Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Ugueth Urbina was arrested and held yesterday in Venezuela pending a formal charge of attempted murder.

Last month Urbina and a group of men allegedly attacked five workers with machetes and poured gasoline on them in an attempt to set them on fire. All five were injured, some of them with cuts and one with burns on the back and right arm, police said.

Urbina, who was detained late Monday, has insisted he had nothing to do with the violence at his family's ranch Oct. 16.

"Everything will be cleared up soon and people will know the truth," Urbina said from his cell at a police station. "Right now we aren't going to do anything to deny things that aren't true."

Urbina's attorney, Jose Luis Tamayo, said the pitcher was sleeping at the time of the incident and was not involved. One victim, Argenis Farias, has accused Urbina of being among the attackers.

Urbina was traded from Detroit to Philadelphia in the middle of last season. The reliever became a free agent after the season ended. . . .

The Yankees let Tino Martinez go, declining their $3 million option on the popular first baseman. Martinez returned to New York this year and hit .241 in part-time duty.

* STEROIDS: Aiming for a Senate vote on steroid legislation this week, lawmakers eased the proposed penalties, calling for a half-season suspension the first time an athlete tests positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) contains a one-season ban for a second steroid offense and a lifetime ban for a third. It would apply to Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA, NHL and baseball's minor leagues.

The leagues and their players' unions say they should continue to set their own drug-testing rules and penalties through collective bargaining.

* COLLEGES: Maryland (19-2) earned the top overall seed in the NCAA field hockey tournament and will host Richmond (16-5) at 11 a.m. on Saturday. American (19-1) will play Penn State (17-3) at 2 p.m., also in College Park, with the first-round winners meeting in a quarterfinal Sunday. . . .

Terrence Roberts had 15 points and No. 16 Syracuse beat visiting Bethune-Cookman, 68-37, in the first round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic. It was the fewest points allowed by Syracuse since an 84-37 victory over South Carolina on Jan. 24, 1998. Tonight the Orange will play Cornell, which beat St. Francis (Pa.), 75-54.

* AUTO RACING: After 31 seasons and 786 consecutive starts, 49-year-old Ricky Rudd is just about done racing. The Chesapeake, Va., native said he's stepping aside from full-time Nextel Cup racing after this season, bringing an end to a streak of starts that began in 1981.

-- From News Services