BUZZ TAKING SHAPE: The Minnesota Twins have assigned 15 players to its minor league camp. Those optioned to Salt Lake include pitchers Dan Serafini, Dan Naulty and Ricky Bones; as well as outfielders Brian Buchanan, Chris Latham and Marc Lewis. The Buzz open the 1998 Pacific Coast League season April 7 at Franklin Quest Field against Tacoma.


U.S. WOMEN WIN: Mia Hamm showed China why she is considered the best women's soccer player in the world. And she did it with a hat trick on her 26th birthday.

Hamm, who led the United States to the 1996 Olympic title, scored in the 15th minute, again at the end of the first half and in the game's final seconds in a 4-1 victory Tuesday against China in Louli, Portugal. It was the most goals a U.S. team has scored against the Chinese.

"Anytime you beat a team as talented as China by that score, it definitely gives you confidence," said Hamm, who upped her international goal total to 85 in 141 games. "Our midfield and defenders did a great job dealing with the tough conditions, the wind and the bumpy field, while still maintaining our composure. I'm happy with the goals, because I think I only got three good opportunities."

The victory, combined with Norway's 1-0 win over Finland, meant the United States can advance to the final of the Algarve Cup by beating or tying the Norwegians on Thursday. Norway is the defending World Cup champion.


PACKERS' STOCK: The Green Bay Packers raised about $24 million in their first stock sale since the 1950s, far short of an initial target of $80 million for improvements to Lambeau Field.

The team signed up 105,989 new shareholders at $200 per share in the stock sale that ended Monday. The shares are nonredeemable and nondividend-paying, which makes them little more than souvenirs.

CHARGERS SIGN FORTIN: Roman Fortin, a 31-year-old center who spent the last five seasons with Atlanta, signed a two-year contract with the San Diego Chargers. The deal could be worth between $2.2 million and $2.8 million.


LAFONTAINE SIDELINED: New York Rangers center Pat LaFontaine will be sidelined indefinitely until symptoms from a head injury diminish.

LaFontaine, who missed most of last season with Buffalo because of post concussion syndrome, collided with teammate Mike Keane on Monday night against Ottawa. Tests showed LaFontaine did not sustain a concussion, which would have been the sixth of his career.