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Red Sox OF Jacoby Ellsbury could rejoin team Friday

Posted July 12, 2012, at 10:54 p.m.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury could come off the disabled list and rejoin the team on Friday.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said Thursday that all signs point to Ellsbury being ready to start a three-game series at Tampa Bay.

Ellsbury has been out since hurting his right shoulder on April 13 while trying to break up a double play. He was the runner-up in the AL MVP voting last season and Boston has sorely missed him in the lineup.

Boston outfielder Carl Crawford, recovering from left wrist surgery and more recently a groin strain, was scheduled to start a minor league rehab assignment Thursday night with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Valentine also said rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks, sidelined with a hamstring injury, is getting real close to returning.

Paralympian Matt Updike joins Dempsey Challenge

LEWISTON — U.S. paralympian handcyclist Matt Updike of Denver will take part in this year’s Dempsey Challenge, a non-competitive run, walk and cycling event benefiting The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing on Oct. 13-14.

Updike will represent the U.S. in the London Paralympic Games beginning Aug. 29 where more than 4,000 athletes from 160 countries are expected to compete.

“I am honored to be invited to participate in such a great event,” said Updike. “Having to overcome a huge adversity in my own life when I was paralyzed, while certainly not the same, I feel I can relate to someone receiving the diagnosis of cancer. And having two close friends pass at an early age because of the disease recently, I want to support the fight against it in any way I can.”

Updike was injured in an automobile accident in 1997 which left him paralyzed from the chest down. An avid skier and cyclist prior to the accident, Updike made his way back into his two passions and began professional handcycling in 2000.

The Dempsey Challenge offers the Electricity Maine 5K and 10K run/walk on Oct. 13 and Fundraising Rides presented by Exergy Development Group of 10, 25, 50, 70 and 100 miles on Oct. 14. All events will begin and end at Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston.

For more information, including participant, volunteer and fundraising information, visit www.dempseychallenge.org.

Colby names Josh Warren assistant tennis coach

WATERVILLE — Josh Warren, a former University of Southern Maine tennis player and graduate assistant coach at Ithaca College, was named assistant coach for the Colby College men’s and women’s tennis teams Tuesday.

Warren, who will work under Colby head coach Doanh Wang, just earned his master’s degree in exercise and sport sciences. He was among the top 10 percent of graduate students and was named to the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. Warren worked as a graduate assistant at Ithaca and helped the women’s team to the NCAA Division III tourney and the men’s squad to the Empire 8 Conference finals.

Warren graduated Magna Cum Laude from Southern Maine with a bachelor’s degree in general management (sport management track) in May 2010. He had a combined singles/doubles record of 71-32 in his four years with the Huskies. He was a captain and played the number one singles and doubles spots over his final three seasons.

Saint Joseph’s swim teams claim Academic All-America honor

STANDISH — The Saint Joseph College men’s and women’s swim teams have earned College Swimming Coaches Association of America Scholar All-America Team honors for the second consecutive semester.

In all, 124 women’s programs and 79 men’s teams from across the nation garnered the academic honor, which is presented to college and university swimming and diving teams who have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. The award is bestowed upon teams achieving this high standard in the fall semester and during the semester of the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

Blake Griffin hurts knee at US camp, out for exhibition

LAS VEGAS — Blake Griffin has returned to Los Angeles for evaluation of a left knee injury, opening the door for Anthony Davis to be in uniform Thursday for the U.S. Olympic basketball team against his college coach.

Griffin went through a full practice Wednesday before reporting discomfort in the same knee that bothered him in the playoffs, USA Basketball said. He left Thursday and missed the Americans’ exhibition opener against the Dominican Republic.

The Clippers, who just signed Griffin to a five-year, $95 million extension, said the All-Star forward will undergo an MRI and be examined by the Clippers’ medical staff upon his arrival. He also will be examined Sunday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic and his status will be updated after that.

Reggie Jackson says he made mistake naming players

NEW YORK — Reggie Jackson says he messed up by disparaging Alex Rodriguez, Gary Carter and other big names in baseball and has been reaching out to make apologies.

Jackson had told Sports Illustrated that Rodriguez’s statistics were tainted by the Yankees star’s admitted use of performance-enhancing drugs. Jackson also said he didn’t see Carter, Kirby Puckett, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton and Jim Rice as Hall of Famers.

Jackson is a special adviser with the New York Yankees. The team released a statement Thursday from the Hall of Fame slugger.

“In trying to convey my feelings about a few issues that I am passionate about, I made the mistake of naming some specific players,” Jackson said.

“This was inappropriate and unfair to those players, some of which are very close friends of mine. I think there are ways to speak from the heart without hurting people, and I’m disappointed that I didn’t take greater care in expressing my views,” he added.

The Yankees had told Jackson to stay away from the clubhouse and team events following his pointed remarks to the magazine, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press earlier this week.

Saudis to send 2 women to London Games

LONDON — Every country competing at the London Games will include female athletes for the first time in Olympic history after Saudi Arabia agreed Thursday to send two women to compete in judo and track and field.

The move by the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom to break with its practice of fielding male-only teams followed decisions by Qatar and Brunei to send women athletes to the Olympics for the first time.

“With Saudi Arabian female athletes now joining their fellow female competitors from Qatar and Brunei, it means that by London 2012 every national Olympic committee will have sent women to the Olympic Games,” IOC President Jacques Rogge said.

Saudi Arabia had been under intense pressure from the International Olympic Committee and human-rights groups to include female athletes. The announcement Thursday followed months of IOC negotiations with the Saudis to bring women to London.

The two female Saudi competitors are Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani in judo and 800-meter runner Sarah Attar.

Junior Seau brain tissue released for study

SAN DIEGO — Junior Seau’s family has donated some of his brain tissue for research amid questions about whether damage from his football career contributed to his decision to commit suicide, officials said Thursday.

The San Diego County medical examiner’s office recently released preserved brain tissue to the National Institutes of Health, coroner’s spokeswoman Sarah Gordon said.

“We have no information about the type of study that will be done,” she said.

The tissue was released at the request of Seau’s family, she added. She declined to disclose whether Seau’s entire brain was released.

The 43-year-old former NFL linebacker shot himself in the chest at his Oceanside home in May, less than 2 1/2 years after ending his Pro Bowl career.

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