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AP - Sports

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) -- Rather than ban home plate collisions outright, Major League Baseball and its players adopted a rule limiting them this season.

In what both sides said was a one-year experiment, the rule allows collisions if the catcher has the ball and is blocking the runner's direct path to home plate, and if the catcher goes into the basepath to field a throw to the plate.

The new rule, 7.13, states ''a runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate).'' A runner violating the rule shall be declared out, even if the fielder drops the ball.

Along with the rule, the sides agreed to a pair of comments umpires use for interpretation. The first comment says players who slide appropriately are not in violation of the rule. The second comment says that ''unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score.''

The umpire crew chief can use the new video-review system to determine whether the rule was violated.

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - Outfielder Nelson Cruz and the Baltimore Orioles finalized an $8 million, one-year contract, a deal that puts him on track to become the team's regular designated hitter.

The 33-year-old, who served a 50-game suspension last year for violating baseball's drug agreement, can earn an additional $750,000 in bonuses based on days on the active 25-man roster: $150,000 each for 60, 90, 120, 150 and180.

He turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Texas Rangers in November. Because of the qualifying offer, Baltimore forfeits its second-round selection in June's amateur draft, the 55th pick overall.

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) - Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington finally has a contract past this season.

After a busy offseason in which they added Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo to their lineup, and more than a week into spring training, the Rangers added a year to Washington's contract through the 2015 season.

Washington is the team's winningest manager with 611 wins over seven seasons, and led Texas to its only two World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011. The Rangers have averaged more than 91 wins over the last five seasons.

PRO FOOTBALL

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) - The players' union representative from the Miami Dolphins says the fallout from their bullying scandal is overblown because every NFL team has a similar locker-room culture.

Long snapper John Denney, a nine-year veteran, said he hadn't read the investigative report on the Dolphins case. But any harassment among players is nothing new, he said.

In a report released Feb. 14, investigators found guard Richie Incognito and two other offensive linemen engaged in persistent harassment directed at tackle Jonathan Martin, another offensive lineman and an assistant trainer.

Denney, at 35 the Dolphins' oldest player, said behavior among players was no different last year than when his NFL career began in 2005. Bullying of rookies was common then, too, he said.

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill said he's confident the necessary changes will be made to ensure a healthy locker-room environment.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - The ACC commissioner said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim won't be disciplined after he came onto the court to protesting a key charging call during the Orange's 66-60 loss at Duke over the weekend.

Commissioner John Swofford said he agreed with Boeheim's ejection during Saturday's game and noted the charge was a ''judgment call'' by officials.

Swofford wouldn't say whether official Tony Greene made the right call when he whistled Syracuse's C.J. Fair for charging with 10.4 seconds left, leading to Boeheim's brief fit of rage. Duke won 66-60.

Swofford said the call is not something the conference will review.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill answered his telephone not long after having his annual compensation boosted to more than $2 million.

His brother was calling. ''You ain't worth that,'' he told Kill from their native Kansas. ''I'm sitting here working on beef cattle, and they're paying you that to coach football? Is this country crazy?''

Kill just laughed.

With his farmhand humility and homespun humor, Kill spoke at a news conference about his newly enhanced contract and upcoming spring practice. He said he was appreciative of the hefty raise and the extra year on the contract, but he said he's ''getting paid way too much'' in the same sentence he mentioned his daughter makes $29,000 a year doing inner-city work.

Kill's restructured contract includes a stipulation that the total pay for his top nine assistant coaches must rank in the top six of the conference. He said he wouldn't have signed the deal without that. He also said he sees this contract as a sign to recruits of stability and progress.

HOCKEY

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) - Milan Hejduk still laces up his skates every day and heads out onto the ice, where his notoriously quick wrists continue to send puck after puck skittering into the net.

Only now he spends his time mentoring his 10-year-old twin sons, not rookie NHL players.

Hejduk announced his retirement, putting an official end to his stellar 14-year NHL career with the Quebec/Colorado franchise that included the 2001 Stanley Cup. He played another six seasons in his native Czech Republic.

In addition to coaching youth hockey, Hejduk is also hitting the slopes and the links aplenty, so walking away from professional hockey, he said, ''wasn't that difficult, really.''

Hejduk said he actually thought about calling it quits before last season but was nine games shy of 1,000 NHL games, so he returned in 2013 and finished his career with 375 goals in 1,020 games.

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