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MLB Approves Expanded Replay for 2014

Paradise Valley, Ariz. — Major League Baseball will greatly expand instant replay to review close calls starting this season.

MLB announced Thursday that owners, players and umpires have approved the new system.

Each manager will be allowed to challenge at least one call per game. If he’s right, he gets another challenge. After the seventh inning, a crew chief can request a review on his own if the manager has used his challenges.

The so-called “neighborhood play” at second base on double plays cannot be challenged. Many had safety concerns for middle infielders being wiped out by hard-charging runners if the phantom force was subject to review.

“I tell you the fans will love it,” baseball commisioner Bud Selig said after owners met and voted their unanimous approval. “It’s another in a long list of changes that will make this sport better than it already is.”

All reviews will be done by current MLB umpires at a replay center in MLB.com’s New York office. To create a large enough staff, MLB agreed to hire six new big league umpires and call up two minor league umps for the entire season. A seventh major league umpire will be added to replace the late Wally Bell.

Joe Torre, MLB’s executive vice president of baseball operations, said work continues on a proposed rule that would ban home-plate collisions between runners and the catcher. The rule has not been written and talks on its content are ongoing between MLB representatives and the players union, he said.

Baseball was the last major pro sport in North America to institute replay when it began late in the 2008 season. Even then, it was only used for close calls on home runs.

The NFL, NBA, NHL, some NCAA sports and major tennis tournaments all use a form of replay, and even FIFA and the English Premier League have adopted goal-line technology for soccer.

Price, Rays Reach Deal

St. Petersburg, Fla. — Now that Tampa Bay’s David Price is slated to earn the biggest single-season salary in Rays history, the three-time All-Star hopes he remains part of the budget-minded franchise’s plans for 2014.

The team announced Thursday that the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $14 million, one-year deal. However, the agreement doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a trade.

The 28-year-old has been the subject of trade speculation after going 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA last year while earning $10,112,500. He is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, and the Rays likely won’t be in a position to pay the type of money Price could earn on the open market.

Tewksbury Joins MLBPA

New York — Retired pitcher Bob Tewksbury has been hired as director of player development by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

The 53-year-old New Hampshire native was 110-102 over 13 seasons in a career that ended in 1998. He was an All-Star in 1992, when he went 16-5 for St. Louis and finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting.

Tewksbury earned a Master’s degree in sports psychology and counseling from Boston University in 2004. Tewksbury has been a sports psychology coach for the Boston Red Sox and his responsibilities in the newly created position will include counseling, plus assisting players in post-career preparation and transitioning.

NFL Football

Jets Sign Coach to Extension

New York — Rex Ryan went from the hot seat to some job security.

At least through the next two seasons.

The New York Jets signed the popular coach to a contract extension Thursday, removing the lame duck label from Ryan and potentially keeping him with the franchise through at least the 2015 season.

Ryan, who had one year remaining on his contract, was retained by owner Woody Johnson for next season after his job appeared in jeopardy.

Expectations were extremely low outside the team entering this season, but Ryan led the Jets to a surprising 8-8 finish that had players and fans clamoring for Johnson and general manager John Idzik to keep the coach.

Ryan is 42-38 in the regular season in his five years with the Jets.

Olympics

Goalie’s Mask Banned by IOC

Boston — American goalie Jesse Vetter will have to go to the Olympics without a quote from the U.S. Constitution on her mask.

Vetter’s original design included a reference from the preamble to the Constitution, including the iconic script of the opening words, “We the People.” But International Olympic Committee rules ban any “form of publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise,” on uniforms.

Artist Ron Slater said he also had to remove the Olympic rings from the chin on his original design. And Vetter’s name also had to go.

He said Vetter got the new mask back last week in time to break it in for next month’s Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Golf

Reed Leads in Calif.

La Quinta, Calif. — Patrick Reed went low in perfect scoring and weather conditions Thursday at the Humana Challenge. He wasn’t alone.

Reed ran off five straight birdies in the middle of his round on PGA West’s Arnold Palmer Private Course and finished with a bogey-free 9-under 63.

Ryan Palmer, Justin Hicks, Daniel Summerhays and Charley Hoffman shot 64. Palmer played the Palmer course, Hicks and Summerhays opened on the Jack Nicklaus Private Course, and Hoffman, the 2007 winner, was at La Quinta Country Club.

Reed, the Wyndham Championship winner in August, started on the back nine and birdied Nos. 16-18 and 1-2 to get to 7-under. He added birdies on Nos. 6 and 7.

Kapalua winner Zach Johnson topped the group at 65. He played at La Quinta.

Keegan Bradley shot a 69.