National Sports Briefs

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 18, 2009

Associated Press
NEW YORK ó Former NHL player Reggie Fleming, who died in July, had brain damage due to repeated head trauma, linking hockey for the first time to a condition usually found in boxers, the New York Times reported Friday.
Fleming, who spent 12 seasons in the NHL, was found by Boston University researchers to have had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a disease that causes cognitive decline, behavioral abnormalities and ultimately dementia, the Times said. Fleming is the first hockey player known to have been tested for the disease, which was also found in several former NFL players recently.
“Boxing we’ve known for a long time, football we’ve recently become aware of ó now hockey,” Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist at Boston University who also diagnosed CTE in the former football players, told the newspaper. “Repetitive head injuries can have very serious long-term consequences, regardless of how you get them.”
Deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly told the Times the league would have no comment until it had a chance to review the report.
Fleming, who died at age 73, had 108 goals, 132 assists and 1,468 penalty minutes in 749 career games with the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres. He helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 1961 and also spent two seasons World Hockey Association’s Chicago Cougars.
MANCHESTER, England ó Michael Phelps will compete in three events on the opening day of “Duel in the Pool,” which includes the best swimmers from Britain, Italy and Germany.
Phelps will race in the 400-meter medley relay, the 100 freestyle and the 100 butterfly in the short-course competition in the Manchester Aquatics Center.
Under competition rules, the 14-time Olympic champion can enter another three events today, but those start lists haven’t been announced.
There are 30 races, including four relays, over the two days. Three swimmers from each team will compete in each individual race.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. ó A convicted murderer who pleaded guilty to selling the gun used to kill ex-NFL quarterback Steve McNair has been sentenced to 21/2 years in prison.
Thirty-three-year-old Adrian Gilliam, of nearby La Vergne, was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Nashville to 30 months.
Gilliam acknowledged during a court hearing in September that he sold a loaded 9 mm semiautomatic pistol to McNair’s mistress for $100.
Nashville police said the woman, 20-year-old Sahel Kazemi, used the weapon to kill McNair and herself on July 4.
Gilliam was arrested about two weeks later and initially pleaded not guilty.
WARREN, Ohio ó A 4-year-old Ohio boy who was hit in the head by a foul ball at a minor league baseball game in September has spoken his first words since the accident.
Luke Holko can say “more” and “no.”
Dr. Micah Baird of Akron Children’s Hospital says verbal communication is a sign that Luke’s brain is making new nerve connections to overcome tissue that was destroyed by the ball’s impact.
Luke’s long-term prognosis remains uncertain, but he’s reached a series of milestones this month, learning to crawl, sit and roll on his own.
Luke was struck while attending a doubleheader at the home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, a Class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The injury spurred fans to donate $24,000 to help the family with medical bills.
– SEATTLE ó Mercurial outfielder Milton Bradley was traded to the Seattle Mariners from the Chicago Cubs on Friday for expensive and underperforming pitcher Carlos Silva.
Chicago has been wanting to deal Bradley since the Cubs suspended him for the final two weeks of last season, shortly after he criticized the atmosphere surrounding a team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908.
Seattle, which has never even appeared in a World Series, didn’t expect to find a suitor for Silva. He has done little except lose and get hurt in the two seasons since he signed a $48 million, four-year contract.
– CHICAGO ó The White Sox sent right-handed pitchers John Ely and Jon Link to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, completing this week’s acquisition of outfielder by Chicago.
– PHILADELPHIA ó Jimmy Rollins’ $8.5 million club option for 2011 has been exercised by the Philadelphia Phillies.
The 2007 NL MVP will make $7.5 million next year, the final season originally guaranteed under the $40 million, five-year extension he signed in June 2005.
LIVERPOOL, England ó U.S. forward Landon Donovan will join Everton on a short-term loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The loan, from January until mid-March, will finish in time for Donovan to return to the MLS for the Galaxy’s opening match on March 27.
The deal was announced Friday, two days after Donovan signed a new four-year contract with the Galaxy.
“It’s all done now,” Everton manager David Moyes said. “Landon will join us at the start of January. “He will come in and add pace. He’s a good finisher.”
SHANGHAI ó Yao Ming says he is recovering well after foot surgery and hopes to return to the NBA by next season.
The 7-foot-6 Houston Rockets center who is out for the season after having surgery in May says Friday “I’m definitely recovering and the recent results of my checkups allowed me to make this long trip back to Shanghai from the U.S.”
Attending an event to mark the launch of a public service announcement about protecting sharks by the San Francisco-based conservation group WildAid, Yao said, “I might be completely recovered by next season.”
Yao has said he wants to allow enough time for his bones to fully heal following the operation to repair a hairline fracture in his left foot.
– MILWAUKEE ó Bucks rookie Brandon Jennings has been fined $7,500 for posting a message on his Twitter account after Milwaukee’s 108-101 double overtime win over Portland last weekend.
Jennings was fined for the timing of his post, not the content when he tweeted: “Back to 500. Yess!!! “500” means where doing good. Way to Play Hard Guys.”RYDER CUP
LONDON ó U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin says Tiger Woods will be as strong a player as ever when he comes back from his marital turmoil and self-imposed break from golf.
During a visit to London on Friday, Pavin said Woods is a “very strong-minded individual” and won’t “play any differently” when he returns. Pavin noted Woods has come back from injuries and setbacks and has “done fine.”
The Ryder Cup is next Oct. 1-3 at Celtic Manor in Wales.