Papelbon: M. Ramirez 'cancer' with Red Sox



Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon yesterday stood by a magazine interview in which he compared former teammate Manny Ramirez to cancer and said the team made the right decision when it traded the slugger to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer. Papelbon was quoted in the April issue of Esquire as saying: "It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down. Once we saw that, we weren't afraid to get rid of him. It's like cancer. That's what he was. Cancer." In the Red Sox clubhouse before the team played the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla., Papelbon said: "I'm not afraid to say it. If it's the truth and I believe it, I'll say it."

More Ramirez: : Ramirez's spring training debut was pushed back at least one more day. The Dodgers slugger was scratched from the team's exhibition game in Phoenix against South Korea because of tightness in his left hamstring. Ramirez said he could have played, and he also seemed unconcerned about the criticism from Papelbon. "That's fine," Ramirez said. "I've already moved on with my life."


Et cetera: : Held back because of elbow tightness for two weeks, Mets ace Johan Santana gave up four hits and three runs, including a homer to Dan Uggla, in 2 2/3 innings in his spring debut in the Marlins' 16-8 win in Port St. Lucie, Fla. ... Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said he is "curious" about the possibility of filling the team's fifth spot in the rotation with free-agent right-hander Pedro Martinez, 37. ... The closer-needy Mariners signed former Nationals right-hander Chad Cordero to a minor league contact and invited him to spring training. ... Rays outfielder Fernando Perez will be sidelined at least three months after he dislocated his left wrist against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

Woods' 71 puts him 6 shots back at Doral


Tiger Woods had a bit of a battle in his return to stroke play at the CA Championship in Doral, Fla. Woods shot a 1-under-par 71 in the opening round of the World Golf Championships event, his first round of stroke play since beating Rocco Mediate in a playoff at last summer's U.S. Open, a week before reconstructive surgery on his left knee. Woods was six shots behind leaders Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen, Jeev Milkha Singh and Prayed Marksaeng. Looking for his fourth win in five years at Doral, Woods made three birdies and two bogeys. "I was just a touch off," Woods said.

Ovechkin lifts Caps to 2-1 win over Flyers


Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 48th goal, added an assist and helped the Washington Capitals beat the host Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1. Ovechkin was held in check by the Flyers in their first three meetings this season, with only one goal and three assists against the team that eliminated the Capitals from last season's playoffs. Washington earned its fifth straight road victory. The Capitals hadn't won five straight on the road since Feb. 14-March 6, 2001.

New Redskin indicted on 2 traffic charges



Washington Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has been indicted on two misdemeanor traffic charges after a crash Dec. 13 that seriously injured another driver. District Attorney Kim Helper of Williamson County (Tenn.) said Haynesworth was indicted Monday on charges of reckless driving and having expired registration. Haynesworth, an ex-Tennessee Titan who signed a $100 million deal with the Redskins last month, was released on $1,000 bond Wednesday. Maximum punishment is six months in jail and a $500 fine on the reckless driving charge.

Phelps regrets pain caused by photo

et cetera

Michael Phelps said he's more worried about the pain he caused family and friends than losing money in endorsements after he was photographed inhaling from a marijuana pipe. In an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, the swimmer and Baltimore resident didn't directly answer whether he was smoking marijuana. The interview will air this morning on Today and Sunday night on Dateline.

NBA: : Kobe Bryant scored the last of his 23 points on a three-pointer with 1:46 left, and the Lakers (52-13)became the Western Conference's first team to secure a postseason berth with a 102-95 victory over the host Spurs (43-21).


College basketball: : Syracuse University is investigating whether a professional sports agent's recruitment of former Orange standout Donte Greene (Towson Catholic) during the 2007-08 season violated NCAA rules. Greene is a rookie with the NBA's Kings. ... Miami senior guard Jack McClinton (Calvert Hall) received this year's Prosser Award, given to the top scholar-athlete in Atlantic Coast Conference men's basketball.

College football: : The University of Missouri will pay $2 million to the family of former linebacker Aaron O'Neal, who died during a 2005 preseason workout. ... The family of Central Florida wide receiver Ereck Plancher, who died last year during offseason conditioning drills, is suing the university.

Skiing: : Lindsey Vonn won the super-G season finale at the World Cup finals in Are, Sweden, becoming the first American woman to capture the championship title in the discipline. Vonn finished the Olympia course in 1 minute, 20.63 seconds. A day earlier, she clinched her second straight World Cup overall title.

Tennis: : Maria Sharapova returned from shoulder surgery, teaming with Elena Vesnina in a 6-2, 4-6, 10-7 loss to Ekaterina Makarova and Tatiana Poutchek in doubles play at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. It was Sharapova's first match in seven months. ... Roger Federer said on his Web site that girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec is pregnant with the couple's first child.