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PRESS BOX: Berkman announces retirement

The SportsXchange

MLB

After years of dealing with knee problems over a 15-year major league career, Lance Berkman has decided to end his playing career, MLB.com reported Wednesday.

The 37-year-old was limited to only 105 games over the last two seasons because of injuries, including just 73 games for the Texas Rangers last year. He has had five surgeries and various other issues with his knees over the years.

"It doesn't make sense to play in the physical condition I'm in," he told MLB.com. "I'm not going to keep trying to run out there for the heck of it," he said.

During his career, he made the National League All-Star team six times and was a member of five playoff teams, including the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals, who won the World Series.

--Philadelphia Phillies minor-league pitcher Christopher O'Hare received a 50-game suspension for a violation of baseball's drug policy.

O'Hare tested positive for a second time for a drug of abuse, the commissioner's office announced. He is to begin serving the suspension at the beginning of the 2014 season. The 23-year-old left-hander was drafted in the 23rd round by the Phillies in 2013.

--The Seattle Mariners signed right-handed pitcher Scott Baker to a minor league contract. He reportedly would receive a $1 million salary if he makes the team and could collect up to $3.25 million in performance bonuses.

Baker sat out the 2012 season and a majority of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery. He returned to make three starts in September for the Chicago Cubs and posted a 3.60 ERA with no record in 15 innings.

NBA

The Atlanta Hawks-Detroit Pistons game scheduled for Wednesday night in Philips Arena was postponed in the wake of the crippling winter storm that paralyzed the Atlanta area on Tuesday.

No makeup date for the game was announced.

--The Sacramento Kings released plans for the downtown arena they expect to open for the 2016-17 season.

The arena design includes a huge scoreboard similar to NBA venues in Houston and Indianapolis, open concourses, several levels of suites and an atrium entrance with a view of the arena bowl from the street. It will be built on the site known as the Downtown Plaza.

The project is expected to cost $448 million. Approximately $190 million of the funding will come from the Kings. Construction is expected to begin this summer.

NHL

Next season, the Phoenix Coyotes will become known as the Arizona Coyotes.

The team announced the name change but said no major alterations would be made to the players' sweaters. A shoulder patch will be added to the home and road jerseys starting in the 2014-15 preseason.

CBK

Florida Gators freshman Chris Walker was cleared to play by the NCAA on Wednesday and will be eligible to make his collegiate debut next Tuesday at home against Missouri.

The highly recruited 6-foot-10 power forward has been in limbo since being admitted to Florida in December. Walker has sat the last 12 games while the NCAA has investigated his amateur status.

The NCAA said in a statement that Walker received preferential treatment from five people -- including two agents. Walker will be required to donate the $270 he received from the agents to a charity, and will also serve 80 hours of community service for the remaining benefits received, according to ESPN.com which first reported the story.

--The winter storm that hit the South hard on Tuesday forced the postponement of Alabama men's basketball game at Auburn from Wednesday night to Thursday evening.

The SEC rivalry will start 25 minutes after the Auburn women wrap up their game against Texas A&M.

AUTO

Sprint Cup Series driver Carl Edwards is not a proponent of the new Chase for the Cup championship format.

NASCAR is expected to officially announce a new setup on Thursday that expands the Chase to 16 qualifiers and whittles the field through eliminations to a winner-take-all finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.

The Chase essentially will become a playoff under the proposal laid out by NASCAR, with 16 drivers qualifying for the field, up from 12 under the current format. A driver who wins a race during the regular season automatically secures a Chase spot.

"My simple preference would just be to determine the champion over the course of the whole season," Edwards said during the Sprint NASCAR media tour.
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