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Headlines from around the world in sports

BASEBALL

McGrady signs with independent team

SUGAR LAND, Texas – Former NBA star Tracy McGrady signed yesterday to pitch for the Sugar Land Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League.

“It’s an honor to be a part of this club,” McGrady said in a statement released by the team. “To be a part of the team means everything to me and it’s a dream come true. I look forward to coming to the ballpark not only to play the game, but to be in the clubhouse building camaraderie with these guys. I am excited to start the journey we’re going to take this season.”

The 6-foot-8 right-hander officially reported to spring camp last week and made his first scrimmage game appearance against Alvin Community College on April 16. In an inning of work, McGrady allowed one run on three hits with no walks and no strikeouts.

The 34-year-old McGrady spent 16 years in the NBA with the Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks. The seven-time All-Star won two scoring titles.

BASEBALL

Selig says clarification coming on ball transfers

CHICAGO – Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said the sport’s playing rules committee is working to clarify the rule on transfers by fielders on forceouts, which has caused some controversy in the first season of expanded instant replay for umpires.

Attending a game at Wrigley Field yesterday marking the 100th anniversary of the ballpark, Selig said he has not spoken with committee chairman Sandy Alderson, the New York Mets general manager.

Selig expects to hear back about clarifying the rule, adding “given the fact it’s new, yes, we’ve had a little glitch here and there, but not much, and nothing that really affected a game,” Selig added.

With instant replay, there has been increased scrutiny on when fielders have control of throws as they step on bases for forceouts and then transfer the ball to their hands for throws in attempts to turn double plays.

BASEBALL

Pirates’ Ishikawa rejects minor league assignment

PITTSBURGH – Travis Ishikawa, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ opening-day first baseman, refused an outright assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis and elected to become a free agent.

Ishikawa was designated for assignment Friday, when the Pirates acquired first baseman Ike Davis from the New York Mets, and Ishikawa cleared waivers. The 30-year-old hit .206 with one home run in 15 games.

His decision was announced yesterday.

NFL

Seahawks QB Wilson to divorce wife

RENTON, Wash. – Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson announced that he and his wife Ashton are divorcing.

Wilson made the announcement in a statement released by the Seahawks yesterday. He said decisions like this are not easy and respectfully asks for “prayers and understanding and privacy during this difficult time.”

The pair married in January 2012 after he finished his college career at Wisconsin and before he was drafted by the Seahawks. The couple had been visible at Seahawks events for his first two seasons in the league.

Wilson led Seattle to its first Super Bowl title in February, when the Seahawks overwhelmed the Denver Broncos.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Penn State fans plan new statue of Paterno

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – With one Joe Paterno statue in storage, fans of the late Penn State football coach are commissioning a new one to be placed across from the university.

A State College, Pa., restaurant owner said he’s interested in having the new statue put in front of his establishment.

Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the school isn’t involved in the plan. In 2012, the school removed a Paterno statue outside its football stadium. That happened after a university-commissioned report accused the late coach and three administrators of concealing sex abuse claims against retired assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

NBA

Suns’ Dragic honored as Most Improved Player

NEW YORK – Goran Dragic was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player after his career year helped lead the Suns to 23 more wins this season.

The 6-foot-3 guard from Slovenia came into the season with a career scoring average of 9.5 points in five years. He averaged 20.3 points and 5.9 assists per game as Phoenix went 48-34 and just missed the playoffs in the tough Western Conference. Dragic shot 50.5 percent from the field and 40.8 percent on 3-pointers.

He received 408 of a possible 1,134 points, including 65 first-place votes, from a panel of 126 sports writers and broadcasters in the United States and Canada. Indiana’s Lance Stephenson was second with 158 points and 13 first-place votes, and New Orleans’s Anthony Davis third with 155 points and 16 first-place votes.

NHL

Johnson, Palat, MacKinnon up for rookie award

NEW YORK – Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat are finalists for the NHL’s top rookie award.

They’re joined by Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche in the running for the Calder Trophy.

Johnson had a rookie team-record 24 goals and tied with MacKinnon for the NHL lead among rookies. MacKinnon, selected first overall in the draft by Colorado, led all NHL rookies in scoring with 63 points.

Palat finished second among rookie scorers with 59 points and 23 goals.

