Sports briefs 4/20/05

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Baseball

* The St. Louis Cardinals optioned left-hander Carmen Cali to Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday and activated right-hander Matt Morris to start against Pittsburgh.

Morris began the season on the 15-day disabled list after offseason shoulder surgery.

Cali pitched 3 1-3 scoreless innings in four games at Memphis, was recalled by St. Louis on April 12 and pitched one scoreless inning that night against the Reds in his only appearance. Cali had a combined 17 saves last season at Memphis and Double-A Tennessee.

* Boston police are seeking misdemeanor criminal charges against two fans who were involved in a scuffle with New York Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield during the eighth inning of a Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway Park last Thursday.

Basketball

* Shaquille O'Neal's bruised right thigh will keep him out of the Miami Heat's final two regular-season games, but the team expects him to be ready when the playoffs open this weekend.

Before Tuesday's game, the Heat placed O'Neal on the injured list and activated rookie Dorell Wright.

Cycling

* Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton vowed Tuesday to fight his two-year suspension from competitive cycling and denied any doping violations.

"The fight's far from over," he told The Associated Press. "Obviously, yesterday was very disappointing. Myself, my family, all my sponsors and my teammates were shocked."

The independent American Arbitration Association-North American Court of Arbitration for Sport handed down the suspension Monday, citing a blood-doping violation discovered at a race in September.

* Lance Armstrong took a safe approach in the first stage of the Tour de Georgia, spending Tuesday in a pack with his teammates, avoiding risk of injury and finishing well off the lead.

Armstrong, who won 648-mile event last year, is using the race as a tune up for what he said will be his final Tour de France this summer. The 33-year-old Texan, who won cycling's most prestigious event for an unprecedented sixth straight time last year, announced his retirement plans Monday in Augusta.

Robert Hunter, a South African racing for the Phonak Hearing Systems of Switzerland, won the 128.8-mile leg, unofficially, in 5 hours, 47 minutes, 52 seconds.

Hockey

* The NHL and players' association returned to the bargaining table Tuesday and met for six hours, hoping to build momentum off talks that began two weeks earlier.

Negotiations centered around a new, hybrid concept -- which addresses the relationship between player costs and league revenues -- that was first discussed during the last round of talks in Toronto on April 4.

The idea contains an upper and lower salary cap that would float among the 30 teams depending on revenues.

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