O's Mora commits to play in World Baseball Classic



Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora has filed the necessary paperwork and will play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, which starts in March. Mora, who had a strong bounce-back season last year, hitting .285 with 23 homers and 104 RBIs, was scheduled to play in the inaugural 2006 event, but he pulled out before the tournament started because of concerns about his role. Mora was miffed that Venezuelan team officials planned to use him in the outfield, which he hadn't played in several seasons, with Miguel Cabrera getting the starts at third base. Mora is the first Oriole to have committed to the event. Right fielder Nick Markakis was asked to play for the United States, but he declined the invitation because he and his wife, Christina, are expecting their first child during the tournament. Second baseman Brian Roberts and pitchers Jeremy Guthrie and George Sherrill have interest in playing for the U.S. in the tournament. JEFF ZREBIEC

Red Sox: : Pitcher Brad Penny reached a tentative deal on a one-year, $5 million contract, according to several reports. The team also struck a tentative agreement with catcher Josh Bard and both deals are pending physicals, the reports said. A two-time All-Star, Penny, 30, struggled with injuries to his shoulder and side last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went 6-9 with a 6.27 ERA.


Nationals:: Former Orioles pitcher Daniel Cabrera formalized his one-year, $2.6 million contract with Washington after passing a physical. The Orioles declined to offer the pitcher a contract for 2009, making the right-hander a free agent. He went 48-59 with a 5.05 ERA in 147 games over five seasons with the Orioles.

Steroids: : Roger Clemens' name is being removed from a sports medicine institute at a Houston hospital in another dent to the pitcher's legacy since he was linked to steroid use. The Roger Clemens Institute for Sports Medicine at Memorial Hermann will shed Clemens' name effective Jan. 1 "to better reflect its commitment to all sports and athletes," the Houston-based health system said.

Alabama's A. Smith suspended for Sugar

col. football

Alabama All-America left tackle Andre Smith has been suspended from the Sugar Bowl for violating team rules, possibly signaling an end to the Outland Trophy winner's college career. Coach Nick Saban did not specify Smith's violation leading up to Friday's game against No. 7 Utah. The junior is expected to be one of the top players selected in the NFL draft if he decides to skip his final season at Alabama. This season Smith has allowed one sack and was a finalist for the Lombardi Award.

Utah: : Coach Kyle Whittingham signed a five-year extension worth $6 million, a reward for leading the Utes (12-0) to a Bowl Championship Series bid. He has gone 36-14 in four years as Utah's coach.

Notre Dame: : Coach Charlie Weis underwent successful surgery to have his right knee replaced, and he is expected to need several months of rehabilitation.

Miami (Fla.): : Patrick Nix was fired after two seasons as offensive coordinator.


Butler men hit Top 25; Md. women stay at 14th

col. basketball

Butler (10-1), coming off a win at Xavier, moved into the Associated Press men's Top 25, replacing Missouri (10-2) at No. 25. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year after Butler, with the help of five seniors, reached No. 8 last season on the way to a school-record 30 wins. In the latest poll, North Carolina (12-0) was again the unanimous No. 1.

Women's AP poll: : Connecticut remained the unanimous No. 1 choice for the fifth straight week and the next 22 spots in the poll stayed the same, including Maryland's position (No. 14).

North Carolina State: : Hall of Fame women's coach Kay Yow missed her second straight game as she battles a recurrence of the breast cancer she was diagnosed with in 1987. Associate head coach Stephanie Glance ran the team as the host Wolfpack beat Jacksonville State, 76-38. The coaching status of Yow, 66, is unknown.

UMBC: : Freshman Chauncey Gilliam has been named the America East Conference's Rookie of the Week.


Authorities: Cherepanov had doped before death


New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov took performance-enhancing drugs for several months before he died during a Russian league game in October, investigators said. Authorities added that during his last year Cherepanov, 19, suffered from myocarditis, a condition in which not enough blood gets to the heart, and should not have been playing professional hockey. Cherepanov collapsed Oct. 13 while on the bench for the Omsk club Avangard in Russia's Continental Hockey League and died a short time later.

Sharks: : Claude Lemieux signed a contract with San Jose after spending the past month with its top minor league affiliate, giving another boost to his NHL comeback hopes. Lemieux, 43, signed with the Worcester Sharks on Nov. 25 after a five-year absence from pro hockey. The four-time Stanley Cup winner's new contract is a two-way deal, allowing him to play in San Jose or Worcester.

Et cetera: : Blues left wing Paul Kariya will seek further medical advice before having what will likely be season-ending surgery on his left hip. ... Maxim Lapierre scored the final three goals of the game, leading the visiting Canadiens to a 5-2 victory over the Panthers. ... The host Rangers scored four times in a wild third period to defeat the Islanders, 5-4.