The New York Yankees are expanding netting to protect seats behind each dugout and for five sections past down both foul lines, a decision announced after several fans were injured last year. The team says green netting, designed to minimize visual impact, will rise 9 feet above each dugout but the bottom 3 feet will be retractable and pulled up during batting practice. Beyond the dugouts, nets will rise to about 5 1/2 feet above the wall, which is 8 feet above the field surface.
Major League Baseball issued recommendations for protecting netting or screens in December 2015, encouraging teams to have it in place between the ends of the dugouts closest to home plate. The Mets extended netting beyond the outfield ends of the dugouts last summer, and Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota, San Diego and Seattle are among the teams that have said they intend to have expanded netting this year.
Two people familiar with the negotiations say free-agent outfielder Jay Bruce is set to return to the New York Mets after agreeing to a $39 million, three-year contract. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal is pending a physical and no announcement had been made.
In other baseball news:
— Khris Davis has accepted a one-year, $10.5 million contract with Oakland after batting .247 with career highs of 43 home runs and 110 RBIs for the Athletics last season. The contract doubles the salary he received last year after beating the team in arbitration. Davis and Jimmie Foxx are the only players in A's history with consecutive 40-homer seasons.
— Reliever Boone Logan and the Brewers have finalized a $2.5 million package for this season. The 33-year-old left-hander was 1-0 with a 4.71 ERA in 38 games for Cleveland last year, striking out 28 in 21 innings.
—Free-agent catcher Rene Rivera and the Angels have agreed to a one-year, $2.8 million contract. He split last season between the Mets and Cubs, batting .252 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in 74 games.
— Japanese right-hander Kazuhisa Makita is guaranteed $3.8 million in his two-year contract with the Padres.. The 33-year-old was 10-4 with a 1.91 ERA the last two seasons with the Pacific League's Seibu Lions.
— The Marlins will host the Cubs in this year's major league opener on March 29, the earliest start in the sport's history excluding international openers. Every team is scheduled to open on the same day for the first time since 1968.
The New York Giants have seemingly wrapped up their first round of interviews for a new coach. The Giants talked to former Denver Broncos running backs coach Eric Studesville. Studesville met with co-owner John Mara, new general manager Dave Gettleman, and assistant general manager Kevin Abrams at the franchise's headquarters. He has 21 years of NFL coaching experience, including three seasons with the Giants as a running backs coach. The New York Daily News and other media are reporting that New England Patriots Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia is the top candidate for the coaching job.
Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Shazier attended practice on Wednesday for the first time since injuring his spine against Cincinnati last month. The 25-year-old Shazier posted a photo on Instagram from the team's indoor training facility as Pittsburgh prepares to host Jacksonville in the divisional round of the playoffs. Shazier, who underwent spine stabilization surgery on Dec. 6, is pictured in a wheelchair wearing sweatpants and a Steelers jacket. The extent of Shazier's injury has not been released. He called his visit to the facility "a first down" in his recovery.
Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley is entering the NFL draft a year early after helping the Crimson Tide win its fifth national championship in nine years. Ridley is projected as a first-round pick after catching 63 passes for 967 yards for the Tide this past season. He is second in school history with 220 career catches and third with 2,749 yards.
The University of Texas has announced sophomore guard Andrew Jones has leukemia and has started treatment. Jones was the Longhorns' leading scorer before he was sidelined by a broken wrist. He played sparingly in his return and was sent for tests after complaining of low energy.
In other NFL news:
— Titans running back DeMarco Murray will not play against the New England Patriots in the AFC divisional round this weekend. Head coach Mike Mularkey said today that Murray is not close enough to be activated for Saturday's game due to a knee injury suffered in Week 16. Derrick Henry will make his third straight start after rushing for 156 yards in Tennessee's wild-card playoff win at Kansas City last Saturday.
— Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is back with the team after missing Tuesday's practice to attend to an undisclosed personal matter, not injury-related. He will play in the NFC divisional playoff game at Philadelphia on Saturday.
— Jaguars backup linebacker Blair Brown sprained his left ankle during practice Wednesday, a potentially big loss considering starters Telvin Smith and Paul Posluszny already were dealing with injuries.
—Broncos coach Vance Joseph has replaced Brock Olivo with Tom McMahon as his special teams coordinator. Joseph also promoted Chris Strausser to coach the offensive tackles and hired Greg Williams as DBs coach.
— The Seattle Seahawks have fired offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line coach Tom Cable after the team missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record. Bevell was in charge of calling plays, while Cable was responsible for a run game and offensive line that failed to meet expectations.
The NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning will have four players playing for the Atlantic Division in the upcoming All-Star game on their home ice. Top scorer Nikita Kucherov, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and defenseman Victor Hedman will join captain Steven Stamkos for the skills competition and 3-on-3 tournament on the final weekend of January. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and winger James Neal will represent the Vegas Golden Knights on the Pacific Division squad after the duo helped the expansion team climb to the top of the Western Conference standings at the midway point of the season. The two-time defending-champion Penguins are sending Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang to the midwinter classic. Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane and Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin are both making their seventh All-Star appearance, more than any other player on the four rosters.
The Minnesota Wild earned a one-goal win over the Chicago Blackhawks as the two teams try to stay in contention for the NHL's Central Division lead. Ryan Suter snapped a 1-1 tie early in the third period and Devan Dubnyk finished with 34 saves as the Wild nipped the Hawks 2-1. Jonas Brodin knotted the score in the second period before Suter's tally moved the Wild two points ahead of Chicago and within nine points of the division-leading Winnipeg Jets.
Elsewhere on NHL ice:
— The Senators pulled out a 4-3 win at Toronto on Tom Pyatt's goal with 3:05 to play. Craig Anderson handled 44 shots after being pulled during Tuesday's 8-2 loss to the Blackhawks.
Buffalo Sabres coach Phil Housley is OK with tempers flaring on his struggling team after forward Evander Kane and defenseman Justin Falk had to be separated following a brief shoving match during practice. Housley says it was "good to see some emotion" when asked about the skirmish.
Rookie Lauri Markkanen scored a season-high 33 points, Kris Dunn shook off a nightmarish shooting night to make the tiebreaking basket in the second overtime, and the Chicago Bulls beat the New York Knicks 122-119. Dunn had missed 14 of his first 17 shots before banking in a runner with just under a minute left in the second extra period, and Markkanen finished it off by making two free throws with 6.8 seconds remaining.
Andre Drummond scored 22 points and grabbed 20 rebounds and Tobias Harris had 22 points as the Detroit Pistons beat the Brooklyn Nets 114-80. Dwight Buycks added 17 points for the Pistons. Allen Crabbe scored 20 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 15 points in Brooklyn's third straight loss.
When the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers take center stage in London there will be a little more on the line than trying to get a victory and the league spreading its global brand. There may be a few All-Star votes to be had. A number of the players _ including Kyrie Irving and Joel Embiid _ set to take the court on Thursday at the O2 Arena also are likely to appear in February's All-Star game.
Siena guard Nico Clareth, the team's leading scorer, has decided to transfer after completing the academic year. The junior, who left the team last week to return home, will have one more year of eligibility. Head coach Jimmy Patsos said at a press conference that there was no ill will.
Travis Charles and David Nichols combined to score 39 points as Albany finally broke into the win column in America East Conference play, posting a 78-65 win over rival Stony Brook. The Seawolves won both regular season meetings between the schools, but lost to Albany in the conference semifinals, 63-56.
Tanner Leissner scored 20 points, including a pair of free throws with six seconds left, to help New Hampshire hold off Binghamton 71-67. It was New Hampshire coach Bill Herrion's 400th career win, 163 of which have been with the Wildcats.
Luwane Pipkins set a program record with 44 points and Massachusetts overcame a 21-point deficit to beat La Salle 86-79 in overtime. Pipkins broke the nearly 50-year-old mark of 41 points by Billy Tindall on Feb. 10, 1968, which also occurred in the William D. Mullins Memorial Center.
Christian Vital scored 18 points to lead UConn to a 62-53 win over UCF on Wednesday night. Terry Larrier and Jalen Adams each added 13 points for the Huskies, who won their second straight after a four-game losing streak. Ceasar DeJesus led UCF with 13 points. Terrell Allen had 12 and Tacko Fall finished with 11 points.
Cameron Young scored 26 points, including the game-winning free throw in overtime, and Quinnipiac rallied to beat Marist 80-79. Aleksandar Dozic's corner 3 put Marist up 78-75 with 53 second left in OT, but Young answered with a 3-point play to tie it at 78. Marist's Isaiah Lamb made 1 of 2 from the line before Young hit two free throws with five seconds left.
LaDarien Griffin scored a career-best 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and St. Bonaventure rolled to 77-61 win over Fordham, snapping a two-game skid. Griffin was 9 of 14 from the floor for the Bonnies. Courtney Stockard added 13 points and seven rebounds and Jaylen Adams had 120 points and five rebounds.
Fletcher Magee scored 19 points with seven rebounds and four assists and Derrick Brooks' free throw with seven seconds left gave Wofford a 63-62 win against Harvard. Brooks grabbed Magee's missed 3-pointer and Seth Towns fouled him on his put back attempt.
In women’s college basketball, UAlbany beat Stony Brook 72-68.
A horse stabled at Belmont Park in New York has tested positive for the equine herpes virus-1. The 3-year-old colt, which has yet to be named or raced, is trained by Linda Rice.
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