Sports briefs: Dec. 23


Reds agree to trade Woodto Cubs for reliever Marshall

The Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs have agreed to a trade that sends pitcher Travis Wood, 24, and two minor-leaguers to the Cubs in exchange for left-handed relief pitcher Sean Marshall, according to ESPN which cited a source familiar with the situation.

Marshall was one of the top left-handed setup men last season. He had a 2.26 ERA with 79 strikeouts and 17 walks in 752⁄3 innings. Wood was 6-6 with 4.84 ERA in 18 starts last season with the Reds.

Carlos Beltran and the St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to a two-year contract pending results of a physical, fortifying the team's lineup following the departure of Albert Pujols.

KMOX, the Cardinals' flagship radio station, reported the deal is for $26 million over two years. The 34-year-old Beltran batted .300 with 22 home runs, 84 RBI and a .385 on-base percentage for the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants this year..

■ All-Star pitcher Gio Gonzalez said Thursday the Washington Nationals have agreed to acquire him in a trade from the Oakland Athletics, and the deal is nearly finished.

Oakland reportedly will receive four players in the deal, including three top prospects: right-handers A.J. Cole and Brad Peacock, lefty Tom Milone and catcher Derek Norris.

The 26-year-old Gonzalez went 16-12 last season — a career high for wins after he earned 15 victories in 2010 — with a 3.12 ERA in 32 starts and was selected to his first All-Star game


Brown family to be sole Bengals' owner

Bengals president Mike Brown and family members are about to buy 30 percent of the team they do not own, giving them virtually all the shares in the team, for $200 million from the Austin Knowlton estate, Forbes magazine reports.

Forbes recently valued the Bengals at $875 million — 25th out of the 32 teams in the National Football League. The Brown family, which would own virtually the entire franchise, is paying cash for the stake and the deal is expected to be finalized next week, Forbes reported. Knowlton, a co-founder of the team, died in 2003 at age 93.

■ Colts owner Jim Irsay told the NFL Network he couldn't foresee a scenario in which quarterback Peyton Manning would play anywhere but Indianapolis unless he can't play at all. Manning his missed the entire season since having the third surgery on his neck Sept. 8. "I think the hope is that his health is in the position where he could return again," Irsay said. "That remains uncertain."

The signs are encouraging. On Dec. 1, surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins said the fusion between two vertebrae had healed firmly and that Manning could increase the intensity of his workouts.

■ Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin had surgery on his knee Thursday to deal with slightly torn cartilage. Coach John Harbaugh said the veteran wideout will miss the final two weeks of the regular season and be able to return for the playoffs. The Ravens will not reveal which knee is injured.

The 31-year-old Boldin has 57 receptions for 887 yards and three touchdowns this year.

Sports in the courts

Four sue NFL over brain injuries

Jamal Lewis, Dorsey Levens and two other former NFL players have sued the league over brain injuries that they say left them struggling with medical problems years after their playing days ended. Lewis and Levens, along with Fulton Kuykendall and Ryan Stewart, filed the lawsuit against the National Football League and NFL Properties LLC this week in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

The players maintain the NFL knew as early as the 1920s of the potential for concussions to harm its players but only went public last year. "The NFL has done everything in its power to hide the issue and mislead players concerning the risks associated with concussions," the players argue in the lawsuit.

The NFL responded that it has long made player safety a priority.

Lewis, 32, is a former running back for the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns whose 10-year career ended in 2009. Levens, who is 41, also was a running back, playing 11 seasons until his career ended in 2003. Kuykendall, a former linebacker who is 58, played in the NFL between 1974 and 1985. And Stewart, 38, was a safety for the Detroit Lions for five seasons ending in 2000.

The men claim a range of medical problems, including memory loss, headaches and sleeplessness.

■ A bench warrant over a $1.4 million debt has been issued in Santa Ana, Calif., for star sports agent Leigh Steinberg, whose résumé includes representing eight No. 1 overall NFL draft picks and who was the inspiration for the movie Jerry Maguire.

The warrant for Steinberg's arrest was issued after he failed to appear in court last week in a case involving a judgment owed to a landlord, Carole Levitzky. Steinberg said he asked his attorney to change the date of his Dec. 15 hearing and was told it was taken care of. Steinberg said his financial troubles stem in part from his divorce. He separated from his wife in 2006.


Nets' Lopez to have surgery on foot

The New Jersey Nets will be without center and leading scorer Brook Lopez for a couple of months because of a broken right foot.

Lopez was injured during an exhibition game against the Knicks on Wednesday and he will have surgery Friday.

The injury is a stress fracture to the slow-healing fifth metatarsal. Lopez averaged 20.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists last season.

■ The Utah Jazz traded All-Star center Mehmet Okur to the New Jersey Nets for a second-round draft pick.

The 6-foot-11 Okur is in his 10th year and was to earn $10.8 million this season in the final year of his contract.


Mementos of Ernie Davis burned in fire

A fire at an upstate New York middle school named for the late Syracuse University football star Ernie Davis has destroyed some of his memorabilia that had been on display. Administrators with the Elmira City School District say the fire early Wednesday in the library at Ernie Davis Middle School destroyed all the books and computers, along with some memorabilia linked to Davis, the first black player to win college football's Heisman Trophy.

School officials say the library had a display case with photographs, ticket stubs, game brochures and other Davis memorabilia. A larger collection in another part of the building wasn't damaged in the fire, which started around 4 a.m.

Davis, who was from Elmira, won the Heisman in 1961. He was diagnosed with leukemia in 1962 and died in 1963 at the age of 23.

■ Two more people have come forward claiming they were abused by Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin, who abruptly retired just before the publishing of a report alleging he abused young children decades ago.

The two women bring to six the total number of adults who say Conlin molested them when they were younger. Linda Stella, 50, tells the Daily News that Conlin molested her on two occasions at his New Jersey home. A second unidentified woman tells The Philadelphia Inquirer she was also abused at Conlin's home.

Conlin has denied the allegations. Prosecutors say Conlin cannot be charged because the statute of limitations has expired. A phone message left for Conlin's attorney was not immediately returned early Thursday.

The last word

Dallas Cowboys rookie tackle Tyron Smith, the youngest player in the NFL at 21, may be more inexperienced than his opposition but he won't get outworked. At age 6, Smith started cleaning windows of commercial buildings, vacuuming carpets and stripping and waxing floors to help with the family's California cleaning business. Said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones:

"His coaches used to think of reasons for him to stay at school so he wouldn't have to work all night."