Juan gone? Last shot for Gonzalez

Just when most baseball fans probably thought Juan Gonzalez was long gone, he's back.

Proud owner of two AL MVP awards and a pair of home run titles, Gonzalez is in camp this spring with the St. Louis Cardinals, hoping to revive a career that many figured was over.

"I feel like a rookie invited to big league camp after two years off," the 38-year-old outfielder said Tuesday in Jupiter, Fla. "I'm coming back for a big challenge. This is opening doors for myself. I'm here working hard to see what happens."

Gonzalez took part in the first day of full-squad workouts for the Cardinals. At 38, and away from the majors for two years, he's looking for any sort of job.

"He's got a spot that could be very helpful to us if he's got his game together, and I've been told he does," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "He's going to get an opportunity to make the club."

Pepperdine rehires Asbury as coach

MALIBU, Calif. — Tom Asbury is coming out of retirement to coach Pepperdine's basketball team for a second time beginning next season.

The 62-year-old had a 125-59 record from 1989-94. Asbury has been retired in Tucson, Ariz., after coaching at Kansas State and being an assistant at Alabama.

Eric Bridgeland, who was named interim coach after Vance Walberg resigned on Jan. 18, will keep that job for the rest of the season. Asbury will take over next season, athletic director John Watson said Tuesday.

Former MLB, NFL executive dies

Bob Howsam, the man who gave baseball its Big Red Machine and gave Denver its beloved Broncos, died Tuesday in Sun City, Ariz. He was 89.

Howsam lived in Sun City, Ariz., and had been having heart problems, said his son, Robert Howsam of Colorado Springs.

Howsam's career bridged two sports and several leagues, and even his short-time jobs produced success: Between co-founding the Broncos in 1959 and joining the Reds in 1967, he was general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals when they won the 1964 World Series over the New York Yankees.

He built a reputation as a visionary who pioneered the use of film to hone a hitter's swing, expanded the use of artificial turf and orchestrated blockbuster trades — such as the one that brought Joe Morgan to the Reds in 1971.

Farrar leads Tour of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Former world road race titlist Tom Boonen of Belgium won the second stage and American Tyler Farrar grabbed a one-second race lead Tuesday in the rainy Amgen Tour of California.

Boonen (Quick-Step), the 2005 world champion, bolted past Mark Cavendish of Great Britain in the final 50 yards to win the stage. He completed the 116-mile Santa Rosa to Sacramento road race in 5 hours, 9 minutes and 35 seconds.

Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) of Germany was second, and Mario Cipollini (High Road) — the 40-year-old Italian who ended a three-year retirement to compete — finished third, both in the same time as the winner.

Farrar (Slipstream-Chipotle), who began the second stage trailing Fabian Cancellara (SCS) of Switzerland by 2 seconds, finished sixth in the stage. However, the 23-year-old earned three mid-stage bonus seconds to assume the overall lead.

"My hope is that I will be handing the (leader's) jersey to one of my teammates tomorrow after the stage," said Farrar, whose team includes several more experienced riders who have either won stages and or held the race lead in the Tour de France.

"The time bonuses rolled around late in the stage and there was only one guy up the road (in the lead) and we were able to give it a go," Farrar said. "The team was amazing today."

With his stage win, Boonen moved into third overall, trailing by 4 seconds.

"It was pretty hectic," said Boonen, who last competed in the United States in 2002 when he was a teammate of Lance Armstrong and rode for the U.S. Postal Service.

"I don't really know what or how it happened, but Cipollini left a hole and Cavendish was about 20 meters ahead and he was alone," he said. "It was one of the best 100 meters I've ever had."

The rainy weather slowed the field considerably, with the winning time about 30 minutes slower than the identical stage last year.

Defending race titlist and former Utahn Levi Leipheimer (Astana) finished 21st in the stage in the main field. He dropped two places to sixth, 7 seconds behind Farrar.