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Sports Extra

Baseball

U.S. roster runs a little thin in the pitching ranks

NEW YORK – Toronto’s R.A. Dickey heads a starting pitching staff missing David Price, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Cain on the preliminary U.S. roster for the World Baseball Classic.

Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees’ Mark Teixeira and the Mets’ David Wright are among 27 players on the roster announced Thursday. The roster also includes Joe Mauer and Jimmy Rollins, and the bullpen is headed by Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel.

Final 28-man rosters are due Feb. 20 and must include at least 13 pitchers and two catchers. The U.S., managed by Joe Torre, will open against Mexico on March 8, then will play Italy and Canada to complete its first-round group.

NBA

Bryant the top vote-getter in a record All-Star Game vote

NEW YORK – Kobe Bryant was voted to his NBA-record 15th consecutive All-Star start, leading four Los Angeles players into next month’s game.

Lakers teammate Dwight Howard and the Clippers’ Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will join Bryant in the Western Conference lineup for the Feb. 17 game in Houston.

Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, the MVP of last year’s game, rounds out the five.

Kevin Garnett held off Chris Bosh in fan balloting, giving the East two Boston Celtics and two Miami Heat players. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will represent the defending champions and receive passes from Rajon Rondo.

New York’s Carmelo Anthony is the other starter.

Bryant finished with 1,591,437 votes, edging James by about 7,800 to finish as the leading vote-getter and break a tie with Shaquille O’Neal, Jerry West and Karl Malone for the most consecutive starting nods.

The NBA’s leading scorer is a four-time MVP of the All-Star game and last year became its career scoring leader.

Garnett beat Bosh, who took to Twitter to stump for votes in the final days of balloting, by about 25,000 votes. He tied Bryant and O’Neal for second all-time with his 15th selection behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was elected to 19 games.

The ballot changed this year, eliminating the center position. Fans were required to vote for three frontcourt players and two guards.

NFL

Cardinals fill final coaching vacancy with Bruce Arians

TEMPE, Ariz. – The Arizona Cardinals filled the NFL’s final head coaching vacancy by hiring Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

The team confirmed the hiring in a release Thursday night, saying Arians received a four-year contract with a club option for a fifth year.

The 60-year-old longtime assistant went 9-3 as Colts interim head coach while Chuck Pagono was undergoing treatment for leukemia last season.

Arians arrived in Arizona on Wednesday night, had dinner with top team officials, then interviewed Thursday and met with reporters to indicate his extreme interest in the job. He was offered and accepted the job Thursday night.

Arians was the sixth known candidate interviewed to replace Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired after six seasons, then hired Thursday as the San Diego Chargers’ offensive coordinator.

Soccer

New England drafts Louisville defender No. 1 in SuperDraft

INDIANAPOLIS – Louisville defender Andrew Farrell was selected by the New England Revolution with the top pick in Major League Soccer’s draft Thursday.

The 20-year-old was a first-team All-American last season as a junior, when he shifted from midfield to the back line. New England acquired the top pick from Toronto a day earlier.

Connecticut midfielder Carlos Alvarez was taken by Chivas USA with the second pick, then Toronto selected Kyle Bekker, a Canadian midfielder from Boston College.

Associated Press