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Twirling Darvish named to AL All-Star squad

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CHICAGO -- Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish was hit by a line drive during one All-Star game in Japan. He's hoping to avoid that mishap on Tuesday.

Darvish and St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese are headed to the Midsummer Classic after fans voted them into next week's showcase in Kansas City.

"I feel very good," Darvish said Thursday through an interpreter. "I know the way that I got selected was a vote by the fans, so I appreciate all the fans who voted for me. I'm looking forward to it."

Darvish is the eighth Rangers player on the AL team managed by Texas' Ron Washington. He beat out four other pitchers: Chicago's Jake Peavy, Baltimore's Jason Hammel, Kansas City's Jonathan Broxton and the Angels' Ernesto Frieri.

"It just wasn't meant to be," said Peavy, who was supported by an aggressive marketing campaign by the White Sox. "Obviously we knew it's hard to outvote a country."

Freese emerged from an NL field that included Atlanta outfielder Michael Bourn, Nationals rookie outfielder Bryce Harper and Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill. Freese is batting .285 with 13 homers.

NFLPA files suit against league, claiming bias

NEW ORLEANS -- The NFL Players Association filed a lawsuit against the NFL on behalf of three players suspended in connection with the bounty investigation, calling commissioner Roger Goodell "incurably and evidently biased."

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New Orleans on Thursday, said Goodell violated the labour agreement by showing he had determined Will Smith, Anthony Hargrove and Scott Fujita participated in a bounty system before serving as an arbitrator at their hearing.

The NFL said the action is an "improper attempt to litigate" and said there is "no basis for asking a federal court to put its judgment in place of the procedures agreed upon with the NFLPA in collective bargaining."

"These procedures have been in place, and have served the game and players well, for many decades," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to The Associated Press.

Raptors get Rockets point guard Lowry in trade

HOUSTON -- It may not be Steve Nash, but it appears the Toronto Raptors have a new point guard.

Multiple sources reported Thursday that the Raptors have acquired Kyle Lowry in a trade with the Houston Rockets. The Houston Chronicle reported that the Rockets will get a package built around a future first-round draft pick in return.

The reported move comes a day after Nash's agent said the Canadian star would be joining the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a sign-and-trade deal with Phoenix. The Raptors had reportedly offered Nash a three-year deal worth US$36 million.

Greipel wins frenzied sprint to claim 5th stage

SAINT-QUENTIN, France -- In yet another crash-marred finish, Andre Greipel of Germany led a frenzied bunch sprint to win the fifth stage of the Tour de France on Thursday for his second straight stage victory.

Fabian Cancellara retained the yellow jersey for a sixth straight day after the mostly flat 196.5-kilometre trek from Rouen to Saint-Quentin was almost tailor-made for sprinters except for a slight uphill near the end.

The Tour's doping demons returned to cast a shadow. A Dutch newspaper report said former teammates of Lance Armstrong -- including five involved in the race -- cut a deal with U.S. anti-doping officials for their testimony in a case against the seven-time Tour champion. As usual, the Tour riders tried to keep their focus on the race.

FIFA allowing Muslim women to don headscarves

ZURICH, Switzerland -- Football's rules-making panel approved headscarves for Muslim women players on Thursday, reversing a ban on the Islamic hijab that was enforced in FIFA competitions for five years.

The panel, known as IFAB, gave its approval to the headscarves after FIFA's medical committee concluded that two scarf designs submitted to its experts do not threaten female players' safety.

The laws of football prohibit equipment that is dangerous or makes religious statements and headscarves have been banned on the football field since 2007.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 6, 2012 C6

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