Palermo improving, but not expected back this...


Palermo improving, but not expected back this season

Umpire Steve Palermo is improving after being shot in the back while trying to aid two robbery victims, but American League president Bobby Brown doesn't expect him back at work this year.

"His condition is guarded," Brown said yesterday in Toronto, the site of tonight's All-Star Game. "We're not sure about the prognosis for his recovery. Our thoughts are with him."

Palermo, whose condition was upgraded from serious to fair yesterday, wasn't taking calls.

* Carl Barger has resigned as the president of the Pittsburgh Pirates to take the same position with the expansion Florida Marlins. Under a unique arrangement, Barger will virtually run both teams indefinitely.

Baseball's conflict of interest rules bar a major-league club employee from working for another team, but Barger will begin staffing the Marlins' front office while running the Pirates until his successor is hired.

The Marlins don't play their first game for another 20 months, so baseball commissioner Fay Vincent is satisfied Barger can serve both the Pirates and his new boss, Marlins owner H. Wayne Huizenga.

"I know he's looking forward to a new challenge while still running a first-place team," Vincent said.

College football

* The executive director of the Gator Bowl knows it's a gamble, but it's one he's willing to take.

John T. Bell says his game will make a pitch to become the fourth bowl in a tie-in with the Cotton, Orange and Sugar bowls that would provide postseason spots for the champions of five conferences, plus Notre Dame and two at-large teams.

"We are just one of the players," Bell said yesterday. "We are excited about being invited to go up and sit down and talk with them about becoming the fourth bowl. If everything looks good, maybe it'll happen."


* Wimbledon champion Steffi Graf played the tournament with shoulder, wrist and arm injuries and would have pulled out of any lesser competition, her father said.

"She was hurt before the tournament started. If it had been any other event, there is no way she would have played," Peter Graf said.

Graf said his daughter turned down a pain-killing injection before beating Gabriela Sabatini Saturday.

It was Graf's first Grand Slam title in 18 months. During that time she was troubled by injuries, illness and publicity over a paternity suit against her father.

"This result at Wimbledon is the most important of her career," Peter Graf said. "It's a new beginning, but she needs four or five months before she is really back to the form she wants to be in."

Graf's coach, Pavel Slozil, said the three-time Wimbledon champ was so depressed early this year that she thought about quitting the sport.

"The first -- and only time, I hope -- that she thought seriously about it was after the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo in February," Slozil said. "She lost to Sabatini after a bad Australian Open and wasn't happy about the future."

Pro basketball

* The New York Knicks, involved in a salary dispute with center Patrick Ewing, are considering filing tampering charges with the NBA against the Golden State Warriors, according to a published report.

The New York Times, quoting an anonymous source, reported in today's editions that Ewing's agent may have convinced the Warriors to restructure forward Chris Mullin's contract to help his client. Ewing's 10-year contract, signed in 1985, contains a clause that allows him to become a restricted free agent this offseason if he's not among the four highest-paid players in the NBA.

Agent David Falk reportedly convinced the Warriors to raise Mullin to $3.2 million next season. That would exclude Ewing as one of the top-four salaried players.

"Hot Rod" Williams of Cleveland, Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan of Chicago are known to have salaries higher than Ewing's $3,138,000 next season.

Boston's Larry Bird will make $7.7 million next season, but nearly $5 million of that is a signing bonus.


* The New York Rangers are the latest NHL team to tap into the Soviet Union's pool of hockey talent.

They have signed Sergei Nemchinov, the captain and star center for the Soviet Wings.

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