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Sports briefs for Jan. 18, 2013

By From wire service reports

Suns part ways with head coach Gentry

The Phoenix Suns have “mutually agreed to part ways” with head coach Alvin Gentry, ending his nearly four years in charge, the NBA team said on Friday.

The Suns are 13-28 in the Western Conference midway through the regular season campaign.

Gentry took over as interim head coach in February 2009 and was handed the role on a permanent basis from May that year.

The team said an interim replacement for Gentry would be announced within 48 hours.

Kings announce extension for coach, two executives

The 2012 NHL Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Friday announced they have signed general manager Dean Lombardi, head coach Darryl Sutter and president of business operations Luc Robitaille to multiyear contract extensions.

“We are ecstatic that we have kept our leadership team in place both on the hockey side with Dean and Darryl and on the business side with Luc and remain in a position to continue competing for the Stanley Cup for many more years,” Kings Governor Tim Leiweke said in a statement.

Lombardi’s deal is believed to be a four-year extension that runs through 2016-17, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times. The length of Sutter’s agreement is not known.

Giants agree to $8 million deal with Posey

National League Most Valuable Player Buster Posey and the San Francisco Giants have agreed to a $8 million, one-year deal, the team’s website reported on Friday.

The deal, in catcher Posey’s first year of arbitration, represents a big increase in his previous salary of $615,000 with the World Series champions.

Posey posted a National League-leading .336 batting average and had 24 home runs and 103 runs batted in after coming back from ankle surgery in 2011.

The team also agreed to new deals with rightfielder Hunter Pence, reliever Jose Mijares and outfielder Gregor Blanco, according to the website.

Pence’s one-year contract is for $13.8 million.

Oprah chat with Armstrong draws 3.2 million TV viewers

LOS ANGELES — Oprah Winfrey’s exclusive interview with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong was watched by some 3.2 million Americans, the second highest audience for her struggling channel OWN, the U.S cable channel said on Friday.

OWN said the most-watched telecast in its history was Winfrey’s interview with the family of the late Whitney Houston in March 2012 that drew 3.5 million viewers.

Chat show queen Winfrey quit her daytime TV show in 2011 to launch the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), a joint venture with Discovery Communications.

In the first, 90-minute part of Winfrey’s interview, broadcast on Thursday and streamed live on Oprah.com., Armstrong reversed years of denials and admitted taking performance enhancing drugs during all seven of his Tour De France championship races.

Minor-league team plans fake Te’o girlfriend bobblehead night

A minor-league baseball team is seizing the opportunity to capitalize on the Manti Te’o hoax with an attention-grabbing promotion.

The Florence (Ky.) Freedom, an independent team, announced Thursday that it is planning a Manto Te’o Girlfriend Bobblehead Day on May 23.

Only there’s no bobblehead. An empty box will be given to the first 1,000 fans entering the park that would hold the bobblehead of the Notre Dame linebacker’s imaginary girlfriend.

The Freedom isn’t stopping there. The team will have a pretend kiss cam for fans to kiss their imaginary friends, and stage an imaginary food fight in the kids’ area and an air guitar contest. And one section in the 3,100-seat ballpark will be reserved for fans to sit with their imaginary friends, girlfriends, boyfriends or spouses.

“There’s not a lot to do to get attention in January,” Freedom general manager Josh Anderson said. “You have to find some way to get the buzz.”

The Freedom obviously is hoping for a boost in attendance. Last season, the team averaged about 2,000 fans per game.

Indians sign six players before arbitration deadline

The Cleveland Indians avoided arbitration Friday by signing closer Chris Perez, starting pitcher Justin Masterson, outfielder Drew Stubbs, catcher Lou Marson and relievers Joe Smith and Matt Albers to one-year contracts.

Perez signed a $7.3 million contract after making $4.5 million in 2012. He logged 36 saves and an 3.59 ERA last season.

Masterson’s salary was not available. He received $3.825 million last season, when he went 11-15 with an 4.93 ERA in 34 starts.

Stubbs was acquired in an offseason trade with the Cincinnati Reds. His contract terms also weren’t disclosed.

Smith’s deal is for $3.15 million. Albers, who was with Boston and Arizona last season, will earn $1.75 million and Marson will get $1 million.

Marson was eligible for arbitration for the first time in his five-year career in the major leagues. He’s expected to continue to back up starter Carlos Santana this year.

Last season, Marson played in 70 games and hit .226 with no homers and 13 RBI. His average was slightly higher than his career mark of .220.

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