Sports Briefs

Posted: Sunday, June 09, 2002

Griffey out of lineup with bad hamstring

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ken Griffey Jr. was not in the Cincinnati Reds' starting lineup Saturday, one day after pulling his right hamstring while running out a ground ball.

Manager Bob Boone said during batting practice that Griffey would only get into the game against Anaheim ''in a real dire emergency.''

Griffey was hurt in the fourth inning of the Reds' 4-3 loss to the Anaheim Angels. He was injured just two weeks after he came off the disabled list following a 41-game absence due to a torn tendon in his right knee.

''I'm treating him as conservatively as you possibly can,'' Boone said. ''It's a shame. He had just started to swing pretty good and was getting to the point where he would have started playing every day.''

''Hopefully, it's real minor. But we won't know for a few days. I didn't assess his mood, but he's not the happiest camper around. It's a miserable thing.''

Encarnacion struck in head by thrown ball

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Cincinnati outfielder Juan Encarnacion was hit in the right temple by a thrown ball during batting practice Saturday and scratched from the starting lineup.

Encarnacion slumped to one knee after getting struck by a throw from second baseman Todd Walker before the game against Anaheim, and was surrounded by teammates, manager Bob Boone and general manager Jim Bowden.

A precautionary CT scan was normal, and Encarnacion was listed as day-to-day. He left the field under his own power after he was hit.

Ramirez to be with Red Sox Monday

BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez is scheduled to return to the team on Monday and expects to be activated from the disabled list sooner than originally expected.

Ramirez has been rehabilitating in Florida since breaking his finger on May 11 when he slid headfirst into home plate and hit his hand on Seattle catcher Dan Wilson's shinguard. He was supposed to return to Boston on Friday, but missed his flight.

Ex-NBA star Williams pleads innocent

FLEMINGTON, N.J. -- Former NBA star Jayson Williams pleaded innocent Friday to charges he fatally shot a limousine driver and then tried to make it look as if the victim fired the gun himself.

Williams entered the plea to first-degree manslaughter and other charges during an arraignment before Superior Court Judge Edward M. Coleman. He remained free on $270,000 bail.

Williams, accompanied by his wife, Tanya, did not speak during or after the hearing. Defense attorney Joseph Hayden entered the plea on his behalf.

If convicted on all charges, he could face nearly 45 years in prison.

A second man, John W. Gordnick, pleaded innocent to charges that he tampered with evidence to conceal Williams' role in the shooting.

Gordnick remained free on $50,000 bail, and faces a maximum sentence of nearly 12 years in prison.

Acting Hunterdon County Prosecutor Steven C. Lember said his staff has almost finished its investigation, and has turned over two packets of evidence to the defense. Within weeks, Lember said, defense attorneys also will receive copies of crime-scene photographs.

Both sides are lining up nationally known experts, including forensic expert Henry Lee and pathologist Michael Baden, both of whom testified during O.J. Simpson's trial in 1995.

The judge scheduled a status hearing for Sept. 6.

Prosecutors originally charged Williams with second-degree manslaughter, which required them to prove only that he recklessly caused the limousine driver's death.

But a grand jury raised the charge last month, finding Williams demonstrated extreme indifference to human life.

First-degree manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. The maximum for the lesser charge is 10 years.

Hayden has called the shooting ''a tragic accident.'' He told the judge Friday that he planned to file a motion challenging the grand jury's decision to raise the manslaughter charge.

Limousine driver Costas Christofi was fatally shot Feb. 14 at Williams' estate in rural Alexandria Township. The 55-year-old driver was invited inside the mansion after picking up Williams' friends at a Harlem Globetrotters game in Bethlehem, Pa., prosecutors said.

Prosecutors say Williams was recklessly handling a 12-gauge shotgun when it fired, hitting Christofi in the chest.

They also accuse Williams, Gordnick and a third man, Kent Culuko, of trying to destroy or conceal evidence implicating Williams and asking witnesses to lie about what happened.

The three men allegedly tried to hide the clothes Williams was wearing when the gun went off, replace his fingerprints on the shotgun with the victim's, and convince other guests at the mansion to say Christofi was upstairs alone at the time of the shooting.

Culuko has pleaded guilty to witness and evidence tampering, and agreed to testify against Williams and Gordnick.

Williams retired from the New Jersey Nets in 2000.

After the shooting, he was suspended from his job as an NBA analyst for NBC.

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