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SPORTS TODAY

White Sox's Thomas latest to catch A-Rod virus

They are calling it the A-Rod virus, a virulent strain of green fever that has spread from Florida to Arizona on the opening week of spring training.

White Sox slugger Frank Thomas became the latest star to be hit by the money bug, saying on his first day of camp Wednesday in Tucson, Ariz., that he has asked club Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to restructure his contract to bring it up to current standards.

Like fellow multimillionaires Gary Sheffield and Barry Bonds, Thomas believes that being paid $10 million a year is patently unfair when Texas' Alex Rodriguez, the game's top-paid player, averages $25 million.

"I have respect for what Gary and Barry are doing right now because they're at the top among the players," Thomas said. "I know I'm in that category too. You see the pay scale is getting out of whack. You can't have an A-Rod making $25 million and we're coming in at $7, 8, 9 million. It's a business. It's just like Hollywood. You can't have the top actor making $25 million and the rest (of the stars) making $10 million."

Thomas' current deal runs through 2006. He signed a seven-year deal at the end of the '97 season that could be worth $85 million if the two option years are picked up.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez knows he'll pay the price for making $252 million. Meeting with the media after reporting to training camp in Port Charlotte, Fla., to no surprise, many of the questions dealt with money.

"I'm almost embarrassed and ashamed of this contract, because my personality is to go out and play baseball," he said. "Now, there's this 252 tag over my head.

"I never dreamed in my wildest dreams that I would be making this type of money. Like I say, it's almost embarrassing to talk about it. I don't know if Michael Jordan or Bill Gates or Alexander the Great or anyone is worth this type of money. But that's the market that we're in today," he said.

In other baseball news:

Gary Sheffield's agent said there has been a major misunderstanding, that his client still wants a contract extension and to remain with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sheffield was critical of the club and several teammates in an interview published this week.

Boston Red Sox manager Jimy Williams said he's switching Manny Ramirez, his likely cleanup hitter, from right field to left, a position he never played in his 967 games in seven-plus seasons with Cleveland. The move adds another to Boston's long line of great hitting left fielders: Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice.

Bryan Cox let go as Jets clear cap room

Needing to clear salary cap space and planning to revamp their defensive system under new coach Herman Edwards, the New York Jets cut Bryan Cox and two other linebackers Dwayne Gordon and Roman Phifer. Also cut was defensive tackle Ernie Logan and running back Bernie Parmalee.

The moves saved about $11 million in salary cap money. The Jest also restructured the contract of receiver Wayne Chrebet and are close to doing the same with quarterback Vinny Testaverde.

Elsewhere:

The Washington Redskins, who had the league's highest payroll at $92.4 million, will cut guards Tre Johnson and Keith Sims, receiver Irving Fryar and tackle Derek G. Smith. Johnson, Sims and Smith have failed physicals and will receive injury settlements.

Mike Jones, D'Marco Farr and Ray Agnew, teammates on the St. Louis defense that won the Super Bowl a year ago, were let go by the Rams.

Ray Buchanan, who was slated to be the top cornerback on the free agent market, re-signed with the Atlanta Falcons.

Fighting Irish edge BC on last-minute basket

Martin Ingelsby's off-balance 15-foot jumper with 3.7 seconds left gave No. 18 Notre Dame a 76-75 win over No. 10 Boston College in South Bend, Ind.

The Eagles had one last chance to tie it, but as Troy Bell dribbled across midcourt David Graves knocked the ball away.

Troy Murphy had 23 points for the Irish (18-6, 10-3), who edged closer to a possible league title, moving two games ahead of Syracuse in the West Division with three games left.

Bell had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Eagles (19-4, 10-3).

In other Top 25 action:

Jason Williams scored 25 points and Shane Battier had 16 as No. 4 Duke handed Georgia Tech its most lopsided loss in 29 years, 98-54. Duke (24-3, 11-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) has won 88 of 89 against unranked opponents, including 24 straight. Georgia Tech (15-10, 7-7) had its worst loss since falling, 118-73, to North Carolina on Feb. 12, 1972.

Udonis Haslem scored 21 points to lift No. 7 Florida to a 75-55 victory over No. 12 Mississippi. Florida (19-5, 9-4 Southeastern Conference) won for the eighth time in nine games. Backup guard Jason Harrison had 20 points, four assists and five steals for the Rebels (21-5, 9-4).

Miller's surge keys Siena win over Marist

Freshman Justin Miller scored five of his 14 points in the game's final two minutes as Siena held off Marist in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game at Albany's Pepsi Arena to win, 63-54. It was the Saints' 11th win in their last 13 games.

With the score tied 51-51 and less than three minutes remaining, Dwayne Archbold drove for a layup. Miller (Southwestern) converted two free throws and followed with a three-point play off a feed from Isaiah Stewart.

Andy Cavo led Siena (19-9, 12-5 MAAC) with 16 points. Rick Smith scored 20 points for Marist (16-11, 10-7).

Around & About

David Duval is out of the Nissan Open that was to start today at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.

Duval, in the midst of his worst West Coast swing in five years, withdrew Wednesday and said he would try for a fresh start in Florida.

Top-seeded Pete Sampras lost to Chris Woodruff, 7-6 (4), 6-2, in his first match at the Kroger St. Jude tennis tournament.

The U.S. ice dance team of Jesica Valentine and Matthew Kossack (Amherst) have split because Kossack, 21, is retiring from competition to attend college full-time. Valentine, 18, intends to continue her skating career and is looking for another partner.

The duo was second in the 2000 U.S. championships as juniors and finished fifth as senior at this year's nationals.

Norm Milley's oddball goal with 13 seconds remaining gave the Rochester Americans a 2-1 victory over the visiting St. John's Maple Leafs in an American Hockey League game.

Milley fired a shot from the right wing that goalie Mike Minard stopped. But the puck kicked up into the air, came down off the helmet of defenseman Petr Svoboda and, with five players plus Minard in the crease, bounced off another body and into the net.

Rookie Tommy Jones averaged 232 to move into first place after the second round of The Villages (Fla.) PBA Open.

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