Woods says he'll be back - and better than before
At Tiger Woods' first news conference in 184 days, the most powerful statement about the golfer's health and future required no words at all. Does he have any doubts he will be better than before? Woods turned up the bottom of his lip, shook his head three times and mumbled, "Uh-uh," as if that had never entered his mind. Six months after reconstructive surgery on his left knee to repair a ruptured ligament - his third surgery in six years - Woods said yesterday that he was right on schedule to return, already hitting short irons and excited about playing on a leg that has never been more stable. "I've just been training and trying to get healthy enough to compete next year," Woods said. "Everything has been right on schedule. I couldn't have asked for anything more." The uncertainty is when he will return, and how his leg will respond when he goes through a full practice. His plan was to start hitting balls in January, but he already has been chipping and putting, and taking full swings with small clubs, shots that go no more than 100 yards.
Thought to be out for the season because of a neck injury, Adam Jones returned to practice for the Dallas Cowboys and is expected to play against the Ravens on Saturday night, at cornerback and returning kicks, after having missed only one game. Coach Wade Phillips said the herniated disc discovered last week has healed, perhaps because he already had the problem and it was only aggravated by a hit he took two games ago in Pittsburgh. Having Jones back helps because it frees cornerback Anthony Henry to play more at safety, where the Cowboys are running out of healthy players.
Saints: : Running back Reggie Bush will miss the final two games of the season with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee. Coach Sean Payton said the injury doesn't require surgery, just rest and rehabilitation.
Et cetera: : Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison will miss tonight's game at Jacksonville with an apparent hamstring injury. ... NFL owners have approved a restructured ownership plan in which Steelers chairman Dan Rooney and his son will buy most of the shares owned by other family members. ... Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh say they have broken up a cocaine ring headed by the nephew of Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett. Authorities say Anthony A. Dorsett, 31, and 12 others have been selling crack and powder cocaine since 2003.
Report: Furcal, Dodgers agree to three-year deal
Rafael Furcal is staying with the Los Angeles Dodgers, reaching a preliminary agreement on a three-year, $33 million contract. Furcal finalized his decision late yesterday afternoon, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press. A day earlier, Furcal had been close to accepting a three-year, $30 million offer from the Atlanta Braves, his original major league team, who accused the star shortstop of reneging on a deal they thought was agreed to earlier this week. The deal with the Dodgers includes a $13 million team option for 2012 with a $3 million buyout, and the option could become guaranteed depending on his performance. Furcal, 31, hit .357 with five homers and 16 RBIs last season but was limited to 36 games and 143 at-bats and had back surgery July 3.
Padres: : Outfielder Brian Giles is being sued by former girlfriend Cheri Olvera for more than $10 million, alleging he battered her while she was pregnant with his child and caused her to have a miscarriage. The lawsuit was filed in San Diego Superior Court on Dec. 5.
Mets: : Chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said the family's holdings are diversified, and the money lost in Bernard Madoff's alleged Ponzi scam will not affect operations. Wilpon vehemently stated the team was "uncategorically, totally, completely not for sale." Madoff might have stolen $50 billion from clients, a group that included Sterling Equities, the real estate company of Mets owner Fred Wilpon.
Et cetera:: Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg will manage the Cubs' Double-A Tennessee Smokies in 2009. ... Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain had his arraignment on drunken-driving charges, scheduled for yesterday in Lincoln, Neb., delayed until Jan. 26. ... Free-agent catcher Ivan Rodriguez will play for Puerto Rico at next year's World Baseball Classic.
Breeders' Cup reinstates $4.5M in stakes cuts
The Breeders' Cup has reversed its decision to cut financial support of $4.5 million for stakes races at about 40 North American tracks after a barrage of complaints from the industry. Although the organization is making no long-term commitment to the stakes program, which currently affects 121 races, a news release announced that it would continue at least for one more year. The reduction wouldn't have affected the two-day Breeders' Cup.
Tennis: : Three-time Grand Slam singles champion Lindsay Davenport is withdrawing from the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 19, because she is pregnant with her second child. ... Birmingham, Ala., will host the 2009 first-round Davis Cup matches between the United States and Roger Federer-led Switzerland on March 6-8.
College football:: Jarrell Guyton, a senior linebacker at Morgan State, was named to the Associated Press' Championship Subdivision All-America third team. ... DeMarcus Granger, a backup defensive tackle for Oklahoma, has undergone back surgery and will not play in the national championship game against Florida.
Soccer: : European champion Spain, which won all 16 of its matches, ended the year as the world's No. 1 in the latest FIFA rankings. The United States leads the CONCACAF nations at No. 22. ... Heather O'Reilly scored off a rebound in the 34th minute, helping the United States beat China, 1-0, at Ford Field in Detroit.
Colts (10-4) @Jaguars (5-9)
TIME, TV: : 8:15, NFL Network
LINE: : Colts by 6
FANTASY FACTOR: : Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew has had three of his seven 100-yard rushing games against the Colts, including 107 yards in September.
THE BUZZ: : The Colts have won seven in a row after a 3-4 start. They can clinch a playoff spot and the AFC's No. 5 seed with a victory.
THE BALTIMORE SUN'S PICKS (TO WIN, NOT AGAINST THE SPREAD): : Colts: Ken Murray, Edward Lee, Mike Preston, Peter Schmuck, David Steele, Jamison Hensley, Rick Maese.