Around the Nation (Feb. 3): Two ordered to trial in Eastern Michigan player's robbery-slaying

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLLEGE

Pair ordered to trial in Eastern Michigan football player's robbery-slaying

PITTSFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- A judge has ordered two 20-year-old Detroit men to stand trial on murder charges in the robbery and fatal shooting of an Eastern Michigan University football player.

Demarius Reed of Chicago was killed at his off-campus apartment building in Ypsilanti on Oct. 18. Kristopher Pratt and Ed Thomas are charged with open counts of murder.

A probable cause resumed Monday in Washtenaw County's Pittsfield Township, and District Judge Richard Conlin ruled that there's enough evidence to send the case to trial in circuit court.

An open murder charge means that the jury can choose to convict Pratt and Thomas of either first- or second-degree murder. Conlin dismissed a charge of conspiracy to commit armed robbery against them.

A pretrial hearing is scheduled March 25 before Judge Donald Shelton.

SOCCER

Beckham to discuss MLS team in Miami

MIAMI -- David Beckham will take part in a news conference Wednesday to discuss his progress in trying to bring a Major League Soccer expansion team to Miami.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez also will attend the session, which was announced Monday. The league has discussed placing its next two expansion teams in Miami and Atlanta.

Expansion in Miami is contingent on securing a financing plan and location for a new stadium. Beckham has scouted possible sites and is seeking investors to assist with startup costs such as stadium construction and player acquisitions.

Among those who might become involved is Beckham's friend LeBron James.

MLS's Miami Fusion played in Fort Lauderdale from 1998-01.

BASEBALL

Jeter hits on field for first time in '14

TAMPA, Fla. -- New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has taken on-field batting practice for the first time since his 2013 season was cut short by injuries.

Jeter hit with authority to all fields during a five-round, 39-swing session Monday at the Yankees' minor league complex. Jeter also took grounders at shortstop for the first time this year, fielding 34 balls at his usual position.

He says "everything is good so far, knock on word."

Jeter, who turns 40 in June, had hit in an indoor batting cage and fielded grounders on infield grass the previous two weeks. He was limited to 17 games last year after breaking an ankle during the 2012 playoffs.

Bard inks minors deal with Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Right-hander Daniel Bard has agreed to a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers that includes an invitation to big league spring training.

Bard, who has spent his major league career with Boston, is coming off surgery a month ago for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. His activities are expected to be limited during spring training.

The deal was announced Monday, when the Rangers also agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Armando Galarraga.

Bard was 10-19 with a 3.67 ERA in 211 games for the Red Sox from 2009-13. He was designated for assignment by Boston on Sept. 1, and claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 4.

TENNIS

Djokovic: I'll soon marry fiancee Jelena

BELGRADE, Serbia -- Novak Djokovic says he will soon marry his fiancee and longtime girlfriend Jelena Ristic.

On Monday, the No. 2-ranked tennis player and six-time major champion told Ristic during a Serbian television talk show: "Jelena, enjoy it while you can. In a couple of months you will be changing your last name to Djokovic." Ristic was shown smiling.

The two have been together for more than eight years. Ristic has been running Djokovic's humanitarian aid organization.

Djokovic is resting up in Serbia after losing in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

AUTO RACING

Parrott named crew chief at Tommy Baldwin Racing

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Todd Parrott has landed a crew chief position in the Sprint Cup Series with Tommy Baldwin Racing.

Parrott was suspended by NASCAR last year for failing a random drug test and it cost him his job with Richard Petty Motorsports. Parrott completed NASCAR's recovery program and was reinstated in January to work in the garage.

Parrott will be the crew chief for the No. 36 car. The team has not announced a driver yet.

Parrott won the 1999 Cup championship with Dale Jarrett. The two also teamed to win the Daytona 500 in 1996 and 2000.

Tommy Baldwin Racing recently hired another veteran crew chief, Kevin Manion, to crew chief rookie Michael Annett.

Kwasniewski to run Nationwide with Turner Motorsports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Dylan Kwasniewski will run a full Nationwide Series schedule for Turner Motorsports this season.

The Monday announcement comes just days after Turner Motorsport announced it could not field a Truck Series this year team for Jeb Burton because the sponsor had defaulted on its payment.

The team can run Kwasniewski because Rockstar Energy Drink has signed on to sponsor the No. 31 Chevrolet for the 18-year-old driver.

Kwasniewski is scheduled to make his Nationwide debut in the season-opening Feb. 22 race at Daytona. Kwasniewski is the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion and won last year's and the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

Rockstar sponsored him in the East Series last year.

GOLF

Juli Inkster remains committed to keep LPGA in Bay Area

DALY CITY, Calif. -- Juli Inkster believes the LPGA can become a success for the long haul in her native Bay Area.

Inkster is helping promote the inaugural Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic at Lake Merced Golf Club, marking the LPGA's return to the area for the first time since the 2010 CVS Challenge at Blackhawk Country Club in Danville.

The $1.8 million, 144-player Swinging Skirts tournament will run April 21-27 in this San Francisco suburb. It will be one of about 12 events the 53-year-old Inkster plans to play this year in a reduced schedule -- though she makes a point to say she is not retiring. The Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic formally launched Monday.

The Swinging Skirts Golf Team is a private, Taiwanese nonprofit of amateur golfers committed to growing the women's game globally.

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