CASTINE — Penny Graves has been named head coach of the Maine Maritime Academy volleyball and softball teams, MMA Interim Athletic Director Steve Peed announced in a press release Thursday.

Graves brings a combined 16 years of head coaching experience in the two sports on the NCAA Division II and Division III levels.

“Coach Graves’ dedication to developing young people for success in their sport and in their lives made her a natural fit for the Academy,” said Peed. “She will position her teams for success, be an outstanding mentor to her players, and a leader in our department.”

Graves, the 1999 National Fast Pitch Coaches Association Region VI Coach of the Year, has developed five All-Americans and produced 40 scholar-athletes between her stints at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) and Adams State (Colo.) Colleges. She has also coached varsity and club volleyball and softball at Oberlin (Ohio).

MMA also named the addition of Richard Osheim of San Lorenzo, Calif., to its athletic training staff. Osheim, who served as Castro Valley (Calif.) High School’s head athletic trainer last year, will join the MMA in late August.

MLB owners approve sale of Padres

DENVER — Major League Baseball owners approved the sale of the San Diego Padres on Thursday to a group that includes the O’Malley family and pro golfer Phil Mickelson.

Commissioner Bud Selig announced the endorsement after the conclusion of the owners meetings in Denver.

Under the deal, the group will buy the franchise from John Moores for around $800 million. The final closing of the sale will be on or before Aug. 31.

The new ownership group includes Kevin and Brian O’Malley, the sons of former Los Angeles Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley. Peter and Tom Seidler — the nephews of Peter O’Malley — also will be involved in the deal. Two of the four are expected to move to San Diego.

“This group knows what it takes to compete,” Selig said. “They’re very optimistic. I’m optimistic. I’ve gone over their projections, gone over everything. I think their projections are optimistic, but realistic. This is a good day for baseball.”

Witten hopeful he’ll be ready for season opener

OXNARD, Calif. — Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is hopeful that he will be ready to play in the season opener in three weeks.

Witten is dealing with a lacerated spleen sustained in the preseason opener.

“I’m doing all right. … Stay optimistic. Take it one day at a time. Get healthy and regroup when we get back to Dallas,” Witten said Thursday. “Obviously I would be hard pressed thinking I am not out there for the Giants game. Again, there is no timetable.”

The seven-time Pro Bowler got hurt in the preseason opener Monday night when he got hit after he caught a pass from a scrambling Tony Romo.

Witten is expected to miss the rest of the preseason for the Cowboys (No. 15 in the AP Pro32), starting with Saturday night’s game at San Diego (No. 16). The regular-season opener is Sept. 5 at the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants (No. 3).

The Cowboys have said the best way for Witten to heal is to stay as inactive as possible.

NFL files evidence in Vilma case

NEW ORLEANS — The NFL has provided a federal judge with what it says is evidence Commissioner Roger Goodell did not improperly pre-judge players in the bounty investigation.

The evidence includes a copy of a letter the NFL Players Association sent the league on March 7 asking Goodell to delay punishment of players implicated in the bounty probe. It also includes a sworn declaration from Goodell in which he states he was prepared to hand down player discipline at the same time he announced suspensions for coaches and executives on March 21. Goodell’s declaration states he held off after verbally agreeing to do so in a phone conversation with union head DeMaurice Smith.

Attorneys for four suspended players have argued Goodell showed improper bias with comments he made before announcing player discipline.

FCS playoff expansion to 24 teams gets OK for 2013

INDIANAPOLIS — The Pioneer League champion will join 10 other conference winners as automatic qualifiers for the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, beginning in 2013.

The move is part of a plan, approved by the NCAA Division I Championships/Sport Management Cabinet this month, expanding the playoffs from 20 to 24 teams.

The top eight teams will be seeded, receive first-round byes and host second-round games. The 16 other teams will bid to host first-round games.

The 20-year-old Pioneer League is a football-only, non-scholarship league. It has never had an automatic bid, let alone a participant in the playoffs. The Ivy League and the Southwestern Athletic Conference play at the FCS level but choose not to participate in the playoffs. There are 124 FCS teams this year.

Michael Phelps again graces Wheaties boxes

NEW YORK — With another six Olympic medals around his neck, swimmer Michael Phelps is once again touting the breakfast of champions.

General Mills Inc. on Thursday unveiled limited-edition boxes of its Wheaties cereal featuring Phelps, who now holds a record 22 Olympic medals. Phelps was last featured on the box after the 2004 Olympics.

After the 2008 Olympics, Phelps had jumped ship to a rival Kellogg Co. to grace the boxes of Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes.

General Mills didn’t disclose the terms of its latest deal with Phelps. The company also unveiled Wheaties boxes featuring volleyball player Misty May-Treanor, who won a gold medal in beach volleyball in London.

The limited-edition boxes will be available nationally starting next month.

Blue Jays send Comer to Astros

TORONTO — The Blue Jays shipped right-handed pitcher Kevin Comer to the Houston Astros on Thursday to complete a 10-player trade made last month.

Toronto got pitchers J.A. Happ, Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter in the deal made July 20. Along with Comer, the Astros received Francisco Cordero and outfielder Ben Francisco, along with four minor-league players.

The 20-year-old Comer is in his first professional season, having posted a 3-3 record with a 3.95 ERA in 10 games, including seven starts, for Bluefield in the Appalachian League.