SELIG 'VERY HOPEFUL' FOR ADDED WILD CARD THIS YEAR: PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) — Commissioner Bud Selig is "very hopeful" another wild card team from each league will be added this season.
Selig says that a committee formed to work out details of expanding the playoffs from eight teams to 10 is dealing with scheduling issues. Addition of a second wild card in each league would add a one-game play-in between teams with the two best records in each league that are not division winners. Selig says that would mean condensing the overall playoff schedule.
Selig says the committee knows he is an ardent supporter of the concept. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, MLB and the players' union must agree by March 1 whether to add the new round for 2012.
MLB OWNERS DELAY SALE OF PADRES TO MOORAD: PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. (AP) — Major League owners are putting off approval of sale of the San Diego Padres to Jeff Moorad.
Commissioner Bud Selig says the MLB ownership committee and executive council unanimously decided to defer action, in his words, "to get more clarity and technical information."
Moorad says he and Selig tried to work out an "11th-hour" agreement to get the matter presented to the full meeting of the 30 owners on Thursday but were unable to do so. He says he respects the process and will work quickly to resolve the issues.
Moorad was a prominent sports agent before becoming a minority owner first with the Arizona Diamondbacks, then with the Padres. His group owns 49 percent of the Padres and is set to buy the remainder from majority owners John Moores.
NOLAN RYAN SAYS HE'S CONFIDENT OF SIGNING DARVISH: ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Texas Rangers President Nolan Ryan says he's confident of signing Japanese pitching sensation Yu Darvish by a Wednesday deadline.
Ryan expressed his feelings to reporters Thursday at the Rangers' annual winter banquet, one week after Darvish visited the North Texas area where he would be pitching. The Hall-of-Famer declined to elaborate on how close both sides were in the contract talks, but he assured that he expected a deal to be reached on a contract with the 25-year-old right-hander.
The Rangers, who have won consecutive AL pennants, put in a record bid of about $51.7 million for the right to negotiate with Japan's best pitcher. A 30-day negotiating window began when their bid was accepted Dec. 20 by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan's Pacific League.
IMPACT DRAFT DUKE'S WENGER WITH TOP MLS PICK: KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The expansion Montreal Impact selected Duke forward Andrew Wenger with the first overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft on Thursday.
Wenger won the Hermann Trophy as the top NCAA player and is considered by many the most complete player in the draft. He was the ACC offensive player of the year this season and defensive player of the year last season. The 6-foot forward had 17 goals and eight assists in 22 games for the Blue Devils in 2011.
Akron forward Darren Mattocks was picked second overall by the Vancouver Whitecaps. UCLA midfielder Kelyn Rowe went third to New England, UC Santa Barbara's Luis Silva was picked fourth by Toronto FC and Maryland forward Casey Townsend was picked fifth by Chivas USA.
Sam Garza became the second player from UC Santa Barbara to be drafted when he went sixth to San Jose. Garza began his career at Denver before scoring 17 goals in two seasons for the Gauchos, helping them to a 15-7-1 record and the third round of the NCAA tournament this season.
Garza's grandfather, Bill Cross, was a running back for the Chicago Cardinals in the NFL.
DJOKOVIC PLAYS LORENZI, NADAL A QUALIFIER: MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Defending champion Novak Djokovic could meet Andy Murray, his opponent in last year's Australian Open final, and Roger Federer could face Rafael Nadal in two marquee semifinals based on the draw that was held Friday at Melbourne Park.
Top-seeded Djokovic will play Paolo Lorenzi of Italy in the first round and No. 2 seed Nadal has drawn a qualifier.
Murray, looking to win his first Australian Open after two straight losses in the finals, opens against Ryan Harrison of the United States. Federer faces a qualifier as he goes for his fifth title.
Andy Roddick could play Lleyton Hewitt in the second round.
WOZNIACKI TO PLAY RODIONOVA IN 1ST ROUND: MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Defending champion Kim Clijsters and runner-up Li Na could meet in the fourth round at this year's Australian Open after being drawn in the same quarter of the draw Friday.
Top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki will play Australian Anastasia Rodionova in her first-round match and is in the same half as Clijsters and Li, last year's French Open champion.
In the other half of the draw, five-time champion Serena Williams is in the same section of No. 3 Vera Zvonereva and former Grand Slam champions Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova.
The Australian Open begins Monday.
NCAA PRESIDENT SUPPORTS 4-TEAM FOOTBALL PLAYOFF: INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Mark Emmert says he would support a four-team football playoff.
The NCAA president made his remarks Thursday after giving his annual state of the association speech at the governing body's national convention in Indianapolis.
Emmert says that while the NCAA was meeting in Indy this week, he was tracking this week's discussions in New Orleans, including the proposed four-team BCS playoff. Anything larger may be too much. Emmert says he will not support a 16-team tournament because it would make the season too long, increase the risk of injury, intrude on classes and likely eliminate the current bowl system.
He says a smaller tournament, though, could be successful.
EVANS' OLYMPIC COMEBACK BID GETS SERIOUS IN AUSTIN: AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Janet Evans' Olympic comeback bid at age 40 is about to get serious.
The former gold medal winner and world record holder is trying to qualify for the London Olympics. She is scheduled to race the 400 and 800-meter freestyle Friday and Sunday at the Austin Grand Prix. Those will be her first races against elite competition since retiring in 1996.
Many of the United States' and the world's top swimmers will be competing this weekend, including 14-time gold medalist Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and 17-year-old Missy Franklin.
Evans was 17 when she set the world record in the 400 freestyle, one of three gold medals she won at the 1988 Seoul Games.
Evans' coach says her goal in Austin is to qualify for the Olympic trials in June.
RAMS INTERVIEW CHUDZINSKI, ALLEN: ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams interviewed Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen for their coaching vacancy while awaiting word from Jeff Fisher.
The Rams and Dolphins are finalists to have Fisher be their head coach.
Chudzinski also interviewed for the Jaguars head coaching job, but lost out to Mike Mularkey. The Panthers set a franchise record for total yards last season, scoring 47 touchdowns.
Allen is in his first year as defensive coordinator in Denver. According to the team, he was the NFL's second-youngest defensive coordinator at the time of his hire.
St. Louis is replacing coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney after a 2-14 season.
JETS OWNER DEFENDS QB, UNDERSTANDS FRUSTRATIONS: NEW YORK (AP) — Jets owner Woody Johnson defends embattled quarterback Mark Sanchez's work ethic and says he thinks "everybody's a little frustrated" after the team failed to make the playoffs.
Johnson, appearing on MSNBC on Thursday to discuss his support of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, says a Daily News report in which an anonymous player said Sanchez was "lazy" is off base. "He's the first guy in the building every morning," he said, "and the last guy to leave."
It's the first time Johnson has commented publicly since Rex Ryan's team finished 8-8 and out of the postseason for the first time in three years.
"There is frustration," Johnson said, "and that's what you want." He adds that the Jets have "a lot of work to do" to turn things around next season.