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Sports briefs 3/23/05

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Baseball

* St. Louis Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty has apologized to the Colorado Rockies for comments by radio broadcaster Wayne Hagin suggesting Colorado first baseman Todd Helton used steroids.

"He said on behalf of their organization that he was sorry, and that Todd Helton is one of the finest people in baseball," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said after a conversation with Jocketty Monday.

Hagin was a Rockies announcer before taking a job with the St. Louis team.

Dan Farrell, the Cardinals' senior vice president of marketing and sales, said Hagin would not be disciplined.

* Joe McEwing signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals and was invited to spring training Tuesday, five days after being released by the New York Mets.

The 32-year-old McEwing was hitting .133 this spring (2-for-15) when he was given the option of staying and working out with the Mets or being released outright. He opted to be released.

McEwing hit .254 with one home run and 16 RBIs in 75 games with the Mets. He played all three outfield positions, first base, second base, shortstop and third base last season.

* Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Joe Borowski will be out at least 4-6 weeks because of a non-displaced fracture of his right wrist after being hit with a batted ball.

Borowski, 33, was hit on the right wrist on a one-hopper off the bat of Kansas City's Mark Teahen in the bottom of the fourth inning Monday.

Borowski picked up the ball after he was hit and threw to first base for the final out of the inning. X-rays taken later in the day confirmed the injury, according to Cubs head trainer Mark ONeal.

Borowski saved 33 games for the Cubs in 2003 and is the latest Chicago pitcher to have arm woes this spring, joining Kerry Wood (shoulder) and Mark Prior (elbow).

College

* Guard Dee Brown, who helped lead Illinois to a 34-1 record and a trip to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament, was selected Tuesday as college basketball's player of the year by The Sporting News.

Brown is averaging 13.2 points, 4.5 assists and has made 45 percent of his 3-point shots. The 6-foot junior is considered one of the game's fastest players.

Brown's coach, Bruce Weber, was chosen as coach of the year by the St. Louis-based publication. Weber guided Illinois to the Big 10 regular-season and tournament titles, with the sole loss coming in the final regular-season game at Ohio State.

Connecticut forward Rudy Gay was freshman of the year.

Also on the first team are J.J. Redick of Duke, Chris Paul of Wake Forest, Andrew Bogut of Utah and Wayne Simien of Kansas.

Golf

* Fearing he might have to retire from golf, two-time British Open champion Greg Norman had back surgery Tuesday and hopes to resume playing within three months.

Norman has cut back on his golf the last two years because of recurring back pain. He played seven times on the PGA Tour last year, but never broke par and made only one cut.

Norman had the 90-minute operation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Joseph Maroon, the neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers since 1977, said Norman is expected to make a full recovery.

Norman turned 50 in February and was expected to play in the Senior PGA Championship in late May at Laurel Valley.

"My desire remains the same, and that is to return to competition as soon as possible," Norman said.


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