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Thursday’s Sports In Brief

- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

BASEBALL

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) - Ralph Kiner, who slugged his way into the baseball Hall of Fame and enjoyed a half-century career as a popular broadcaster, died Thursday. He was 91.

The Hall said Kiner died at his home in Rancho Mirage with his family at his side.

Kiner hit 369 home runs during his 10-year career, mostly with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He made his debut in 1946 and his power quickly became the talk of baseball - he won or tied for the National League lead in homers in each of his first seven seasons.

"Kiner's Korner" was already a fixture on the New York Mets' airways when he was inducted into the Hall in 1975 with just one vote to spare in his 15th and final year of eligibility.

The six-time All-Star still ranks sixth all-time with a home run every 14.1 at-bats. He averaged more than 100 RBIs per season and hit .279 with the Pirates, the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland. He began his big league career after serving as a Navy pilot in World War II.

SEATTLE (AP) - The Seattle Mariners reached agreement on a $14 million, two-year deal with reliever Fernando Rodney, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement was subject to a physical. The deal, first reported by ESPN, also includes performance bonuses.

BALTIMORE (AP) - Catcher Matt Wieters and the Baltimore Orioles avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a $7.7 million, one-year contract, a raise of $2.2 million.

PHOENIX (AP) - The Arizona Diamondbacks avoided arbitration with Mark Trumbo by agreeing Thursday to a $4.8 million, one-year contract with the outfielder.

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PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Portland's Damian Lillard will become the first player to compete in three events during All-Star Saturday night in New Orleans, including a slam dunk contest that features three All-Stars for the first time in 26 years.

Indiana's Paul George and Washington's John Wall also will take part in the night's marquee event Feb. 15. There haven't been three All-Stars in the dunk contest since the famed 1988 duel, when Michael Jordan beat Dominique Wilkins on his home floor in Chicago, in a field that also included Clyde Drexler.

Lillard, the reigning Rookie of the Year, will play in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night before defending his Skills Challenge title and competing in the 3-point contest.

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) - The Cleveland Cavaliers made a big change with another season falling apart, firing general manager Chris Grant.

Grant was fired a day after the Cavs dropped their sixth straight game, an embarrassing home loss to a Los Angeles Lakers team that started with eight players and finished with five. Vice president of basketball operations David Griffin will serve as acting general manager.

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OLYMPICS

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Despite a temporary Russian ban on liquids in carry-on luggage, some air travelers heading to the Sochi Olympics through Moscow brought toothpaste and other toiletries past security checkpoints without any problems.

Security concerns ahead of the Sochi Games were renewed after the U.S. Homeland Security Department warned airlines flying to Russia that terrorists may try to smuggle explosives into the country in toothpaste tubes. The agency banned all liquids from carry-on luggage for nonstop flights from the U.S. to Russia.

Yet six Associated Press employees arriving in Moscow from across the world or beginning their journey there passed through security without having to remove toothpaste, hand lotion or water bottles from their carry-on luggage.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - With the Winter Games underway in Sochi, Google Inc. quietly but vibrantly added its voice to the chorus of U.S. companies speaking out against Russia's law restricting gay-rights activities by updating its iconic search page logo to depict illustrations of athletes skiing, sledding, curling and skating against a rainbow-colored backdrop.

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Meryl Davis and Charlie White comforted and cheered their fellow Americans on a tough first night of competition for the U.S. in the new Olympic event of team figure skating.

The United States was tied for the fifth-most points after the short programs for the men and pairs, technically resting in seventh after tiebreakers among 10 nations.

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - A record number of world dignitaries are coming to the Sochi Olympics, triple the amount that attended the 2010 Vancouver Games, Russian organizers said Thursday on the eve of the opening ceremony.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, head of the Sochi organizing committee, told the IOC that 65 heads of state and government and international organizations are expected to attend Russia's first Winter Olympics.

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Sochi Olympic organizers say more than 80 percent of tickets to events have been sold.

Russian spectators, who were allocated 70 percent of the total available, have faced lengthy lines in Sochi to collect their tickets.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston says Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher was on the money when he stated the Heisman winner might play two more years of college football.

Winston told The Associated Press that's indeed his plan.

Winston is expected to be the closer for Florida State's baseball team. Many NFL draft experts believe Winston would have been a high first-round pick, possibly No. 1 overall, if he was eligible for this year's football draft.

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D.J. Law, the high school football prospect from Florida who submitted signed national letters of intent to Utah and Mississippi, has been released from his obligation to Ole Miss.

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GOLF

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) - Andrew Loupe knows how one week can change everything. He can only hope his 8-under 63 in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is the start of another one.

Loupe had to wait three hours to tee off because of rain, and then he played bogey-free on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula. That gave him the lowest score among those who finished their rounds.

Stuart Appleby, Jim Renner, Richard Lee and Scott Gardiner had 65s at Monterey Peninsula. Phil Mickelson, a four-time champion, was at 5-under par through 15 holes when the round was stopped because of darkness.

GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) - Eight-time winner and defending champion Karrie Webb was disqualified from the Australian Ladies Masters on Friday for signing an incorrect scorecard after the second round.

American Cheyenne Woods, niece of Tiger Woods, and South African Stacey Lee Bregman both followed first round 69s with six-under second rounds of 67 to lead the tournament by a shot at 10-under 136.

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PRO HOCKEY

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - The Chicago Blackhawks acquired forwards Peter Regin and Pierre-Marc Bouchard from the New York Islanders for a fourth-round pick in this June's NHL draft.

The Islanders made the deal Thursday night after losing for the sixth time in seven games.

MONTREAL (AP) - Vancouver Canucks star Henrik Sedin pulled out of the Sochi Olympics, saying he's physically unable to play for Sweden.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Steve Mason and the Flyers are playing their best hockey of the season heading into the Olympic break.

One that team chairman Ed Snider would love to abolish.

Mason stopped 38 shots, and Mark Streit and Michael Raffl scored goals, leading the Philadelphia Flyers past the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 on Thursday night.

With one game left before the break, the Flyers' recent spurt could stall because of the Olympics.

"I hate them," said Snider, the Flyers founder.

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Nashville Predators general manager David Poile was taken to a hospital after being struck in the face by an errant puck during the team's morning skate at Minnesota, and he was staying there overnight for observation and evaluation.

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TENNIS

MADRID (AP) - Rafael Nadal will miss next week's ATP tournament in Buenos Aires after a stomach virus set back his return from a back injury sustained at the Australian Open.

MONTPELLIER, France (AP) - Top-seeded Richard Gasquet of France easily advanced to the Open Sud de France quarterfinals after beating countryman Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-1, 6-3.

VINA DEL MAR, Chile (AP) - Top-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy defeated Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia 6-4, 7-6 (0) to reach the quarterfinals of the Royal Guard Open.

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) - German qualifier Bjorn Phau upset second-seeded Mikhail Youzhny 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals of the Zagreb Indoors on Thursday.

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SOCCER

LONDON (AP) - Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic says he will leave the club after eight years at the end of the season.

Manager David Moyes had previously indicated he wanted Vidic to stay.

"I have decided that I will move on at the end of this season," the 32-year-old Serbian defender said Friday.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Former Portland Timbers forward Eddie Johnson is suing the Major League Soccer team for $9.9 million, alleging that he was allowed to practice while he still had concussion symptoms.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Former U.S. captain Thomas Dooley was hired as head coach of the Philippines national team on Friday.

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