381 RBI in 592 games with the White Sox after being acquired from Cincinnati following the 1998 season. He also has played for Los Angeles,

and is a lifetime .287 hitter with 111 homers and 410 RBI in 673 games.

The White Sox also agreed to a one-year contract with catcher Mark Johnson, who batted .209 with four homers and 18 RBI in 86 games last season.

Major League gets win in Japan

SAPPORO, Japan, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Barry Bonds hit a grand slam homer in the sixth inning Thursday to power the Major League Baseball All-Stars to a 6-5 victory over the Japan League All-Stars at the Sapporo Dome.

Lefthander Hirotoshi Ishii replaced starter Chang Chih-Chia, and Bonds launched his 2-0 pitch over the fence in right field for his fifth home run in as many games in Japan.

Bonds, who won his fifth National League MVP on Monday, hit two homers in Saturday's 8-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants. The MLB All-Stars followed that with three straight losses, as the Japan All-Stars scored eight runs in each game.

Ichiro Suzuki, the 2001 American League Rookie of the Year and MVP, broke out of a 1-for-13 slump with three hits.

The MLB team needs to win the final three games to avoid losing a series to Japan for just the third time in 36 tours.

Peppers faces NFL suspension

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Rookie Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, the NFL's sack leader, reportedly has tested positive for a banned substance that could result in a four-game suspension.

The Charlotte Observer reported that Peppers had an "abnormal test result" and that a second test of the same urine sample will be performed in the next few days.

Meanwhile, reported that Peppers tested positive for either ephedrine or a derivative of the stimulant ephedra. Both are on the list of the league's banned substances.

A four-game suspension is automatic when a player tests positive for a banned substance or steroids. Peppers would have 10 days to appeal the findings if the test registers a positive result.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league does not comment on tests, suspensions, or potential suspensions.

If the test is positive, Peppers would be the second Carolina defensive lineman to be sanctioned in recent days. Defensive tackle Brenston Buckner is serving a four-game ban handed down on Nov. 4 for taking a banned stimulant.

Peppers, 22, who is a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year honors, leads the league with 10 sacks. He was the second overall pick in the 2002 draft out of North Carolina, and signed a seven-year contract that could be worth up to $62 million.

Lombardi finalists named

HOUSTON, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Linebacker E.J. Henderson, who has led the rebirth of football at 19th-ranked Maryland, Thursday was named one of four finalists for the Lombardi Award, given annually to the game's top lineman.

Defensive tackle Tommie Harris of Oklahoma, and defensive ends Cory Redding of Texas and Terrell Suggs of Arizona State are the other finalists for the honor.

Henderson has helped Maryland (8-2) win seven straight games, and has topped the century mark in tackles for the third straight season. He can become the third straight ACC player to win the award, joining Jamal Reynolds of Florida State (2000) and Julius Peppers of North Carolina (2001).

Facing constant double-teaming, Harris has emerged as a finalist while trying to become the first Sooner to win the award since Tony Casillas in 1985.

Redding had 25 tackles and 5 1/2 sacks in his last five games.

Suggs, who is looking to become the first Sun Devil to win the award, has 19 1/2 sacks this season.

The finalists were chosen in balloting by coaches, media and past winners. The winner will be announced Dec. 11.

Harper suspended by Cavaliers

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The already-depleted backcourt of the men's basketball team shrunk even more Thursday with the announcement that sophomore point guard Jermaine Harper has been suspended indefinitely.

Coach Pete Gillen said the disciplinary action has been taken for a violation of team rules, and that Harper also will not be allowed to practice with the team.

Gillen did not give a reason for the suspension, but various media reports link the action to Harper's arrest on a charge of driving under the influence.

The Cavalier Daily, the school newspaper, reported that Harper was arrested early Tuesday morning for driving with a blood alcohol level of .17 percent. His court date is scheduled for Jan. 27.

He already had missed an exhibition game Sunday for a separate suspension for another undisclosed rules violation.

"We're a little disheartened," center and team captain Jason Rogers told the paper. "We lost one of our family members. We know he's still a great person. He just made a mistake. He has to follow the punishment that was levied. It's the only just thing. Hopefully, he can rejoin us soon."

Harper, a sophomore from Gardena, Calif., averaged 5.8 points and 1.6 rebounds per contest last season, and had been expected to get more playing time this winter because of the slow comeback of Majestic Mapp, who has missed the last two seasons because of knee injuries.

Hewitt earns men's No. 1 tennis ranking

SHANGHAI, China, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, who had already earned the top spot in men's tennis, Thursday went out and beat Marat Safin of Russia in the Tennis Masters Series.

When Hewitt took the court, his No. 1 ranking already was locked up after Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain posted a hard-fought 7-5, 2-6, 7-6 (8-6) victory over Andre Agassi in the Gold Group of the $3.75 million season-ending event.

Hewitt, the first player since Pete Sampras in 1996-97 to be No. 1 in back-to-back years, notched a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win over Safin in the Red Group. Even with the No. 1 ranking secure, a spot in the semifinals hinges on the outcome of Friday's match between Spaniards Carlos Moya and Albert Costa.

Moya, playing in the tour's season-ending event for the first time since 1998, beat Hewitt and Safin. Costa, who beat Safin and lost to Hewitt, faces Moya on Saturday.

Agassi, 32, who was trying to finish the year No. 1 for the first time since 1999, saved four match points before losing the match on a double fault. Trailing 6-5 in the third set, Agassi took a 40-15 lead before Ferrero rallied.

On the first match point, Ferrero drove a forehand into the net. Another strong serve led to the same result, and Agassi followed with a powerful forehand winner to force the tiebreaker.

In the first match Thursday, Roger Federer remained atop the Gold Group with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Jiri Novak of the Czech Republic.

Federer improved to 2-0, and plays his final round-robin match against Agassi.

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