Sports Briefs

Posted: Sunday, April 01, 2001

Strawberry missing two days

TAMPA, Fla. -- Friends of former New York Yankees slugger Darryl Strawberry expressed concern for his well being Saturday, two days after he left a drug treatment center where he was under house arrest.

''I hope he's all right,'' his attorney, Joe Ficarrotta, said. He said he had not heard from Strawberry and didn't know his whereabouts.

A warrant was issued for Strawberry's arrest and local police officers were alerted, but Hillsborough County sheriff's officials said there was no active search because Strawberry was not considered a violent offender.

On Thursday, Strawberry left the center where he was serving a two-year sentence for drug possession and soliciting a prostitute. Last fall, the eight-time All-Star spent 21 days in jail after walking away from the rehabilitation center and used cocaine. Besides drug addiction, Strawberry, 39, also is battling colon cancer.

At the Yankees spring training camp, manager Joe Torre and Strawberry's former teammates were upset by his disappearance.

''It is sad,'' said Torre, who successfully fought prostate cancer two years ago.

''I know it's easy to be impatient with everything that has happened involving him. But when you evaluate the fact he has a drug addiction, it's tough to comment on how tough it is to fight that demon.

''On top of it, chemotherapy. I know that changes you, physically and emotionally. The combination has got to be horrible.''

Twins sign former reliever Carrasco

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins added a familiar face to their bullpen Friday, signing Hector Carrasco to a minor league contract.

Carrasco, 31, spent parts of the last three seasons with the team before a late-season trade sent him to Boston last year. He had a 2.45 ERA with Toronto this spring before being cut.

Carrasco adds an experienced, hard-throwing right arm to the Twins' relief corps. He'll help righty Bob Wells and lefties Travis Miller and Eddie Guardado set up closer LaTroy Hawkins.

Jeter to start season on DL

TAMPA, Fla. -- New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will start the regular season on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quadriceps.

''I know he feels obligated to be ready, but I'm still more comfortable having him take the extra four, five days and that's what it came down to,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said Saturday.

Jeter, who is going on the disabled list retroactively, will be eligible to be activated next Saturday, when New York plays the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Torre said Jeter likely will rejoin the team Friday.

''I know he probably could go out and play, but again, because it's such a short time being away, you really have to look at the big picture,'' Torre said. ''He did not try and talk me out of it. Once I said this is what I want to do, that was it. He did not, even kiddingly, try to change my mind.''

The Yankees also placed outfielders Henry Rodriguez (back strain) and Shane Spencer (knee), along with pitcher Ramiro Mendoza (shoulder) on the 15-day disabled list. Pitcher Darrell Einertson (rotator cuff) was put on the 60-day DL.

Brown put on DL day of roster deadline

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers ace Kevin Brown, recovering from an injured right Achilles' tendon, was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday.

Teams had until midnight EST Saturday to submit their 25-man opening day roster to the commissioner's office.

Team physician Dr. Frank Jobe had said Friday night that Brown would likely be out at least another 10-14 days.

The move with Brown was made retroactive to March 24. Australian right-hander Luke Prokopec will be recalled to take at least two turns in the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

Rookie manager Jim Tracy had sounded a bit more optimistic before Saturday's 6-2 exhibition win over Colorado.

''From the results of his MRI, there's been great progress made with his Achilles' tendon,'' Tracy said. ''His date of eligibility to come off the DL is April 7. And from that point on, it becomes a day-to-day situation.

''So we'll see how he's doing at that point. But that doesn't dictate to me that it goes into the middle of April,'' Tracy said.

Giants purchase Santiago's contract

SAN FRANCISCO -- As expected, the San Francisco Giants purchased the Triple-A contract of veteran catcher Benito Santiago, a four-time All-Star who is playing for his seventh team in 15 seasons.

The Giants dealt catcher Doug Mirabelli earlier in the exhibition season to the Texas Rangers to make room for Santiago, who joins Bobby Estalella behind the plate.

