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Ibanez leaves KC, rejoins Mariners

Outfielder Raul Ibanez is heading back to where his career began after signing a three-year, $13.25 million contract with the Seattle Mariners yesterday. Ibanez spent the last two seasons in Kansas City, hitting .294 both years. He drove in 103 runs in 2002 and 90 last season. He played with Seattle in 1999 and 2000, but saw little playing time . . . Another free agent, catcher Brad Ausmus, decided to stay with the Houston Astros, agreeing to a $4 million, two-year contract. Ausmus, a two-time Gold Glove winner, hit .229 with 4 home runs and 47 RBIs. Ausmus, 34, has caught at least 100 games in each of his 10 full seasons in the major leagues. He finished second among catchers with a .997 fielding percentage last season . . . . . . The Cleveland Indians re-signed outfielder Milton Bradley, avoiding arbitration with their leading hitter last season. Bradley batted .321 with 10 home runs, 56 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases. His season was cut short in early August because of a lower back injury. Bradley is a career .264 hitter with 22 home runs and 128 RBIs in four seasons with the Montreal Expos and Cleveland . . . The San Diego Padres hope their three-player trade with Oakland will be finalized on Thursday, after the Atheltics review medical information about outfielder Mark Kotsay. The deal would send Kotsay to the A's for All-Star catcher Ramon Hernandez and outfielder Terrence Long . . . Former New York Mets and San Francisco Giants outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo will return to Japan and play for the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters next season. Shinjo, who spent most of the 2003 season with the Mets' Triple A Norfolk club, signed with New York as a free agent in 2001 and batted .193 with 1 homer and 7 RBIs in 62 games last season . . . If Sammy Sosa had a vote for the National League MVP, he would have picked Albert Pujols over Barry Bonds. "Bonds had good numbers and has a name in the game, but Pujols deserved the award more than anybody," the Chicago Cubs star said. Pujols finished second, receiving three first-place votes to Sosa's 28 . . . Former Detroit Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker will join his old team, and double-play mate, at spring training next year as an instructor. Whitaker will help manager Alan Trammell and the Tigers at both the major and minor league camps . . . Ken Brett, who became the youngest pitcher in World Series history when he worked in relief for the Red Sox in 1967 and also set a record for pitchers by homering in four straight starts for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1973, died Tuesday from brain cancer. He was 55.

MISCELLANY
Adu says NBA age shouldn't matter
Freddy Adu
, the 14-year-old who just signed a contract to play in Major League Soccer, had some words for NBA commissioner David Stern. "If you're good enough, you're old enough. You don't let someone make that decision for you," Adu said at Madison Square Garden, where MLS held a press conference announcing it had signed the teenager. Adu was referring to Stern's intention of establishing a minimum age of 20 to prevent players from skipping college for the NBA. Adu also was named to the US Under-20 FIFA world championship team that begins play Wednesday in the United Arab Emirates . . . Colombian soccer coach Francisco Maturana has resigned after his team lost three straight World Cup qualifiers . . . Ronaldo scored the tying goal as host Brazil rallied to tie Uruguay, 3-3, in a 2006 World Cup qualifier . . . The US blanked St. Kitts & Nevis, 4-0, and advanced to the final round of qualifying for the 2004 Olympics in Guadalajara, Mexico, Feb. 2-12 . . . Jack Nicklaus, suffering from flu-like symptoms, handed over the task of deciding the opening-round pairing to assistant captain Jeff Sluman as the US team practiced for the Presidents Cup, which begins today in George, South Africa . . . Mark James of Great Britain fired a 70 and holds a two-shot lead over Mark Johnson and Mark McNulty after the second round of Champions Tour qualifying in Coral Springs, Fla. . . . Tennessee basketball coach Buzz Peterson signed a contract extension through the 2008-09 season . . . Mike Stoops, associate head coach for his brother Bob's program at Oklahoma, has emerged as a leading candidate for the University of Arizona head football coaching job . . . USA Hockey named Larry Pleau general manager for the 2004 men's national team and the US team for the World Cup of Hockey 2004 . . . Weightlifter China's Liu Chunhong, 18, broke her own world junior record by snatching 264 pounds in Vancouver . . . Cliff Swain of Braintree advanced to the round of 16 in the US Open racquetball championships in Memphis . . . Tickets for the Beanpot go on sale tomorrow at the FleetCenter at 11 a.m. They are also available by calling 617-931-2000 or logging onto www.fleetcenter.com.

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