Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Thursday. A full Sports Digest will be sent at about 3 p.m. All times EST.
- SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Facing a trip to Australia next month to open the 2014 season against the rival LA Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks get a jump on spring training Thursday while Arizona prepares to welcome the rest of the teams that train in the Phoenix area in the days to come.
- Coming off an injury-filled summer, U.S. national soccer team star Clint Dempsey is looking forward to regaining form heading into his first World Cup as U.S. captain.
- BUFFALO, N.Y. - Four years following his career-defining, silver-medal winning performance, U.S. National team goalie Ryan Miller is making no promises regarding what lays ahead in Sochi. "It's kind of like a law firm," Miller said about his status as the reigning Olympic hockey tournament MVP. "It doesn't guarantee any future payouts or verdicts."
- SOCHI, Russia - Despite a temporary Russian ban on liquids in carry-on luggage, some air travelers heading to the Sochi Olympics through Moscow have brought toothpaste and other toiletries past security checkpoints without any problems.
- SOCHI, Russia - They're designed to celebrate a millennium of Russian might and this country's modern rebound, and kick off two weeks of extraordinary human endeavors and planetary sportsmanship. But the ceremony opening the Sochi Olympics on Friday, more than anything, will be about one man: Vladimir Putin.
- MOSCOW - When the Olympics open Friday, many will be watching to see if Russia enforces its law banning gay "propaganda" to minors and if athletes, fans or activists wave rainbow flags or speak out in protest.
- PEBBLE BEACH, Calif.Graeme McDowell returns to Pebble Beach for the first time since winning the 2010 U.S. Open. The Pebble Beach National Pro-Am gets underway featuring Phil Mickelson, defending champion Brandt Snedeker and Dustin Johnson
- TALLADEGA, Ala. - Trevor Bayne is gearing up for an attempt to recapture the magic that led him to a Daytona 500 victory as a 20-year-old. Bayne, who went public in November that he'd been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, speaks after testing at Talladega Superspeedway.
- TUCSON, Ariz. - No. 2 Arizona plays its first game without Brandon Ashley and for the first time since dropping from No. 1 against struggling Oregon.