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MLB: Brett returns to Royals’ front office

on July 28, 2013 2:30 AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — George Brett took over as the Kansas City Royals’ interim hitting coach about two months ago with the rudderless team mired in an eight-game skid. He leaves with them showing signs of life.

The Hall of Famer announced he was stepping down from his on-field job and returning to the Royals’ front office, where he’s served as vice president of baseball operations since retiring as a player following the 1993 season.

“It's been a tremendous experience for me to put on the uniform again after 20 years away,” Brett said during a brief news conference, breaking down for a few seconds. “It was special.”

Brett has helped out at spring training for years as a volunteer coach, but his stint as the interim hitting coach was the first time he'd worn his No. 5 jersey for games that counted since the last out of his last game as one of the game's greatest third basemen.

Brett said that he'll still be around for some home games. He may even throw batting practice on occasion, but he won't be in uniform once games start, instead sitting in a suite with general manager Dayton Moore as the Royals try to play their way into contention.

Alabama staffer gets penalized

UNDATED (AP) — Alabama has penalized director of football operations Joe Pannunzio for his role in the Miami scandal while a member of the Hurricanes’ staff, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the university didn’t release the name. Alabama posted 31 secondary violations on its website Thursday involving a number of sports for the year ending June 30. Alabama said the staffer received no raise or contract extension for one year, wasn’t allowed to communicate with recruits for 90 days and had to attend an NCAA regional rules seminar.

Pannunzio isn’t identified in the notice of allegations the NCAA brought against Miami. Alabama said its staffer “provided impermissible benefits to a prospect and his family and introduced prospect to a booster while at another institution.” That booster was Nevin Shapiro, the central figure in the Miami scandal.

Pannunzio was one of the former Miami assistant coaches accused of having ties with Shapiro, the former booster and convicted felon who’s now serving a 20-year term in federal prison for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme.

Steele leads Canadian Open

OAKVILLE, Ontario (AP) — Brendan Steele topped the Canadian Open leaderboard at 7-under 65, birdieing five of the first seven holes on his back nine at Glen Abbey. The 30-year-old Steele had eight birdies and a bogey, dropping a shot on his final hole — the par-4 ninth.

He won the 2011 Texas Open for his long PGA Tour title.

Matt Kuchar, a two-time winner this year, was a stroke back along with Scott Gardiner and Scott Brown. Hunter Mahan and David Lingmerth shot 67, and Chez Reavie, the 2008 winner at Glen Abbey, was another stroke back in a group that included Bubba Watson and Trevor Immelman.

Sauers fires 67 at Royal Birkdale

SOUTHPORT, England (AP) — American Gene Sauers shot a 3-under 67 in windy conditions at Royal Birkdale to take the first-round lead in the Senior British Open.

Germany’s Bernhard Langer, the 2010 winner, was a stroke back along with South Africa’s David Frost, Australia’s Peter Senior and the Philippines’ Frankie Minoza.

Defending champion Fred Couples opened with a 74.

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