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Extra Points: Morris returning to Cardinals next season

Thursday, December 9, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:13 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Matt Morris will return to the St. Louis Cardinals, agreeing Tuesday night to a $2.5 million, one-year contract that allows him to earn an additional $4.5 million in performance bonuses.

The NL champions also re-signed two other players, reaching one-year deals with right-handed reliever Cal Eldred ($600,000) and outfielder John Mabry ($725,000).

The Cardinals offered salary arbitration to free-agent shortstop Edgar Renteria and catcher Mike Matheny, but did not make offers to right-handed starter Woody Williams, left-handed reliever Steve Kline and outfielder Ray Lankford, who is considering retirement.

The Cardinals also lost second baseman Tony Womack, who signed a two-year deal with the New York Yankees.

Though he went 15-10 last season, Morris finished with a 4.72 ERA and gave up 35 home runs. His velocity, once in the mid-90s, was off considerably. Last month he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder, which bothered him throughout the season.

In seven seasons, the 30-year-old right-hander is 87-52 with a 3.53 ERA. He won 22 games for St. Louis in 2001. Morris earned $12.5 million in 2004, in the last year of a three-year contract.

Eldred, 37, has gone 11-6 in two seasons with the Cardinals, working 114 games in relief.

Mabry batted .296 with 13 home runs and 40 RBIs in 87 games this year. The 13 home runs matched his career high from 1996.

Renteria is a .289 hitter and two-time Gold Glove winner who, at 29, is still relatively young. But some believe he could command $10 million or more per season — and that might be too much for the Cardinals.

Matheny, 34, has been a starter since coming to St. Louis in 2000. Though a lifetime .247 hitter, he has won three Gold Gloves and is considered a leader in the clubhouse. The Cardinals are expected to find additional playing time for Yadier Molina, who hit .267 in 135 at-bats as a rookie in 2004.

HICKMAN BOYS’ BASKETBALL:

The Kewpies lost to Ruskin for the second time this season, falling 57-46 at the Blue Springs Tournament.

Kyle Smith led the Kewpies (2-4) with 12 points. Hickman, which trailed by as much as nine in the first half, cut it to 22-19 at halftime. Ruskin extended their lead in the second half and never trailed the rest of the way.

STEPHENS COLLEGE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

The Stars (1-7) lost 73-42 to Missouri Southern (6-1). The Stars shot 32 percent from the field, going 1-of-17 on 3-point attempts. Nikki Norman had team highs with 12 points and six rebounds.

MU VOLLEYBALL:

The American Volleyball Coaches Association named junior Lindsey Hunter to its All-Central Region Team and sophomore Jessica Vander Kooi earned honorable mention.

Hunter, who led the Big 12 Conference with a school-record 14.43 assists per game this season, was all-region last season and honorable mention as a freshman. Vander Kooi was named the Central Region Freshman of the Year last season.

UTAH:

Kyle Whittingham was introduced as Utah’s new football coach, accepting a promotion from defensive coordinator and ending two days of agonizing over offers from the Utes and rival Brigham Young.

Whittingham grew up in Provo and played at BYU from 1978-81. He was also a graduate assistant with the Cougars and the front-runner to accept the job at the school run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which Whittingham is a member.

But after spending his career in Salt Lake City since 1994 and the past 10 seasons as the Utes’ defensive coordinator, Whittingham decided late Tuesday to accept the Utah offer.

Whittingham was the players’ choice to replace Urban Meyer, who was 21-2 at Utah, 11-0 this season and hired by Florida last week.


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