Sports Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Indians decide to pass on Rivera; Brown hurt

Ruben Rivera will not get a shot at a spot in the Cleveland Indians' outfield.

The Indians had been talking to the agent for Rivera, released last week by the New York Yankees for stealing former teammate Derek Jeter's glove and bat from his locker and selling the items to a memorabilia dealer.

While discussing a minor league deal, the Indians had Rivera meet with Dr. Charles Maher, their team psychologist for seven seasons.

''At no time did we discuss a major league opportunity,'' assistant general manager Neal Huntington said Tuesday.

''We factored in everything. His upside, his career record. His track record on and off the field. As we looked at the big picture, we decided we were not going to head in that direction. It never got real serious.''

At Kissimmee, Fla., Kevin Brown was forced to leave the game when he was hit on the outside of his right knee by Daryle Ward's line drive, and the Los Angeles Dodgers lost to the Houston Astros 12-0.

X-rays on Brown's knee, taken after the team returned to Vero Beach, were negative.

Brown refused to speak to reporters after allowing eight runs -- three earned -- and six hits in 2 1-3 innings in his third start of the spring. Ward's ball bounced into the Los Angeles dugout for a double.

Kwan not looking back at Olympics

NAGANO, Japan -- Michelle Kwan, coming off a third-place finish in the Olympics, was looking ahead as she took the ice Wednesday in the World Figure Skating Championships.

''It's been only a few weeks since the Olympics and you realize that things move on,'' Kwan said. ''I didn't have my best skate there, but you know there are other performances. So move on.''

Kwan had a nearly flawless routine to earn top marks in her qualification group, worth 20 percent of the total mark. She even did a triple-triple combination.

''Finally! Eureka!'' she said. ''It's the first time this whole season I nailed the triple-triple so it feels good. I didn't hesitate. I just went into the air and both landings were smooth.''

Performing to ''Scheherazade'' as she did in Salt Lake City, Kwan did six triples with only a slight bobble to easily beat Japan's Fumie Suguri. American Jennifer Kirk, subbing for Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes, was fourth.

Jordan practices; return date uncertain

DENVER -- Michael Jordan practiced with the Washington Wizards on Tuesday for the first time since undergoing knee surgery, but said he has no plans to play Wednesday against the Nuggets or Thursday in Utah.

Jordan had been rehabilitating his right knee since his Feb. 27 surgery and was not with the team for the first four games on its current seven-game trip. Washington is 2-2 on the trip but 4-10 since Jordan had torn cartilage repaired.

If Jordan indeed misses the games against Denver and Utah, he could return Sunday when the Wizards play the Raptors in Toronto.

Team spokesman Matt Williams said Jordan has not specified the date of a possible return.

Washington is in sixth place in the Atlantic Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference with 15 games remaining. The Wizards would need to climb into eighth place or better in order to qualify for the playoffs.

Huskies coach out after three losing seasons

SEATTLE -- Washington basketball coach Bob Bender is out after three consecutive losing seasons, a source close to the UW athletic department confirmed Tuesday night.

It was unknown whether Bender was being fired or was resigning, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Asked to comment Tuesday night on reports that Bender would be replaced, Jim Daves, UW sports information director, would say only that an announcement concerning the basketball program was planned for Wednesday.

Bender, 44, had a 116-142 record in nine seasons coaching the Huskies, taking the team to the NCAA tournament in 1998 and '99. The Huskies reached the round of 16 in '98, the school's first NCAA bid since 1986 and first appearance in the round of 16 since 1984.

Under Bender, the school made the postseason in four consecutive seasons -- 1996-99 -- which no other Washington coach had done.

Spiezio, Klesko to appeal suspensions

NEW YORK -- San Diego outfielder Ryan Klesko and Anaheim infielder Scott Spiezio will appeal their suspensions imposed after a pair of bench-clearng brawls in a spring training game.

Padres first baseman Phil Nevin also will appeal his fine, players' union lawyer Bob Lenaghan said Tuesday.

Spiezio was penalized for six games and Klesko for five. The suspensions were to take affect on opening day.

Bob Watson, baseball's new disciplinarian, recently said that if appeals were filed, hearings could be held next week.

Four other players were penalized after the fights March 9 at Tempe, Ariz.

San Diego pitcher Bobby Jones was suspended for seven games, Anaheim third baseman Troy Glaus was given two games and Angels pitcher Aaron Sele and Padres outfielder Ron Gant were fined undisclosed amounts.

Jones, Glaus, Sele and Gant have not decided whether to appeal.

Committe to tour proposed new Hornets home

NEW ORLEANS -- A relocation committee comprised of several NBA owners meets here Wednesday to review the Hornets' request to move from Charlotte.

Gov. Mike Foster, Mayor Marc Morial, Mayor-elect Ray Nagin, area legislators and business leaders will be among those who greet them, and the state's congressional delegation is expected to speak to the committee via teleconference.

In about two months, the team has sold more than 8,000 season tickets and 55 luxury suites, with the remainder of the 64 suites in the New Orleans arena to be sold to companies who sign up as corporate sponsors.

''The suites are basically all gone,'' said Bill Hines, chairman of Metrovision, the economic development arm of the Chamber of Commerce. ''Hopefully we'll give a good performance (to the committee) and they'll vote the right way.''

The committee, led by Phoenix Suns chairman Jerry Colangelo, will be joined by NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Russ Granik.

Other committee members are Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Gordon Gund, San Antonio Spurs chairman Peter Holt, New Jersey Nets co-owner Lewis Katz, Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon and Philadelphia 76ers chairman Ed Snider.

Foster's chief of staff, Steve Perry, said the state must ''show them New Orleans is a financially viable site, that it truly is a great sports and events town.''

Perry said Louisiana's economy is on the rebound and that the owners should be impressed.

New Orleans' median household income is $38,800 a year, below the national average and below Charlotte's median income of $51,000. New Orleans' TV market, ranked 43rd nationally, would be the smallest in the NBA; Charlotte's TV market ranks 27th.

The committee will tour of the New Orleans Arena, which opened in October 1999 and was built specifically to attract an NBA team. then head to one of the city's top law firms for a presentation by local economic development officials.

Committee members then will hold a private meeting with Hornets owners George Shinn and Ray Wooldridge at the Wyndham Hotel.

The committee is expected to issue recommendations by April 9. The move would require approval from 15 of the 29 teams.

''I am 100 percent confident,'' Wooldridge said. ''We've seen all the reports from outside consultants about New Orleans, and we have our own. We also know what Charlotte does not have. We know what we need to be successful and New Orleans has all of that.''

Stern generally has opposed relocation, saying it should only be a last resort when problems arise in a team's current home. More recently Seattle owner Howard Schultz said it would reflect poorly on the league if the Hornets left Charlotte, where the team was wildly popular until recently.

Wooldridge said Schultz's comments won't be an issue Wednesday, adding that he and Stern ''have identical opinions'' on relocation.

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