Monday’s Sports in Brief

BASEBALL

SAPPORO, Japan (AP) Los Angeles Angels-bound Shohei Ohtani bid farewell to fans of his former Japanese club on Monday as he sets off to join his new Major League Baseball team.

The star pitcher and hitter wore an Angels jersey to his news conference. He opened with an introduction in English, saying: ”Long time, no see. I’m Shohei Ohtani. Welcome to my press conference. Please enjoy.” The Sapporo Dome crowd erupted in laughter and applause.

For five seasons, Ohtani called Sapporo home, playing for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He intends to be a starting pitcher and everyday hitter with the Angels.

Ohtani, the reigning Pacific League MVP, threw one final ceremonial pitch from the Sapporo Dome mound.

He spurned other major league offers to join two-time MVP Mike Trout and slugger Albert Pujols. The Angels are coming off their second consecutive losing season and haven’t won a playoff game since 2009.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Villanova stayed comfortably at No. 1 in an AP Top 25 poll that offered little change at the top.

The top four teams stayed the same in Monday’s new poll , led by the Wildcats (12-0) receiving 43 of 65 first-place votes to stay at No. 1 for the third straight week. No. 2 Michigan State (12-1) was second and had 16 first-place votes, while third-ranked Arizona State (12-0) had six first-place votes to stay ahead of No. 4 Duke (12-1).

Those four teams won their six games last week by an average margin of 39.7 points, leaving their coaches to focus on tuning elements of their games before the bulk of conference play takes hold.

SOCCER

MOSCOW (AP) – Vitaly Mutko, a Russian government official who has been dogged by allegations of involvement in doping, said Monday he would temporarily step down as president of the Russian Football Union.

It’s a move apparently intended to deflect international criticism as Russia prepares to host the 2018 World Cup.

Mutko said at a briefing that he would suspend his activities as president for half-a-year, and Alexander Alayev would serve as the acting head of the Russian Football Union.

Mutko would retain the job of deputy prime minister overseeing sports.

Investigations by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee alleged that Mutko was involved in a sophisticated state-sponsored doping program during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Mutko, who served as Russia’s sports minister during the Games, has strongly denied all doping allegations.