Dusty Baker was hired yesterday to manage the Chicago Cubs, accepting one of baseball's most challenging assignments. Baker takes over baseball's longtime losers less than a month after leading the San Francisco Giants to the World Series.

Baker, a three-time National League manager of the year, agreed to a four-year contract, a deal thought to be worth between $14 million and $16 million.

"We're very thrilled to have him," Cubs President Andy MacPhail said. "His record speaks for itself."

Known for his dugout toothpick and his ability to relate to players, Baker spent 10 seasons with the Giants before departing last week following differences with San Francisco owner Peter Magowan.

Baker replaces Bruce Kimm, the interim manager who was fired at the end of the Cubs' 67-95 season. . . .

Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach Bob Melvin was hired as the Seattle Mariners' first new manager in a decade, replacing Lou Piniella.

Melvin, who has never been a major league manager, was chosen from among four finalists by Mariners General Manager Pat Gillick.

The 41-year-old Melvin, a former major league catcher whose only managerial experience was in the Arizona Fall League in 1999, is the 12th manager in the Mariners' history. He was given a two-year contract. . . .

A federal judge put on hold a racketeering lawsuit filed by the former limited partners of the Expos against Commissioner Bud Selig, telling them to go arbitration with their case against former Montreal owner Jeffrey Loria.

Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages of the U.S. District Court in Miami, who on Wednesday denied a request by baseball's lawyers to throw out the suit based on venue, refused to allow the case to go to trial in federal court. . . .

Tom Glavine received his long-awaited offer from the New York Mets, a three-year deal worth about $31 million.

The Philadelphia Phillies also have made a three-year offer to the 36-year-old left-hander, a contract worth between $27 million and $30 million.


Agent Awarded $44.6M

A jury awarded sports agent Leigh Steinberg $44.6 million in damages after ruling that his former business partner conspired to steal his high-profile clients.

The federal court jury upheld a breach of contract claim by Steinberg against David Dunn. Claims of unfair competition and interference with prospective economic advantage against Dunn and his firm, Athletes First, also were upheld.

The eight-member panel awarded $22.6 million in punitive damages and another $22 million in compensatory damages, to be paid by Dunn and his firm.

College Basketball

Strain for Krzyzewski

Mike Krzyzewski strained a hip flexor muscle when he jumped off the bench during an exhibition game and will be on crutches over the weekend.

However, the injury doesn't appear to be serious or related to Krzyzewski's most recent hip replacement surgery, said Jon Jackson, the school's sports information director.

The injured hip flexor muscle is not connected to Krzyzewski's new right hip, which he had replaced three days after the Blue Devils were eliminated from the NCAA tournament in late March, Jackson said.

Krzyzewski, 55, was released from the hospital and will continue his recovery at home over the weekend.


Hewitt Benefits Again

Lleyton Hewitt has the No. 1 ranking. He also has a semifinal berth at the season-ending Masters Cup, thanks to Carlos Moya.

Hewitt, the defending champion in the eight-man tournament, advanced to the semifinals when Moya outlasted French Open champion Albert Costa, 7-6 (9-7), 3-6, 6-4, in Shanghai. If Costa had won, Hewitt's season would have been over.

Hewitt, who clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking Thursday when Andre Agassi lost to Juan Carlos Ferrero, will take on Roger Federer today. The other semifinal pits Moya against Ferrero.


Team Effort for U.S.

The teams of Hale Irwin-Tom Kite and Mark O'Meara-Tom Watson won the final two matches to lift the United States to a 31/2-21/2 lead over The Rest of the World on the opening day of the Warburg Cup at St. Simons Island, Ga.

Irwin and Kite beat Rodger Davis and Stewart Ginn, 3 and 2, to get the Americans even. Then O'Meara and Watson beat Barry Lane and Denis Durnian, 2 and 1, to secure the lead.


Pollin Prize Awarded

Dilip Mahalanabis, Norbert Hirschhorn, Nathaniel F. Pierce III and David Nalin each were awarded the first Pollin Prize for Pediatric Research at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

The four scientists made contributions to the discovery and implementation of oral rehydration therapy in East Pakistan and India.

The prize money -- $100,000 to be divided among the winners and another $100,000 for research -- was donated by Abe and Irene Pollin, owners of the Washington Wizards and MCI Center.