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Penguins fire GM Shero

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins fired General Manager Ray Shero, while the status of Coach Dan Bylsma will be evaluated.

Team co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said yesterday it was time to take the franchise in a new direction after the team’s latest playoff flameout.

Assistant general manager Jason Botterill will serve as general manager on an interim basis while the team searches for Shero’s replacement.

The Penguins rolled to the Metropolitan Division title this season but failed yet again to produce a bookend to the championship it won with stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in 2009.


Colts star LB Mathis suspended for 4 games

INDIANAPOLIS – NFL sacks champion Robert Mathis was suspended for four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The league made the announcement yesterday.

Mathis set a franchise record with 19½ sacks last season, winning the league title in that category, and he is one of the most respected leaders on the team.

Though Mathis can participate in offseason workouts, training camp and preseason games, he will not be return to the team until Sept. 29.

In a statement, the Colts said they wanted to reassure Mathis that he would remain an “honored and cherished” member of the team.


Panthers DE Hardy turns over 10 guns to police

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s spokeswoman said Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy turned over 10 guns to the police as part of a court order.

Julia Rush said all the guns surrendered yesterday were legal under North Carolina statutes. A license is not needed to own a gun in the state, only a permit to purchase and carry a concealed weapon.

The guns were an assortment of semi-automatic rifles and .12-gauge shotguns.

The 25-year-old Hardy, tagged as Carolina’s franchise player this season, voluntarily surrendered the weapons.

Hardy was arrested Tuesday for assaulting a female and communicating threats. He was released Wednesday on $17,000 bond. As part of his bond agreement he was ordered to turn over all weapons he owns or has access to.


Browns release wide receiver Little

CLEVELAND – The Browns released inconsistent wide receiver Greg Little yesterday. The 24-year-old became expendable after Cleveland added veteran wide receivers Miles Austin and Earl Bennett to its roster on Thursday. Those players were added as insurance in case Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon is suspended by the league for failing another drug test for marijuana.

Little was drafted by the Browns in the second round in 2011. And while he produced – he led the team in receptions in 2011 and 2012 – Little was also plagued by too many dropped passes and other drama.

Little had 41 catches for 465 yards and two TDs last season, when he also had to be reprimanded by then-coach Rob Chudzinski for traffic violations.


No charges for former player Sharper in Florida

MIAMI – Authorities in South Florida said they have found insufficient evidence to file charges against former All-Pro NFL safety Darren Sharper in an alleged sex assault case.

Miami Beach police spokeswoman Vivian Thayer said yesterday that the investigation found no corroborating witnesses, inconsistent statements by the alleged victim and no physical evidence.

A woman told the police that on Sept.27 she became highly intoxicated while visiting Sharper’s condo and awoke to find him sexually assaulting her. She didn’t report it until January, after seeing Sharper on TV regarding a similar assault case in Los Angeles.

Sharper also is being investigated for alleged sexual assaults in Louisiana, Arizona and Nevada. Sharper has denied the allegations.


Thunder F Ibaka out for postseason

OKLAHOMA CITY – Thunder forward and defensive specialist Serge Ibaka will miss the rest of the NBA playoffs because of a left calf injury.

Ibaka underwent an MRI yesterday, one day after Oklahoma City eliminated the Los Angeles Clippers and advanced to the Western Conference finals against the Spurs. Game 1 is Monday night in San Antonio.

Ibaka was injured during the third quarter of Thursday night’s win.

Ibaka averaged 12.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 13 postseason games.


Source: Sterling says he won’t pay fine

Donald Sterling’s lawyer has written the NBA stating the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers does not intend to pay the $2.5 million fine imposed by the league for racist comments, a person with knowledge of the letter’s contents said.

Sports Illustrated first reported the letter from Maxwell Blecher. The contents were confirmed by the person who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Blecher, a prominent antitrust attorney, acknowledged sending a letter but would not discuss its contents yesterday.


Rangers’ Perez could need Tommy John surgery

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Texas Rangers will meet with left-hander Martin Perez today to determine if the injured starter will undergo Tommy John surgery.

The 23-year-old Perez felt discomfort in his elbow in his most start last Saturday. An examination revealed inflammation, and he said this week he’s leaning toward having the procedure done.

Perez is 4-3 with a 4.38 earned-run average in eight starts after going 10-6 as a rookie. He’s 0-3 with a 13.15 ERA following consecutive shutouts.

The Rangers lost left-handed starter Matt Harrison this week because of a recurring back injury that forced him to miss most of last season. The 28-year-old Harrison hasn’t decided to undergo another back operation, one that would fuse disks together. Harrison is likely lost for the season regardless of his decision. He’s 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in four starts.


Indians option Salazar to minors

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Indians optioned right-hander Danny Salazar to Triple-A Columbus after he struggled in eight starts this season.

Salazar started last season’s wild-card playoff game. But he was 1-4 with a 5.53 ERA, striking out 47 in 40.2 innings, but allowed 49 hits, including eight home runs.

He was 2-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 10 starts last season.


Nadal holds off strong Murray challenge in Rome

ROME – Rafael Nadal stormed back from a surprisingly poor opening set to edge Andy Murray, 1-6, 6-3, 7-5, yesterday and secure a spot in the Italian Open semifinals.

Nadal’s semifinal opponent will be Grigor Dimitrov, while Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic will meet in the other half of the draw.

The second-ranked Djokovic overcame a stiff challenge from David Ferrer before grinding out a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 win.

In women’s play, top-ranked Serena Williams rolled past Zhang Shuai of China, 6-1, 6-3, to stay on course in her title defense. Williams’s semifinal opponent will be 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic, who beat 13th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

The other semifinal will pit local hope Sara Errani of Italy vs. 2007 and 2008 Rome champion Jelena Jankovic.

Errani took advantage of a supportive crowd to beat second-seeded Li Na, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, and reach the semifinals for the second consecutive year, while Jankovic eliminated third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-4, 6-4.


Ellis named coach of U.S. women’s national team

Jill Ellis was named the U.S. national team coach in the run-up to the women’s World Cup next year in Canada.

Ellis has been the interim coach since Tom Sermanni was surprisingly dismissed in early April after an exhibition victory against China.

It was Ellis’s second stint as an interim coach with the team; she also took over when previous head coach Pia Sundhage resigned in 2012 to become head coach of Sweden’s national team.


Phelps pulls off morning double, now cutting back

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Michael Phelps pulled off a grueling double in the morning preliminaries at the Charlotte Grand Prix, another big step in his comeback. He didn’t attempt another in the evening.

Phelps posted the second-best time in the 100-meter butterfly yesterday, about an hour after going eighth-best in the 200 freestyle.

His coach, Bob Bowman, calls it was a solid performance at this point in Phelps’s training. But Bowman said he knew all along that Phelps would not be doing a pair of evening finals. The coach said the races are too close together and he wants Phelps to focus on the 100 fly, which he has won at the last three Olympics.

Phelps’s time in the 200 free was 1 minute, 51.69 seconds. The 100 fly was 53.26.

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