HOCKEY Ex-Canadien Richard is '' semi-comatose...

SPORTS DIGEST

May 21, 2000

HOCKEY

Ex-Canadien Richard is '' semi-comatose,' according to agent

Maurice "Rocket" Richard's Condition has taken a turn for the Worse, with his agent saying yesterday that the hockey great is "semi-comatose" and the cancer in his abdomen is spreading.

"Things seem to have dramatically worsened in a short time," Jean Roy told the French service of Broadcast News. "His health has deteriorated and the cancer has spread."

Roy said the cancer might have spread throughout the 78-year-old Hall of Famer's body.

Gerard Celller, a spokesman for Montreal's Hotel-Dieu hospital, refused to comment on Richard's health and said the hospital would issue a statement if his condition takes a turn for the worse.

In addition to cancer, the former Montreal Canadiens superstar also is battling Parkinson's disease and might have Alzheimer's.

* AVALANCHE: Defenseman Adam Foote, eager to get back into action following an eye injury, practiced but awaited medical clearance to resume playing. His right eye still bloodshot and the skin around his eye discolored, Foote wore a half-length plastic face shield during the workout, as opposed to the full-length shield he wore during a skate-around Friday morning.

Boxing

Ayala runs record to 5-0 after prison sentence

Tony Ayala Jr. continued his comeback after serving 16 years in prison for a sexual assault charge, running his record to 5-0 with a second-round knockout over Gerald Coleman in Fort Worth, Texas.

Coleman was a short-notice, stand-in opponent for the scheduled 10-round middleweight fight against the 37-year-old Ayala, who pushed his record to 27-0 with his 24th career knockout.

Ayala was 22-0 and the WBA's No. 1-ranked junior middleweight in the early 1980s before he was jailed. He returned to boxing after he was released from Leesburg State Prison in New Jersey in April 1999.

* FEATHERWEIGHTS: Negotiations for a fight between WBA bantamweight champion Paulie Ayala and WBO featherweight champion "Prince" Naseem Hamed are nearly complete. During a Friday night boxing show in Fort Worth, Ayala's manager, Lester Bedford, told the crowd that a deal for the fight was 90 percent done, according to promoter Bob Arum.

Tennis

Seles, Mauresmo gain final in Italian Open

Monica Seles is back in the Italian Open finals, 10 years after her only victory in Rome launched her into tennis stardom.

The hard-hitting left-hander looked like the Seles of old, hitting winners from both sides and giving no quarter in a 54-minute drubbing of unranked Corina Morariu.

Seles' 6-3, 6-1 win sets up a final against France's Amelie Mauresmo, who rolled over Fabiola Zuluaga of Colombia, 6-1, 6-2, in the other semifinal.

But the story on Rome's red clay this week has been Seles, who's cranked up her game exactly a decade after she beat her idol, Martina Navratilova, to capture the 1990 Italian Open at the age of 16.

* GERMAN OPEN: Marat Safin, a 20-year-old Russian, ousted defending champion Marcelo Rios in the semifinals in Hamburg, Germany, winning, 7-5 (8), 6-2, after saving three set points. Gustavo Kuerten beat Romanian qualifier Andrel Pavel, 6-3, 6-3, to reach his second final in a row.

Et cetera

Hernandez makes debut in Galaxy win over United

Greg Vanney scored on a second-half penalty kick and the Los Angeles Galaxy received an own goal in the first half in a 2-1 victory over D.C. United in Pasadena, Calif. It was the Major League Soccer debut of Luis Hernandez, the high-scoring Mexican national team forward signed Tuesday and allocated to the Galaxy. Hernandez contributed to both goals, but left the match in the 72nd minute because of a sprained right shoulder. He was taken to a hospital.

* EQUESTRIAN: Guenter Scidel got his first victory of the Olympic dressage trials in Loxahatchee, Fla., with Foltaire, nosing out Sue Blinks on Flim Flare.

* COLLEGE BASEBALL: Third baseman Mark Teixeira (Mount St. Joseph), who led the Atlantic Coast Conference in homers, RBIs and batting average, was selected to the all-Atlantic Coast Conference first team. Teixeira led the league with 16 homers, 71 RBIs and a .425 average.

* GOLF: The pairing of Rick and Jason Cage combined for a 4-under-par 33-34--67, and took a one-stroke lead halfway through the annual two-man team championship of the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corporation at Mt. Pleasant Golf Course.

* HALF-MARATHON: Kenya's Joseph Waweru won the Sydney half-marathon in Sydney, Australia, finishing in 1 hour, 4 minutes, 4 seconds.

The quiz

Saving grace

Relief pitcher Jeff Nelson (Catonsville) is off to a 6 - 0 start for the New York Yankees. Who holds the major-league record for relievers with 18 victories? (Answer, 18E)

Quiz answer

Elroy Face of the Pittsburgh Pirates was 18-1 season in 1959 when he tied Vernon Law for the team lead with the fifth highest total in the National League. John Hiller went 17 - 14 for the last-place Detroit Tigers in 1974.

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