Injury-plagued Karpotsev out again

Baseball group adds no new members

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y., Feb. 26 (UPI) -- No one made it into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Wednesday in balloting by the revamped Veterans Committee.


A source said none of the 42 eligible players, managers, umpires, and executives received the necessary 63 votes from the 85-member committee. Among those on the ballot were Marvin Miller and Joe Torre.

The source said former Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Gil Hodges came the closest to election, falling 11 votes shy. Former umpire Doug Harvey was next, getting to within 18 votes of election.

The Veterans Committee was reconfigured following the 2001 season, when Bill Mazeroski earned induction. Until then, the committee consisted of 15 members, and induction usually involved behind-the-scenes politicking.

The new format is more similar to the current writers' process. The committee, the 58 living Hall of Fame members, 25 Hall of Fame writers and broadcasters, and two members of the former Veterans Committee, votes every two years.


The changes were prompted by charges of cronyism by the then-15-member panel.

The Veterans Committee gives another chance to those players bypassed in the regular voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The 26 player candidates this time around were put together by a BBWAA-appointed screening committee.

Any choices by the Veterans Committee would have joined Eddie Murray and Gary Carter in this year's class at Cooperstown, N.Y. Induction is set for July 27.

Other prominent players eligible included former Roger Maris, Thurman Munson, Bob Meusel, and Joe Gordon, all ex-Yankees, as well as Dick Allen, Ted Kluszewski, Tony Oliva, and Minnie Minoso.

Among the executives eligible were Walter O'Malley, Buzzie Bavasi, Charlie O. Finley, and former commissioner Bowie Kuhn.

Steelers dump Stewart

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers made an expected roster move Wednesday by releasing veteran quarterback Kordell Stewart.

Stewart, who earned the nickname "Slash" early in his pro career because of his versatility and his ability as a wide receiver, was a second-round pick by the Steelers in 1995 out of Colorado. He has been a starter for most of the past six seasons.


He has the second-most passing yards in team history (13,328), and ranks 13th in rushing (2,561 yards) on Pittsburgh's all-time list.

"Kordell Stewart gave us everything he had and brought a lot of excitement and success to us on the field," said Steelers President Dan Rooney. "He also is a good person who contributed much of his time in this community. He always handled himself with class and dignity. We appreciate all of the contributions he has made to the Steelers and we wish him well."

Stewart always was plagued by his inconsistency, struggled in big games, and was demoted last season when Tommy Maddox was named the starter after the third game of 2002.

Still, Coach Bill Cowher said Stewart's release was a matter of money.

"In order for us to comply with the salary cap, we are forced to make some very difficult decisions," Cowher said. "He was a terrific player for us and always handled himself as a consummate professional. We wish Kordell all the best as he continues his NFL career."

In his career, Stewart is 1,190-of-2,107 (56.5 percent) for 12,328 yards, with 70 touchdowns and 72 interceptions. He also has rushed for 2,540 yards and 35 scores, and has 658 receiving yards and five touchdowns.


In 2002, he completed 66 percent of his passes, but threw for just 1,155 yards with six touchdowns and six interceptions in seven games, five of them starts.

After an 0-2 start, Maddox led the Steelers to a 16-13 win over Cleveland, and Stewart was relegated to the bench for the rest of the season, losing his job for the third time in four years. The Steelers missed the playoffs each year from 1998-2000, and Stewart lost his job twice in that span.

He rebounded in 2001, leading Pittsburgh to a 13-3 mark and the AFC title game, only to throw three interceptions at home against New England.

Report: Rams to pay Warner bonus

ST. LOUIS, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Veteran quarterback Kurt Warner of the St. Louis Rams apparently will not have to worry about changing addresses.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on its web site Tuesday night that the Rams have agreed to pay their star signal-caller a $6 million bonus before Friday's deadline.

"That will officially be exercised within the next 24 hours," Rams President of Football Operations Jay Zygmunt told the newspaper. "Kurt's getting the full $6 million."


