In Sports from United Press International

March 26, 2003 at 3:15 PM
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Tomjanovich taking leave of absence

HOUSTON, March 26 (UPI) -- Rudy Tomjanovich announced Wednesday that he is taking a leave of absence to begin treatment for cancer on his bladder.

In the wake of reports that he might rejoin the team for their home game against the Los Angeles Lakers Wednesday night, Tomjanovich held a morning news conference to announce that he will be gone indefinitely.

"After having a week or so to process all the things that have happened, in talking to the doctors and (team owner Les Alexander), we're all in agreement that the best thing for me personally is to take a leave of absence," Tomjanovich said.

Larry Smith will remain the interim coach in his absence.

On March 18, Tomjanovich was diagnosed with a superficial bladder tumor that did not require surgery, but does mandate once-a-week treatments. He has remained at his Houston home for much of the last week, and missed the team's five-game road trip that concluded Monday.

Tomjanovich, who never had missed a regular-season game as Rockets' coach before the diagnosis, is in his 12th season as Rockets coach.

The Rockets begin play Wednesday in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, one game ahead of the Phoenix Suns.

Hip surgery for Holmes

KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 26 (UPI) -- tar running back Priest Holmes of Kansas City is in recovery after undergoing hip surgery Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The purpose of the procedure was to remove some soft tissue and loose fragments from his hip. It was conducted by Dr. Mark Phillippon, an associate of Chiefs team physician Dr. Jon Browne.

"We're pleased with the successful arthroscopic surgery on Priest's hip," said Kansas City President Carl Peterson. "We look forward to having Priest at 100 percent for the beginning of training camp in River Falls (Wis)."

Holmes is expected to make a complete recovery, and be ready to participate in team drills and practice once the team opens training camp in late July. His rehabilitation schedule will include immediate work on an exercise bike.

Dr. Browne said once his incision heals, he eventually will be given the go-ahead to begin running in two months. He said Holmes decided to have the surgery when his earlier rehabilitation schedule, which included a daily workout regimen, he still caused him some discomfort.

"They took an MRI, and it just looked like this procedure needed to be done," Coach Dick Vermeil, who was in Phoenix, told the Kansas City Star. "It's just like going in to remove scar tissue from a knee that's been operated on. It will help the process."

Vermeil recommended that Holmes have the surgery.

"The long-range prognosis was always positive and still is positive," Vermeil said. "This just speeds up the process. All I know from what Dr. Browne says is that he will feel better today than he did yesterday, but also there are no guarantees."

The knee injury caused Holmes to miss the last two games of the 2002 campaign. He still rushed for 1,615 yards, caught 70 passes for 672 yards, and scored 24 touchdowns.

Before he was hurt, he also was closing in on the records of Marshall Faulk of St. Louis for touchdowns in a season (26), and combined rushing and receiving yards (2,429) in a season.

Rodriguez returns to Rangers

SURPRISE, Ariz., March 26 (UPI) -- Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez has returned to action after missing 12 days of spring training with a small herniated disk in his neck.

Rodriguez, one of the most dynamic players in the game, had been sidelined since complaining of stiffness and fatigue in his left shoulder and neck after an exhibition game against Seattle on March 12. After undergoing tests the following day, he has been receiving treatment and rehabilitation leading up to his return.

On Tuesday, he played seven innings at shortstop for Triple-A Oklahoma against Portland. He went 2-for-8 with a home run and four RBI, and handled four chances in the field cleanly.

"I felt very comfortable at short," he said. "I still have time to get my rhythm, but it was good to see live pitching. Obviously, as you get to see more live pitching, you get more comfortable. I'm on schedule. It felt a little awkward to be out there for the first time in a few days, but it felt good."

Rodriguez said he plans to play on Opening Day on Sunday in Anaheim, even if he is not 100 percent.

"You don't have to be 100 percent to play," he said. "I can't remember the last time I was 100 percent. When I won the batting title in 1996, I was 100-percent, but I was 19."

In 10 exhibition games, Rodriguez is batting .300 with a homer and nine RBI.

