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Sports briefs

By MARC TOPKIN, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 2, 2001

Rays spring roster jumps to 70

The Devil Rays have invited 31 players to join the 39 on their roster for spring training and could add to that list before workouts begin Feb. 17.

"There are always some guys that are out there looking for opportunities," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "We're just looking to create as competitive a situation as possible."

Most of the non-roster invitees, such as former major-leaguers Pat Borders, Ozzie Guillen and Andy Sheets, already were announced.

Top outfield prospects Josh Hamilton and Carl Crawford, along with promising first baseman Josh Pressley and left-hander Ronni Seberino, were added. So, too, were several pitchers who had been with the Rays and then were taken off the roster, including Mike Duvall, Trevor Enders and Tony Fiore.

The complete list of non-roster invitees:

Pitchers (16): Stevenson Agosto, Sean Bergman, Duvall, Derrin Ebert, Enders, Fiore, Santos Hernandez, Dwayne Jacobs, Rusty Meacham, Jim Pittsley, Bill Pulsipher, Juan Rosario, Seberino, Paul Spoljaric, Jeff Wallace, Victor Zambrano.

Catchers (4): Borders, Neil Garcia, Paul Hoover, Yohanny Valera.

Infielders (6): Guillen, Ray Holbert, Mike Metcalfe, Pressley, Sheets, Ron Wright.

Outfielders (5): Crawford, Derrick Gibson, Hamilton, Chris Hatcher, Norm Hutchins.

MORE RAYS: Jason Trott, a three-time Big Ten batting champ at Ohio State, has been hired as strength and conditioning coordinator, replacing Kevin Harmon. Trott, 24, spent one season with the Indianapolis Colts and one with the Triple-A Buffalo team after graduating from Ohio State with a degree in exercise science.

MORE BASEBALL: Derek Jeter and the Yankees hope to agree by next week on a contract of nine or 10 years worth an average of $18-million to $19-million a season. ... Jim Leyritz and Matt Franco agreed to minor-league contracts with the Mets. ... Dave McCarty and the Royals agreed to a $1.6-million, two-year contract. ... Ex-Mets outfielder Mookie Wilson has won a $450,000 judgment against two men who have been indicted on charges they defrauded athletes. ... Red Sox infielder Chris Stynes avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a $1.3-million, one-year contract.

BASKETBALL: John Strickland had 24 points and nine rebounds as the Tampa Bay ThunderDawgs defeated Chicago 107-93 at the Bayfront Arena. Tampa Bay scored 34 in the final quarter to beat the top team in the ABA 2000. The win was the first in four tries for coach Gordon Gibbons, who became coach Jan. 19.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: A player from West Virginia who was badly injured when a man fleeing police crashed into his van, killing a Bluefield State teammate, has filed a negligence suit against the Leon County Sheriff's Office in Tallahassee. Mark Morgan seeks unspecified damages. AUTO RACING: Practice for the Rolex 24-Hour endurance race included Dale Earnhardt and actor-driver Paul Newman. The top two qualifying positions went to James Weaver and Jack Baldwin. ... Jerry Toliver led Funny Car qualifying at the AutoZone Winternationals at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway. Toliver had a quarter-mile run of 4.878 seconds at a top speed of 314.09 mph.

CYCLING: French police have asked the sport's world governing body for access to blood samples taken from Lance Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service team during last year's Tour de France. The request was made as part of the investigation by French authorities into allegations that U.S. Postal riders may have used banned substances during last year's Tour.

OLYMPICS: After the tape-delayed Sydney Games produced the worst TV ratings in 32 years, NBC has asked Athens 2004 organizers to consider changing the starting times of some events. Athens is seven hours ahead of the East Coast.

SOCCER: Former U.S. national team defender Steve Trittschuh re-signed with MLS, agreeing to a multiyear pact to stay with the Tampa Bay Mutiny. Trittschuh, 35, scored four goals last season while starting all 32 games, one of seven MLS players to do so. ... Defender Greg Vanney re-signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy.

TENNIS: Second-seeded Fernando Vicente advanced to the quarterfinals of the Colombia Open in Bogota, beating Ignacio Hirigoyen 6-4, 7-6 (7-4). ... Top-seeded Marat Safin blew seven match points and struggled to a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over qualifier Xavier Malisse in the second round of the Milan Indoors ATP tournament. ... Shinobu Asagoe, a wild-card entrant, upset fourth-seeded Amanda Coetzer 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (7-5) in the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo. ... Florida's Jessica Lehnhoff won her first-round match at the Rolex National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships at Farmers Branch, Texas. UF's Olivier Levant and Nathan Overholser lost.

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