UK baseball signee a 1st-team high school All-American
Kentucky baseball signee and Louisville Trinity standout Corey Littrell has been named a first-team high school All-American by Louisville Slugger, the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper announced Friday. Littrell, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound southpaw, is regarded as the top prospect in the state of Kentucky.
Littrell, one of 37 pitchers named to the first-team, struck out 141 batters as a junior. He was 13-2 with a 0.72 ERA. Littrell also batted .375 average with 19 runs, seven doubles, two home runs and 18 RBI.
"Corey is the top pitcher in the state and has really developed into one of the top high school talents in the nation," UK Coach Gary Henderson said. "He is an outstanding competitor with an advanced ability to pitch for his age. We are excited for Corey and can't wait to get him in a Kentucky uniform next year."
■ Duran Elmore, an outfielder and left-handed pitcher at Danville, was named an honorable mention All-American as a multiple-position player. He signed to play at Morehead State. Elmore hit .408 and stole 46 bases last year. He also had 106 strikeouts in 77 innings with a 1.62 ERA.
NASCAR gives tracks economic relief
NASCAR has alleviated some of the financial strain on racetracks during the rough economic climate. The sanctioning body lowered the fee it charges to hold NASCAR races, and the trickle down affects nearly every aspect of events. The reduction should allow track owners to reduce ticket prices and lower various fees associated with holding a race.
It also will affect prize money, which is largely determined by track profit. High-profile tracks like Daytona, Texas and Indianapolis pay a much higher sanctioning fee to NASCAR than smaller venues like Dover, Darlington and Martinsville — and the purses reflect that.
"Last year we launched an industrywide effort to help the sport manage budgets in this economy," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Friday. "NASCAR did the right thing to work with the tracks to reduce their costs in order to manage the economic realities.
"In return, the tracks have done a great job reducing ticket prices and enhancing the fan experience. Likewise, we worked with the teams to contain costs such as elimination of testing and other steps. This is consistent with how virtually every sport and business has adjusted to the economy over the past year."
Nady signs one-year deal with Cubs
Xavier Nady finalized a $3.3 million, one-year contract with the Chicago Cubs. The deal, agreed to earlier this week, was contingent on the 31-year-old outfielder passing a physical — he had his second elbow ligament replacement surgery last July and appeared in only seven games with the New York Yankees last season.
Nady batted .305 with 25 homers and 97 RBI in 148 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Yankees in 2008. He is a career .304 hitter in 28 games at Wrigley Field and will be part of an outfield mix that includes Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and newly acquired Marlon Byrd.
■ The Seattle Mariners agreed to a one-year contract with outfielder Eric Byrnes. He was cut two weeks ago by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona owed him $11 million from the final season of a $30 million contract, and any team could sign him for the $400,000 minimum, with the Diamondbacks responsible for the remainder.
■ Texas Rangers right-hander Scott Feldman, a 17-game winner last season, agreed to a one-year, $2.425 million contract.
Broken thumb could sideline Cuche
Olympic medal contender Didier Cuche broke his right thumb Friday during a World Cup giant slalom, putting his participation at the Vancouver Games in doubt. The Swiss ski federation said Cuche traveled back to Switzerland and will have surgery in Zurich on Saturday. In his second run, Cuche hit the second-to-last gate with his right ski, fell and slid over the finish line. Ted Ligety of the United States won the race.
The 35-year-old Cuche is among the Olympic favorites in downhill, super-G and giant slalom. He has won one medal so far — silver in super-G at the 1998 Nagano Games.
2004 medal winner admits to doping
A member of the 1,600-meter gold-medal relay team at the Athens Olympics has accepted a four-year suspension and disqualification of her results for doping. Crystal Cox, who ran in the preliminaries for the American team led by Sanya Richards, admitted to using anabolic steroids and agreed to the penalty Friday, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said.
She almost certainly will have her gold medal stripped, while the consequences for her teammates aren't yet known. Richards ran the final along with Dee Dee Trotter, Monique Henderson and Monique Hennegan. Moushaumi Robinson joined Cox in the preliminary heat.
Marion Jones' relay teammates from the Sydney Games lost their medals after Jones admitted to doping, but they are fighting to have the medals restored. A relay gold medalist from the same year, Jerome Young, was stripped of his gold medal for doping, but a move to strip the entire team was rejected. Young only ran in the preliminary of the 1,600-meter team.
Legends' caravan set for Feb. 2-4
The Lexington Legends announced its radio caravan will make stops in Cynthiana (Feb. 2), Richmond and Somerset (Feb. 3), and Danville and Lexington (Feb. 4).
Scheduled guests for Lexington include Jeff Parrett, a star pitcher at Lafayette and UK who went on to a 10-year career in the majors; John Shelby Jr., a former Henry Clay star who played for 11 seasons in the majors; Keith Madison, head baseball coach at UK for 25 years; Michael Bertram, another former UK standout and Lafayette alum who hit .285 for Double-A Erie in the Tigers organization in 2009; Ben Revere, a former Lexington Catholic star who was the Twins' minor league player of the year in 2008 and 2009; Robbie Ross, a left-handed pitcher from Lexington Christian who is in the Rangers' organization; John Shelby III, a former Tates Creek and UK star now in the White Sox organization; and Chaz Roe, a Lafayette graduate and one of the top pitching prospects for the Rockies.
Legends Hall of Famer Josh Anderson, now with the Cincinnati Reds, will be at the Somerset stop.
ABA's team in Nashville folds
The fledging Music City Stars of the American Basketball Association have suspended operations for the rest of the season, citing trouble selling tickets. Team owner Tony Chase, who also owns Lexington's Bluegrass Stallions, said in a statement Friday that he will decide the franchise's future in the coming months. He said it was tough trying to start a minor league team in a town that had two fail in recent years, especially during a troubled economy.
Jan van Breda Kolff had been coaching the Stars, who were 9-3 with a game scheduled in St. Louis on Friday night.
The last word
ESPN analyst Jon Gruden on the licking Brett Favre took from the Saints' defense in the NFC Championship Game:
"I gave the beating a 9.8 (on a scale of 10). They got after him physically. They knocked him down close to 20 times in the game. He was hit high, he was hit low. He was even hit after a couple of handoffs. They hit him constantly for 60 minutes. There is nobody that's played the game of football that's as tough as that guy. For him to continually get up and play at the level he played given the beating that he took, I give him all the kudos that I can give a guy."