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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Orioles cut injury-riddled Gibbons, eat $11.9 million of his contract


BALTIMORE (AP)—Jay Gibbons was released Sunday by the Baltimore Orioles, who lost patience waiting for the oft-injured outfielder to regain the form that enabled him to hit 26 home runs in 2005.

Gibbons batted .189 with no homers and four RBIs in 16 games this spring training after playing in only 84 games last season. Baltimore owes him $11.9 million for the next two seasons as part of a $21.1 million, four-year contract he agreed to in January 2006.

The 31-year-old Gibbons was suspended for 15 days on Dec. 6 by commissioner Bud Selig following a media report that he received a shipment of the human growth hormone after January 2005, when it was banned by baseball. Kansas City outfielder Jose Guillen also was suspended for 15 days.

On Friday, the commissioner’s office and players’ players association put the penalties on hold for 10 days to allow for further negotiations over their drug agreement. If a deal is struck, the suspensions likely would be dropped.

Selig: ‘Chemists out there working’ on possible human growth hormone test

WASHINGTON (AP)—Commissioner Bud Selig expressed confidence Sunday night that an agreement can be reached to strengthen baseball’s drug-testing policy.

“There’s negotiations ongoing,” Selig said during Sunday night’s inaugural game at Nationals Park. “I’d rather not comment other than that.”

Selig said “Yes” when asked if was confident of an agreement with the players’ union. He also cited the lack of reliable test for human growth hormone as a significant hurdle to cleaning up the sport.

“It’s not perfect,” Selig said. “It’s going to change. There are chemists out there working.”

President Bush, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves, said he thought December’s Mitchell Report on drugs in baseball “was part of the cleansing process.”

“I’m happy with the recognition that it was a problem,” Bush said Sunday night during the ESPN broadcast. “I certainly hope the players continue to work to clean up the sport.”

Washington Nationals open their new stadium by beating Atlanta Braves on Zimmerman’s homer


WASHINGTON (AP)—Nationals Park had quite an opening.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a tiebreaking homer off Peter Moylan with two outs in the ninth inning, and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 Sunday night in the first regular-season game at the $611 million stadium.

With the dome of the U.S. Capitol lit up against the black night sky beyond left field, and the Washington Monument visible from patches of the upper deck, Zimmerman raised his right fist as he rounded first base. Teammates spilled out of the dugout—it’s along the first-base line now, not the third-base line, like at old RFK Stadium—and greeted the face of the franchise at home plate for celebratory pounds on the back.

Nick Johnson delivered an RBI double in his first at-bat in more than 18 months, Odalis Perez matched Tim Hudson, and Jon Rauch (1-0) earned the victory after blowing a save in the top of the ninth.

All in all, it sent the paid crowd of 39,389 heading away with even more to smile about than the gleaming white-stone-and-glass ballpark.

With President Bush on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch, the Nationals had their first victory in a season opener in four tries since moving to the nation’s capital from Montreal.

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