Harang no lock to start for Reds on opening day
Right-hander Aaron Harang isn't assured of making another opening day start for the Cincinnati Reds. Manager Dusty Baker said Friday that he's open-minded about who will start the opener. Harang has started the past four, but his struggles to win games during the past two seasons have thrown the No. 1 spot open to competition this time around.
"We're in a performance-based occupation, like most, but probably even more," Baker said. "It's a big responsibility to be a No. 1, you know?"
The 31-year-old Harang has gone 1-3 with a 3.52 ERA in his four opening day starts. Mario Soto and Pete Donohue share the club record with five consecutive season-opening starts. Soto has six overall, the most in team history.
Harang has won only six games in each of the past two seasons, when injuries and an appendectomy held him back. Bronson Arroyo led the staff in wins last season with 15.
In Baker's first two seasons as manager, Harang knew he would be No. 1 in the rotation from the time that training camp opened.
"The whole opening day thing?" Harang said. "They decide what they're going to decide. I'm here to pitch every fifth day, wherever they put me."
■ Pitcher Chien-Ming Wang and the Nationals finalized a $2 million, one-year contract. A right-hander who turns 30 on March 31, Wang had spent his entire five-year major league career with the Yankees, who allowed him to become a free agent in December when they failed to offer a 2010 contract. He made $5 million last year, when he was 1-6 with a 9.64 ERA and his season was cut short by shoulder surgery on July 29. He is not expected to be able to pitch until sometime between April and June.
■ Former NL Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne agreed to a minor-league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers and would receive a $500,000, one-year contract if added to the 40-man roster. Gagne, who won the 2003 NL Cy Young, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2008.
■ Longtime National League umpire John Kibler died Thursday in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 81. Kibler was a full-time NL umpire from 1965 through 1989. He worked the World Series four times, and was at first base for Game 6 in 1986 when Mookie Wilson's grounder rolled through Bill Buckner's legs.
Louisville opens season with 13-1 victory
The University of Louisville's baseball team opened its season with a dominating 13-1 win against visiting Bowling Green on Friday. Junior right-hander Thomas Royse, a Paul Dunbar graduate, allowed one unearned run on two hits in five innings for the win. He had five strikeouts.
"I was a little nervous stepping into the shoes of Justin Marks as the Friday starter, but I feel like I did a solid job today," said Royse. "I know that I have a great offensive lineup behind me and a strong pitching staff around me, so that makes my job a lot easier."
Six Cardinals finished with at least two hits, led by senior second baseman Adam Duvall (Butler) and sophomore outfielder Stewart Ijames (Owensboro Catholic) with three apiece.
■ Western Kentucky senior starter Matt Ridings set a school record for strikeouts in the Hilltoppers' season-opening 13-10 loss to visiting Kent State. Ridings struck out Jimmy Rider, the first batter he faced for the 265th of his career. He left the game with 271.
Legends' anthem tryouts this weekend
The Lexington Legends will hold National Anthem tryouts at the Fayette Mall from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday in the wing of the mall near Dick's Sporting Goods. Each participant will sing or play the anthem, and those selected will perform the anthem before a Legends' home game during the 2010 season.
Five Berea players suspended after brawl
Eleven men's basketball players from two schools were suspended for one game after a brawl between Berea and Indiana Southeast. The commissioner's office of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference made the announcement in a news release Friday. The release, which did not include the players' names, said that during the Thursday game at Berea, six players from Indiana Southeast and five from Berea were ejected for fighting. The game is considered a no contest and the statistics will not be recorded. "This is indeed an unfortunate occurrence between two highly competitive teams," Commissioner Bill Melton said. "I am certainly hopeful that this will be a learning experience for the players involved."
Tar Heels get Zeller back from injury
Seven-foot sophomore Tyler Zeller is expected to return to the lineup at Boston College on Saturday, giving a desperately needed boost to the struggling and injury-depleted North Carolina. Zeller has missed the past month with a foot injury.
"I'm hoping we can get him in and get some productive minutes out of him," Tar Heels Coach Roy Williams said. "That with each and every game, he can build on it."
Ole Miss player dies during workout
A Mississippi football player died after collapsing during the first day of team workouts. The university says 20-year-old Bennie F. Abram died Friday at a hospital in Oxford. The non-scholarship junior transferred from Itawamba Community College last fall. Trainers noticed that Abram was having difficulty early Friday shortly after the workout started. Officials say the trainers began first aid and called 911. Abram died several hours later.
■ Florida defensive tackle Gary Brown was dismissed from the football team following his arrest last weekend. School spokesman Steve McClain said Brown has a history of "not meeting a set of expectations" at Florida and is no longer part of the program. Brown, a redshirt freshman, was charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery following a dispute at a weekend party in Gainesville.
Venus advances to finals in Dubai
Venus Williams ended the stirring run of Israel's Shahar Peer 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinals of the Dubai Championships on Friday. Victoria Azarenka ousted Agnieszka Radwanska 6-3, 6-4 in the other semifinals at Aviation Club and will face Williams, who is going for her second straight Dubai title.
Peer's movements in Dubai have been restricted to the court and a hotel due to organizers' security concerns. The Israeli, who was last year denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates authorities, was surrounded by guards and played on the most secure court — not Centre Court — all week. Despite this, she beat three seeds, including No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.
■ She'll Be Doggone remained unbeaten in two starts, drawing off to a 4¾-length win Friday in the $42,000 allowance feature for 3-year-old fillies at Aqueduct. Ramon Dominguez was aboard for trainer Tony Dutrow as She'll Be Doggone ran the six furlongs in 1:11.11. Idealhouse was second, followed by Little Miss Macho.
The last word
NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson finished 39th, 27th and 31st, respectively, in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Daytona 500s. In each year, he rallied to win the Cup championship. Considering that, Johnson's mindset after Sunday's 35th-place run at Daytona is predictable:
"In my crazy mind, I'm trying to find a way I can win a fifth (title), because the last four we've finished terrible at Daytona, and I'm buying into it and finding some silver lining in this, saying it's a good sign."