Baylor diagnosed with cancer
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., March 27 (UPI) -- New York Mets coach Don Baylor has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, but is expected to remain with the team.
Baylor, 53, is scheduled to undergo four consecutive days of oral and intravenous chemotherapy during the Mets' first homestand of the regular season, which begins Monday against the Chicago Cubs in New York.
"I know what I have to do and I plan to do it," said Baylor, who is in his first season with the Mets. "One thing for certain, I don't plan to miss any games. I'll get my chemo done and go to work."
The cancer, which is an overgrowth of abnormal white blood cells, is the same type that affected New York Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre.
"Multiple myeloma presents with different degrees of severity," said Mets consulting team physician Dr. John Olichney. "I am encouraged that Don's myeloma is a type that is prognostically favorable."
Doctors determined an abnormal monoclonal protein during Baylor's spring training physical. A bone marrow exam on March 12 in New York revealed that Baylor had multiple myeloma.
Baylor, who is the Mets bench coach, was fired as manager of the Cubs on July 4 after posting a 187-220 record. He also served as manager of the Colorado Rockies from the team's inaugural 1993 season through the 1998 campaign.
Baylor is part of the new staff assembled by first-year manager Art Howe.
Astros part with Shane Reynolds
KISSIMMEE, Fla., March 27 (UPI) -- The Houston Astros Thursday waived veteran righthander Shane Reynolds for the purpose of giving him his unconditional release.
Reynolds, 35, played 11 seasons for the Astros, but was questionable this spring after undergoing season-ending back surgery last June.
"This was a very difficult decision," said General Manager Gerry Hunsicker. "(But) From what we saw this spring, with the options that we had, the goal is to take the best team to Houston with the best chance to win. I just felt that we had better options."
Reynolds was 0-1 with a 5.87 ERA in five spring appearances. His overall career record is 103-86 with a 3.95 ERA in 274 appearances, including 248 starts. He is seventh on the team's all-time wins list, and fifth in strikeouts with 1,309.
Last season, he was just 3-6 with a 4.86 ERA in 13 starts.
Tim Redding and Jeriome Robertson, who battled all spring for the fifth starter's position, both will now make the rotation.
The Astros, who have 26 players remaining on the roster, will decide in the next two days whether to carry 11 or 12 pitchers. If they carry 12, righthander Brandon Puffer will make the team. If they carry 11, Puffer will be optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
Hunsicker added that the club is considering carrying three catchers, which would allow Raul Chavez to make the team.
Pacers sign Tim Hardaway
INDIANAPOLIS, March 27 (UPI) -- The Indiana Pacers added some insurance in their backcourt Thursday by signing five-time All-Star Tim Hardaway to a contract for the remainder of the season.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Hardaway last played in the 2001-02 season with the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets, but brings 13 years of NBA experience to a team that was looking for help at point guard.
Jamaal Tinsley missed Wednesday's game against Philadelphia because of the death of his mother, and the Pacers also have used Erick Strickland and Ron Mercer at the position.
"Tim is a solid veteran who can provide us some insurance at point guard if needed," said Indiana President Donnie Walsh.
The Pacers are fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 41-30 record, but have lost 15 of their last 19 games. Hardaway would eligible for the playoffs because he has not played for another team this season.
"I'm happy to be back in the league with a team that feels I can help them out with veteran leadership going into the playoffs," said Hardaway, 36, who prior to signing with the Pacers served as an analyst for ESPN.
Hardaway amassed 5,000 points and 2,500 assists faster than any player in NBA history except for Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson. He has career averages of 17.9 points and 8.3 assists in 857 games with Golden State, Miami, Dallas, and Denver.
To make room for Hardaway, the Pacers placed center Primoz Brezec placed on the injured list with a sprained right ankle. Brezec had appeared in 22 games, averaging 1.9 points and 1.0 rebound per game.
NCAA Sweet 16 begins to unfold Thursday
ANAHEIM, Calif., March 27 (UPI) -- The West and Midwest Regions will hold their regional semifinals Thursday night in the NCAA Tournament, and no team in action is seeded lower than fifth.
While upstarts Butler and Auburn will try to continue their magical rides on Friday, Thursday will feature traditional college basketball powers like Kentucky, Arizona, and Kansas.
The deepest bracket is out West in Anaheim, Calif., where No. 2 seed Kansas (27-7) tries to get Coach Roy Williams over a huge hump when it meets third-seeded Duke (26-6) in a matchup of programs that have combined for five national championships.
