<h4>Working on his short game: </h4>
Ryo Ishikawa, 17, of Japan lines up a shot with a miniature putter during the par 3 contest before the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., on Wednesday.
Don’t tell Arizona Wildcat catcher Dwight Childs he is just a defensive specialist.
“I hate that. I absolutely hate that,” Childs said. “Defense is my bread and butter, but I want to be known as a hitter too.”
In past seasons, there was no reason to think of offense when Childs’ name was mentioned, but that’s no longer the case.
After hitting .232 as a freshman and .193 as a sophomore, the junior is hitting the cover off the ball, with a .397 average.
Childs and UA host Oregon State for the first of a three-game series at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“It has been a bittersweet feeling because as a team we’re struggling, but behind the plate and at the plate I am feeling good,” Childs said. “What drives me is hitting under .200 last year. I was not going to let that happen again, no way.”
Childs has been needed on defense; he’s working with a young, struggling staff. But he still has improved his hitting, driving the ball and getting better looks at the plate.
The lanky catcher, at 6 feet 3 inches, 188 pounds, is supplying some power with three homers this season.
He had one dinger in his previous two years in 287 at-bats.
Childs is 11 for 19 over the past two weeks, with two homers, a pair of doubles and a triple.
“Wow. He is getting big hits,” UA coach Andy Lopez said. “It is not like he is getting a bunch of cheap hits and bloopers. He looks like the real deal. He has worked hard and has earned it.”
Childs was almost counted as a guaranteed out in the past, but there was no taking him out of the everyday lineup because of his ability to control thestaff and call pitches.
Childs had 12 extra-base hits coming into the season. He has added 10 this year with four doubles, three triples and the three homers in 27 games.
Childs has worked with new assistant coach Jeff Pickler to modify his batting stance.
He had a rare 0-for-3 day against USC on Friday, but came back with four hits Saturday.
“I didn’t get too many good pitches to hit that first game,” Childs said. “I came out and looked at myself as a .120 hitter again and I wanted to get out of the hole.
“I’m motivated to show my teammates, the coaches and everybody who has watched me the last two years that I can hit, too.”
Oregon State (18-6, 5-1)
at Arizona (13-14, 2-7)
Thursday: 7 p.m.
Friday: 6 p.m.
at Sancet Stadium
USC may lose DeRozan
USC forward DeMar DeRozan will declare his intent to enter the NBA draft, his father, Frank DeRozan, said Wednesday night.
DeRozan will not sign with an agent, leaving the door open for him to return to USC.
“He’s torn between going into the draft and staying at USC,” Frank DeRozan told the Los Angeles Times. “He wants to stay, but his mom is real sick.”
• DeJuan Blair guaranteed Pitt coach Jamie Dixon a year ago that he would play a full college career. One exceptional season changed all that. Blair said Wednesday he will declare for the NBA draft and has begun hiring representatives, ending any possibility that the All-America center could return for his junior season.
• Wake Forest guard Jeff Teague declared for the NBA draft on Wednesday but did not hire an agent, leaving his coach confident he’ll return to school for his junior season.
The Associated Press
Baseball salaries hurt
NEW YORK – The recession has hit baseball salaries.
Teams cut payrolls for their active rosters and disabled lists by $47 million from opening day in 2008 to the first day of this season, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. That comes out to a drop of 1.7 percent.
“Clubs were cautious all winter with regards to the economy and were concerned the economy might have an impact on club revenue,” said Bob DuPuy, baseball’s chief operating officer. “The spending reflected that for many clubs.”
The drop is the first since 2004 and just the second since the 1994-95 strike.
Looking at payroll team by team, 16 of the 30 major league clubs cut payroll. Among those who lowered spending – the mighty New York Yankees.
While the Yankees led the major leagues with a $201.4 million payroll, they trimmed salaries by $7.6 million from the start of last season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks rank 19th with a $73.6 million payroll.
The lowest spenders are Florida ($37 million), San Diego ($43 million) and Pittsburgh ($49 million).
The Associated Press
Owens shows up
Terrell Owens said three weeks ago he had no intention of attending any Buffalo Bills workouts unless they were mandatory.
But he changed his tune, showing up on Wednesday at the team’s Orchard Park, N.Y., facility to participate in the voluntary offseason conditioning program. His arrival surprised some of the Bills’ players.
Owens signed a one-year contract for $6.5 million after being cut by the Dallas Cowboys.
The Associated Press
Madoff’s seats go on sale
NEW YORK – For $1,710, you can put yourself in Bernard Madoff’s Citi Field seats.
The trustee overseeing the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities put a pair of tickets for Monday’s Mets’ home opener on sale on eBay. As of midnight Wednesday, the current bid was $1,700 for the tickets, just to the home plate side of the Mets’ dugout. There was a Friday deadline of 5:21 p.m. Tucson time to bid for the seats.
The Associated Press
NUMBER OF THE DAY
Final-round score of Masters winner Trevor Immelman last year – the highest in the tournament’s history for a champion.
Immelman shot a three-over par 75 to beat Tiger Woods by three shots at Augusta National.
The eventual Masters champion has recorded an over-par score in the final round eight times.
'We're just trying to get better. We don't want to take a step back with four games to go.'
whose Cleveland Cavaliers can match the 1985-86 Celtics' NBA record 40-1 home mark if they beat Boston (Sunday) and Philadelphia (Wednesday)
ON THIS DATE
1947: Leo Durocher, manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, is suspended for one year by commissioner A.B. “Happy” Chandler for his link to gambling interests.
1978: Denver’s David Thompson, battling San Antonio’s George Gervin for the NBA season scoring title, scores 73 points against Detroit. Gervin later scores 63 against New Orleans to win the scoring crown, 27.22 points per game to 27.15, the tightest one-two finish ever.
1989: Britain’s Nick Faldo makes a 25-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the Masters.
Fan: Hill may end up with Arenas, Wizards
Re: UA basketball player Jordan Hill to enter NBA Draft
• NBA Draft Net has Jordan Hill going at No. 2 overall to the Washington Wizards. Wow. Can you imagine? Antoine Jamison. Caron Butler. A healthy Gilbert Arenas. Jordan Hill. Sounds like an up-and-coming exciting team to me! UPPER BOHEMIAN
• Better not play like you did against Louisville or you’ll end up like Marcus Williams. Work on your outside shot and be persistent when you attack the basket. Good luck! EASEO
Pennell opts for security
Re: Ex-UA interim coach Russ Pennell to coach Grand Canyon
• Russ, I think you underselled yourself. I think you fit in perfect in the MAC Conference – a school like Toledo or Ball State. SELLY22
• I had hoped Russ would be picked up by a Division I program, like a Montana, Idaho, or a San Diego State-sized school. But, the economy, the desire to live here, it’s all understandable. It’s more security. 3829
• After Grand Canyon becomes a Division I program, let’s hope for an Antelopes vs. Wildcats game some day, where Coach Pennell can bring his team into McKale for a standing ovation in recognition of his time in Tucson. SAUERKRAUT