Tampa Bay is the first club to have multiple nominees for the award since 2008 when Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews finished first and third, respectively.

MOTORSPORTS

Swan Racing sells 2 cars, keeps Kligerman in fold

STATESVILLE, N.C. – Troubled NASCAR team Swan Racing found a home for driver Cole Whitt and is keeping Parker Kligerman under contract.

The two-car team faced an uncertain future because of difficulty securing corporate sponsorship. Minority owner Anthony Marlowe merged his ownership of the No. 26 team in BK Racing. Whitt will remain behind the wheel of the 26 in the Sprint Cup series.

The No. 30 team was sold yesterday to John Cohen of XxxTreme Motorsports. The team hired veteran driver J.J. Yeley and named Stephen Lane crew chief. The No. 30 team will be joined by several other former Swan Racing crew members.

Swan Racing will continue to look for options for Kligerman that will keep the rookie driver on the track.

TENNIS

Ferrer ousted, Nadal wins at Barcelona Open

BARCELONA, Spain – Second-seeded David Ferrer was ousted from the Barcelona Open by a Russian opponent for the second straight year and defending champion Rafael Nadal labored to victory yesterday.

Ferrer was unable to find his rhythm in losing, 6-4, 6-2, to Teymuraz Gabashvili in his opening match, while Nadal struggled past fellow Spanish player Albert Ramos, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

Nadal eventually overcame his 103rd-ranked opponent to reach the third round, rebounding from a surprise loss to Ferrer in the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals.

Nadal will face Ivan Dodig next after the Croatian dismissed Feliciano Lopez of Spain, 6-1, 6-4.

TENNIS

Hantuchova, Peng reach quarters in Morocco

MARRAKESH, Morocco – Top-seeded Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia beat last year’s runner-up Lourdes Dominguez Lino of Spain, 7-5, 6-2, yesterday to reach the quarterfinals of the Grand Prix SAR.

Garbine Muguruza of Spain, Peng Shuai of China and Shahar Peer of Israel also won their second-round matches.

The fifth-seeded Muguruza broke serve six times in her 6-3, 6-2 win over Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland.

Muguruza will face Peer, who overcame Patricia Mayr-Achleitner of Austria, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (3), in a match that lasted more than three hours.

The sixth-seeded Peng defeated Ukrainian qualifier Maryna Zanevska, 6-4, 7-6 (5), to next play Hantuchova.

TENNIS

Bucharest defending champ Rosol reaches quarters

BUCHAREST, Romania – Defending champion Lukas Rosol reached the Nastase Tiriac Trophy quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over eighth-seeded Jarkko Nieminen of Finland yesterday.

Home favorite Victor Hanescu failed to advance, though, as fourth-seeded Gilles Simon of France rallied from a set down to win, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

In other matches, top-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria defeated Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic, 7-6 (5), 6-2, while Ukraine’s Sergiy Stakovsky downed Carlos Berlocq of Argentina, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 in a match lasting 2 hours, 21 minutes.

TENNIS

Kvitova beaten in 1st major upset at Stuttgart

STUTTGART, Germany – Alisa Kleybanova defeated third-seeded Petra Kvitova, 6-2, 7-6 (3), to provide the first major upset at the Porsche Grand Prix yesterday.

The 102nd-ranked Kleybanova rallied from 5-3 down in the second set to beat her Czech opponent. It was the Russian’s first victory against a top-10 player since winning her battle against Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which kept her out between May 2011 and March 2012.

Earlier, Ana Ivanovic defeated Sabine Lisicki, 6-1, 6-3, to send the Wimbledon finalist out in the first round. Ivanovic, the world No. 12 and former French Open winner, needed just one hour to beat the 24-year-old Berliner.

Italy’s Flavia Pennetta fired 10 aces to none in her 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 win over wild card Andrea Petkovic. It left four of the six home players out of the most important German women’s competition at the first hurdle.

Pennetta will face the fifth-seeded Jelena Jankovic in the second round, with the winner then playing Kleybanova in the quarterfinals.

Wild card Julia Goerges gave the supporters reason for cheer with a surprise 6-1, 7-5 win over Romania’s Sorana Cirstea. The 94th-ranked German will next face Ivanovic today.

Italy’s Sara Errani booked her quarterfinal place by defeating Kaia Kanepi of Estonia. 6-3, 6-3.

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