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Rib injury sidelines Ripken for a month

On the day when their pitchers and catchers reported to camp, the Baltimore Orioles found out Cal Ripken will miss most of spring training.

Ripken, who broke Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played, learned Wednesday he has a hairline fracture in his rib cage and will be out for the next month.

The 40-year-old third baseman was hurt at home, either working out in preparation for his 20th full season with the Orioles or while playing basketball.

"I woke up Tuesday and it was hard to breathe," he said. "I'm a little saddened, a little disappointed because I was working hard during the winter and was really feeling good."

The Yankees welcomed back pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, who rejoined the team after missing the 2000 postseason while undergoing treatment for cancer.

"I'm in remission," Stottlemyre said. "I have no signs of the cancer I had before."

It didn't take long for baseball's first controversy of spring training to break out.

Umpires say a Feb. 12 memorandum from Sandy Alderson, gives them a mandate to eject pitchers who throw at hitters' heads, not to give them a warning first. Baseball officials say it just reminds them they have that option.

"They've always had that authority," Frank Robinson, baseball's vice president in charge of discipline, said. "We just wanted to reinforce it and make it clear they would have our backing if they took that action."

John Hirschbeck, head of the umpires union, said under the new interpretation the Yankees' Roger Clemens would have been ejected for nearly hitting Seattle's Alex Rodriguez in first inning of Game Four of last year's AL Championship Series.

"There would be no choice in that situation because it was at the head," said Hirschbeck, the crew chief in that game. "I run Clemens in the first inning of a playoff game, there goes my career . . . "

Baseball also has told umpires to call the strike zone as it's defined in the rule book, which is any pitch over the plate from the top of the knees to the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of uniform pants.

To aid umpires, baseball agreed to a five-year contract with Questec Inc., which will provide five devices that can track balls and strikes to within two-fifths of an inch.

Questec already has developed technology for Fox's baseball telecasts that can track pitches within 2 inches.

"It will determine at the end of the day how many pitches umpires were correct and incorrect on," said Ralph Nelson, the baseball vice president in charge of umpires. "It's an effort to develop consistency in the strike zone among umpires. We're not trying to replace umpires and we're not using this to evaluate umpires. We're using this to train."

Jays-White Sox dispute over Sirotka getting ugly

Mike Sirotka's next stop might be commissioner Bud Selig's office. A report from orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews, failed to settle the dispute over Sirotka's bad shoulder that's grown increasingly nasty and thrown the David Wells trade between Toronto and the Chicago White Sox into question.

If anything, things are getting even uglier.

"It's rare that a guy gets his name and his organization dragged through the mud in one country, much less two," White Sox general manager Ken Williams said Wednesday.

"It's not funny. It's not amusing. It's not entertaining."

Toronto general manager Gord Ash is giving Williams until the end of the week to give him an additional player to "make us whole," or he'll go to the commissioner's office.

Williams suggested that Ash might as well call Selig right now so they don't waste any more time.

Golden Flashes continue to torment UB women

Kent State continues to be the University at Buffalo's nemesis in the world of women's basketball.

The Golden Flashes improved to 7-0 all-time against the Bulls with a 73-51 Mid-American Conference victory at Kent's Memorial Athletic and Convocation Center. It was Kent's 42nd consecutive home win.

The Bulls, who could have crept within 1 1/2 games of first-place Kent in the East Division, instead fell into a second-place tie with Miami at 16-7 overall and 7-5 in the MAC.

Julie Studer had 23 points to lead Kent State (16-7, 11-2), which held UB's Tiffany Bell to just six points. Bell entered the game 57th in the nation in scoring with a 17.5 average. Sonia Ortega led UB with 13 points and six rebounds.

In men's basketball, Jason Hargrove (Park) had 28 points but Erie Community College (21-9) dropped a 120-94 decision to Monroe CC.

Frazar fires 63 to take Hope lead

The way Harrison Frazar has played so far this year, he might soon become known for something other than being Justin Leonard's roommate at the University of Texas.

If he can play like he did Wednesday, that something could be a PGA Tour winner.

Frazar, continuing his strong early season play, shot a 9-under 63 to take a one-stroke lead over a gaggle of other players as the 42nd Hope opened its five-day run on four birdie-friendly courses in La Quinta, Calif.

He had plenty of company on the leader board, with six others tied at 64, including Cameron Beckman.

Beckman got in when defending champion Jesper Parnevik withdrew to stay home with his expectant wife, and he took advantage of it to tie for second with Mark Calcavecchia, Glen Day, Jeff Maggert, Tom Pernice, Kevin Sutherland and Stephen Ames.

"It's just a birdiefest," Calcavecchia said of the 90-hole event. "You just have to make as many birdies as you can and add them up later to see where you stand."

The PGA Tour record of 35 under for five rounds was set here by Tom Kite in 1993. Coverage of today's second round was to begin at 3 p.m. on ESPN.

Carruth says Adams was only a bed partner

Former NFL player Rae Carruth said in a TV interview that he and the pregnant woman he was convicted of conspiring to kill were little more than sex partners.

"I didn't even know her last name until we went to Lamaze class," Carruth said in an interview to air tonight on CNN's "Sports Tonight" and on CNN/Sports Illustrated.

Carruth, 27, is serving a sentence at the Nash Correctional Institution in Nash County, North Carolina, about 40 miles east of Raleigh. He was convicted of conspiring to kill Cherica Adams, the woman who was pregnant with his son when she was fatally shot in November 1999.

"As far as Cherica and I are concerned, we never dated," Carruth said in the interview. "We were never boyfriend and girlfriend. . . . We slept together. . . . There was no conversation."

Around and about

Venus Williams needed two tie-breakers in her opening match in the Terazura tournament in Nice, France, before beating Anne-Gaelle Sidot of France, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (6).

Mark McCutcheon had Buffalo's goal but the Lightning lost, 3-1, to Mississauga (Ont.) to fall behind, 3-1, in the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League's best-of-seven playoff series. The next game is at 9 p.m. Friday at the West Seneca Recreation Center.

IBF founder Robert W. Lee, sentenced to 22 months in prison for corruption, settled a related government lawsuit by agreeing to a lifetime ban from boxing. But he is appealing his felony convictions for corruptly operating the International Boxing Federation, and he admitted no wrongdoing in settling the lawsuit. The sentencing and settlement end a case in which prosecutors claimed Lee manipulated the IBF's influential rankings for 15 years in return for bribes.

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