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Associated Press

Posted on October 5, 2012 at 3:00 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 5 at 8:33 AM


Mariners hope improved offense coming in 2013

SEATTLE (AP) — With a debate settled over whether the Seattle Mariners will move in their fences in 2013, the question now is whether that will make any difference for one of the worst offensive teams in baseball.

There is no question the Mariners are an improving ballclub, as evidenced by their eight-win jump to 75 victories in 2012. Their pitching remains a strength, led by Felix Hernandez, who put together an incredible run through much of the summer capped by the 21st perfect game in baseball history.

But the offense remains the area of concern. Youngsters Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero were impressive during their first full major league seasons. And while Seattle has more answers than questions moving forward it still needs more pop in its lineup.


Mariners fire hitting coach Chris Chambliss

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Mariners will not retain hitting coach Chris Chambliss for 2013 after another season during which their offense was among the worst in baseball.

The Mariners made the announcement on Thursday. The rest of Seattle's coaching staff will return next season.

Chambliss was Seattle's hitting coach the past two seasons. The 63-year-old previously was the hitting coach for the New York Yankees and Mets, St. Louis and Cincinnati.

The Mariners finished last in baseball this season in batting average (.234), on-base percentage (.296), slugging percentage (.369) and on-base plus slugging (.665). They were also last in baseball in most major offensive categories in 2011 as well.

General manager Jack Zduriencik (zur-EHN'-sihk) says the search for a new hitting coach will begin immediately.


Seahawks strive to fix third down struggles

RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Third downs have been a nightmare for the Seattle Seahawks.

Offensively, they've struggled to convert to keep drives alive. Defensively, they've allowed far more conversions than they'd like.

Coming off a 19-13 loss at St. Louis, the third-down struggles have become a focus for the Seahawks.

Seattle's offense has converted on just 28 percent of its third downs so far this season. In the last two weeks, the Seahawks are converting at just a 20 percent clip.


Panthers considering moving LB Kuechly inside

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he's considering moving first-round draft pick Luke Kuechly to middle linebacker Sunday against Seattle if Jon Beason is unable to play.

Beason missed his second straight day of practice with lingering knee and shoulder issues and Rivera says there's a chance he could keep him out. Rivera says Kuechly began taking reps at middle linebacker this week and he's "looking at different options" at that position.

Kuechly, who has been starting at weak side linebacker, led the nation the past two seasons in tackles while playing middle linebacker for Boston College.

Rivera also says cornerback Chris Gamble is "looking like he's going to be down" for Sunday, so cornerback Captain Munnerlyn likely will start alongside rookie Josh Norman.

Gamble missed practice with a strained shoulder.


Wilcox leading Huskies' plan vs. No. 2 Oregon

SEATTLE (AP) — All that good will Justin Wilcox built up at Oregon, from his days as a ballboy on the sidelines to being a four-year letterman for the Ducks as a defensive back, it's gone.

Actually it was probably gone a while ago, maybe around the time he was twice able to help lead Boise State to upset victories over his alma mater. And if it didn't disappear then, it certainly did when Wilcox accepted the defensive coordinator job at rival Washington this past offseason.

Coming off an upset of then-No. 8 Stanford where Wilcox's defense was the reason for the victory, the No. 23 Huskies travel to Eugene on Saturday to face the second-ranked Ducks. There isn't a greater contrast in the Pac-12, going from trying to prepare for the power of Stanford to the speed of Oregon.


OSU president encourages fans to wear black

(Information in the following story is from: Gazette-Times,

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Oregon State has reversed field on its "Wear Black" campaign.

University President Ed Ray on Thursday encouraged fans to dress in black to a pair of upcoming football games.

Ray's announcement comes after school officials had suspended the campaign amid concerns that it encouraged racial insensitivity.

Those worries stemmed from a 2007 incident in which some students wore black face paint and Afro wigs to a game.

Ray says that by wearing black to an upcoming game against Utah, fans can show the progress OSU has made since 2007.

Oregon State's school colors are black and orange.

The athletic department had printed "wear black" or "wear orange" on tickets, posters and its website to promote school colors at different games in Reser Stadium.


US women add 2 soccer exhibitions against Ireland

CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. women's soccer team has added two more stops to its post-Olympic victory tour.

The Americans will play exhibitions against Ireland on Nov. 28 in Portland and Dec. 1 in Glendale, Ariz. The U.S. is 8-0-0 against Ireland.

The Americans are 3-0 so far on tour, with two victories over Australia and one against Costa Rica. They face two-time World Cup champion Germany on Oct. 20 in Bridgeview, Ill., with another game three days later in East Hartford, Conn.

The U.S. women won their third straight Olympic title in London, beating Japan 2-1 in a rematch of last year's World Cup final.


Minnesota tops WCHA preseason poll; UND is 2nd

(Information in the following story is from: Grand Forks Herald,

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — Coaches in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association are picking Minnesota to repeat as the regular-season champion.

The Gophers received 11 of 12 first-place votes in the annual Grand Forks Herald preseason coaches' poll. North Dakota — last year's WCHA playoff champion — got the other first-place vote and finished second in the poll.

The rest of the top five is Denver, St. Cloud State and Wisconsin.

Minnesota-Duluth is sixth in the poll, followed by Colorado College, Omaha, Michigan Tech, Minnesota-Mankato, Bemidji State and Alaska-Anchorage.