Boston Reportedly Has Deal With Avery for $4.2 Million

From Staff and Wire Reports

The Boston Red Sox will sign free-agent pitcher Steve Avery to a one-year, $4.2-million contract, hoping to strengthen a pitching staff that lost Roger Clemens, ESPN reported.

Avery, 26, a left-hander, struggled through an injury-marred season with the Atlanta Braves in 1996, compiling a 7-10 record with a 4.47 earned-run average.

Red Sox spokesman Kevin Shea said an agreement hasn't been reached.

Agent Scott Boras said last week that Avery was being chased by the teams that couldn't persuade Clemens to turn down Toronto's three-year, $24.8-million contract. Cleveland, Boston, Baltimore, the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees all made bids for Clemens.

In the World Series against the Yankees, Avery was the loser in his only appearance, that in relief. A first-round pick of the Braves in 1988, Avery has a record of 72-62 with a 4.17 ERA.


The Florida Marlins agreed to terms with relief pitcher Robb Nen on a four-year contract.


Rock Preston, who averaged almost eight yards a carry as Warrick Dunn's backup the last three seasons, has been declared academically ineligible at Florida State, which means he will miss the Sugar Bowl game as well as next season. The 5-foot-7, 180-pound redshirt junior from Miami was expected to be Florida State's starting tailback in 1997.

Preston ran for 386 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 7.9 yards a carry. He also returned kickoffs.

Hudhaifa Ismaeli, a cornerback and kick returner for Northwestern, will miss the Citrus Bowl after he was suspended for one year for "a violation of policy governing the behavior of student athletes," Northwestern said in a statement.

Athletic Director Rick Taylor said the school would have no further comment.

Ismaeli, a senior with one more year of NCAA eligibility remaining, had 59 tackles this season, tying him for sixth on the Wildcats.

Former Raider offensive coordinator Thomas Walsh has been named coach at Idaho State. He replaces Brian McNeely, who resigned Nov. 25 after compiling a 21-34 record in five seasons.

Tennessee Martin hired Memphis assistant Jim Marshall as its football coach to replace Don McLeary, who was fired last month after the Skyhawks finished 1-10. McLeary was 49-63 in 11 seasons.


Assailants threw a small explosive device at the Bogota home of Rene Higuita, ex-goaltender for Colombia's national team and one of the country's best-known players, police said.

There were no injuries in the attack, which occurred Sunday in Medellin, 185 miles northwest of Bogota. Higuita and his family were not at home.

The small bomb damaged the front of the home and shattered windows at Higuita's house and nearby homes.

Defender Matthias Sammer of the German national team and Borussia Dortmund has won the Golden Ball Award as European soccer player of the year. Close behind were Barcelona's Brazilian striker Ronaldo and Newcastle United's Alan Shearer.

Names in the News

Dick Ebersol, president of NBC sports, was selected by the Sporting News as the most powerful person in sports.

There are no athletes among the top 10. Ebersol, who was second last year, is followed by Phil Knight, Nike chairman; Steve Bornstein, president and CEO of ESPN and president of ABC Sports; agent Mark McCormack, and Michael Eisner, chairman and CEO of Disney.

Boris Becker will not play for Germany in a first-round Davis Cup tennis match against Spain in February. His manager, Axel Meyer-Woelden, said Becker's withdrawal was "related to his health."

Don Norford of Long Beach Poly High is the second winner of the NFL's award as high school football coach of the year.

Mark Johnson will make the second defense of his International Boxing Federation flyweight title against Alejandro Montiel on Feb. 10 at the Forum. Johnson, 25, is 30-1 with 23 knockouts and has won his last 29 fights. Montiel, 25, is 33-2 with 22 knockouts.

Jonathan Himebauch, junior football center at USC, was named winner of the Bob Chandler scholarship for 1997-98. He will be recognized at a benefit dinner Feb. 7 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pasadena.


Connecticut replaced Stanford atop the Associated Press' women's basketball poll, moving up from No. 2 last week after the Cardinal lost at Old Dominion.

* Randy Harvey is on vacation.

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