In Brief | Nation and World Jan. 9


Alex Rodriguez will likely return after All-Star break

NEW YORK — Alex Rodriguez’s surgeon says the New York Yankees third baseman probably will be ready to return to the field after the All-Star break.

“It would be great if he returns faster. Possible that it would take longer,” Dr. Bryan Kelly of the Hospital for Special Surgery said Tuesday.

Kelly is scheduled to operate Jan. 16 on the 37-year-old’s left hip, which has a torn labrum, bone impingement and a cyst. The procedure is estimated to take two hours.

LaRoche agrees to 2-year deal to return to Nationals

WASHINGTON — The wait for Adam LaRoche to make up his mind had played out long enough. It was time to decide if he would take the Washington Nationals’ offer or move on.

The slugging first baseman decided to stay with the Nationals on Tuesday, agreeing to a two-year deal with a mutual option for a third year. He wanted a full three-year contract, but Washington was never going to offer one.

LaRoche’s return completes the final piece of an expected starting lineup for the defending NL East champions and renders Michael Morse expendable. Morse played outfield last year but would have moved to first base if LaRoche had not re-signed, giving the Nationals much of the leverage they needed to balk at LaRoche’s bid for the extra year in the contract.

USADA chief says Armstrong rep offered ‘donation’

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The chief of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency tells “60 Minutes Sports” that a representative for Lance Armstrong offered the agency a “donation” in excess of $150,000 several years before a USADA investigation led to Armstrong being stripped of seven Tour de France titles.

In an interview on the show’s premiere airing on Showtime Wednesday night, USADA CEO Travis Tygart said he was “stunned” when he received the offer in 2004.

“It was a clear conflict of interest for USADA,” Tygart said. “We had no hesitation in rejecting that offer.”

Armstrong’s attorney, Tim Herman, denied such an offer was made.

“No truth to that story,” Herman wrote Tuesday in an email to The Associated Press. “First Lance heard of it was today. He never made any such contribution or suggestion.”

NBA fines Cuban $50K for comments on officiating

NEW YORK — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been fined $50,000 by the NBA for publicly criticizing the officiating.

Cuban, who has been fined more than $1.5 million by the league during his 13 years owning the Mavs, expressed his frustration with the officiating on his Twitter page following the Mavericks’ 99-96 overtime loss to New Orleans on Saturday.

Cuban apologized to fans in the tweet, saying that he’s “tried for 13 (years) to fix the officiating in this league and I have failed miserably” and asking for their suggestions.

An NBA spokesman confirmed the fine Tuesday. The league did not announce the penalty.

AP Source: Shafer to take over at Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse will name defensive coordinator Scott Shafer as the Orange’s next coach, a person familiar with the selection process told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Shafer succeeds Doug Marrone, who was named coach of the Buffalo Bills on Monday after four seasons at Syracuse. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there has not been an official announcement from the university.

With national signing day looming, the school wanted to act quickly to find a replacement.

Dr. Daryl Gross, director of athletics, hinted in a radio interview Monday that the choice would come from within the staff.

Though the university had not made an announcement, Shafer’s Wikipedia page already was updated on Monday night to say he was the coach, and his son and former players Rob Long and Antwon Bailey congratulated him on Twitter.

Shafer, a 1990 graduate of Baldwin Wallace University, was one of Marrone’s first hires when he arrived in 2009 and has built the Orange defense into a top unit. Though he’s never been a head coach, Shafer expressed interest in taking that next step and was a candidate for the Western Michigan job that went to P.J. Fleck last month.

Indians sign LHP Scott Kazmir to minor league deal

CLEVELAND — The Indians have signed free agent left-hander Scott Kazmir to a minor league contract.

Kazmir, a three-time All-Star who led the AL in strikeouts in 2007, will have a shot at making the Indians’ starting rotation at spring training in Goodyear, Ariz. The 28-year-old spent last season in the independent Atlantic League.

He has a 66-61 career record with a 4.17 ERA in 179 starts for Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Angels. He went 13-9 with a 3.48 ERA in 2007 for the Rays.

The Indians also signed right-hander Jerry Gil and Lefty Edward Paredes to minor league deals with nonroster invitations to camp.

The 30-year old Gil is a former position player who switched the mound in in 2008. He spent last season at Triple-A Las Vegas, going 7-1 with nine saves in 58 relief outings.

NHL owners to vote on contract today

NEW YORK — NHL owners will vote today on a tentative labor agreement reached with the players’ union.

If a majority approves, as expected, the NHL will move one step closer toward the official end of the long lockout that began Sept. 16.

As of Tuesday afternoon, a memorandum of understanding of the deal hadn’t been completed, so the union has yet to schedule a vote for its more than 700 members.

A majority of players also must approve the deal for hockey to return to the ice.

By wire sources