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In brief

Baltimore Sun

•BASEBALL: Closer Jose Valverde and the Tigers have reached a preliminary agreement on a $14 million, two-year contract. ... The Mets are upset Carlos Beltran had knee surgery after the team asked him to wait for the team's medical staff. Beltran said the request was made after the operation was under way. ... The Marlins reportedly agreed to a $39 million, four-year contract with RHP Josh Johnson. ... First baseman Adam LaRoche reached a one-year deal with Arizona. ... Avoiding arbitration and agreeing to deals were Braves OF Melky Cabrera ($3.1 million, one-year deal) and Rockies IF Clint Barmes ($3.2 million) and pitchers Jorge De La Rosa ($5.6 million) and Taylor Buchholz ($1 million).

•COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Duke coach and former Tennessee assistant David Cutcliffe is the main target in the Volunteers' search for to replace Lane Kiffin as coach, but a Duke spokesman called reports of a deal inaccurate. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said he was not a candidate while EPSN.com reported that Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp turned down a lucrative offer from the Vols. Another possible candidate, East Carolina coach Skip Holtz, accepted the head coaching job at South Florida. ... UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow rebuffed overtures from Kiffin to return to USC. ... Ruffin McNeill, the interim head coach after Texas Tech fired Mike Leach, will not be on new coach Tommy Tuberville's staff. ... Joel Miller, the player who says fired South Florida coach Jim Leavitt grabbed him by the throat and slapped him in the face, wants a public apology.

•TENNIS: Pete Sampras said he was surprised and disappointed by Andre Agassi's recent autobiography and would like to meet "man to man" to discuss it. Sampras said he hasn't read the book, and doesn't plan to, but isn't happy with references Agassi made that Sampras was dull with a "lack of inspiration." ... There won't be an all-Williams women's singles final at the Australian Open. Serena Williams, the No. 1 seed, and Venus, No. 6, are in the same half of the draw. (Full list of seeds at left). ... Serena Williams will face defending champion Elena Dementieva in the Sydney International final. ... American John Isner advanced to the Heineken Open final by beating Albert Montanes. ... U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro (wrist) withdrew from an exhibition. His status for the Australian Open is unclear.

•ALSO: Two-time MLS MVP Preki and Thomas Dooley were elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame. ... Diego Maradona's diamond earring sold for $36,400 at an auction to help pay off his $54 million Italian tax bill. ... U.S. skier Heather McPhie improved her Olympic chances by winning her first moguls event. ... Swiss ski star Lara Gut (hip) will miss the games. ... Two-time Olympian Natalie Darwitz will captain the U.S. women's hockey team. ... Angie Bjorklund's reverse layup with 2 seconds left lifted No. 4 Tennessee past Florida 66-64. ... The Wolves started quickly with a three-goal first period and went on to win in San Antonio 5-3.

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