Expanded instant replay OK'd
Major League Baseball will greatly expand instant replay to review close calls starting this season. MLB announced Thursday that owners, players and umpires have approved the new system.
Each manager will be allowed to challenge at least one call per game. If he's right, he gets another challenge. After the seventh inning, a crew chief can request a review on his own if the manager has used his challenges.
The so-called "neighborhood play" at second base on double plays cannot be challenged. Many had safety concerns for middle infielders being wiped out by hard-charging runners if the phantom force was subject to review.
Now that Tampa Bay's David Price is slated to earn the biggest single-season salary in Rays history, the three-time All-Star hopes he remains part of the budget-minded franchise's plans for 2014. The team announced Thursday that the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $14 million, one-year deal. However, the agreement doesn't eliminate the possibility of a trade.
Alex Rodriguez says his season-long suspension could be a benefit, allowing him to rest and return to the Yankees for the final three years of his contract.
Spurrier gets contract extension, raise
South Carolina's Steve Spurrier has received a one-year contract extension and a raise that will pay the coach $4 million annually.
The university board of trustees approved a $700,000 raise and the extension Thursday. The deal ties Spurrier to the school through 2018. If the 68-year-old coach decides to retire, the trustees voted for a contract clause that would make Spurrier a special assistant to university President Harris Pastides and athletic director Ray Tanner.
With the raise, Spurrier becomes one of the top 10 highest-paid college football coaches in the country.
Spurrier's nine assistant coaches also received raises that put their combined compensation at $3.3 million, up from the $2.7 the group earned this past season.
Rondo ready for Friday return
Rajon Rondo's rehab continues. And now it will take place in live NBA games. The Boston Celtics' point guard, who has not played since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last Jan. 25, is scheduled to return on Friday night. Coach Brad Stevens and general manager Danny Ainge both said Rondo would return for the game against the Los Angeles Lakers "barring any setbacks."
"I don't think we can expect him to be the Game 7 Rajon Rondo tomorrow," Stevens said before practice on Thursday. "This is part of the process to getting back to full-go."
High school basketball
Green leads Henry Clay over Dunbar
Jordan Green poured in 35 points and grabbed eight rebounds to carry Henry Clay past host Paul Dunbar 69-59. The score was tied after the first quarter and at halftime and the teams were rarely more than four points apart before Henry Clay began the fourth quarter win an 11-3 run. Green hit 10 of 17 shots from the field and 15 of 25 free throws. Dunbar got 24 points from Darius Williams.
Scott County, ranked second in the state, routed host Sayre 72-41. Center Raekwon Long led the way with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Justin Sanders got half of Sayre's baskets and a game-high 24 points. Sayre led after the first quarter, but the Cardinals took control with a 12-point advantage in the second quarter.
Sophomore Carson Williams scored 25 points, including the 1,00th of his career, to lead Owen County pas Eminence 56-44.
In girls games:
Senior Brooke Todd had a triple double with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 12 blocked shots as No. 8 Paul Dunbar ran its record to 15-2 by topping Henry Clay 48-41.
Williams sets wins mark for Australian
Five-time champion Serena Williams has now won more matches at the Australian Open than any other woman, notching career win No. 61 on Friday as she advanced to the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Daniela Hantuchova.
On another scorching day at Melbourne Park, Williams converted her fourth match point on No. 31-seeded Hantuchova's serve to finish it off in 1 hour, 20 minutes, keeping her time on court to a minimum during the heat wave.
The temperature hit 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) during Williams' match and was expected to climb to 44 C (111 F).
Matches on outer courts were suspended for four hours on Thursday afternoon when the Extreme Heat Policy was invoked. Lightning and rain caused further delays later in the evening. Maria Sharapova advanced after playing 3 ½ hours in the blazing sun. Two-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka won her night match indoors. The loaded top half of the men's draw lost a contender when No. 5 Juan Martin del Petro lost a second-round match that ended at 1:20 a.m. Friday.
Five straight birdies put Reed in lead
Patrick Reed went low in perfect scoring and weather conditions Thursday at the Humana Challenge. He wasn't alone. Reed ran off five straight birdies in the middle of his round on PGA West's Arnold Palmer Private Course and finished with a bogey-free 9-under 63 to tie his career low. Ryan Palmer, Justin Hicks, Daniel Summerhays and Charley Hoffman shot 64.
Phil Mickelson didn't have much success with his new driver in the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, failing to make a single birdie in a 1-over 73 to sit six shots behind the leaders. Matthew Baldwin of England was tied for the lead with Romain Wattel of France and Rafa Cabrera-Bello after a 67.
White takes nasty spill in slopestyle
Shaun White took a face-first fall during his first run in an Olympic slopestyle qualifier Thursday and rode gingerly off the mountain. The two-time Olympic gold medalist in halfpipe was trying a double flip on the second big jump when he crashed. He stayed on the ground for a minute or two and was attended to by medical staff before he made his way down the mountain under his own power.
Sports in the Courts
Hernandez examined in another shooting
Boston police have been investigating whether jailed former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez may have been the gunman in a 2012 double slaying, according to a search warrant request released Thursday. Hernandez, who is awaiting trial on murder charges in a 2013 shooting near his home, was seen on surveillance footage in the same nightclub as the victims the night of the attack in Boston's South End, authorities have said.
The last word
Sydney Crosby scored the gold-medal winning goal for Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics, but that's not enough this time around. Said Crosby:
"If you have a record time in the Olympics prior to this one, you're not settling for that time this time around. You want to do better."