Sports briefs 1/15/05

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Baseball

* Eric Gagne, Lance Berkman and Ben Sheets were among the players who filed for salary arbitration Friday, joining Roger Clemens in the process baseball management hates most.

Clemens, who became a free agent after the season, accepted Houston's offer of arbitration last month and will be among those who exchange proposed salaries with their teams on Tuesday. Clemens, who still has not decided whether to retire, is coming off his record seventh Cy Young Award and could propose a record amount in arbitration, topping the $18.5 million filed by New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter before the 2001 season.

Philadelphia second baseman Placido Polanco and Seattle left-hander Ron Villone also became free agents and accepted arbitration. The other players in arbitration all have less than six years of major league service.

Many baseball owners dislike arbitration because it forces them to pay their players as much as comparable players on other teams.

Eighty-nine players are in arbitration, but many are expected to agree to contracts before the scheduled swap of proposed salaries.

* Raul Mondesi passed inspection Friday, convincing the Atlanta Braves he is sound - physically and mentally - and ready to commit to the team for the 2005 season.

Braves general manager John Schuerholz confirmed the team has signed Mondesi to a one-year contract only after "we did a lot of due diligence" in investigating the problems that shortened Mondesi's 2004 season with Pittsburgh and Anaheim.

Mondesi told The Associated Press that his base salary of $1 million could be boosted by performance bonuses worth as much as $700,000.

* Free agent outfielder Danny Bautista agreed to a $1.9 million, one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

A .272 career hitter, Bautista spent the past 4 1/2 seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He hit .286 with 27 doubles, 11 homers and 65 RBIs in 141 games in 2004.

Colleges

* Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson will have surgery on a troublesome left shoulder and miss spring practice, the school's athletic trainer said Friday.

Peterson, the Heisman runner-up who dislocated the shoulder in fall practice and again during the Sooners' game against Texas A&M on Nov. 6, will have surgery Monday to repair the shoulder, trainer Scott Anderson said.

Peterson set an NCAA freshman record with 1,925 yards on 339 carries -- the most in the nation.

* A judge threw out part of former Washington football coach Rick Neuheisel's wrongful termination lawsuit Friday, saying he was not entitled to pursue his claim of defamation against the NCAA.

Nevertheless, Neuheisel's central claims - that the university wrongly fired him and that the NCAA wrongly meddled in the case - will be allowed to go to trial later this month.

Miscellaneous

* Austria's Benjamin Raich won a super-combined race Friday to significantly close the gap on overall World Cup leader Bode Miller, who was disqualified.

Raich posted the fastest time in the opening slalom portion and held on to his lead in the afternoon downhill, finishing in a total time of 2 minutes, 28.37 seconds.

Norway's Lasse Kjus was next, 0.32 seconds behind, and Switzerland's Didier Defago finished third, 1.40 back.

Miller straddled a double gate midway down his slalom run and didn't earn any points, leaving him at 988 in the overall standings, 198 ahead of Raich.

Tennis

* Top-ranked Roger Federer and No. 2 Andy Roddick will meet today in a possible preview of the Australian Open final.

Federer beat Tim Henman 6-4, 6-2 Friday in the Kooyong Classic exhibition tournament in Melbourne, Australia. On Thursday, Roddick advanced to the final when Andre Agassi retired from their match in the first set because of muscle tightness in his right hip.

Agassi also will be in action today after asking tournament officials to let him play Henman in a final Australian Open tuneup match. They will meet after Federer and Roddick play in the final.

* Top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt of Australia won the Sydney International for the fourth time in six years, beating Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic 7-5, 6-0 in the Australian Open tuneup event.

Hewitt, also the tournament winner in 2000, 2001 and 2004, has won 20 straight matches in the event.

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