Bonds judge might exclude positive tests



A federal judge overseeing Barry Bonds' criminal case said her "preliminary thoughts" are to exclude key parts of the government's case against the home run king, including three positive drug tests and some documents seized from the home of his personal trainer. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said during an evidentiary hearing yesterday in San Francisco that she was leaning toward excluding the results, from 2000 and 2001, seized by investigators during a Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative raid unless there is direct testimony tying the urine samples to Bonds. The judge also said she likely would exclude a so-called doping calendar, which prosecutors allege Bonds' personal trainer Greg Anderson kept for Bonds, for the same reason. Illston did, however, say she was inclined to allow jurors to hear a recorded conversation between Anderson and Bonds' former personal assistant, Steve Hoskins, discussing steroid use. Bonds is charged with lying to a grand jury in December 2003, when he said he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs. He pleaded not guilty to the charges earlier yesterday, then stayed for the hearing, sitting quietly at a table with six lawyers for about an hour.

Sheets: : Free-agent right-hander Ben Sheets could be headed for elbow surgery after contract negotiations with the Rangers fell through because of the injury. Texas had been discussing a two-year deal with Sheets, the National League's All-Star Game starter last season, a source told the Associated Press. Sheets struggled with a sore elbow last season for the Brewers and didn't pitch in the playoffs.


Nationals: : Left-hander Odalis Perez and Washington agreed to a non-guaranteed minor league contract. Perez went 7-12 with a 4.34 ERA for the Nationals in 2008, throwing 159 2/3 innings over 30 starts. He joined Washington last year during spring training on a minor league deal and wound up as the team's starter Opening Day.

Et cetera: : Left-handed reliever Brian Tallet and the Blue Jays agreed to a one-year contract worth $1,015,000. Also, the team claimed right-hander T.J. Beam off waivers from the Pirates and designated infielder Russ Adams for assignment. ... Right-handed reliever Matt Guerrier and the Twins agreed on a one-year contract worth $1,475,000. ... Cliff Floyd agreed to a one-year, $750,000 deal with the Padres, giving them a veteran to come off the bench. San Diego designated right-hander Matt Bush for assignment. ... Outfielder Jacque Jones and first baseman-outfielder Daryle Ward agreed to minor league contracts with the Reds.

Patriots put franchise tag on quarterback Cassel


The New England Patriots placed the franchise tag on Matt Cassel. The move means the quarterback remains a free agent, but the Patriots can match any offer made by another team or allow him to sign with that team in exchange for two first-round draft picks. If and when he signs the one-year franchise tag designation, worth $14.65 million for 2009, he will be under contract to New England, which could keep him or trade him. Cassel's stock soared last season after he took over for Tom Brady, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opening game. Cassel helped the Patriots to an 11-5 record, but they missed the playoffs. One factor in New England's decision on whether to keep two highly paid quarterbacks is Brady's progress from knee surgery.

Et cetera: : The Redskins hired Scott Wachenheim as tight ends coach, reuniting coach Jim Zorn with a colleague from the early 1990s, when they worked together at Utah State. Wachenheim spent the past three years as the offensive coordinator at Liberty. ... Falcons offensive tackle Todd Weiner announced his retirement after an 11-year career. ... A prosecutor in Rock Hill, S.C., said Bills safety Ko Simpson likely will be accepted into a program that would remove from his record a charge of hindering police while they tried to make an arrest Jan. 1.

Kings defeat Caps, 5-4, despite Ovechkin's 200th



Anze Kopitar scored two goals and added an assist, and the Los Angeles Kings dealt the Washington Capitals a rare home loss, winning, 5-4, despite allowing Alex Ovechkin's 200th NHL goal. Los Angeles was one of only two opponents - the San Jose Sharks are the other - against whom Ovechkin never had scored. But he tallied unassisted with about 9 1/2 minutes left, pulling Washington within 4-3. It was Ovechkin's league-high 37th goal this season and made him one of NHL four players to reach 200 goals in his first four seasons, joining Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy and Mario Lemieux.

More Capitals: : Backup goalie Brent Johnson will have hip surgery next week and is expected to miss up to two months. Also, right wing Chris Clark had surgery on his right wrist and is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Shoulder injury to sideline 76ers' Brand for season

et cetera

Elton Brand's first season with the Philadelphia 76ers is over. Brand will have season-ending surgery on his right shoulder Monday. Brand was first injured Dec. 17 against the Milwaukee Bucks and played in six games after his return. He signed a five-year deal worth nearly $80 million in July and played in just 29 games. Brand missed all but nine games last season with a torn Achillies tendon.

More NBA: : Lamar Odom's two free throws with 16 seconds left in overtime led the visiting Lakers to a 110-109 victory that ended the Celtics' 12-game winning streak. ... Samuel Dalembert had 18 points and 20 rebounds to lift the host 76ers over the Pacers, 99-94. ... The Magic traded shooting guard Keith Bogans and cash to the Bucks for point guard Tyronn Lue after losing Jameer Nelson to a shoulder injury Monday. ... The Celtics' Ray Allen will replace Nelson on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.


Varsity: : Wilde Lake selected Mike Harrison, 45, as its head football coach. Harrison, a 1982 Wilde Lake graduate, has been an assistant under Doug Duvall for 22 years. Duvall, who won five state titles at the school and had 300 career wins, officially retired Monday. "It was an easy decision," Wildecats athletic director Vince Parnell said. "He has been an assistant coach, he was the athletic director [1999-2003] and the head coach of the girls [1997-2008] and boys [1995-1996] lacrosse teams, as well as having been the offensive and defensive coordinator for the football team. He obviously bleeds green and gold." SANDRA MCKEE

Boxing: : Former super-middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe retired with a 46-0 record. The Welshman, 36, outpointed Roy Jones Jr. in November in his last fight.

Golf: : Camilo Villegas holed out for an eagle early in his round en route to a 9-under-par 63, giving him a three-stroke lead at the PGA Buick Invitational in San Diego.

College football: : Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin was reprimanded by the Southeastern Conference for falsely accusing Florida coach Urban Meyer of a recruiting violation, and he apologized. Kiffin told fans attending a breakfast yesterday that Meyer violated recruiting rules by phoning wide receiver prospect Nu'Keese Richardson. NCAA and SEC officials said it is not against rules to contact a prospect while they are on an official visit to another school.

Figure skating: : China's Pang Qing and Tong Jian had a near-flawless performance in Vancouver, British Columbia, to win the Four Continents pairs title a fourth time.