Yanks’ Rivera throws 1st simulated game

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was all smiles after throwing 18 pitches Thursday in his first simulated game since knee surgery last spring. “I feel real good,” Rivera said. “Getting stronger and stronger.” The 43-year old pitched one inning against Yankees’ minor leaguers. Rivera, a 12-time All-Star with 608 regular season and 42 postseason saves, also fielded and covered first base. Rivera pitched in nine games last year, his season ending when he tore the ACL in his right knee while tracking down a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. ‏(AP‏)

S. Korea favorite in Taiwan World Baseball Classic tournament

With a lineup boasting power hitter Lee Seung-yeop, South Korea is seen as the Group B favorite this weekend in the opening round of the World Baseball Classic. Host Taiwan is expected to compete with Andruw Jones and the Netherlands for second spot in the four-team group, which starts play tomorrow at Taichung, while Australia appears to have little chance of advancing in the 16-team tournament. The top two nations move on to the second round in Tokyo. While South Korea is without any major leaguers, the team advanced to the 2009 final before losing to Japan. ‏(AP‏)

Djokovic, Federer reach Dubai semis

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic remained unbeaten this year by routing Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-0, 6-3 as the top four seeds powered into the semifinals of the Dubai Championships Thursday. Defending champion Roger Federer defeated Nikolay Davydenko 6-2, 6-2. Djokovic will play fourth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, who returned to the semifinals by beating German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-4, 6-2. Federer will face third-seeded Tomas Berdych, who defeated Russian wild card Dmitry Tursunov for the second time in five days, 6-3, 6-2. The top-ranked Djokovic won his 11th straight match to start the year. ‏(AP‏)

Woods gets feet wet, four shots back

Tiger Woods had his bare feet in water to save par en route to an even-par 70 in the opening round of the Honda Classic Thursday that left him four shots back of the clubhouse leaders. On the par-four sixth, Woods hooked his tee shot into the water hazard but managed to save par after going bare foot, putting on his rain pants and playing out of the water. ‏ Boo Weekley, Sean O’Hair and Dustin Johnson shared the early lead. (Reuters‏)