Pettitte files for free agency



New York Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte filed for free agency yesterday after repeatedly saying he hopes to return to the club next year. Pettitte went 14-14 last season with a 4.54 ERA - his highest ERA since 1999. General manager Brian Cashman said last week that he wants Pettitte to return next season, but the 36-year-old veteran said Friday night that he hadn't heard from the team. Pettitte likely would have to agree to a cut from his $16 million salary last season, when he was 2-7 with a 6.23 ERA in his final 11 starts, and missed his last turn because of a sore pitching shoulder. End-of-season tests failed to reveal significant issues. Pettitte is the 169th free agent, and seven more could be eligible to file before Thursday's deadline. The Yankees expect Mike Mussina, a former Oriole, to announce soon whether he will retire. Cashman said he could envision having both Mussina and Pettitte in the rotation again, but bringing Pettitte back would become more important if Mussina retires.

Diamondbacks: : The sluggish economy is affecting Arizona. The team cut 31 employees from its front office Friday, moves that team president Derrick Hall said were a result of rising expenses and a sluggish economy. The cuts amounted to about a 9 percent reduction in staff, leaving the club with close to 300 full-time employees. The team had the largest full-time work force in baseball and still is among the top five, Hall said.


V. Williams wins Sony Ericsson title


Venus Williams rallied to win the WTA's Sony Ericsson Championships for the first time, defeating Vera Zvonareva, 6-7 (5), 6-0, 6-2, at the season-ending event in Doha, Qatar. The Wimbledon champion took command in the last two sets with powerful serving, smashes and aggressive groundstrokes against her Russian opponent. "I'm so excited," Williams said. "That was a hard-fought match, every point, right down to the end." Williams won $1.34 million at the event, which for the first time offered the same prize money as the men at the ATP's season-ending Masters Cup. Williams' ranking will improve to No. 6 from No. 8, while the ninth-ranked Zvonareva also will move up two spots. The two were the lowest-ranked players at the event, which featured the top eight players in the world.

Masters Cup: : Novak Djokovic ended his Masters Cup jinx, overcoming a rash of errors to defeat Juan Martin del Potro, 7-5, 6-3, in the season-ending ATP tournament in Shanghai, China. Nikolay Davydenko used his strong ground game to rally past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (0), in the other round-robin match. Djokovic failed to win a set last year in three matches, citing exhaustion from a heavy schedule in his rise to No. 3 in the world. The Serb also lost in the round of 16 in his past two tournaments. The Red Group, which includes Federer, Andy Murray, Andy Roddick and Gilles Simon, will play today in the tournament that features the top eight players. Top-ranked Rafael Nadal withdrew from the event because of tendinitis in his right knee.

Love captures season's final tourney


Davis Love III won the Children's Miracle Network Classic at Disney in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., closing with an 8-under-par 64 for a one-shot victory over Tommy Gainey in the final PGA Tour event of the year. Love scrambled for pars on the final two holes, including a tough bunker shot to 3 feet on the 18th, to hold off a late charge from Gainey, who shot 30 on the back nine of the Magnolia Course and closed with a 64. It was the 20th career victory for Love, giving him a lifetime exemption on the PGA Tour. Among active players, only Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson have won more than 20 tour events. Love, who finished at 25-under 263, won for the first time in more than two years and earned $828,000. It was his first tour win since the 2006 Chrysler Classic.

Mizuno Classic: : Shin Ji-yai won in Shima, Japan, for her second LPGA Tour victory of the season and ninth international win of the year, shooting a 5-under 67 to easily hold off Mayu Hattori at Kinetsu Kashikojima. Shin, the 20-year-old South Korean star who won the Women's British Open in August, had a 15-under 201 total. Hattori closed with a 67 to finish second, six strokes back. Lim Eun-a (70) was third at 8 under, and Chung Il-mi (69), Wei Yun-jye (70) and Lee Jee-young (72) followed at 7 under.


HSBC Champions: : A Ryder Cup surprise two months ago, England's Oliver Wilson was 16 holes away from the first significant victory of his career. The moment could come in the final round in Shanghai, China. Rain washed out play Friday, delaying the third round - and a few holes of the fourth - until yesterday. Wilson shot a 3-under 69 for a three-round total of 12-under 204. He parred the first two holes of the fourth round before play was halted by darkness. Australia's Geoff Ogilvy and American Phil Mickelson shot 70s in the third round, leaving Ogilvy a stroke back and Mickelson two behind in his title defense. Sergio Garcia (10 under) and Henrik Stenson (9 under) had 72s.

NASCAR's France speaks on automakers' troubles

et cetera

NASCAR chairman Brian France said he's not certain the Big Three automakers will be able to continue their involvement in NASCAR as they battle to stay viable during the current economic crisis. Should funding of race teams suffer because of the nation's credit crunch, France is confident NASCAR will remain a viable, healthy sport. "We're also not going to live or die if one manufacturer or another has a pullback or pullout," France said before yesterday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. "I hope it doesn't happen. We're working like mad to make sure it doesn't happen, but the sport is on very solid ground that transcends one manufacturer or another." U.S. auto sales have plummeted this year, and Chrylser, Ford and General Motors are crumbling amid the crisis. The three Detroit manufacturers - along with recent addition Toyota - are the cornerstones of NASCAR and France acknowledged they "play a very important role in lots of ways with supporting teams, the branding and heritage." France said he and president Mike Helton have visited the CEOs or high-ranking executives with all four of NASCAR's manufacturers and all were in unison that NASCAR continues to be an effective marketing tool.

Obituary: : Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville said associate athletic director Virgil Starks died of a heart attack. Starks, 46, passed away while returning home from Saturday's football game against Tennessee-Martin. He was in charge of the student-athlete support services and had worked with Auburn's athletic department for 10 years.

Speedskating: : American Olympic champion Shani Davis narrowly lost to Stefan Groothuis of the Netherlands in the opening 1,000-meter race of the World Cup season in Berlin. Groothuis finished in 1 minute, 9.13 seconds - 0.20 ahead of Davis. Simon Kuipers of the Netherlands was third in 1:09.30.


From Sun news services