Monday, March 27, 2006

Injured Bagwell fears for career

Houston Astros legend Jeff Bagwell admits he may never play again because of his long-running shoulder problem.

The 37-year-old first baseman missed large parts of last season with the injury, which hampers his throwing.

He has spent spring training trying to prove he can still play - but will start the new season, which begins on 2 April, on the disabled list.

"With the condition of my shoulder, I'm not going to be able to start the season with the Astros," he said.

"I came down to spring training to see if I could still make it as a first baseman.

"But I may never play again, although I'm not ruling it out. It's been 15 years with the Astros, but I have to do what's best for me, for the Astros and for baseball."

Bagwell has hit a club record 449 home runs for Houston after spending his entire career with them.

He has had the arthritic shoulder problem since 2001 - and has now said that he will consult a doctor to see if it will be beneficial to remove bone spurs from the shoulder.

In January, the Astros filed an insurance claim to recoup about $15.6m (£8.96m) of his $17m (£9.76m) salary - but he must remain on the injured list all season for them to collect their money.

Aussies ponder Minichiello move

Anthony Minichiello may be moved to the wing for Australia's Test against New Zealand next month to accommodate captain Darren Lockyer at full-back.

Minichiello won last year's Golden Boot, but Lockyer could be poised for a return to his original position.

Chairman of selectors Bob McCarthy suggested Lockyer's attacking talents were being blunted by the defensive requirements of the stand-off role.

And coach Ricky Stuart said he thought Lockyer's best position was full-back.

"I think Darren's best at full-back but we've got the world's best player there at the moment," said Stuart, who coaches Minichiello at club level with the Sydney Roosters.

"But it's not my position to pick the team, it's the selectors' - I will coach whatever team they give me.

"I have the ear of the selectors and the team that we pick will be the best team for Australia."

We don't want Darren Lockyer having to make a hundred tackles
Australia chairman of selectors Bob McCarthy

Speculation has suggested either Trent Barrett or Braith Anasta would slot in at stand-off.

McCarthy voiced concerns about Lockyer's defensive workload.

"We don't want him having to make a hundred tackles," said McCarthy.

"Because of his great attacking prowess you don't want to see him saddled with doing 40-odd tackles a game.

"New Zealand have those big boppers in the back row and they'll be running at him the whole game."



Australia's long domination of the international scene ended last year when New Zealand swept to victory in the Tri-Nations final, a game Lockyer missed with a foot injury.

Wasps 28-0 Leeds

Wasps: (14) 28
Tries: Voyce 2, Sackey, Van Gisbergen
Cons: Van Gisbergen 4
Leeds: (0) 0
Leeds' fears of relegation deepened on Sunday after they fell to a heavy defeat at the hands of champions Wasps.

Tom Voyce scored after four minutes to put his side ahead, and Paul Sackey's 20th-minute try extended Wasps' lead.

The Tykes' appeals for a penalty try were rejected when Tom Biggs was fouled, and Simon Shaw's sin-binning and a penalty failed to yield points.

Voyce and Mark van Gisbergen added to Wasps' tally before an injury-time sending-off for Leeds' Richard Parks.

The Tykes are now 11 points adrift at the bottom of the Premiership table.

Wasps set the tone early on with a powerful rolling maul disrupting Leeds' defence allowing a simple handling move to put Voyce in at the corner.

Sackey's try midway through the half was also a simple affair, England centre Stuart Abbott provided the scoring pass.

Shaw's cynical foul on Biggs - when the winger was sprinting through to regather his own kick - earned the second row a yellow card, but Leeds' efforts came to nothing when they made a mess of the subsequent catch and drive.

When Wasps were restored to 15 players, Voyce put the result beyond doubt with an interception effort from 40m out after a shocking pass from Tykes full-back Roland de Marigny.

Leeds went close through De Marigny and centre Chris Bell, but Wasps secured the bonus point through Van Gisbergen's late score in the corner.

Frustrations boiled over late on, with Parks' sin-binning for a defensive infringement turning into a red for dissent.

