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Four Alabama football players arrested after robberies

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Three University of Alabama football players have been charged with knocking students unconscious and stealing their wallets, while a fourth player has been charged with using a stolen debit card, officials said Tuesday.

Linebacker Tyler Hayes, 18, and safety Eddie Williams, 20, confessed to robbing a student who was punched in the head and face and kicked in the ribs and back early Monday morning, according to court documents. Williams said D.J. Pettway, 20, a defensive lineman, and Hayes waited in a nearby vehicle about an hour later while he knocked out and robbed another student. Williams and Hayes both admitted to their involvement, according to the documents.

Williams and running back Brent Calloway, 20, both admitted to using a stolen credit card to buy snacks from vending machines inside a dormitory, the documents said.

All four students were indefinitely suspended by coach Nick Saban.

Pettway and Hayes were charged with second-degree robbery. Williams was charged with fraudulent use of a credit card and second-degree robbery. Calloway was charged with fraudulent use of a credit card. Williams was released on $65,000 bond, while Hayes and Pettway were released on $60,000 bond each. Calloway was released on $5,000 bond.

All four players were backups last season for Alabama, which has won two straight national titles and three of the past four. Williams didn’t play in 2012. But he was one of the nation’s top prospects the previous year and moved from receiver to safety.

The first student reported having his Apple Macbook Pro stolen from his backpack. Both sustained mild concussions, cuts on the face and heavy swelling, and had their wallets taken, according to documents.

University police posted an advisory Monday saying two students reported being approached by two men who asked for a light for a cigarette.

Panthers to begin renovation after 2013 season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers president Danny Morrison said the team plans to begin renovations on its 16-year-old stadium immediately after the 2013 NFL season and estimates the project could take two years to complete.

The master plan calls for between $261 million and $297 million in upgrades, according to Morrison.

Charlotte’s City Council is backing a proposal to give the Panthers nearly $144 million from a food and beverage tax increase to pay for stadium upgrades and the team is seeking more than $60 million in state funds.

Morrison said the goal of Panthers owner Jerry Richardson has been to improve the experience for all 74,000 fans, not just those in the luxury suites.

“He gave us directions that the majority of plans need to be for 74,000 fans, not just premium seating,” Morrison said. “That list we’ve came up with affects all 74,000 fans. We also wanted to retain our classic designed stadium in a park but also bring it to the forefront with modern technology.”

The primary objectives include installing three escalators to reach the upper level, new video and ribbon boards and an improved sound system, as well as upgrading technology and stadium infrastructure and improving access to the stadium through enhanced entry gates.

Some of the other potential upgrades down the road include adding a roof terrace, a team history area, field club and an indoor practice facility.

A-Rod to rehab in New York, not at spring training

TAMPA, Fla. — Alex Rodriguez will not report to spring training with the Yankees’ position players and will work on his rehabilitation from hip surgery in New York.

The third baseman is expected to be sidelined until at least the All-Star break following the Jan. 16 operation.

“I spoke to him last week. He was still barely, I think, on the crutches,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday during his opening spring-training remarks. “There’s not a lot that he can do here.”

The Miami New Times last month published records that allege Rodriguez purchased performance-enhancing substances in recent years from Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed clinic in Coral Gables, near Rodriguez’s offseason home.

Rodriguez has denied the allegations. Four years ago, Rodriguez admitted using PEDs from 2001-03 while with the Texas Rangers.

“Him being in New York has nothing to do with trying to get rid of a distraction. It’s the best place him for him to be.”

Major League Baseball is investigating the New Times report and hopes to acquire the documents.

Latos, Reds agree to $11.5 million, two-year deal

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Right-hander Mat Latos has agreed to an $11.5 million, two-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds, avoiding what would have been baseball’s first salary arbitration hearing of the year.

Latos will receive salaries of $4.25 million this year and $7.25 million in 2014 under Tuesday’s deal.

Cincinnati obtained Latos from San Diego before the 2012 season. He solidified a rotation that was one of the NL’s best, helping the Reds win the NL Central for the second time in three seasons. Latos went 14-4 with a 3.48 ERA and two complete games in 33 starts.

Latos made $550,000 last season. Eligible for arbitration for the first time, he had asked for $4.7 million in arbitration and had been offered $4.15 million.

Right-hander Homer Bailey is the last Reds player in arbitration. He has asked for $5.8 million, and the Reds have offered $4.75 million. They’ve also discussed a multiyear deal with Bailey, who pitched a no-hitter at Pittsburgh last Sept. 28.

Woods adds three tournaments to schedule

JUPITER, Fla. — Tiger Woods is filling out his schedule on the road to the Masters with a pair of World Golf Championships and his new hometown event.

Woods says on his website Tuesday he’ll play next week in the Match Play Championship in Arizona, the first of three straight tournaments. He will play the following week near his home at the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and play in the Cadillac Championship at Doral.

