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SPORTS BRIEFLY

Strawberry to tell all

NEW YORK - Darryl Strawberry, the former All-Star outfielder turned drug user and tax dodger, is reportedly trying to avoid a three-month jail term by testifying against two former teammates in a tax evasion probe.

The Daily News reported Friday that Strawberry is trying to cut a deal where he would take the stand against former New York Mets teammates Dwight Gooden and Howard Johnson.

Strawberry pleaded guilty to tax evasion on Feb. 9, admitting that he failed to report over $500,000 in income from autograph signings and promotional appearances.

Strawberry has other problems. He was released by the San Francisco Giants and suspended from baseball for 60 days after failing a January drug test, his latest problem with drug and alcohol abuse.

Gooden is on suspension from baseball for his own drug violations. Johnson just signed with the Chicago Cubs.

Kings fire Melrose

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The Los Angeles Kings, losers of six straight games and on the verge of missing the playoffs, fired coach Barry Melrose on Friday Melrose said he had planned to resign at season's end.

Hard hit by injuries, the Kings were 13-21-7 entering Friday night's game against Edmonton and in jeopardy of failing to qualify for the play-offs for the second straight season.

"Even if we'd made the play-offs, I was convinced this was my last year here, no matter what I did," Melrose told reporters at an airport hotel. "I felt it was my time to go."

Earlier, during a Forum news conference, the Kings announced the firings of Melrose and assistant Cap Raeder and said team president Rogie Vachon, 49, will coach the final seven games.