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Frank Thomas Signs With A’s

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From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Free-agent slugger Frank Thomas agreed to terms on a $500,000, one-year contract with Oakland, giving the Athletics the power hitter they’ve been seeking for the middle of their lineup.

Thomas, 37, a two-time American League most valuable player who has been slowed by injuries in recent years, can make an additional $2.6 million in bonuses based on plate appearances and not injuring his left foot.

Thomas played his first 16 seasons with the Chicago White Sox, who won their first World Series since 1917 last season.

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Fidel Castro confirmed that his country would play in the World Baseball Classic in Cuba’s first official reaction to the U.S. government’s decision allowing the communist country to participate.

The Dodgers signed veteran catcher Pat Borders and left-handed pitcher Joe Beimel to minor league contracts. Borders, 42, batted .197 in 39 games with Seattle last season. He was the 1992 World Series MVP for Toronto in 1992.

Beimel, 28, pitched in seven games for Tampa Bay last season.

OLYMPICS

Panel Named

for Kwan’s Tryout

The fate of Michelle Kwan’s quest for an Olympic berth will be announced Friday, after she has been observed by a five-person committee empowered to determine if she’s fit to compete next month at the Turin Games.

U.S. Figure Skating officials said they would announce their decision at a news conference after she performs her short and long programs in a closed session at the East West Ice Palace in Artesia.

On the panel are Bob Horen of New Hope, Pa., chairman of U.S. Figure Skating’s International Committee; Charles Cyr of Palm Desert, a technical controller; Paula Naughton of Vancouver, Wash., a world judge; Lorrie Parker of Overland Park, Kan., an international judge; and Brittney Bottoms of Marietta, Ga., who was a senior-level national competitor before she became a coach.

If the panel isn’t satisfied that Kwan has regained her form, or if she chooses to withdraw for any reason, the Turin berth will go to Emily Hughes, who finished third at the U.S. championships behind Sasha Cohen and Kimmie Meissner and was designated the first alternate.

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-- Helene Elliott

SOCCER

Ramirez Not Expected

to Return to Galaxy

Guillermo Ramirez, the MVP of last year’s MLS Cup, isn’t expected to return to the Galaxy after rejecting the team’s contract offer.

The deal remains on the table, but the midfielder’s return “looks doubtful,” Coach Steve Sampson said.

A goal by Luis Ernesto Perez two minutes from the end of regulation gave World Cup-bound Mexico a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Norway in an international friendly in front of an estimated 40,000 fans at Monster Park in San Francisco.

Perez, who had come on as a second-half substitute, fired in the shot from close range in the 88th minute off a pass from Juan Pablo Rodriguez. Norway took the lead on a goal by Ole Martin Arst in the 10th minute, only to see Francisco Fonseca tie it in the 37th.

The game was Mexico’s first of 2006 as it prepares for the June 9-July 9 World Cup in Germany. Norway, which failed to qualify for the World Cup, will play the United States at the Home Depot Center on Sunday at 2 p.m.

The U.S. defeated Mexico, 3-0, and Canada beat Jamaica, 2-1, at Veracruz, Mexico, qualifying the under-20 women’s teams for the CONCACAF World Cup competition in Russia in August. Mexico and Jamaica will compete for the third spot.

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MLS named its newest franchise Houston 1836. The name was chosen because the city of Houston was founded in 1836.

JURISPRUDENCE

Knicks’ Thomas Reacts

to Harassment Suit

Isiah Thomas reacted with indignation over a former team executive’s federal sexual harassment lawsuit, which accuses the New York Knick president of unwanted advances, discrimination and “demeaning and repulsive behavior.”

Thomas said he never harassed Anucha Browne Sanders, the Knicks’ former senior vice president of marketing and business operations, nor did he discriminate against her or participate in her firing.

Philadelphia 76er forward Lee Nailon was arraigned on simple assault and harassment charges stemming from a fight with his wife at home. He was put on the inactive list and will not practice, play or travel with the team, President Billy King said.

MISCELLANY

Georgia Gives Richt

Eight-Year Contract

Georgia football Coach Mark Richt received an eight-year, $16-million contract. The deal boosts his annual salary to $2 million from $1.5 million.

Nick Scandone of Fountain Valley, recent winner of America’s top sailing award despite having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, finished strong to place fifth in the 2.4mR class of the International Disabled Sailing Championships at Perth, Australia.

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Scandone, battled strong winds and lost his mast during the first five days of racing. He started the last day in ninth place but posted finishes of first, 10th and second to move up four spots. His final position qualified the U.S. for a berth in the class at the 2008 Paralympics.

Long Beach State announced the three finalists to fill the position of athletic director: Stephen Lopes, senior associate athletic director at USC; William McGillis, athletic director at Evansville; and Marilyn McNeil, athletic director at Monmouth in New Jersey.

The Assn. of Volleyball Professionals will announce today a 16-tournament schedule that includes stops in five new cities.

The tour kicks off March 31-April 2 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Total prize money -- split equally among men and women -- is $3.5 million.

Sacramento, Atlanta, Birmingham, Ala., Brooklyn and Lake Tahoe, Nev., are the new stops. Southern California stops are: Santa Barbara, May 18-21; Huntington Beach, May 26-28; Hermosa Beach, June 9-11; and Manhattan Beach, Aug. 10-13.

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-- Peter Yoon

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