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MLB roundup: New balk rule set for this season

The SportsXchange

Major League Baseball is imposing a rule that pitchers who fake a throw to third base and then throw to another base will be charged with a balk, according to the New York Times.

The rule change takes effect this season.

Pitchers have been doing it for many years in an attempt to throw off base runners, but it rarely works. Now, pitchers can no longer do it without being called for a balk.

"It's funny," umpire Ted Barrett said. "When they presented it to us at our meetings, nobody even said, 'Why?' "

MLB proposed the change last year but the players association rejected it. The sport was able to override the union by approving it unilaterally at the owners' meetings earlier this month under the collective bargaining agreement.

---Contract talks between the Seattle Mariners and their star pitcher, Felix Hernandez, have stalled, according to CBS Sports.

Hernandez still has two years left on his current contract but both sides want to extend the deal. Seattle is reportedly looking to give Hernandez four additional years while Hernandez is seeking a six-year extension.

---The Texas Rangers signed utility infielder Jeff Baker to a minor league contract, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The deal includes Baker getting a spring training invitation to compete for a spot on the bench.

Baker, 31, batted .239 with four home runs and 25 RBI in 201 plate appearances last year with the Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves.

---Left-handed reliever Ron Mahay is retiring after a 14-year major-league career, according to the Boston Globe.

Mahay signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds a year ago but did not make it past Class AAA Louisville. He last appeared in the majors as a member of the Minnesota Twins in 2010.
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