While Williams has won 415 games in his career, he is 0-3 against his Duke counterpart, Mike Krzyzewski. Kansas last beat Duke on April 2, 1988 under Larry Brown on the way to its second national title. Williams took over in the 1988-89 season.
The two schools have met four times in the NCAA Tournament, with the Blue Devils winning three of those three matchups. Duke won the last one with a 69-64 triumph in the second round of the East Region on March 19, 2000.
"The way they've done it, with true student-athletes," Williams said. "They're awfully difficult to recruit against, I can tell you that, because we haven't had very much success recruiting against them."
The first game in Anaheim has fifth-seeded Notre Dame (24-9) playing top-seeded Arizona (27-3).
Arizona advanced with a thrilling 96-95 victory in two overtimes over Gonzaga in the second round. Salim Stoudamire scored five of his 15 points in the second extra session, and the Wildcats advanced after Gonzaga missed a pair of shots in the final seconds.
Notre Dame had lost four of five entering the NCAA Tournament, but eked out a win against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the first round, and used some impressive perimeter shooting in a 68-60 victory over Illinois in the second round. Dan Miller, a Maryland transfer, made his first five three-point attempts and finished with 23 points.
"That would be a good Final Four right there," said Arizona senior Rick Anderson of the West Region.
Top seed Kentucky (31-1) takes its 25-game winning streak into the Midwest Region semifinals Thursday when it faces No. 5 Wisconsin (24-7) at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
Kentucky is enjoying its longest winning streak since it captured 27 straight during its national championship season in 1996. The Wildcats have outscored their opponents by an average of 17 points per game on this streak.
This is the eighth time in nine seasons that Kentucky has reached the regional semifinals. The Wildcats have lost their last two "Sweet 16" games since beating Miami of Ohio in 1999.
Wisconsin needed a three-pointer by Freddie Owen with one second left to cap a stunning 16-2 closing run for a 61-60 victory over Tulsa in the second round.
In the second game at Minneapolis, second-seeded Pittsburgh (28-4) can advance to a regional final for the first time when it faces No. 3 Marquette (25-5).
Pittsburgh has matched the farthest run in school history in the NCAA Tournament, tying last year's team and the 1974 squad. The Panthers have won 11 straight games, and cruised through the first two rounds, winning by a combined 46 points over Wagner and Indiana.
Marquette got a pair of big efforts from Travis Diener in posting two close wins over Holy Cross and Missouri. Diener scored a career-high 29 points in the first round, and added 26 in a second-round overtime victory over Missouri.
The East and South Regionals are scheduled for Friday. In the East Regional at Albany, N.Y., Auburn, a 10th seed, meets Syracuse, and No. 12 Butler opposes Oklahoma.
NIT semifinals continue Thursday
NEW YORK, March 27 (UPI) -- Alabama-Birmingham will try Thursday night to reach its third NIT semifinal when it visits St. John's at Alumni Hall in New York.
The Blazers (21-12) have won five of their last six games and last met St. John's (18-13) in the semifinals of the 1989 NIT, when the Red Storm posted a 76-65 victory.
The winner of this game will face Texas Tech on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, where St. John's plays the majority of its home games.
UAB also went to the NIT semifinals in 1993.
St. John's has won six of its last seven games after a four-game losing streak late in the regular season which likely cost the Red Storm a chance to go the NCAA Tournament.
The Red Storm advanced to the quarterfinals with wins here over Boston University and Virginia.
St. John's has not played outside of New York since March 8, while UAB opened the NIT with a home win over Louisiana-Lafayette before posting an 80-71 win at Siena on Tuesday.
The other NIT quarterfinal Thursday night has Temple hosting Minnesota.
The Owls (18-15) have won five of their last six games and 11 of their last 13. Temple has not lost to a team that did not make the NCAA Tournament since Jan. 11 at Richmond, and has not suffered a homecourt loss since Jan. 25 against Dayton.
Minnesota (18-12) has beaten St. Louis and Hawaii after a five-game losing streak that included an embarrassing loss to Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
The Golden Gophers beat the Owls in the 1997 NCAA Tournament and are 21-8 all time in the NIT.
Report: Bennett to Washington State
BRISTOL, Conn., March 27 (UPI) -- Dick Bennett, who took Wisconsin on a surprising run to the Final Four in 2000, reportedly will be the new basketball coach at Washington State.
The cable sports network ESPN reported Thursday that Bennett has been chosen as the successor to Paul Graham, and that the school has tentatively scheduled a news conference for Saturday to announce the move.
