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Sports briefs for Jan. 17, 2013

By BDN Staff and Wire Reports, Special to the BDN

Sea Dogs name new public address announcer

PORTLAND, Maine — Paul Coughlin has been hired as the Portland Sea Dogs’ new public address announcer, the team announced in a press release Wednesday.

Coughlin replaces Dean Rogers who stepped down from the position in the fall after 19 seasons at Hadlock Field.

Nearly 100 people auditioned for the position in the fall and seven finalists were selected.

Coughlin, a lifelong baseball fan, is an English teacher at Bonny Eagle High School. Additionally, he has experience as a singer and a musician. He attended Springfield College and the University of Southern Maine.

A-Rod undergoes surgery; July return possible

Alex Rodriguez’s hip surgery to repair a torn labrum and an impingement in the socket went according to plan Wednesday, according to the Yankees.

The medical staff is hoping to have its third baseman back after the All-Star Game in July, the team announced in a release.

Dr. Bryan Kelly performed the procedure on Rodriguez’s left hip at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. Rodriguez will be released Thursday and begin a rehabilition program under Kelly’s supervision. The normal recovery period is approximately six months.

Kelly had said before the surgery that he didn’t know the extent of cartilage damage to Rodriguez’s hip. No mention was made of Kelly’s findings in the Yankees’ announcement Wednesday.

“The biggest obstacle that I see is that we really have to manage a lot of issues,” Kelly said last week. “I like to tell people six months is a reasonable time frame for return to play. It would be great if he returns faster. But it’s possible it will take longer.”

The hip might have been partly to blame for Rodriguez’s postseason struggles last fall. He slumped to 5 for 43 in the playoffs with 18 strikeouts and was removed several times for a pinch hitter.

Rodriguez had similar surgery on his right hip in 2009.

Kiffin: No brawl among USC football players

Southern Cal football coach Lane Kiffin disputed reports of a locker room brawl among Trojans players following the team’s 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.

“Contrary to media reports, there was not a brawl or altercation in our locker room after the Sun Bowl,” Kiffin said in a statement. “There was a noisy verbal exchange among a couple players who were frustrated with the outcome of the game.

“It lasted less than a minute and was nothing physical. It happens sometimes in football locker rooms after a disappointing loss.”

The Los Angeles Daily News reported that a young player precipitated the incident involving 10-15 players when he questioned the team’s senior leadership and also quarterback Matt Barkley for sitting out the Dec. 31 game because of a shoulder injury.

“I would say tempers flared, yeah, but that’s football,” Barkley said ESPN’s Colin Cowherd on Wednesday. “It’s an emotional game and when you end your season on a negative note like that, emotions are going to be high. Guys were expressing their opinions, for better or worse, but we had it under control. It was nothing to be alarmed about.”

One USC player told the Daily News that the scene was “chaotic.” Barkley disputed that.

Falcons expect Abraham to play against 49ers

Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith provided some good news for his team when he announced on Wednesday that he expects his team’s best pass-rusher, John Abraham, to be in the starting lineup for Sunday’s NFC championship game against the San Francisco 49ers.

However, Abraham did not practice on Wednesday, and the Falcons are making contingency plans in case Abraham cannot play.

Abraham sat out most of last weekend’s victory over the Seattle Seahawks after re-injuring his ankle, and the Falcons’ lack of a pass rush was evident as Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson led a comeback.

The Falcons need the pass-rushing skills of Abraham to help contain 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Abraham had 10 sacks during the season.

Jays minor-leaguer Farina gets 50-game suspension

Toronto Blue Jays minor league right-hander Alan Farina was suspended for the first 50 games of the upcoming season due to a violation of baseball’s drug policy.

According to the commissioner’s office, Farina was penalized for his second violation of the ban on “drugs of abuse.” That’s the term baseball uses for prohibited substances that aren’t considered performance-enhancing.

Farina, 26, spent last season with high Class A Dunedin, going 1-2 with a 5.17 ERA in 24 relief appearances. He is on the Dunedin roster again this winter.

Farina was Toronto’s third-round draft pick in 2007 out of Clemson University. In six minor league seasons, he has a 10-10 record with 19 saves and a 3.50 ERA over 138 appearances (five starts).

Oliver, 42, agrees to return to Blue Jays

Darren Oliver will reach an even 20 years in the major leagues, as the left-handed reliever agreed to return to the Toronto Blue Jays.

After last season, the Blue Jays picked up Oliver’s $3 million option for 2013. However, Oliver hadn’t confirmed until Tuesday whether he intended to continue his career at age 42.

In 2012, Oliver made 62 appearances for Toronto, serving mostly as a one- or two-out specialist. He compiled a 3-4 record with two saves and a 2.06 ERA in 56 2/3 innings.

While left-handed specialists are expected to shut down opposing left-handed hitters, Oliver was effective against all batters. Left-handers hit .234 against him, while right-handers batted a paltry .196.

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