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Names In The Game

March 8, 1994

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ The Portland Trail Blazers fined Clyde Drexler on Monday for skipping a practice to attend ″Walt Disney’s World on Ice″ with his family.

Drexler missed the mandatory practice Sunday without explanation and attended the 1:30 p.m. performance of the show.

″It was a family crisis - personal in nature,″ Drexler said when asked why he missed the practice.

But several spectators saw him at the ice show in Memorial Coliseum.

Portland coach Rick Adelman spoke with Drexler after Monday morning’s practice.

″The reason he gave me was not acceptable, and that’s why the fine,″ Adelman said. ″I considered what he said, and right now, he’s fined.″

Adelman would not reveal the size of the fine but said it was the standard amount for a missed practice.

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - A back injury could prevent defending champion Fred Couples from playing in this week’s Honda Classic.

″It is touch and go,″ Couples said Monday in a statement released through his agent, Lynn Roach. ″I’ll make a decision in the next 24 to 48 hours.″

Couples, a former Masters champion and two-time PGA Tour Player of the Year, hurt his back Sunday while warming up for the final round of the Doral Open in Miami.

″I hit one ball and it felt like my back exploded,″ Couples said.

He was treated for back spasms by a physical therapist and now is under the care of Dr. Robert Watkins.

Couples said he remains on medication and is ″feeling better, but the flexibility is not where it should be for me to play in a PGA Tour event. ... This is pretty scary for me. I’ve never had anything like this happen to me before.″

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BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) - Her name will never appear in the official records, but Marianne DiFabio of Washington, Pa., is 1-0 as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager.

DiFabio’s husband, Bill, a Pittsburgh sportscaster, was the high bidder at a charity auction for the right to manage the Pirates for a day. DiFabio knew the ribbing he’d take from his fellow sportscasters if he managed himself, so he turned the job over to his wife.

Pirates manager Jim Leyland made up the lineup card and the pitching assignments, but allowed her to set the infield, apply the bunt and steal signs and position the outfielders. She also chose the pinch-hitters.

It was Marianne’s call to bunt the runners up in the ninth inning, setting up reliever Robert Ellis’ game-winning wild pitch in the Pirates’ 3-2 exhibition victory over the White Sox.

″She ought to be in the highlights on TV,″ Leyland said. ″It was her day. She was right on the ball. It was a more of a fun thing and she was a little tentative at first, but she picked up on it quickly.″

DiFabio even asked if center fielder Andy Van Slyke - a former New York state high school basketball star - could pitch to Michael Jordan, but Leyland declined.

″She had a big day,″ Leyland said. ″I told her the key to managing is winning the one-run games, and she won a one-run game in the bottom of the ninth. I’m just glad I have a three-year contract.″

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - Brett Favre’s television acting career may have been nipped in the bud.

A report last week indicated that the Los Angeles Rams were interested in making an offer to the Green Bay Packers quarterback, who is a restricted free agent.

According to Favre’s father, Irvin Favre, that report triggered an avalanche of calls to the Favre home in Kiln, Miss.

″We got calls wanting Brett to attend two or three functions if he came out to L.A.,″ the senior Favre told the Green Bay Press-Gazette. ″A producer even called saying he wanted Brett to make a guest appearance on ’The Young and the Restless.‴

The Rams, meanwhile, signed unrestricted free-agent quarterback Chris Miller to a three-year, $9 million contract Monday, putting to rest any speculation about making an offer to Favre.

″We’re right back to square one,″ said Favre’s agent, James ″Bus″ Cook. ″That’s OK, though. The whole point is Brett doesn’t want to leave Green Bay anyway.″

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