Sports Briefs

Posted: Sunday, February 22, 2004

Oilers baseball to give out scholarships

The Peninsula Oilers Baseball Club, Inc., will be awarding four $500 scholarships, one to each school, to graduating seniors from Kenai, Nikiski, Skyview and Soldotna high schools.

In addition, the Oilers Baseball Booster Club, Inc., will be offering one $1,000 and one $500 scholarship to graduating seniors from any accredited high school program within the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Applicants must apply separately and all applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. March 31.

For information and applications, contact a school scholarship counselor or the Peninsula Oilers' office at 601 S. Main in Kenai. The Oilers' phone number is 283-7133.

Gatt holds lead in Yukon Quest

DAWSON CITY, Yukon Hans Gatt continued to lead the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race as of Saturday night.

Gatt, the 2003 champion out of Atlin, British Columbia, left Dawson at 2:52 a.m. Saturday morning after a mandatory 36-hour layover. He reached the community with 11 dogs and left with that many. He had previously dropped three.

Dawson is the halfway point in the 1,000-mile race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, Yukon.

Next out of Dawson was Zack Steer of Sheep Mountain, Alaska, at 3:31 a.m. Saturday. Steer has dropped four dogs and is running with 10 in harness.

As of 6 p.m. Alaska time, the only other musher out of Dawson was Dave Dalton of Healy, who left at 4:04 p.m.

Seventeen other mushers had arrived in Dawson by Saturday.

Minnesota sweeps Alaska Anchorage

MINNEAPOLIS Danny Irmen and Gino Guyer each had a goal and an assist as Minnesota rallied for a 5-2 win over Alaska-Anchorage.

No. 7 Minnesota, which won 3-2 Friday, swept the weekend series and extended its home winning streak to seven games.

Alaska-Anchorage top goal scorer Curtis Glencross, who was back in the lineup after sitting out Friday's game because of a disqualification, scored on the Seawolves first shot on goal. That gave Alaska-Anchorage a 1-0 lead 3:25 into the game.

The Gophers (20-11-3, 13-10-1 WCHA) countered with first-period goals by Garrett Smaagaard and Barry Tallackson and led 2-1 after 20 minutes. Minnesota broke the game open in the second, out-shooting the Seawolves 22-7 and taking a three-goal lead when Irmen and Guyer scored.

Charlie Kronschnabel scored with 5:19 remaining in the game to pull Alaska-Anchorage back within two, but the Seawolves (10-17-3, 7-16-3) got no closer. Gophers defenseman Chris Harrington scored an empty-net goal as the Seawolves lost their sixth straight game.

Minnesota goaltender Kellen Briggs, making his 17th consecutive start, had 26 saves in the victory, while Alaska-Anchorage goalie Kevin Reiter had 40 saves.

Friday, Gino Guyer's third-period goal broke a tie and lifted seventh-ranked Minnesota to a 3-2 win over struggling Alaska Anchoraget.

Guyer collected the rebound off a Barry Tallackson shot and slapped a low puck past Anchorage goaltender Chris King at the 5:36 mark as the Gophers (19-11-3, 12-10-1 WCHA) won their sixth straight home game.

''It was a difficult game for us from start to finish,'' Gophers coach Don Lucia said. ''We had great energy in the first but we had a hard time scoring goals.''

It was the fifth straight loss for the Seawolves (10-16-3, 7-15-3), who were playing their first game in Minneapolis since October of 2000.

Rodriguez makes mark with Yankees

Alex Rodriguez certainly made a mark in his first workout with the New York Yankees. More like a dent, actually.

Rodriguez's drive over the center-field fence Saturday hit a parked car, leaving a 2-inch dent and blue smear on the hood of a silver Mazda in Tampa, Fla.

It was one of 10 balls the AL MVP hit over the fence in 65 swings. He took batting practice with two minor league prospects A-Rod was the one not wearing a helmet while a few groundskeepers shagged flies.

''I feel like I have an injection of energy. I'm floating,'' Rodriguez said. ''I'm still not aware of where I am right now.

''You look in the mirror and see the Yankee uniform, it's awesome,'' he said.

Rodriguez fielded about 50 grounders at third base, his new position, bobbling one and letting another skip under his glove. He did most of that work on his knees, drawn in close on the infield grass.

He looked smooth on some slow rollers, charging the balls and making strong, accurate, off-balance throws to first base.

''I'm fine, but you can't really tell where you are until you get into a game,'' he said.

Rodriguez might not be the only All-Star switching positions this season. Alfonso Soriano could be moving, too.

Traded by the Yankees to Texas for Rodriguez, Soriano was introduced as the newest member of the Rangers in Surprise, Ariz., and said he would keep an open mind about possibly shifting from second base to shortstop.

The Rangers already have a .300 hitter at second base in Michael Young, and Soriano came up to the majors as a shortstop.

''I haven't played shortstop for three years. I'm definitely more comfortable at second base,'' Soriano said. ''I'll keep open to changes. I just want to do my best and do what is best for the team.''

The past two years with the Yankees, Soriano became only the third player in major league history to hit at least 35 home runs and steal 35 bases in consecutive seasons. Willie Mays and Barry Bonds are the other two.

But Soriano knows he can't expect to replace Rodriguez.

''I don't want to put any pressure on myself to say I will hit this many home runs or do that,'' Soriano said. ''I just want to do my best, and those things will take care of themselves.''

Texas left-hander Kenny Rogers, projected as the team's No. 1 starter this season, tweaked his right hamstring and will be out two to three days.

The Rangers also finalized a $15.25 million, five-year contract with All-Star third baseman Hank Blalock. The deal includes a club option for a sixth year.

Also in Surprise, the Kansas City Royals learned that pitcher Kyle Snyder will have shoulder surgery for the second time in six months Wednesday, putting his season in jeopardy.

Snyder went 1-6 with a 5.17 ERA in 15 starts last year. Royals general manager Allard Baird said the hard-throwing right-hander will begin the season on the 60-day disabled list, but it's unclear how long he will be out.

In Melbourne, Fla., Montreal Expos manager Frank Robinson chose right-hander Livan Hernandez to start on opening day.

In Peoria, Ariz., David Wells reported to spring training with San Diego and promised not to do too much too soon.

''You don't want to try to make the team the first day,'' said the 40-year-old Wells, who signed as a free agent with his hometown Padres on Dec. 31.

''It's something that you have to ease into, especially if you're coming off back surgery. It's just one step at a time, and where I'm at right now, I feel pretty good.

''As long as I stay healthy, I know I can be valuable to this team,'' he said.

The Florida Marlins returned to the field for the first time since winning the World Series and found themselves in a familiar position: as underdogs.

This time, though, the cost-conscious team is trying to repeat.

''All the talk is about the Yankees losing the World Series, not that we won it,'' center fielder Juan Pierre said. ''People are still not giving us credit. But I think it's possible (to repeat).''

In Kissimmee, Fla., Atlanta Braves closer John Smoltz did some running and light throwing on the second day of spring training.

Coming off surgery in October to clear scar tissue from his elbow, Smoltz said his arm feels great but he won't push it this spring.

''I've already proven myself on the mound and what I can do,'' he said. ''I'd rather be accused of taking my time than rushing things. I'm not going to miss anything. This spring will be more about conditioning and getting my work in.''

Before the Baltimore Orioles took the field on the first day of practice in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., new manager Lee Mazzilli delivered an impassioned, 20-minute speech in which he outlined his expectations.

''Other than coming up to the big leagues, this is the best day of my career,'' he said.

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