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ROYALS' BELL DONE AT END OF SEASON

Buddy Bell resigned as manager of the last-place Royals, effective at the end of the season.

Bell announced the decision before Wednesday's game and said he will manage for the rest of the season. Bell, who turns 56 on Aug. 27, will join the front office in 2008 as a senior adviser to general manager Dayton Moore.

"I had to make a choice between managing and my family," Bell said, "and to me that's a no-brainer."

Bell's nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Tim Bell Jr., was killed by a bomb in August 2005 in Iraq. In September, Bell had surgery to remove a cancerous growth in his throat.

RED SOX IN JAPAN? The Red Sox, with expensive import Daisuke Matsuzaka, may open the 2008 season in Japan against either the Angels, A's or Mariners, Gene Orza, the union's chief operating officer, told the Associated Press.

SAMMY SLOWDOWN: Sammy Sosa, 38, was told his playing time with the Rangers will be cut. "They have young kids they want to see," said Sosa, who has 604 homers. "I don't have a problem with it."

BRAVES: To clear roster spots for newly acquired relievers Octavio Dotel and Ron Mahay, the team cut 48-year-old 1B Julio Franco and demoted reliever Jose Ascanio to Double-A Mississippi.

CUBS: RHP Kerry Wood, whose last major-league outing was June 6, 2006, because of a shoulder injury, is set to be activated this week, probably Friday. "I got back in the big leagues. The work hasn't even begun," Wood said a day after his eighth minor-league rehab stint.

RED SOX: RHP Curt Schilling (right shoulder tendinitis) is scheduled to make his first start in more than six weeks Sunday in Seattle.

TWINS: The team postponed today's game against the Royals after a bridge collapse near the Metrodome and team president Dave St. Peter said a weekend series with Cleveland also could be affected. Twins officials decided to play Wednesday night's game after conferring with department of public safety officials.

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