Glaus has tendinitis

TUCSON, Ariz., March 26 (UPI) -- The results of medical on Anaheim third baseman Troy Glaus show he has tendinitis in his right wrist, but no further damage that would put his season in doubt.

The Angels shared a collective sigh of relief Tuesday when they got the results of an MRI and CT scan.

GLaus, 26, the Angels' premier power hitter, is day-to-day. He might be in uniform for Opening Day.

Glaus drove back to Los Angeles on Monday after experiencing discomfort in the wrist after batting practice Sunday. He was examined by hand and wrist specialist Dr. Norman Zemel on Monday.

"This is the best-case scenario," said General Manager Bill Stoneman. "It's a relief."

The results do not necessarily mean Glaus won't be placed on the 15-day disabled list to start the season, but so team officials said he will need only regular treatments and anti-inflammatories to knock down the tendonitis.

"With maintenance and treatment, it was something he was able to deal with," said Manager Mike Scioscia. "We're all extremely relieved about the fact that this is definitely something short-term. It doesn't look like something we'll have to put him on the DL for."

The 6-5, 229-pound Glaus has a career average of .253 with 148 home runs and 423 RBI. In 2002, he hit. 250 with 30 homers and 111 RBI. He has a .0947 career fielding average.

Tigers demote Avery

LAKELAND, Fla., March 26 (UPI) -- The Detroit Tigers have demoted veteran southpaw Steve Avery to Triple-A Toledo of the International League.

Avery, who has been out of baseball for two years, was trying to make the parent club after signing a minor league contract in the offseason.

"The arm strength is definitely not there," said Detroit Manager Alan Trammell. "And as a starter, it's still a long shot. There's a good chance in our opinion that if he gets back to the Major Leagues it's in the pen."

Avery has said he would start the year in the minors if that's the Tigers wanted because he needed innings to rebuild his velocity. With a relief role, his worry is that those innings won't come.

"I told them I'd like to start, to be honest," he said. "I don't think relieving is too bad. I guess I'm just concerned that I get regular work. My arm is healthy, but it takes time to build up strength. You have to build it by pitching innings."

The Tigers gave Avery a couple days to decide whether to accept the assignment or request his release.

"It's going to be tough to find another job out there at this point of spring training," Avery told the Detroit Free Press. "I guess I don't mind going down and relieving to start the season, but I want to make sure I can get enough innings to give my arm a chance to build up."

Avery pitched only 3 1/3 innings in the exhibition season, and was 1-0 with a 13.50 ERA.

Two NIT quarterfinals contested Wednesday

CHAPEL HILL, N.C., March 26 (UPI) -- That other postseason tournament in college basketball goes to the quarterfinal round Wednesday night with two games on tap.

One takes place at the Smith Center at Chapel Hill, N.C., where North Carolina hosts Georgetown. The two schools met in the postseason in 1982, when the Tar Heels, led by Michael Jordan, edged the Hoyas, 63-62, in one of the sport's best-ever contests in the NCAA championship game.

Their most recent meeting came in the semifinals of the 1999 Maui Invitational at Honolulu, Hawaii, with the Tar Heels posting an 85-79 victory.

North Carolina (19-15) has beaten DePaul and Wyoming in the first two rounds, both wins coming at home. Melvin Scott scored 20 points and freshman Raymond Felton added 15 and 14 assists in Monday's 90-74 victory over Wyoming.

A victory would give North Carolina its 32nd 20-win season in the last 33 years, and also would mark the third trip to Madison Square Garden this season for the Tar Heels, who won the Preseason NIT and finished third in the Holiday Festival.

Georgetown (17-14) has won five straight road games after Monday's 67-58 win over Providence. Mike Sweetney collected 26 points and 11 rebounds, and Tony Bethel added 18 points to lead the Hoyas.

Last season, the Hoyas turned down an NIT bid because Coach Craig Esherick claimed he wanted his players to focus on academics.

The winner will face Temple or Minnesota on April 1 in New York.

Wednesday night's other contest has Georgia Tech entertaining Texas Tech.

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