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PIRATES, A'S NEARING TRADE FOR KENDALL

Three-time All-Star catcher Jason Kendall (above) was close to being traded from the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Oakland Athletics for a pair of pitchers, a baseball official told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

The Pirates would get left-handed starter Mark Redman, who went 11-12 with a 4.71 ERA, and left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes, who was 3-3 with nine save and a 5.12 ERA, the official said.

Kendall, a 30-year-old California native, has a no-trade clause. His agent informed Pirates General Manager Dave Littlefield on Wednesday that he would waive the clause to play for the A's, a person close to Kendall said.

Littlefield wouldn't confirm that a deal was nearly done, saying, "There's a lot of speculation about a variety of things."

A career .306 hitter over nine seasons with Pittsburgh, Kendall has caught more games than any player in team history.

DODGERS GIVE TRACY A TWO-YEAR CONTRACT

Dodgers manager Jim Tracy agreed to a two-year contract with Los Angeles following negotiations that took longer than expected.

After Tracy guided the Dodgers to their first playoff berth since 1996, General Manager Paul DePodesta said he hoped an agreement would be in place before baseball's general manager meetings began Nov. 9.

"Regardless of how long it takes, the most important thing is you end up with something that both sides can live with," Tracy said Wednesday.

The Dodgers are 356-292 during Tracy's four years as manager, including 93-69 last season.

In Cleveland, the Indians re-signed closer Bob Wickman.

HAMILTON ENDS SKID BY DEFEATING AMERKS

Jason Ward's power-play goal 9:25 into the second period snapped a 1-1 tie and lifted the Hamilton Bulldogs to a 3-1 American Hockey League victory over the Rochester Americans.

With the win, the Bulldogs (7-9-3-1) snapped a franchise-record eight-game losing streak. Two of those losses had come in Rochester in the previous 14 days.

Ben Carpentier's first goal of the season put Hamilton ahead, 1-0, at 12:13 of the first period, but Rochester (8-6-2-1) tied the score on Thomas Vanek's power-play goal at 17:27.

Ryan Miller stopped 21 shots for Rochester.

NEW MEXICO STATE DISMISSES SAMUEL

New Mexico State football coach Tony Samuel was fired after leading the Aggies to just two winning seasons in eight years.

The Aggies finished 5-6 this season, including 4-3 in the Sun Belt Conference. They will move to the Western Athletic Conference next season.

With Samuel out and Fitz Hill resigning from San Jose State earlier this week, there are now only three black head coaches in Division I-A -- Karl Dorrell at UCLA, Tyrone Willingham at Notre Dame and Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State.

Elsewhere, Cincinnati starting quarterback Gino Guidugli broke a bone in his throwing hand when he slipped outside his home, and he might miss Saturday's game at No. 7 Louisville.

AROUND & ABOUT

The Albany Patroons, where Phil Jackson and George Karl once coached, are returning to the Continental Basketball Association after a 12-year absence. The Patroons will rejoin the minor league in 2005-06, the CBA's 60th anniversary season.

Back problems have forced figure skater Tim Goebel to withdraw from next month's Marshall's World Cup in Auburn Hills, Mich., another setback for the 2002 Olympic bronze medalist. Goebel, plagued last year by injuries and equipment problems, withdrew Tuesday from the Dec. 3 event and will be replaced by Evan Lysacek.

Compiled from News and wire service reports.

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