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Sports news briefs
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Larkin elected to baseball Hall of Fame
: NEW YORK (AP) — Barry Larkin has been elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame.

The shortstop received 86 percent of the vote in balloting announced Monday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, well above the necessary 75 percent. Larkin was on the ballot for the third time after falling 75 votes short last year.

He will be inducted on July 22 at Cooperstown along with the late Ron Santo, elected last month by the Veterans Committee.

Next year’s ballot figures to be the most controversial, with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio and Curt Schilling eligible for the first time.

Giants minor league catcher suspended for 50 games: NEW YORK (AP) — San Francisco Giants catcher Drew Stiner has been suspended for 50 games under baseball’s minor league drug program after testing positive for a banned amphetamine.

Stiner’s suspension, announced Monday, was the second of the year under the program. Washington left-hander Zechry Zinicola was suspended for 50 games last week for a second violation for a drug of abuse.

Stiner is on the roster of San Francisco’s Arizona League farm team. He was a 43rd-round draft pick last year from Owasso High School in Oklahoma.

There were 71 suspensions last year under the minor league drug program and two under the big league plan. In addition, Manny Ramirez plans to serve a suspension this year for a 2011 violation.

Angels, Kendrick agree to $33.5M, 4-year deal
: ANAHEIM (AP) — All-Star second baseman Howie Kendrick has agreed to a $33.5 million, four-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels, passing up a chance to hit the free-agent market after next season.

The team announced the move Monday, the latest in a busy offseason spending spree for the Angels and new general manager Jerry Dipoto.

The 28-year-old Kendrick batted .285 with a career-best 18 homers and 63 RBIs in 140 games last year, making his first All-Star team. He was eligible for arbitration this offseason.

Last month, the Angels added slugger Albert Pujols with a $240 million, 10-year contract and left-hander C.J. Wilson with a $77.5 million, five-year deal. Relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

Roy Disney family mulls bid for Dodgers
: LOS ANGELES (AP) — The family of the late Roy E. Disney is in talks with other investors about making a joint bid to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers out of bankruptcy.

The talks were confirmed Monday by Clifford Miller, managing director of the Disney family’s investment vehicle, Shamrock Holdings.

Roy Disney was the nephew of Walt Disney, but the family’s investments are not directly tied to the operation of The Walt Disney Co. itself.

Miller said Stanley Gold, the CEO of Shamrock, is seriously exploring investing in the team along with the Disney family and other investors, including several in the Los Angeles area.

Gold has gone through the process of qualifying the investor group to make a bid by the Jan. 23 deadline and the group is examining the team’s financials.


Chiefs pick Crennel as head coach
: KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs have hired Romeo Crennel as their new head coach.

The team announced the decision Monday. Crennel joined the Chiefs as the defensive coordinator in 2010 after four years as the head coach in Cleveland.

He also served as head coach for the Chiefs the final three games of this season after Todd Haley was fired.

Rams: Down to us and Dolphins for Fisher
: ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams are reporting on their website that they and the Dolphins are finalists in the bidding to hire Jeff Fisher as their head coach.

The team said Monday that the former Titans coach completed a second interview with the Rams on Sunday, touring facilities in St. Louis and spending time with quarterback Sam Bradford. Fisher also interviewed with owner Stan Kroenke in Denver last week.

Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said both teams anticipate a decision from Fisher in the new few days.

The team said Fisher’s visit to St. Louis lasted about four hours, and said he returned to his home in Nashville on Sunday night to begin deliberating.

The Rams also have interviewed Arizona defensive coordinator Ray Horton for the position.

Packers coordinator’s son missing
: OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin’s son is missing.

Police in Oshkosh say 21-year-old Michael T. Philbin of Ripon was last heard from around 2 a.m. Sunday. He had been visiting friends in Oshkosh that evening. He was reported missing on Sunday evening.

A police spokesman did not immediately return a message left Monday seeking additional comment.

A Brown County judge sentenced Michael Philbin to six months in jail in 2009 after he was convicted of sexually assaulting two young girls and two counts of battery.

His disappearance comes as the Packers prepare to face the New York Giants in an NFC playoff game Sunday in Green Bay.


Lionel Messi named world’s best player for 2011
: ZURICH (AP) — Lionel Messi has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or award for 2011, extending his reign as the world’s best football player for a third year.

The Barcelona and Argentina forward beat his club teammate Xavi Hernandez and Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid to get the game’s most prestigious individual honor.

Messi’s prolific scoring and unselfish creative play inspired Barcelona to win five trophies last year including the Champions League, Spanish League and Club World Cup.

Aged just 24, Messi is the first man to win three straight FIFA world player awards in the honor’s 21-year history.

Earlier, Homare Sawa ended Marta’s five-year hold on the women’s award after leading Japan to win the 2011 Women’s World Cup.

Marta, Wambach unsure about playing in US league
: ZURICH (AP) — FIFA world player of the year candidates Abby Wambach and Marta say they haven’t committed to continue playing in the United States.

Brazil forward Marta praised the five-team Women’s Professional Soccer league, where she has played for three seasons, but says “there are also possibilities” to play in Europe.

Wambach, who led the U.S. to the 2011 Women’s World Cup final, says she and Marta are “both probably deciding what to do.”

Wambach says “the most important thing” is helping the U.S. qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. The 31-year-old also says she must protect against injuries and “be very careful” before signing a team contract.

She was player-coach with Florida-based magicJack, a franchise that was terminated in October.


Blue Jackets pull plug on coach Scott Arnie
l: COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — After weeks of lopsided losses and blown leads, the Columbus Blue Jackets have fired second-year coach Scott Arniel.

General manager Scott Howson announced the firing Monday.

Assistant coach Todd Richards will serve as interim coach for the remainder of a season in which the Blue Jackets have sunk to a new low, winning just 11 times in their first 41 games while compiling the worst record in the NHL.

Arniel was hired as the fifth head coach in Blue Jackets history on June 8, 2010, and compiled a 45-60-18 record in 123 games, including an 11-25-5 mark this season.

Richards was 77-71-16 as the head coach of the Minnesota Wild from 2009-11 before being fired.


Venus Williams pulls out of Australian Open
: MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Venus Williams says she is withdrawing from the Australian Open.

The seven-time Grand Slam title winner announced on Twitter and her website that she wouldn’t play in the year’s first major tournament, which starts next week.

Williams hasn’t played competitively since pulling out of the U.S. Open on Aug. 31, saying she’d been diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain.

The 31-year-old American is a former No. 1 who is 100th in this week’s WTA rankings.


Klitschko: Age no barrier against Chisora
: LONDON (AP) — Vitali Klitschko has shrugged off concerns about his age ahead of defending his WBC heavyweight title against Britain’s Dereck Chisora in Germany next month.

At 40, Klitschko is the second-oldest boxer ever to hold a world heavyweight title behind George Foreman, who was 45 when he knocked out Michael Moorer to reclaim the WBA belt in 1994.

The Ukrainian boxer, who will fight Chisora in Munich on Feb. 18, says “I’m 40 but I feel 25. I am in great condition, great form and have great experience.”

Chisora is looking to end the dominance of Klitschko and his younger brother Wladimir, who holds the other three heavyweight belts.

The 27-year-old Englishman says “him and his brother have killed the sport I love.”