Yanks, Red Sox set Sandy Hook tribute
The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will honor Newtown, Conn., on Opening Day in Yankee Stadium.
The two teams will dedicate the game to the 26 victims, families and the community that suffered tragic losses in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December.
Honor guards of Newtown police and firefighters will be on the field before the game, and other memorials will include a moment of silence, a list of the Sandy Hook victims’ names on center-field video board, and a special ribbon worn by the players and painted on the field. The same ribbon will be worn by all 28 other major-league teams on Opening Day.
“We will reflect upon more important things and play the game to honor the community of Newtown,” Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “Since the day of the tragedy, our hearts and thoughts have been with those who were affected.”
Red Sox principal owner John Henry said, “Months have passed, yet we are still trying to come to grips with this incomprehensible tragedy. As our teams look to face each other on Opening Day, we will stand united in support of the families affected as we remember and honor those who were lost.”
The Yankees also have invited about 3,000 members of the Newtown community to their July 7 game against Baltimore as guests.
Patriots re-sign two former players
The New England Patriots announced Wednesday that they have re-signed two unrestricted free agents, cornerback Marquice Cole and linebacker Niko Koutouvides.
Cole, 29, joined the Patriots one year ago on March 19, 2012, after spending the previous three seasons with the New York Jets. He played in 14 games for the Patriots last season, including one start. He ended the season with 12 tackles, one interception, three passes defended and seven tackles on special teams.
Cole also played in the Patriots’ two playoff games and had four tackles on defense and four others on special teams.
Cole has played in 51 NFL games (just two starts) and has totaled 26 defensive tackles, three interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown), and 43 tackles on special teams.
Koutouvides, 31, was in training camp with the Patriots in 2012, was released on Aug. 31, but re-signed three weeks later and played in all of the Pats’ 14 remaining games (12 in regular season and two in playoffs). He tallied eight special teams tackles and one on defense in regular-season games and one special teams tackle in the playoffs.
He originally signed with the Patriots on Aug. 14, 2011, but was released at the start of the season. He came back at midseason and played in 11 games and all three playoff games that season.
In nine seasons with four teams, he has played in 125 games (with three starts) and has 63 total tackles and 118 special teams tackles.
Terms for both deals were not announced.
U.S. cuts Ryder Cup captain’s picks to 3
MIAMI — The United States is trimming its captain’s selections for the 2014 Ryder Cup team to face holders Europe from four to three players, captain Tom Watson said on Wednesday.
“Giving our players one more opportunity to earn a spot on merit, I believe, is the right thing to do,” Watson told the official Ryder Cup website (www.rydercup.com).
Watson will take the top nine players from the Ryder Cup standings and make his three picks ahead of the 40th match at Gleneagles in Scotland from Sept. 26-28.
“I will use all possible resources in choosing these three captain’s choices to complete the best possible team in order to win the Cup back for the United States,” Watson added.
The U.S. switched to four captain’s picks for the biennial golf match against Europe in 2008.
The points race to determine the 2014 U.S. team begins on April 14 after this year’s U.S. Masters.
Hanley Ramirez, Jeter await diagnoses
Two star shortstops are ailing as spring training winds down.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were awaiting word on the severity of Hanley Ramirez’s right thumb injury, while the New York Yankees were hoping Derek Jeter’s latest left ankle problem is only a minor setback.
Ramirez jammed his right thumb Tuesday while playing for the Dominican Republic in the final of the World Baseball Classic. He was due to undergo an MRI exam in Arizona on Wednesday.
According to Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, Ramirez might be back after as little time as two weeks (which would be just after Opening Day), or he could be sidelined for two-plus months.
Should Ramirez be unavailable, Luis Cruz likely would move to shortstop. Cruz was penciled in to be the Dodgers’ third baseman, but he saw action at both positions last year.
As for Jeter, he sat out a second straight spring training game Wednesday after receiving a cortisone shot in his left ankle, raising some doubts about his readiness for the start of the season.
Jeter also was scratched from the lineup on Tuesday and he had tests on the ankle he broke in the playoffs last October. The 38-year-old veteran complained to trainers of stiffness in the front of the surgically repaired ankle, according to ESPN.com. Test results indicated some swelling and mild inflammation that resulted in the cortisone shot, CBSSports.com reported.
If Jeter starts the season on the disabled list, his likely replacement at shortstop would be Eduardo Nunez.
Chicago Bears, Urlacher part company
Brian Urlacher’s days as the face of the Chicago Bears’ franchise ended Wednesday.
The Bears issued a statement to announce negotiations with the unrestricted free agent weren’t fruitful, seemingly closing the book on Urlacher’s 13-year run with the Bears.
“We were unable to reach an agreement with Brian and both sides have decided to move forward,” said Bears general manager Phil Emery. “Brian has been an elite player in our league for over a decade. He showed great leadership and helped develop a winning culture over his time with the Bears. We appreciate all he has given our team, on and off the field. Brian will always be welcome as a member of the Bears.”
Emery is entering his second season as general manager in Chicago and was a college scout with the Bears when Urlacher was drafted ninth overall in 2000.
Reports early in free agency linked Urlacher to the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys. He turns 35 in May and, since a knee injury at Minnesota in the season finale in 2011, faced questions about his health, age and diminishing skills. Urlacher had knee surgery at the outset of training camp last summer and missed time with a hamstring injury.
Urlacher was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and started 180 games in 13 seasons (2000-12) with the Bears recording a franchise-record 1,779 tackles.
He also had 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 11 forced fumbles for Chicago.
Urlacher was honored as the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year, the 2000 NFL Rookie of the Year and was a four-time All-Pro (2001-02, 2005-06).
Panthers’ Selleck suspended 1-game
Florida Panthers forward Eric Selleck was suspended one game for leaving the bench to start a fight with Carolina Hurricanes forward Kevin Westgarth on Tuesday.
Along with the automatic one-game suspension he was levied for the game misconduct Selleck received for the incident, he is slated to miss Florida’s road games against the New York Rangers on Thursday and New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
Based on his salary, Selleck will also forfeit $5,945.94. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The suspension was levied for leaving the bench on a legal line change for the purpose of instigating a fight during the third period. Selleck was assessed a two-minute minor for instigating plus a five-minute major for fighting.