The Cougars have been looking for a coach since Graham was fired following a 7-20 season, including a 2-16 record in the Pac-10 Conference.
Bennett, 59, stepped down as Wisconsin coach three games into the 2000-01 season, just eight months after the Badgers went to the Final Four. He was 93-69 in five-plus seasons with the Badgers, and was the only coach in school history to earn three NCAA Tournament appearances.
Before arriving in Wisconsin, Bennett resurrected programs at Wisconsin-Stevens Point and Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Graham was just 31-79 in four seasons at Washington State. The Cougars were decimated by injuries this season, losing eight players at various points of the campaign.
Hoch withdraws from Players
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla., March 27 (UPI) -- The Players Championship lost another competitor Thursday morning when Scott Hoch had to withdraw because of a wrist injury.
Hoch made headlines on the tour last month when he beat Jim Furyk in what amounted to a one-hole playoff at the Doral Open. At the end of the fourth round on Sunday, Hoch decided not to try a six-foot putt at the second playoff holes, claiming darkness had eliminated his sightline. He won that event on the third playoff hole Monday morning.
Hoch tried to play a practice round Wednesday, but discovered it would not be wise to try to play through the soreness. He decided to bow out of the tournament even after his warmup was delayed 30 minutes by a thunderstorm.
At the Doral, at 47, he became the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event since Tom Watson won the 1998 Colonial at 48 to win the $900,000 first prize.
At Sawgrass, Hoch became the fourth player to withdraw from the Players Championship.
Els, who recently injured his right wrist while hitting a punching bag at home in London, withdrew as a precaution to ensure he will be healthy for the Masters.
Mickelson pulled out to be with his wife, who gave birth to their third child on Sunday.
Legatt has a hand injury.
The son of Joe Jurevicius dies
ST. LOUIS, March 27 (UPI) -- The infant son of Tampa Bay wide receiver Joe Jurevicius has died after just nine weeks.
Michael William Jurevicius was born prematurely on Jan. 14. He had undeveloped lungs. Recently, he had been moved to a hospital in St. Louis for treatment.
Jurevicius spent much of the week before the NFC Championship game at Philadelphia at the hospital in Tampa with his pregnant wife, Meagan, because doctors diagnosed pregnancy complications.
The Tampa Tribune reported that Jurevicius had described his son's illness as "developmental issues with his lungs not functioning."
"Meagan and I want to thank everyone for their support and wishes during this time," Jurevicius said in a statement released by the team and published by the St. Petersburg Times. "The last few months have been joyous and difficult for our family. Michael was very courageous, and he enriched our lives for the short time he was with us. We want to thank all the doctors and nurses at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital, Tampa General Hospital, and St. Louis Children's Hospital for their help and care, and all of our fans for their support. Now we just need time to grieve."
"The thoughts and prayers of the entire Buccaneer organization are with Joe and Meagan over the loss of Michael," said General Manager Rich McKay, who was in Phoenix for the NFL owners meeting.
Jurevicius flew to Philadelphia the night before the game against the Eagles, and made a key 71-yard reception that was the catalyst in the Bucs' 27-10 victory.
In the Super Bowl, Jurevicius, who re-joined the team in San Diego after flying back to Tampa for three days, caught four passes for 78 yards in the 48-21 decimation of the Oakland Raiders.
The Tribune said the Bucs will be releasing information regarding where donations and expressions of sympathy can be sent at a later date after arrangements have been made.
Broncos sign Heath Irwin
ENGLEWOOD, Colo., March 27 (UPI) -- Veteran guard Heath Irwin returned home on Thursday by signing with the Denver Broncos.
Terms were not disclosed.
The 6-4, 300-pound Irwin is a native of Boulder, Colo., and was a three-year starter at the University of Colorado.
The 29-year-old unrestricted free agent played 14 games for the St. Louis Rams last season, starting five, after spending the previous two seasons with the Miami Dolphins. He spent his first four seasons with the New England Patriots, and has appeared in 87 NFL games, starting 29.
At Colorado, he was part of an offense that amassed a school-record 5,448 yards.
Bennett to have surgery
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn., March 27 (UPI) -- Running back Michael Bennett of Minnesota will undergo surgery Friday to repair a broken bone in his left foot.
The Vikings announced Thursday that the Pro Bowler felt discomfort in his foot while training on Tuesday, and that the injury was diagnosed as a Jones Fracture. The team said that Bennett will be sidelined approximately six weeks and make a full recovery.
The first-round draft choice of the Vikings in 2001 rushed for 1,296 yards and five touchdowns last season and was named to his first Pro Bowl.