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GARCIAPARRA PULLS OUT: Nomar Garciaparra decided not to play for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic next month, pulling out of the international tournament to concentrate on switching positions with his new team.

The 32-year-old Garciaparra, who signed a free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in December, issued a statement through the team on Friday.

"While I am honored to have been asked to participate, at this point, I believe it is really important for me to concentrate on the year ahead," he said. "I feel this is the time for me to focus on doing my best for the Dodgers, my new teammates and the wonderful fans in Los Angeles."

Garciaparra spent the last season and a half with the Chicago Cubs, but missed almost all of last year with a groin injury. Garciaparra, a shortstop most of his career, will play first base for the Dodgers.


WEST HAS SURGERY: Memphis football coach Tommy West had triple bypass heart surgery Friday and was resting comfortably in an intensive care unit, the school said.

West, 51, entered Baptist Memorial Hospital for previously scheduled tests and later had the surgery, the university said in a news release.

"It is anticipated that he could be released early next week to return home for recovery," officials said.

West has been Tigers coach for five years, and also has been head coach at Clemson and Chattanooga.

PREP REPORTER FIRED: A Tampa Tribune sports writer was fired after she admitted to manipulating the balloting for a local prep football award, the newspaper reported Friday.

Rozel A. Lee, who was among 19 journalists and high school coaches who ranked eight top football players competing for the Guy Toph Award, said she intentionally gave her lowest ranking to a leading player to make it more likely that the player she favored would win.

Tribune Executive Editor Janet Weaver said Lee's voting practice was "dishonest." Lee, 51, who has been at the Tribune for 10 years, was fired Thursday.


MEYER EXTENDS: The Philadelphia Flyers signed rookie defenseman Freddy Meyer to a two-year contract extension on Friday. Terms were not announced. The 25-year-old Meyer has four goals and seven assists for 11 points and 17 penalty minutes in 28 games for the Flyers this season.

NAGY OUT FOR SEASON: Phoenix Coyotes leading scorer Ladislav Nagy underwent knee surgery Friday and team officials said he would miss the rest of the regular season. Nagy had arthroscopic surgery to repair a partial tear of the lateral meniscus in his right knee and to fix a bone defect. Rehabilitation time is expected to be up to five months, according to team doctors. That means Nagy will miss the upcoming Olympics. He had been selected to play for his native Slovakia.

Freestyle skiing

AMERICANS FIRST: At Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre, Quebec, Americans Heather McPhie and Tim Preston combined to sweep the competitions at a NorAm freestyle ski event on Friday. McPhie won the women's final, scoring 25.15 points to edge Jackie Brown of Canada, who scored 23.65 points with the help of a back flip for her second jump. Sylvia Kerfoot of Canada got the bronze with 23.30.

Preston edged Maxime Gingras of Canada, 25.75 to 25.63 to win the men's competition. Guillaume Turgeon of Canada grabbed third.


AGASSI OUSTED: Top-seeded Andre Agassi was upset 6-4, 6-2 by Spaniard Guillermo Garcia-Lopez on Friday in the quarterfinals of the International Tennis Championships in Delray, Fla.

The ninth-ranked Agassi, playing in his first tournament of the year, never found his comfort level in the 74-minute match that took place under windy conditions and with skies threatening rain.

"It's been a long time and I haven't put together my game," Agassi said. "I'm not going to judge it until I get comfortable out there. I'm second guessing some swings and I'm second guessing some shots."

Third-seeded Tommy Haas moved into the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-2 win over seventh-seeded Gilles Muller earlier Friday.