C. Izturis to join Mora on Venezuela's WBC team
Cesar Izturis, the Orioles' new starting shortstop, is planning to represent Venezuela in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, according to his agent. Izturis expects to join Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora on the Venezuelan team. Orioles officials said they were aware of Izturis' and Mora's plans, which will create a hole in the left side of the Orioles' infield for up to three weeks in March. Neither Izturis, who was injured, nor Mora, who withdrew, played in the inaugural classic in 2006. This year's 16-team tournament will begin with pool play March 5 in Japan (and a few days later in three North American cities) and continue until the finals March 23 in Los Angeles. In other Orioles news, the club has talked with the agent for first baseman Richie Sexson, who would satisfy the team's need for another right-handed hitter. Sexson, 34, was once considered one of the top sluggers in the game, but his numbers have steadily declined the past two seasons. He was released by the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees last season. The Orioles are still interested in free-agent pitcher Braden Looper, but the price tag likely would have to decrease significantly for them to sign the veteran right-hander. According to industry sources, Looper is seeking a three-year deal worth about $7 million or $8 million per year.
DAN CONNOLLY AND JEFF ZREBIEC
Et cetera: : Right-handed reliever Joe Nelson, who had a 2.00 ERA for the Marlins last season, signed a one-year, $1.3 million contract with the Rays. ... Catcher Chris Snyder and the Diamondbacks reached agreement on a three-year contract that includes a club option for 2012. ... Pitcher Mike Maroth, catcher Michael Barrett, catcher Raul Chavez and infielder Randy Ruiz signed minor league contracts with the Blue Jays and were invited to spring training.
An early-season visit to Northwestern of the Big Ten highlights Towson's 11-game schedule for 2009. The Sept. 12 game at Northwestern will be the Tigers' second against a team that plays in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision. This year, Towson opened its season at Navy and lost, 41-13. No. 22 Northwestern finished this season 9-4 after losing, 30-23, in overtime to No. 25 Missouri on Monday night in the Alamo Bowl. In addition to an eight-game Colonial Athletic Association schedule, Towson will play Morgan State and Coastal Carolina in nonconference games.
For the complete schedule, see For the Record on this page.
New Mexico State: : UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker was hired as the Aggies' head coach. Walker, in his third season with the Bruins, will replace Hal Mumme, who was fired this month after New Mexico State went 3-9 this season, including 1-7 in the Western Athletic Conference. Walker, 48, becomes the seventh black head coach of the 119 major college football schools. Walker is a former Washington Redskins assistant.
Miami: : Quarterback Robert Marve is leaving the Hurricanes, ending weeks of speculation about his future and adding to the tumultuous start of Miami's offseason. Marve started 11 of 13 games for the Hurricanes but also served a pair of suspensions in unrelated incidents, including one that kept him out of the Emerald Bowl. He told the Associated Press that he asked coach Randy Shannon for his release from the program, and hours later the school announced that Marve was leaving. Marve's decision came hours after the Hurricanes fired offensive coordinator Patrick Nix.
Southern California: : Fullback Stanley Havili is academically ineligible for the Rose Bowl against Penn State tomorrow in Pasadena, Calif. USC coach Pete Carroll said Havili, a sophomore, is ineligible for the remainder of the first semester but shouldn't be affected after that and is expected to play spring football.
Florida:: Wide receiver Percy Harvin ran routes and caught passes, his most work since he sprained his right ankle last month against Florida State. Although Harvin hasn't practiced since the injury, coach Urban Meyer said Harvin was probable for next week's Bowl Championship Series national title game against No. 2 Oklahoma.
Alabama: : The Alabama attorney general's office is reviewing reports of alleged contact between Crimson Tide offensive tackle Andre Smith and a sports agent after the All-American was suspended from the Sugar Bowl. The attorney general's office began reviewing the situation to see whether a full investigation is warranted, spokesman Chris Bence said. Alabama coach Nick Saban suspended the Outland Trophy winner Monday for violating unspecified team rules.
Et cetera:: Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit agreed to a new five-year contract before the team faced Rice in the Texas Bowl. ... Oregon State coach Mike Riley agreed to a one-year contract extension through the 2015 season. ... Auburn defensive lineman Sen'Derrick Marks will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist, and Jose Theodore made 31 saves to help the surging Washington Capitals beat the host Buffalo Sabres, 4-2. Chris Bourque, the son of Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque, scored his first NHL goal, and Brooks Laich and Boyd Gordon also scored for the Capitals, who won for the ninth time in 10 games. Theodore, unbeaten in four starts, won for only the second time in nine games in Buffalo. Adam Mair and Clarke MacArthur scored for the Sabres, who have lost four of five.
More NHL:: Ty Conklin made 36 saves for his seventh NHL shutout and Johan Franzen scored twice to lift the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-0 win that ended the visiting Chicago Blackhawks' team-record nine-game winning streak. ... Marc Savard scored a power-play goal, then set up Boston's next two goals with excellent playmaking, and the Bruins ran their longest winning streak in nearly 26 years to nine games by beating the host Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-2.
Boxing:: The World Boxing Association is reviewing Nikolai Valuev's win over Evander Holyfield by majority decision in a Dec. 20 heavyweight title bout. The organization said in a statement dated Monday on its Web site that it has ordered a panel of judges to study the video of the fight. One judged scored the bout in Switzerland a draw, while the others had Valuev winning 116-112 and 115-114.
Tennis:: Defending Australian Open champion Maria Sharapova withdrew from a Hong Kong exhibition tournament because she is still recovering from a shoulder injury just weeks ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year. The three-time Grand Slam winner started playing tennis again just more than two weeks ago and isn't in proper condition, organizers of the Jan. 7-10 Hong Kong event said in a statement on their Web site.
Speedskating:: Heather Richardson and Shani Davis won their first sprint national titles at the U.S. Long Track Speedskating National Championships in West Allis, Wis. Richardson, of High Point, N.C., repeated Monday's sweep in the 500- and 1,000-meter races at Pettit National Ice Center. Davis, of Chicago, swept the 1,000 and was second in the 500 both days.
College basketball:: Florida forward Adam Allen had knee surgery and could be out for the season.