Thursday's Sports In Brief

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Associated Press

Posted on August 2, 2013 at 3:00 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 2 at 3:06 AM

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — Looming playoffs could force an end to negotiations in baseball's latest drug scandal as pressure builds to impose penalties so stars can still make the postseason.

Monday appears to be the deadline for Alex Rodriguez and 13 others to accept suspensions for their ties to the Biogenesis of America anti-aging clinic. While A-Rod is expected to get a lengthy ban, a penalty starting that day would allow Texas All-Star outfielder Nelson Cruz to return for October.

Major League Baseball is prepared to issue two simultaneous announcements no later than Monday, a person familiar with the process told The Associated Press. One would list players who accept suspensions; the other would name those disciplined without deals, but who could challenge penalties before an arbitrator.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Alex Rodriguez will start a second minor league injury rehabilitation assignment on Friday at Double-A Trenton, hoping to return to the New York Yankees before any suspension by Major League Baseball.

Rodriguez played a simulated game at the team's spring training home, and New York said he will play for Trenton against Reading for two games through Saturday.

With the Yankees at San Diego on Sunday, there is little chance the team will tell him fly across the country after a night game for a day game in California.

If he's not suspended by then, the three-time MVP could rejoin New York for its series opener Monday at the Chicago White Sox.

GOLF

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Wearing a black rain suit and a soft smile, Inbee Park looked calm as ever standing before the imposing Royal & Ancient clubhouse before she teed off in the Women's British Open.

Only after her unsteady round of 3-under 69 did Park reveal perhaps the biggest surprise at St. Andrews. She was nervous.

Park wound up three shots behind Morgan Pressel and Camilla Lennarth of Sweden, a solid start to what should be a fascinating week at the home of golf.

Stacy Lewis, the former No. 1 player in women's golf, shot 31 on the tougher back nine for a 67 to be part of a large group that included former U.S. Women's Open champion Na Yeon Choi and Nicole Castrale. Another shot behind were Paula Creamer, Catriona Matthew and Lizette Salas.

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Webb Simpson shot a 6-under 64 in his first competitive round at Firestone Country Club to take a one-stroke lead in the Bridgestone Invitational.

The 2012 U.S. Open champion had six birdies in an eight-hole span to get the upper hand on seven-time Bridgestone winner Tiger Woods. Woods, with top-10 finishes in 11 of his 13 starts on the course, shot a 66 in the World Golf Championships event.

Henrik Stenson was alone in second with a 65. Defending champion Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore and Chris Wood, another first-time entrant, matched Woods at 66.

Phil Mickelson had a 72 in his return from winning the British Open two weeks ago at Muirfield.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

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PRO FOOTBALL

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — The NFL is standing by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

With Haslam embroiled in a legal scandal involving his family-owned truck-stop business, Commissioner Roger Goodell expressed his confidence in Cleveland's owner and said the league has no plans to intervene or discipline him at this point.

Goodell visited Cleveland's training camp to launch a program between the league and Pop Warner with USA Football's Heads Up Football Program. Following a clinic with young players, Goodell said he's satisfied with Haslam's handling of the federal investigation at Pilot Flying J, and said the league is proud to be associated with its newest owner.

Goodell added that the league has no plans to intervene at this time.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles are setting up Riley Cooper with sensitivity training after the wide receiver was caught on video making a racial slur.

Cooper apologized profusely Wednesday after a video of him using the N-word at a Kenny Chesney concert last month surfaced on the Internet. The Eagles immediately fined him, and the league plans no further discipline.

Teammates Michael Vick, Jason Avant and others expressed forgiveness for Cooper. LeSean McCoy also said he forgives Cooper, but he doesn't view him the same anymore.

Cooper spoke to the media again after practice, telling them his meeting with teammates a night earlier was "extremely emotional."

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA announced changes to the way it will select teams for the men's basketball tournament, adding flexibility in hopes of keeping teams properly seeded.

Previously, conference teams couldn't meet until the regional final — unless a conference had nine teams in the field.

The changes will not affect which teams get into the tourney. But they will allow conference teams that have played only once during the season — including league tournaments — to meet as early as the third round. Teams that have played twice will not face one another until the regional semifinals and teams that have played three times cannot meet until the regional championship.

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