Leading Off

Canadian Tour event will return to Del Rio

The Canadian Tour, a breeding ground for young pro golfers, is returning to Del Rio Country Club. Tour spokesman Adam Parks and Del Rio Manager Duncan Reno confirmed the 72-hole tournament to be held April 10-13, three years after Edmonton's Stuart Anderson won a Canadian Tour stop at Del Rio. Tour Commissioner Richard Janes visited the club last week, and the Del Rio board of directors OK'd the event Wednesday. "The tour will be responsible for the prize money and expenses. We'll provide the venue and make sure it's done first-class," Reno said. A companion tour event will be conducted later in April at Stockton's Brookside CC. Prospective volunteers are asked to call Parks at 598-2555 or visit

If Harden's healthy, he's leading rotation

A's manager Bob Geren is ready to put Rich Harden at the front of his rotation, hopeful the right-hander will be healthy enough to pitch in Oakland's season-opening series against the Boston Red Sox in Tokyo. Harden and Joe Blanton will likely be the A's starters against the World Series champions in Japan on March 25 and 26. "If it started right now, it would be Blanton and Harden. There's no need to try to hide that. Those are our guys," Geren said Thursday, a day after returning from a trip to Tokyo to help promote the series. "We'll have two starters in Japan and they'll also be the same two who will open up here." Harden (1-2, 2.45 ERA in 2007) has been on a throwing program four days a week in Phoenix and "doing well," Geren said. The right-hander, who hasn't pitched since July 7 because of an inflamed right shoulder, could begin pitching off a mound by next week.

No more secrets, CIF

As the CIF prepares to expand the high school football bowl system to five games, it's time to ask that age-old question: Is the overseer of California athletics -- a taxpayer-funded organization -- prepared to shed the cloak of secrecy that has tainted the selection process the last two years? To read more, visit Richard T. Estrada's blog at

MJC hosts twin bill

The Modesto Junior College women's basketball team is going after its fifth consecutive victory tonight at 8 p.m. against Big 8 Conference opponent American River. The women follow the 6 p.m. men's game, also against American River, at the MJC gym.