Zygmunt also told the paper that the team would not change the $5.3 million base salary the two-time NFL MVP is due in 2003, but would restructure the back end of the contract that runs through 2006.

The $6 million payment all but ensures that Warner will not be released or traded this offseason.

Last week, Coach Mike Martz anointed Warner as the club's 2003 starter ahead of Marc Bulger.

Warner struggled through an injury-plagued 2002 season, going 0-6 as starter. Bulger was impressive in his place, going 6-1 while possessing one of the NFL's top quarterback ratings.

There had been speculation that Warner, who won 35 of his first 43 starts and led the Rams to a Super Bowl title, and another Super Bowl appearance, would be traded or released.

"Let's put it all in perspective for a second," Warner's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told the paper. "Here's a team that since he's shown up has gone to two Super Bowls. Kurt has been to three Pro Bowls. It hasn't been a bad ride here."

Reports: Redskins tried to deal Smoot

WASHINGTON, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The Washington Redskins are trying to shut down reports that they are shopping cornerback Fred Smoot.


The Washington Times reported Wednesday that Detroit has rejected a deal that would have sent Smoot to the Lions, and allowed the Redskins to move up in this year's draft.

The paper, citing sources, said Washington owner Daniel Snyder was offering Smoot and the No. 13 overall pick overall for the No. 2 pick, a second-rounder, and two unnamed veterans.

It is no secret that the Redskins want to sign a marquee receiver to team with Rod Gardener, a No. 1 draft choice out of Clemson in 2001.

The Times said they are would like to bag either Charles Rogers of Michigan State or Andre Johnson of Miami, but that the Lions also covet the same players.

There have been reports this offseason that Washington had its eye on veterans like David Boston of Arizona and Peerless Pryce of Buffalo, but officials feel the price tag on Boston, who is recovering from season-ending knee surgery in 2002, will be too high, and Pryce, who was eligible for free agency, has been slapped with the franchise tag by the Bills.

For Pryce, that means he has to be given a one-year salary equivalent to the average of the top five receivers in the NFL last season, or roughly $5 million.


Smoot was a second-round pick by the Redskins in 2001 out of Mississippi State. In his two seasons with the team, he has 95 tackles and nine interceptions, but has a tendency to get beat because of his aggressiveness.

Nuggets part with Whitney

DENVER, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The Denver Nuggets, who have the second-worst record in the NBA, Wednesday waived veteran point guard Chris Whitney.

Whitney was acquired on Oct. 24 from Washington for forward George McCloud. He appeared in 29 games with Denver, starting 20. He averaged 9.6 points per game, and led the team with 4.3 assists per contests and 43 three-pointers.

Whitney, 31, went scoreless with five assists in consecutive games Feb. 18 and 19, and did not play in either of Denver's last two contests. He has averaged 6.7 points and 2.9 assists in 541 career games with San Antonio, Washington, and Denver.

The Nuggets, who enter Wednesday night's home game against Portland with a nine-game losing streak, have been giving increased minutes to rookie guards Vincent Yarbrough and Junior Harrington.

Denver is 12-45 entering Wednesday's contest.

Season over for Romero

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Senior forward Hector Romero of New Orleans, the leading scorer in the Sun Belt Conference, will miss the remainder of the season because of a knee injury.


Romero tore the ACL in his left knee in the first half of Sunday's game against Denver. He returned in the second half, but was hampered by the injury. When the swelling decreases, he will undergo reconstructive surgery.

"Hector Romero has meant a great deal to this program during the past two years, and we certainly will miss him," said New Orleans Coach Monte Towe. "However, the important thing now is for him to rehab and get healthy for a long, productive professional career."

Romero averaged 18.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game this season. Last season, he averaged 20.1 points and led the Sun Belt in rebounds at 10.8 per game.

The junior college transfer and native of Venezuela became the 20th player in school history to score 1,0000 career points and only the sixth to do it in two seasons.

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