Sports briefs 1/11/05

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


* The Mets scheduled a news conference for Tuesday morning at Shea Stadium to announce their $119 million, seven-year contract with center fielder Carlos Beltran.

* The Arizona Diamondbacks traded left-hander Stephen Randolph to the Chicago Cubs on Monday for a player to be named.

Randolph, 30, was 10-6 with a 4.89 ERA in 95 games, mostly as a reliever, over the past two seasons. He was 8-1 with a 4.05 ERA in 50 games in 2003. Last season, Randolph was 2-5 with a 5.51 ERA in 45 appearances, including six starts.

* Randy Johnson got a little physical on the way to his New York Yankees physical.

The Big Unit got into a confrontation on a Manhattan sidewalk with a television cameraman Monday, then apologized in a statement released later in the day.

Johnson passed all exams Monday, but the Yankees awaited results of blood and other tests that needed more time. Still, New York went ahead and scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon to announce the completion of its drawn-out trade with Arizona.

Johnson got a taste Monday of how much attention star ballplayers can attract in New York. Walking along a Manhattan avenue, he put his long right arm up to block a camera from WCBS-TV after he left his Manhattan hotel.

Johnson, who was accompanied by Yankees director of team security Jerry Laveroni, made contact with the camera, station spokeswoman Audrey Pass said.

"Get out of my face, that's all I ask," Johnson said, according to a video of what occurred, which was posted on the station's Web site.


* The Sacramento Kings traded Doug Christie to the Orlando Magic for Cuttino Mobley on Monday in a swap of starting shooting guards.

The Kings, who also acquired injured forward Michael Bradley, gave up their best defender and a team leader to add another standout scorer to their lineup. Mobley averaged 16 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in his 23 games with the Magic, who acquired him from Houston along with Steve Francis last summer in the seven-player trade involving Tracy McGrady.

Christie, a 13-year veteran, has been a durable, dependable leader during five seasons with the Kings. He is averaging 7.3 points - his lowest average in a decade - along with 4.9 assists and four rebounds while starting all 31 games.


* Rutgers keeps rising, Connecticut is still falling and Duke is back at No. 1.

The AP women's basketball poll underwent more upheaval Monday, nothing new in this season of change among the Top 25.

Duke replaced LSU as the No. 1 team, regaining the position it held at the end of last season. Rutgers jumped from 14th to fourth after beating its third Top 10 opponent in eight days, while Connecticut slipped one spot to 16th after a 68-67 loss at home to Tennessee, the lowest the five-time national champions have been since they were 18th on Nov. 30, 1993.

UConn (8-4) has fallen in three straight polls after starting the season at No. 4.

Rutgers was 24th only two weeks ago, then upset Tennessee, Texas and LSU in succession. The Scarlet Knights' climb of 20 places was the largest two-week jump in the poll's 29 years.


* Lance Armstrong won't decide until April whether he'll try for a seventh consecutive victory in the Tour de France.

Armstrong's Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team announced its rider lineup and 2005 schedule Monday, but noticeably absent was a firm itinerary for the team's leader.

Armstrong said he will ride at least one more Tour de France -- a commitment he made when his team changed sponsors from the U.S. Postal Service -- but he will first ride in some of the spring European classic races before making up his mind when to fulfill the obligation.

"I think roughly the deal is that I will do a tour, if not more," Armstrong said. "That could be in 2005 or 2006, but I'm fully committed to doing it."

If he doesn't ride the July 2-24 Tour, Armstrong said he will likely compete in the May 7-29 Giro d'Italia or the Aug. 27-Sept. 18 Tour of Spain.

But he seemed most enthusiastic about competing in the classics he has never won, such as the March 4-6 Tour of Flanders in Belgium.

"It's time to finally go and win one of the monuments of cycling," he said.


* Spanish motorcyclist Jose Manuel Perez, injured last week in the Dakar Rally, died Monday, a hospital said.

Following an accident last Thursday on the rally's seventh stage in Mauritania, Africa, surgeons removed Perez's spleen and kidney before he was transferred to a hospital in Alicante, Spain.

But Perez, 40, developed a fever and died early Monday, just hours after he had been flown in from Mauritania, the hospital said.

More than 30 people have died in conjunction with the rally since it was first held in 1979.

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