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Epstein: Cubs in pursuit of pitching

BASEBALL
After trading lefthanded reliever Sean Marshall to the Reds yesterday, Cubs president Theo Epstein said the team will keep trying to improve its starting rotation, even if it means trading top-end starter Matt Garza for depth. “I don’t think we are done,’’ Epstein told ESPNChicago.com. “I do think we still need to build more depth on the starting pitching front, both in the big leagues and minor leagues.’’ According to major league sources, the Cubs talked to a number of teams about Garza at the winter meetings, including the Rangers, Diamondbacks, and Royals. The Yankees and Blue Jays have also expressed interest. In the deal that sent Marshallto the Reds, Chicago received lefty starter Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt, and infield prospect Ronald Torreyes. The 29-year-old, 6-foot-7-inch Marshall was 6-6 with five saves and a 2.26 ERA last season. Wood, 24, made 35 starts for the Reds over two seasons, going 6-6 with a 4.84 ERA in 2011. Sappelt, 24, batted .243 in 38 games with the Reds, while Torreyes, 19, hit .356 in 67 games for Single A Dayton . . . The Reds also claimed reliever Josh Judy off waivers from the Indians. The 25-year-old righthander appeared in 12 games over four stints with the Indians last season, posting a 7.70 ERA . . . A US District Court judge in Delaware dealt a significant blow to the Dodgers’ plans to sell the media rights to future games, halting the sales process while he considers an appeal by Fox Sports. Judge Leonard Stark also said he will likely agree with Fox’s position that a bankruptcy judge who authorized the sale process erred when determining certain protections granted to Fox in its existing contract with the Dodgers were unenforceable in bankruptcy. He said Fox met its burden of showing it would be irreparably harmed without the stay because the media rights sale process approved by US Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross gives Fox a lesser chance of winning the right to televise Dodgers games after 2013 than it had before Gross entered his order.

Revolution sign midfielder Simms

SOCCER
The Revolution signed midfielder Clyde Simms, the club’s Stage 2 selection in Major League Soccer’s 2011 Re-Entry Process Dec. 12. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The 29-year-old Simms spent the last seven seasons anchoring the D.C. United midfield. He made 182 regular-season appearances, including 147 starts, mainly as a defensive midfielder, contributing three goals and seven assists. The Jamestown, N.C., native has made one appearance with the US National Team, in 2005 against England. The Revolution also extended offers to their other Re-Entry Process selections, midfielder/defender Danleigh Borman (Stage 1, Toronto) and forward Nate Jaqua (Stage 2, Seattle) . . . The Los Angeles Galaxy re-signed forward Adam Cristman, who appeared in 46 games for the Revolution in 2007 and 2008, scoring 10 goals . . . Former Brazilian soccer greats Romario and Ronaldo announced a plan to donate 32,000 free tickets to disabled fans for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Romario, a World Cup winner in 1994 who is now in the Brazilian Parliament, has a daughter with Down syndrome. Ronaldo, the top scorer in World Cup history and a two-time winner, is on the organizing committee.

Swedish teenager given 6-month ban

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TENNIS
Lucas Renard, 19, who has spent most of his pro career on lower-tier circuits, was suspended for six months after admitting he violated the sport’s anti-corruption rules. The Tennis Integrity Unit said Renard was also fined $5,000, but that four months of the ban were suspended on condition he attends anti-corruption education training. The tennis body said the 882d-ranked Renard had broken a rule stating that no player can “contrive or attempt to contrive the outcome’’ of a match, but did not specify his violation . . . French players Jeremy Chardy and Aravane Rezai were given wild cards into next month’s Australian Open under a reciprocal agreement between the French Tennis Federation and Tennis Australia. As part of the agreement, two Australian players will be invited to compete at the French Open in May. Americans Jesse Levine and Madison Keys were earlier awarded wild cards under a similar arrangement between Tennis Australia and the USTA . . . Maria Sharapova withdrew from next month’s Brisbane International as she recovers from a left ankle injury . . . Sony Ericsson will end its sponsorship of the WTA tour at the end of the 2012 season. Sony Ericsson signed a six-year, $88 million deal in 2005 to become the tour’s title sponsor. Although the contract was extended through the end of 2012, the mobile phone company’s name was dropped from the tour’s title in 2011.

Maine signs Woodward to extension

MISCELLANY
Maine extended basketball coach Ted Woodward’s contract through the 2015 season. Woodward, in his eighth season as the Black Bears’ head coach, has a 98-125 record, including a 6-4 mark this season. Maine has shown progress on the court the last two seasons, with top-three finishes in America East play and marquee victories over Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference opponents, while graduating 20 of 21 seniors during Woodward’s tenure . . . Former Seton Hall basketball player Robert Mitchell was sentenced to five years probation for his role in a 2010 armed robbery at a house near the school’s New Jersey campus . . . Bettye Danoff, one of the LPGA Tour’s 13 founding members, died Thursday in Texas. She was 88. At 5 feet 2 inches and barely 100 pounds, Danoff earned the nickname “Mighty Mite’’ and was the first grandmother to play the tour. Before the LPGA Tour formed, she beat Babe Zaharias, 1 up, as an amateur in the final of the 1947 Texas Women’s Open to end Zaharias’s 17-tournament winning streak . . . Former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor count charging him with driving an all-terrain vehicle while drunk. The 29-year-old Pavlik was arrested Wednesday night at his home outside Youngstown, Ohio, after a neighbor reported he crashed the ATV into a telephone pole and lamppost . . . Giant slalom specialist Ted Ligety won the Alpine Rockfest exhibition event in Andalo, Italy, edging Giovanni Borsotti by 0.01 seconds, to take home a $78,000 prize.

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