PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks named longtime major-league pitching coach and former Tucsonan Dave Duncan to a consulting position.
The Diamondbacks say the 68-year-old Duncan will hold the title of special assistant to the general manager/pitching consultant and will report to general manager Kevin Towers.
Duncan will assist the Arizona staff in the instruction of pitchers and catchers during spring training, evaluate the Diamondbacks’ farm system and provide input in the team’s draft decision-making.
Duncan was a pitching coach for 16 years with St. Louis before his retirement in 2011.
Duncan’s sons, former major-leaguers Shelley and Chris, attended Canyon del Oro High School. Shelley is the Arizona Wildcats’ all-time home run leader with 55.
— Michael Weiner, the plain-speaking, ever-positive labor lawyer who took over as head of the players’ union four years ago and smoothed its perennially contentious relationship with management, died Thursday, 15 months after announcing he had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. He was 51.
— The Kansas City Royals agreed to a $32 million, four-year contract with left-hander Jason Vargas on Thursday, trying to fill the void in their rotation created by Ervin Santana’s free agency. Vargas was 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 24 starts for the Angels last season. He was 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA before going on the disabled list with a blood clot in his arm that required surgery.
— Free agent left-hander Javier Lopez reached agreement on a $13 million, three-year contract to stay with San Francisco.
— The hair from the beards of Boston’s David Ortiz and Shane Victorino shaved off earlier this month is being auctioned for a men’s health charity.
— All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz and the Philadelphia Phillies completed their $26 million, three-year contract Thursday.
Streelman, Bjorn tied for lead
MELBOURNE, Australia — Kevin Streelman and Thomas Bjorn shot 5-under 66s Thursday to share the lead after the first day of the World Cup. Streelman birdied five of six holes on the back nine at Royal Melbourne, but the American then finished with two late bogeys.
K.J. Choi, Martin Laird and Stuart Manley were tied for third, one stroke behind Streelman and Bjorn. Another American, Matt Kuchar, had four bogeys on the back nine for 71. The Americans and Denmark were tied for the team lead.
— Lydia Ko, a 16-year-old from New Zealand who is making her LPGA debut as a pro, overcame a double bogey on her third hole with three birdies on the back nine at Tiburon Golf Club for a 1-under 71 in Naples, Fla. Ko was seven shots behind Sandra Gal of Germany, who opened with six straight birdies on her way to a 64.
— A late charge gave England’s Matthew Nixon an 8-under 64 and a one-shot lead after the first round of the South African Open, the start of the 2014 European Tour season, in Johannesburg.
Croat fined for pro-Nazi chants
ZAGREB, Croatia — Croatian defender Joe Simunic was fined $4,300 for pro-Nazi chants after his national soccer team qualified for the World Cup. Croatia reached next year’s tournament in Brazil by beating Iceland 2-0 on Tuesday. After the match, Simunic took a microphone on the field and shouted to fans: “For the homeland!” The fans responded: “Ready!” The call was used by the Croatian pro-Nazi puppet regime that ruled the state during World War II.
— The U.S. women’s national soccer team will open its 2014 schedule with a match against Canada. The Jan. 31 game will be held in Frisco, Texas.
— Phoenix Racing named Steve Addington as competition director of the team recently purchased by Harry Scott Jr. Addington will also be crew chief of the No. 51 Chevrolet. Addington spent the last two seasons as crew chief for Tony Stewart, but was let go earlier this week. Scott has not named a driver for 2014 yet, but Addington indicated in a Thursday interview with the AP he’ll be working with Justin Allgaier.
— The Atlanta Dream hired former NBA star Michael Cooper as coach on Thursday, hoping he can lead the team to a WNBA championship after three winless trips to the finals.