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Wednesday's Sports In Brief

AP - Sports

BASEBALL

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) -- Major League Baseball plans to eliminate home plate collisions, possibly as soon as next season but no later than 2015.

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, chairman of the rules committee, made the announcement at the winter meetings. Player safety and concern over concussions were major factors in the decision.

Alderson said the exact wording had not been determined. He said the rule will be given to owners for approval at their January meeting.

Approval of the players' union is needed for the rules change to be effective for 2014. MLB could make the change without union approval for 2015.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) - Free-agent pitcher Bartolo Colon and the Mets agreed to a $20 million, two-year contract, giving New York the experienced starter it was seeking to replace injured ace Matt Harvey.

The deal is pending the completion of a physical for the 40-year-old right-hander, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The agreement increased the Mets' spending on free agents to more than $87 million this offseason. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an agreement had not yet been completed.

SEATTLE (AP) - The Seattle Mariners added a pair of first baseman-outfielders with pop to go along with star second baseman Robinson Cano, reaching agreement on a one-year deal with Corey Hart and acquiring Logan Morrison in a trade with the Miami Marlins.

Hart confirmed he had agreed to the deal in a text to The Associated Press. The deal is still pending what should be a closely monitored physical after Hart missed all of last season following surgery on his right knee.

Morrison was acquired for relief pitcher Carter Capps, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade was pending both teams reviewing medical records.

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PRO FOOTBALL

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Mike Shanahan is giving Robert Griffin III a rest.

The Washington Redskins coach announced he is benching the star quarterback for the rest of the season. Kirk Cousins will start, and Griffin will be the inactive No. 3 quarterback behind Rex Grossman.

Shanahan said he is benching Griffin to keep the quarterback healthy for the offseason, pointing out the 24 sacks and other hits Griffin has taken over the last five games. The coach said he ran the idea by owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen, and both offered their support.

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - Aaron Rodgers took some first-team snaps in practice, though the Packers' franchise quarterback still hasn't been cleared to play in a game.

If that stands through the rest of week, backup Matt Flynn is back in for Rodgers when Green Bay visits the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday in a game critical to both teams' playoff hopes.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Wes Welker won't play Thursday night against San Diego as he recovers from his second concussion in less than a month.

Denver Broncos coach John Fox officially ruled out the slippery receiver.

IRVING, Texas (AP) - Dallas defenders George Selvie and Orlando Scandrick were fined by the NFL for hits in the Cowboys' loss to Chicago.

Scandrick said he was docked $21,000 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Bears receiver Brandon Marshall. Selvie was fined for a hit below the knees against Chicago quarterback Josh McCown in the second quarter.

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has shed the walking boot on his sprained right foot, but he's not ready for practice.

Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier said Peterson probably won't practice until Friday at the earliest. The Vikings host Philadelphia on Sunday, and Peterson's status is in question.

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL

STORRS, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut hired Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco as its football coach.

The school announced the move early Thursday morning and said it would hold an afternoon news conference to introduce Diaco.

The 40-year-old Diaco takes over a team that went 3-9 this season. UConn fired Paul Pasqualoni after an 0-4 start and a 10-18 record in just more than two years at the school.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Boise State hired former player and offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin as head coach.

Athletic Director Mark Coyle confirmed he had lured Harsin back to Boise and away from Arkansas State, where Harsin served as head coach for just one season.

HOUSTON (AP) - Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald picked up another award, winning the Rotary Lombardi Award.

Donald beat out Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam and UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr for the award given annually to the nation's top college lineman.

It's already been a big week for Donald, a senior defensive tackle who won the Bronko Nagurski award given to the nation's top defensive player Monday.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Alabama kicker Cade Foster received a supportive note from former President George W. Bush.

Foster missed two field goal attempts and had a third one blocked in the Crimson Tide's 34-28 loss to Auburn on Nov. 30.

He posted a photo of the letter on his Twitter and Instagram accounts Wednesday.

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NCAA

NEW YORK (AP) - The five power conferences of college sports want more flexibility in providing financial support to athletes.

A major reason they lack that freedom in the first place is other NCAA members have feared widening the wealthiest programs' competitive advantage. Now, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the leaders of those behemoth leagues must convince schools with fewer resources that giving them greater autonomy is in the best interest of college athletics.

NCAA leaders are exploring ways to alter their governing structure, which would allow the colleges that can afford it to pay for certain expenses currently prohibited. That includes offering a stipend for the costs of attending school not covered by scholarships.

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AUTO RACING

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - The late Dale Earnhardt's famed No. 3 will be back on track in the elite Sprint Cup Series next season with Austin Dillon using the number.

The move has been long anticipated because car owner Richard Childress has allowed his grandson to use the No. 3 as he's moved through NASCAR's ranks.

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