Associated Press Sportswatch

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

NFL-NEW YEAR
Opening for business
UNDATED (AP) -- A new NFL business year starts today at 4 p.m. (Eastern) and it's already generating plenty of excitement.
We've been hearing about trades for days and many of them are expected to be officially announced later today.
According to several reports, the Minnesota Vikings have agreed to ship versatile wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seahawks for a package of draft picks that includes Seattle's first-round selection next month, the 25th overall.
And the Baltimore Ravens are reportedly trading wide receiver Anquan (AN'-kwan) Boldin to the team they beat in the Super Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers give up a sixth-round pick in next month's draft. That deal is pending a physical.
NFL-ROSTER MOVES
Cruz on the market
UNDATED (AP) -- The Giants are allowing Victor Cruz to enter restricted free agency. They've placed a first-round tender on the wide receiver. New York can match any offer or receive a first-round draft choice as compensation.
Also in the NFL, cornerback DeAngelo Hall has been released by the Washington Redskins. That's a result of the team's NFL-imposed salary cap penalty on the eve of the start of free agency.
The New York Jets have signed quarterback David Garrard to back up and possibly challenge Mark Sanchez for the starting job. Garrard was selected to the 2009 Pro Bowl but hasn't has not played in the NFL since 2010.
The Denver Broncos have released talented but troubled linebacker D.J. Williams, who was suspended for nine games last season and lost his starting job to Wesley Woodyard.
Running back Beanie Wells has been cut by the Arizona Cardinals after four injury-plagued seasons. A first-round pick in 2009, Wells showed flashes of the brilliance he had at Ohio State, but has only played one full season -- his rookie year.
The Tennessee Titans have placed a second-round tender on center Fernando Velasco before the start of free agency. If another team offers Velasco a contract, the tender allows the Titans to match the offer or receive a second-round selection in April's draft from the team signing the lineman.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL-NCAA TOURNAMENT-BIDS
Zags 1 of 5 teams to secure invite to Big Dance
UNDATED (AP) -- Top-ranked Gonzaga was going to make a 15th straight appearance in the NCAA tournament whether they won or lost last night's West Coast Conference final. As it turned out, the Bulldogs got the league's automatic bid and bolstered their hopes for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney with a 65-51 victory over Saint Mary's.
Davidson, Western Kentucky, James Madison and Iona also earned automatic berths in the NCAA men's basketball tournament by winning their conference finals.
Davidson topped College of Charleston 74-55 for its second straight Southern Conference championship.
Western Kentucky earned its second straight Sun Belt Conference title with a 65-63 victory over Florida International.
James Madison rode an early 23-1 spurt to a 70-57 win over Northeastern in the Colonial Athletic Association final.
And Iona was a 60-57 winner over Manhattan in the MAAC (mak) title game.
NBA-SCHEDULE
Hawks hope to halt Heat's hot streak
UNDATED (AP) -- The Miami Heat return to the court for tonight's home game against Atlanta riding a franchise-record 18-game winning streak that has shot them to the top of the NBA standings. The defending league champions are 47-13, including 3-0 versus the visiting Hawks.
The L.A. Lakers have won three straight heading into their game at Orlando and share the West's eighth and final playoff spot with idle Utah.
Also tonight, West leader San Antonio plays at Minnesota, Charlotte drags a 10-gamne losing streak into its home outing against Boston, Brooklyn hosts New Orleans, Dallas will be working on a three-game winning streak at Milwaukee, Memphis is at Portland and aiming for a fifth strauight win, and Cleveland hosts Washington for a matchup of bottom feeders.
NHL-SCHEDULE
Bruins can overtake Canadiens
UNDATED (AP) -- Two teams chasing NHL East leader Montreal are part of tonight's 11-game schedule. The Bruins are just one point back of the idle Canadiens while the Penguins trail by two.
And the West offers up a game between division leaders with Anaheim skating at Minnesota. The Ducks are nine points clear of L.A. in the Pacific Division standings. Anaheim has the second most points in the league but trails first-place Chicago by six points in the conference race. The Wild is tied with Vancouver for the top spot in the Northwest Division.
Elsewhere on the ice, Los Angeles is at Phoenix, Edmonton wraps up a season-high nine-game road trip at Colorado, Buffalo hosts the New York Rangers, Carolina skates at Washington, Columbus is home to Vancouver, Tampa Bay is at Florida, Toronto is at Winnipeg, St. Louis entertains San Jose and Dallas is home to Nashville.
MLB-DODGERS
Greinke has elbow inflammation
PHOENIX (AP) -- Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke has been diagnosed with inflammation in the back of his right elbow, although an exam last week showed no structural damage to the ligaments or tendons. The team says Greinke received an injection of platelet-rich plasma and anti-inflammatory medication and will rest for 2-to-3 days before undergoing a progressive throwing program. The 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner signed a six-year, $147 million contract with the Dodgers in December.
WBC-ROUND 2
A WBC double dip in Florida
MIAMI (AP) -- There is a World Baseball Classic doubleheader today in Miami.
Italy and the Dominican Republic square off in this afternoon's opener while the United States plays Puerto Rico in the nightcap.
These are second round Group Two games. Today's losers meet tomorrow evening in Marlins Park. Today's winners square off Thursday evening in south Florida.
TOKYO (AP) -- Two-time defending WBC champion Japan scored eight runs in the second inning and went on to beat the Netherlands 10-6 on Tuesday in the Tokyo Dome to win Group One. Both teams advance to the semifinals that begin Sunday in San Francisco.
BASEBALL-RAMIREZ
Manny being Manny
KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan (AP) -- Former major leaguer Manny Ramirez has signed a short-term contract to play in Taiwan's professional baseball league.
The EDA Rhinos say Ramirez will earn $25,000 a month to appear with the team during this year's March-November season.
The 40-year-old right-handed hitter hit the big time with the Boston Red Sox and was named the Most Valuable Player at the 2004 World Series. He subsequently played with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox, before landing with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. He was suspended from the Rays for using performance enhancing drugs. It was his second drug-related ban.
In 2012 Ramirez hit .302 for Oakland's Triple-A Sacramento affiliate but his contract was not renewed.


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