Santiago agreed to a minor league contract with the Giants in mid-March, but no one ever expected him to go to Triple-A Fresno.

Santiago has a career .261 batting average, with 178 homers and 722 RBIs. He began his career with the San Diego Padres in 1986-1992, and has played with Florida, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Toronto and the Chicago Cubs.

The Giants also optioned infielder Edwards Guzman and pitchers Chad Zerbe and Jamie Arnold to the Fresno Giants of the Pacific Coast League.

Zerbe said he expects to be in the bullpen, or even serve as Fresno's closer.

NBA close to getting into the zone

NEW YORK -- Whether it's a box-and-one, a triangle-and-two, a 2-1-2 or some other variation, zone defenses have long been a staple of college basketball. Not so in the NBA.

Though pro teams have been known to resort to quasi-zone tactics, the league's rules have never permitted zones.

That could change next season.

With scoring and TV ratings in decline as teams increasingly rely on isolation plays, the NBA Board of Governors discussed a package of changes Friday, including doing away with complicated illegal defense rules.

''This is going to a different place for the game,'' commissioner David Stern said. ''We're trying to ensure the game will have more movement, passing and a faster pace.''

The proposals: scrap the illegal defense rules; institute a defensive 3-second rule, whereby defenders would be allowed to stay in the lane for 3 seconds unless they were within arm's length of an opponents; give teams 8 seconds instead of 10 to bring the ball past midcourt; redefine incidental contact to cut down on touch fouls; and allow players to touch the ball while it is on the rim.

''I came away persuaded,'' deputy commissioner Russ Granik said. ''You're never certain exactly what the results will be with rules changes, but it's worth taking a chance here.''

The changes are meant to discourage teams from gearing offenses toward isolation plays in which a majority of a team's players stand idle on the weak side to draw defenders away from the ball.

That trend has helped fuel a decrease in points over the past decade. Teams are averaging 94.6 points, down about three points per game from last season.

''I'm all for it with some guidelines, simple guidelines. I guess it would get us to playing some basketball, have more movement of the ball and take away the isolation, or at least some of it,'' Dallas coach Don Nelson said.

Not everyone shares that view, though.

''I hope it never happens. That would be the worst,'' New York's Latrell Sprewell said. ''They're worried about scoring, but if you have a zone, can you imagine a team like Miami, for instance, with Alonzo (Mourning), (Anthony) Mason and Brian Grant sitting in the paint? You'd never get a layup, and would have to shoot jumpers all day long. Guys would become better shooters, but you wouldn't have the same plays.''

Phoenix Suns owner Jerry Colangelo, who headed the committee that drew up the proposals, said there would have been the necessary two-thirds support had there been a vote Friday by the representatives of the league's 29 ownership groups.

Instead, teams will have a chance to weigh the suggestions before voting in about two weeks. If approved then, the changes would take effect next season.

''They're putting all these rules in there for the fans, trying to get low scores, trying to get high scores,'' Celtics guard Kenny Anderson said.

''Maybe they should put the 3-point shot at the foul line.''

In other developments:

--A committee of seven owners was appointed to examine Memphis' viability as an NBA city. They have 120 days, though Granik said he thought it would take half that time. The owners of the Grizzlies and Hornets asked for permission this week to relocate to Memphis for next season. ''Moving the Hornets from Charlotte would not be my first personal choice,'' Stern said, adding that he had asked the Hornets' owners not to talk to the media ''for a while. ... The only people I can gag are our owners.''

George Shinn, who owns a majority share of the Hornets, is open to selling, but minority owner Ray Wooldridge prefers to continue owning part of the team, The Charlotte Observer said Saturday. A Hornets spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

--The Board of Governors agreed to give a subsidy of up to $3 million to Canadian teams starting next season. Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley has said he'll lose $40 million this year.

--The sale of the SuperSonics to a group of investors led by Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz was approved.

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