Sports briefs 6/3/05

Friday, June 3, 2005

Baseball

* Oft-injured Cleveland Indians outfielder Juan Gonzalez was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a strained right hamstring.

Coco Crisp was activated from the DL to replace Gonzalez, whose latest comeback bid lasted just one at-bat.

Gonzalez strained his right hamstring Tuesday night against the Twins. The fragile outfielder, a two-time AL MVP who has missed most of the past three seasons with a variety of injuries, got hurt in the first inning trying to beat out a slow grounder in his first major league at-bat in more than a year.

He never made it to first base, turning right, dropping his head and heading directly into the Indians' dugout. It's the same hamstring he hurt at the end of spring training.

The Indians said they were unsure how much time Gonzalez will miss. His last hamstring injury kept him out nearly three months.

* A Baltimore company will develop the Ballpark Village, a retail, entertainment and dining area planned near the new downtown baseball stadium, the St. Louis Cardinals said Thursday.

The Cordish Co. was chosen because of its success with urban mixed-use projects in other markets, the Cardinals said.

"We looked at many companies around the country and feel confident that The Cordish Co. is the best fit for our project," Cardinals vice president for business development Bill DeWitt III said. "We are looking forward to moving on to the next stage of development." Office and residential space is also planned in the Ballpark Village, which will essentially sit where the current Busch Stadium exists. The old stadium will be demolished when the current baseball season ends.

Colleges

* St. John's right-hander Craig Hansen, a possible top pick in next week's draft, headlines the list of finalists for the first Stopper of the Year Award, given to the nation's top reliever.

The other finalists for the award, given out by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, are: Southern Mississippi's Daniel Best, Texas' J. Brent Cox, Pepperdine's Steve Kleen and Ball State's Erik Morrison.

Hansen is 2-2 with 14 saves and a 1.41 ERA for the Red Storm, and set the school and Big East records for saves in a season.

Kleen and Morrison lead the nation with 15 saves heading into the NCAA tournament this weekend, making them automatic finalists.

Best is 3-0 with 11 saves in 29 appearances. Cox is 7-2 with 14 saves and a 1.77 ERA.

Football

* The Kansas City Chiefs dropped receiver Johnnie Morton from their squad Thursday, two weeks after he was asked to stay away from spring workouts.

The Chiefs wanted to cut 33-year-old Morton's $3 million annual pay, a move he was unwilling to make.

"We appreciate Johnnie Morton's effort during his tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs," Chiefs president Carl Peterson said in a statement. "We wish him the best in the future." Morton's NFL career began in Detroit in 1994. He was the 21st overall pick in the first-round draft.

For the Lions, he played in 126 regular season games, catching 469 passes for 6,499 yards and scoring 35 touchdowns with 21 rushes for 143 yards.

In his three seasons since coming to Kansas City as a free agent, Morton played in 43 games, catching 134 passes for 1,932 yards. He had eight touchdowns and added 25 carries for 261 yards.

But Morton landed in Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil's doghouse after dropping some passes in Kansas City's 2003 playoff loss to Indianapolis.

Motorsports

* Shane Hmiel was suspended indefinitely Thursday for violating NASCAR's substance abuse policy for a second time.

The 24-year-old driver was previously suspended for almost four months at the end of the 2003 season. NASCAR tested Hmiel again following Saturday night's Busch race in North Carolina and announced Thursday that he had tested positive for a banned substance.

He's currently 14th in the Busch Series standings.

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