# Wasps flanker Tom Rees was sent to hospital for an X-ray on his left leg after being helped off in the first half.

# Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan:
"There's a lot to play for and I think it will go down to the wire.

"I don't expect anything will be resolved until the last match.

"The control we had for the whole match was pleasing and the defence was outstanding."

# Leeds director of rugby Phil Davies:
"It was a tough day for us. There were a few unforced errors and Wasps capitalised on them.

"We are talking about one of the best teams in England here. Not many teams are going to come here and get any return.

"But the effort was phenomenal and that's what we have to hold on to over the last four games."

Wasps: Van Gisbergen, Sackey, Lewsey, Abbott, Voyce, Staunton, Reddan, Payne, Ward, Bracken, Shaw, R. Birkett, Worsley, Rees, Dallaglio.
Replacements: Erinle for Sackey (22), Brooks for Staunton (62), M. Dawson for Reddan (56), Mackenzie for Bracken (65), Haskell for R. Birkett (40), Ibanez for Worsley (76), Leo for Rees (19).
Sin Bin: Shaw (39).

Leeds: De Marigny, Snyman, Bell, Jones, Biggs, Ross, Marshall, Kerr, Rawlinson, Gerber, Hooper, Palmer, Hyde, Parks, Thomas, Crane.
Replacements: Balshaw for Ross (40), McMillan for Marshall (79), Bulloch for Rawlinson (51), Crane for Hyde (40), Murphy for Crane (70).
Not Used: Shelley, Blackett.

Sin Bin: Parks (78).

Sent Off: Parks (78).

Att: 8,186

Ref: Ashley Rowden (RFU).

Scots in fear of coaching exodus

Scots in fear of coaching exodus
The euphoria surrounding Scotland's best Commonwealth Games display has been dampened by doubts over the future of several leading sports figures.

Swimming boss Chris Martin, track cycling manager Ivor Reid and boxing coach John McKay are all uncertain to stay on in their roles.

Scotland won 29 medals in Melbourne to finish sixth in the table.

Eighteen came in swimming and cycling, so the loss of Martin and Reid would be a significant blow to both sports.

Martin says he will take a decision once a multi-agency review of Scottish sport has been concluded.

Carrying on depends on the vision the people have for the future
Chris Martin

"There are sometimes differing visions of how things should run," he said.

"I need to speak to certain people and find out what they think the future structures should be and my decision will be based on that.

"Carrying on depends on the vision the people have for the future."

Cycling has already been hit by the loss of national coach Graeme Herd, who says he intends to leave his post.

Reid is reportedly set to follow suit because of what he perceives to be the "ill treatment" of his colleague.

"I don't think all the hard work he's done has been appreciated," Reid told The Scotsman newspaper.

Scottish boxing has to hold on to John McKay for as long as possible
Boxing gold-medallist Kenny Anderson

"They'll need to appoint two staff to take on his workload - he's put in a phenomenal amount of work.

"It also won't be easy to find someone else who has the respect of the riders the way Graeme has."

James McCallum, who won bronze in the 20km scratch race, added: "I would have given up after the last Commonwealth Games without his (Herd) and Ivor's encouragement.

"I'm really sorry they're leaving. They've both been behind me all the way and, to me, they're the two most important guys in Scottish cycling."

McKay's future is uncertain because the 62-year-old's contract expires next year.



And Kenny Anderson, who won gold at light heavyweight by beating Nigeria's Adura Olalehin, said he would consider his own position if McKay was not kept on.

Meanwhile, the relative failure of the Scottish athletics team - they won just two medals - will come under further scrutiny.

The Scottish Institute of Sport's executive director Anne-Marie Harrison has criticised athletics for being "arrogant and lacking in vision and ambition".

That view was endorsed by Dougie Donnelly, Scottish Institute of Sport chairman, who was in Melbourne for the Games.

"I back what Anne-Marie has said unequivocally, 100%," he told The Herald newspaper.

"I've already arranged a meeting with the Scottish Athletics chairman Mark Hollinshead soon after my return."