Woods says it’s a busy stretch and he wants to keep playing well.

He hasn’t played since winning at Torrey Pines three weeks ago. Woods competed in the Honda Classic last year for the first time as a pro and finished second behind Rory McIlroy. Woods moved from central Florida to south Florida a year ago.

Montero denies involvement with anti-aging clinic

PEORIA, Ariz. — Mariners catcher Jesus Montero on Tuesday again denied any involvement with a Florida-based anti-aging clinic under investigation by Major League Baseball.

According to a published report last week, Montero was named in records belonging to Biogenesis of America LLC, the now-closed clinic in Coral Gables, Fla., that has purportedly been linked to performance-enhancing drugs. Montero said he didn’t know why his name popped up in the records.

“I don’t have anything to do with those people. I know my agency is handling everything. I don’t know anything about it,” Montero said.

“I’m here trying to be ready for spring training and the season. What can I say? It surprised me, too,” he added.

Francisco hurt, leaving Mets’ bullpen in flux

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Even on the day before their first spring training workout, the New York Mets had bad news.

Closer Frank Francisco is bothered by the same elbow inflammation that ended his 2012 season on Sept. 16.

Mets manager Terry Collins said Tuesday that Bobby Parnell and Brandon Lyon will be given the first chance to take over the closer’s job.

“There is some inflammation in there. It was something the training staff was prepared for,” Collins said. “They thought it might happen, so we just want to quiet the swelling down before he plays catch. Frank told me last week, ‘I’ll be ready.’”

Francisco had 23 saves in 26 chances last year in his first season with the Mets.

Parnell has 14 in 31 opportunities during his Mets’ career.

Snedeker withdraws from Match Play with sore ribs

LOS ANGELES — Brandt Snedeker withdrew from the Match Play Championship on Tuesday because of sore ribs that have been causing him discomfort despite his torrid stretch of golf.

Snedeker said he began feeling soreness in his left rib cage a month ago at the Humana Challenge. He then finished runner-up in consecutive weeks to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and won the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am for his second win in his last seven starts.

Already this year, Snedeker has earned nearly $3 million and has risen to a career-best No. 4 in the world.

Snedeker also sustained a rib injury last summer, causing him to miss the U.S. Open.

Snedeker returned a month later and had the 36-hole lead at the British Open before he tied for third at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.

Bears part with wide receiver Knox

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The Chicago Bears have terminated the contract of receiver Johnny Knox after he missed this past season recovering from a back injury.

The team announced the move on Tuesday.

Knox needed surgery to stabilize a vertebra after he sustained a gruesome back injury against Seattle late in the 2011 season. The Seahawks’ Kam Chancellor poked the ball out of his hands following a reception, and as Knox made a diving attempt to retrieve it, he was hit by Anthony Hargrove and bent backward.

Knox had 133 receptions for 2,214 yards from 2009 to 2011 and was a contributor on special teams with 55 kickoff returns for 1,506 yards.

Williams, Sharapova, Stephens advance in Doha

DOHA, Qatar — Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova eased into the third round of the Qatar Open on Tuesday, dominating their opponents with straight-set victories.

Williams, who will regain the No. 1 ranking if she reached the semifinals, showed no signs of the back or ankle injuries that troubled her at the Australian Open during her 6-2, 6-1 win over Russian qualifier Daria Gavrilova.

The third-ranked Sharapova, who won the tournament in her two previous appearances, downed French qualifier Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2.

American Sloane Stephens, who defeated Williams at the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, beat Anna Tatishvili 6-2, 6-2.

Stephens pulled out of Fed Cup against Italy last week after aggravating an abdominal muscle injury and suffering from a stomach virus.

De Bakker through after Youzhny retires injured

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands — Thiemo de Bakker followed fellow Dutchman Igor Sijsling into the second round of the ABN AMRO tournament on Tuesday when 2007 champion Mikhail Youzhny retired with a hip injury while trailing 4-1 in the third set.

Youzhny won the first set 6-3, before De Bakker’s powerful serve brought him back into the match, winning the second set 7-6 (2).

Sijsling produced the first major upset of the tournament on Monday by ousting third-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Robin Haase, a semifinalist last week in Zagreb, could not make it three Dutchmen in the second round. He lost to Ernests Gulbis 6-2, 6-1 in just 50 minutes.

Lleyton Hewitt advances at SAP Open

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Lleyton Hewitt, the former top-ranked player looking for his first singles title in nearly three years, reached the second round of the SAP Open with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over Blaz Kavcic on Tuesday.

Seeded players Denis Istomin and Marinko Matosevic also advanced.

The sixth-seeded Istomin, from Uzbekistan, beat qualifier Ryan Sweeting 6-3, 6-4 in just over an hour, and the seventh-seeded Matosevic, from Australia, topped American Jack Sock, 7-6 (5), 6-1.

From wire sources