Justine Siegal is believed to be the first woman to throw batting practice at major league spring training. Siegal, who was an assistant coach on the Springfield College baseball team the past four seasons and a first-base coach for the minor league Brockton Rox two years ago, pitched to a few Indians players on Monday in Goodyear, Ariz. The 36-year-old Cleveland native proposed the idea at the winter meetings in December, and her hometown Indians agreed. On Wednesday, she will pitch BP for the A's as well.

 

More details have emerged about former Bears safety Dave Duerson's death Thursday at his home in Florida. A four-time Pro Bowler who played in the 1980s and early '90s, Duerson killed himself via a gunshot to the chest, apparently so that his brain could be preserved and examined. The 50-year-old sent text messages for family members indicating he thought he might be suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), an incurable disease linked to depression, impaired impulse control and cognitive decline.

A University of Alabama fan was arrested early Thursday for the poisoning of trees where Auburn fans celebrate big wins. Harvey Updyke Jr., 62, was charged with one count of criminal mischief after making two phone calls — including one to a local sports radio talk show — claiming responsibility. However, he told police he did not actually commit the crime.

 

According to a report in the Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register, Updyke's family said the suspect's grandchildren had to be pulled out of school because they are receiving death threats.

 

(Earlier in the week WEEI announced a change to its afternoon drive-time show, as Michael Holley was named co-host of "The Big Show." The revamped program with Holley and Glenn Ordway will debut on February 28.



Michael Vick pulled out of a scheduled interview on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" without explanation Tuesday night. The Eagles quarterback said in a statement: "I admire and respect Oprah and hope to be able to participate in an interview in the future."

 

Jason Whitlock of FoxSports.com and Peter King of Sports Illustrated are engaged in a dispute centered around the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection process. Whitlock does not approve of the way candidates are selected — "It's a system and process that should shame legit journalists," he wrote. King, one of the power brokers, did not take well to the criticism and attempted to explain and defend himself. The issue of race was brought into the discussion.

 

There was some controversy last month when Reebok announced a shoe deal with ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, as some speculated that her reporting on players who are sponsored by Reebok could be compromised. Now, The New York Times reports that ESPN's College GameDay broadcasters Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit have had contracts with Nike.

 

According to an ESPN spokesman, Fowler said he plans to end his "minor association" with Nike "to avoid any potential perception issues."

 

The Islanders turned Friday's game against the Penguins into a fight-fest, targeting a couple of Pittsburgh players in retaliation for injuries they caused to a pair of Islanders. The end result was 10 ejections, 15 fighting majors, 20 misconducts and 346 penalty minutes. The NHL responded by handing out two suspensions and fining New York $100,000. That wasn't enough, as far as Pens owner Mario Lemieux is concerned.

 

Former ESPN contributing NFL writer Jeremy Green, son of former NFL coach Dennis Green, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography Thursday in New Britain, Conn. Green is expected to receive a 20-year sentence and serve five years in prison before being released on probation.

 

Mailbag time and anything is possible.



KIRK MINIHANE

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