Jason Giambi of the New York Yankees and Ken Griffey Jr. of the Cincinnati Reds were named Major League Baseball's comeback players of the year yesterday after both players missed half their team's games in 2004.

Giambi, 34, received the most votes in an Internet poll from fans among American League candidates as the first baseman hit 32 home runs and batted .271. Injuries last year limited Giambi to 12 homers and a .208 batting average.

Fans Griffey, 35, in the National League after the outfielder hit .301 with 35 home runs. In 2004, he batted .264 with 16 home runs.. . . .

Former Oakland manager Ken Macha, a native of Pittsburgh, is expected to meet in the next couple of days with Pirates General Manager Dave Littlefield to discuss the team's managerial opening. Littlefield said he also expects to schedule a meeting with former Dodgers manager Jim Tracy. . . .

Television cameraman Larry Rodriguez, hospitalized following a tirade by the Texas Rangers' Kenny Rogers in June, has sued the pitcher. Rodriguez, who works for Dallas-Fort Worth station KDFW, alleged in a personal injury lawsuit filed Wednesday that Rogers injured him in an unprovoked attack on June 29. The Rangers said this week they will not offer the 40-year-old pitcher a new contract.

* AUTO RACING: NASCAR suspended crew chief Glenn Darrow indefinitely yesterday for violating its substance abuse policy.

Darrow, crew chief for Tony Raines's Nextel Cup car, was tested for banned substances last Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway. The results were positive, leading to an automatic suspension.

NASCAR did not identify the substance. Darrow is the second person suspended by NASCAR this season for failing a substance abuse test. Busch Series regular Shane Hmiel will not be allowed to return to NASCAR before 2007 after failing a test earlier this season. It is Hmiel's second suspension.

* GOLF: Coming off his first victory in 19 months last weekend in Scotland, Colin Montgomerie shot a 6-under-par 64 for a three-shot lead in the American Express Championship in San Francisco.

Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and eight others were at 67. It was the first test at Harding Park, a Municipal course that had not hosted golf's best players since the late 1960s and is relatively short at 7,086 yards. . . .

In Auburn, Calif., Cristie Kerr had consecutive eagles in a career-best, 9-under 62 to take a four-stroke lead in the first round of the Longs Drugs Challenge.

Beth Daniel, Becky Iverson and Marilyn Lovander opened with 66s, and Lindsey Wright also was 5 under through 17 holes when play was suspended by darkness.

* HOCKEY: Toronto Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin could miss six weeks after breaking the lower orbital bone when he was hit in the face by a puck in the season opener.

* SOCCER: In Medellin, Colombia, a judge ordered the early release of the man who killed Colombian soccer star Andres Escobar for scoring an own-goal in the 1994 World Cup loss to the United States.

Humberto Munoz was freed after serving 11 years of a 43-year sentence. The judge, whose name was not released because of security concerns, cited Munoz's good behavior and study habits in prison.

Munoz shot Escobar on July 2, 1994, in the parking lot of a Medellin nightclub, days after the player accidentally kicked the ball into his own net during a 2-1 loss to the United States that eliminated Colombia from the World Cup.

* COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Rhode Island suspended point guard Dawan Robinson from the team after he was arrested following a bar fight last month. Robinson, 23, led the Rams to a 20-14 record two years ago, but sat out most of last season with a foot injury. . . .

Southern Mississippi guard Rashaad Carruth has left the team for personal reasons.

* TENNIS: In Filderstadt, Germany, Kim Clijsters closed in on the top ranking by beating Karolina Sprem, 6-3, 6-2, to reach the quarterfinals at the Porsche Grand Prix.

The Belgian can become No. 1 by winning this tournament a third time. If Clijsters meets third-seeded Amelie Mauresmo in tomorrow's semifinals, she could unseat injured Maria Sharapova for the No. 1 spot. . . .

A day after denying a report by the French sports newspaper L'Equipe that he tested positive for the baned drug etilefrine, top-seeded Mariano Puerta lost to unseeded Marcos Baghdatis, 6-2, 6-7 (13-11), 7-5, in the third round of the Japan Open in Tokyo.

-- From News Services

First-round leader Colin Montgomerie tees off on the 3rd tee at the American Express Championship in San Francisco.