Leading Off

Athletics fill bench with Rangers coach

The Oakland Athletics hired Don Wakamatsu away from Texas on Tuesday to be their bench coach, agreeing to terms on a two-year contract with the Bay Area native. The 44-year-old Wakamatsu replaces Bob Schaefer on manager Bob Geren's staff. Oakland announced earlier this month that the contracts of Schaefer, bullpen coach Brad Fischer and third base coach Rene Lachemann would not be renewed. Wakamatsu, who was considered a managerial candidate last offseason for the skipper jobs in both Oakland and Texas, was the Rangers' third base coach this past season following four years as bench coach. A former catcher who played primarily in the minor leagues, Wakamatsu worked closely with Texas players at his position. Baseball, Page C-6

Youth players free at Thursday game

The Davis High football team is hosting Youth Football Appreciation Night at its Thursday night game against Enochs at Downey High. All youth football players and spirit leaders will be admitted free of charge to the game if they are in their team's uniform. The freshman game is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m., followed by junior varsity (5:15) and varsity (7:30). High schools, Page C-4

NFL quick pick

The NFL cut from 15 minutes to 10 the time between picks in the first round of its draft after a 2007 record round of 6 hours, 8 minutes. It also moved the starting time of the draft from 9 a.m. to noon and limited the first day to two rounds instead of three. "We believe this will make for a more streamlined and efficient draft," commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement issued during the league owners meetings. The change also applied to the second round, which will go from 10 minutes to seven between choices for next year's draft, which will be held April 26-27 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Bonds indictment unlikely, Conte says

Victor Conte, the founder of the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, believes Barry Bonds won't be indicted. Conte spent four months in prison after pleading guilty in July 2005 to steroid distribution and money laundering. He denies providing Bonds with performance-enhancing drugs. A grand jury has been investigating whether Bonds committed perjury when he testified he never knowingly took performance-enhancing drugs. "I don't believe that they have the evidence to indict Barry Bonds," Conte said Tuesday while attending a party for the release of the book "Steroid Nation" by Shaun Assael, for which Conte was interviewed extensively. Conte added that Greg Anderson, Bonds' personal trainer who has been in prison for contempt of court since November for refusing to testify in the perjury probe, will never cooperate because he doesn't trust government authorities.