Sports Briefs

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Piazza's suspension cut to four games

NEW YORK -- Mike Piazza's suspension for charging the mound in spring training was reduced to four games, and the New York Mets' All-Star catcher will start serving the penalty Wednesday.

The decision to shorten the ban by one game was made Tuesday by Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer. He heard Piazza's appeal Monday after New York's season-opening 15-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

''Naturally, I'm glad the suspension has been reduced,'' Piazza said. ''I just want to put this all behind me so I can concentrate on baseball the rest of the season.''

The Mets were off Tuesday. If games are played as scheduled, Piazza would be able to return to the lineup Sunday against Montreal.

Bob Watson, baseball's vice president in charge of discipline, originally issued a five-game suspension and $3,000 fine after Piazza charged Los Angeles reliever Guillermo Mota during an exhibition game March 12. Piazza, who had been hit by a fastball, later went into the Dodgers' clubhouse looking for the pitcher.

''I believe that we did make our points effectively,'' Piazza said Monday after the 45-minute appeal hearing.

Mota originally was suspended for five games, but appealed and had it cut to four games last week.

Montreal slugger Vladimir Guerrero, suspended for three games for charging the mound in another spring training game, dropped his appeal in exchange for the commissioner's office cutting the penalty to two games.

Nen has strained shoulder

SAN DIEGO -- San Francisco Giants closer Robb Nen has a strained throwing shoulder and expects to be out for 2-to-3 weeks.

Nen said he was relieved the news wasn't any worse after being examined on Tuesday by Dr. Lewis Yocum of the Anaheim Angels, who performed arthroscopic surgery on the reliever's right shoulder on Nov. 8.

''It's a lot better than what it could have been,'' Nen said prior to the Giants' game against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night. ''I could have torn something or done something else.''

Nen was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Monday's season opener, retroactive to Sunday.

''I guess we just pushed it,'' Nen said. ''We were short with the World Series and all that stuff, trying to push it and be ready. I guess I just did too much too soon and irritated something.''

Still, Nen was surprised when he was put on the DL shortly before Monday afternoon's game. He was playing catch on the field and anticipated being on the opening-day roster.

Tyson, Lewis likely to fight on same June 21 card

Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis may fight in the same ring June 21 -- just not against each other.

Talks are under way for the two heavyweights to appear in separate fights of a heavyweight doubleheader, perhaps in Buffalo, N.Y.

Possible opponents for Lewis include No. 1-ranked Vitali Klitschko, Kirk Johnson or Buffalo's Joe Mesi. Tyson's fight would be against someone along the lines of his last opponent, perhaps a fading Oleg Maskaev.

Lewis had been hoping to fight Tyson, but Tyson has been adamant that he needs at least two more fights before he challenges Lewis for the title again. Lewis gave Tyson a beating last June before finally stopping him in the eighth round in Memphis.

Though Lewis has a contract calling for a Tyson rematch, talks are being held for the two fighters to appear on the same card and push the rematch back to a later date.

''We're trying to work that out,'' said Shelly Finkel, Tyson's manager. ''That's part of the ongoing negotiations.''

If Mesi is on the card -- whether against Lewis, Tyson or someone else -- the fight would be big in Buffalo, where the undefeated local heavyweight is a huge attraction.

If it was held in Buffalo, it likely would be outdoors at Ralph Wilson Stadium, where the Buffalo Bills play.

Representatives of the two camps are also looking at other sites, including Las Vegas.

Lewis hasn't fought since beating Tyson last June 8, and there has been increasing speculation that the 37-year-old WBC champion really doesn't want to fight anymore. Lewis backed out of a proposed April bout with Klitschko, saying he wanted to wait and fight Tyson in June instead.

Tyson, though, said after stopping Clifford Etienne in 49 seconds Feb. 22 in Memphis that he needed more fights before taking on Lewis again. Despite efforts to get him to change his mind, both the Tyson and Lewis camps are now reconciled to the fact the two heavyweights will not meet each other in June.

Klitschko's lawyers have secured an agreement from the WBC saying Lewis has to fight him by the end of October or give up his belt, but the Lewis camp has been unhappy with the size of the purse that Klitschko is demanding to challenge the champion.

Mesi is 25-0, but he has been brought along carefully, matched up with no-names or over-the-hill heavyweights, mostly in fights in or around his hometown.



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