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Last Update on March 03, 2015 23:41 GMT


GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) -- With large, glowing red numbers, the timer on the center-field wall at Goodyear Ballpark ticked down, counting off seconds and ushering in change.

Baseball, the timeless game of endless summers, went on the clock Tuesday.

Major League Baseball introduced its new pace of play initiatives during five exhibition games in Arizona and Florida. As expected, there were a few minor glitches as players, managers, umpires and fans adjusted to the "rules" designed to make games shorter, more appealing to TV viewers and perhaps lure the next generation of fans to a sport fighting for attention.

Under the pace of play provisions, hitters are required to keep one foot in the batter's box after taking a pitch.

MLB is using the spring training schedule and regular-season games in April to break everyone in. But starting May 1, offenders will face discipline -- most likely fines.

Last year the average time of a major league game was three hours, two minutes.


CHICAGO (AP) -- The Chicago Cubs' scramble to get as much of a massive renovation of Wrigley Field done before next month's opening day hit a bump when Mayor Rahm Emanuel (rahm ih-MAN'-yoo-uhl) dashed the team's hopes of winning city approval to keep construction crews working around the clock.

Emanuel says city building ordinances don't allow construction crews working around the clock. The announcement is a blow to a Chicago Cubs team that says it needs to quicken construction to get the iconic ballpark ready for next month's opening day.

The Cubs say the brutal winter has put construction work behind schedule and they need additional hours to do things like erect a massive video board in left field.

The National League club now says it will seek permission to work longer hours on renovations at Wrigley Field, but not all day and night.


GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- L.A. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is set at the top of his batting order with newcomer Jimmy Rollins.

Rollins was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies on Dec. 19 for four minor league pitchers. He will open the Cactus League schedule Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback in the leadoff spot.


PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Eagles have released cornerback Cary Williams. He was signed by the team as a free agent in 2013 and started all 32 games over the last two seasons and had five interceptions. Williams was a seventh-round draft pick of the Tennessee Titans, where he played for parts of two seasons before joining the Baltimore Ravens. He started 28 games over four seasons and was part of the Ravens' Super Bowl championship team in 2013. His release will save the Eagles about $6.5 million against the salary cap.


UNDATED (AP) -- The unbeaten and top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats are out for their 30th win of the season tonight. The opposition is coming from Georgia and tonight's game is being played on the Bulldogs' home court. In their first meeting of the season, the Wildcats prevailed 69-58 and they are two wins away from a perfect regular season. Kentucky closes out the season this Saturday with a home game against Florida.

While the Wildcats are 30-0 on the season and 16-0 in Southeastern Conference play, the Bulldogs are 19-9 and 10-6 in the conference, hoping for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The last time a Georgia team was in the big tournament was 2011.

A win this evening would go a long way in helping secure a spot in the tournament and a higher seed.

In other top-10 games tonight, fourth-ranked Villanova is at Creighton (KRAY'-tin), No. 9 Kansas is home to 20th-ranked West Virginia, and 10th-ranked Maryland is at Rutgers.

The remaining games tonight feature 19th-ranked North Carolina at Georgia Tech and 21st-ranked Butler home to Georgetown.


UNDATED (AP) -- James Harden will miss tonight's game in Atlanta this evening for the Rockets. The high-scoring guard was suspended for the game without pay for kicking Cleveland's LeBron James in the groin during a game a few nights ago. The All-Stars and Olympic teammates became tangled in the third quarter of Houston's 105-103 victory over Cleveland on Sunday and Harden fell back to the court, then kicked his foot up into James.

Harden was given a flagrant foul 1 for the play, which the league upgraded Monday to a flagrant 2, which would have been an automatic ejection if called at the time.

For better or worse, James is back in action tonight as well, as his Cavs play host to the Celtics.

In Charlotte, the Bobcats are home to the Lakers, the Knicks are home to the Kings, the Bulls are hosting the Wizards, Utah is at Memphis and Milwaukee is playing at Denver.


DENVER (AP) -- The Denver Nuggets have fired coach Brian Shaw after 1 1/2 seasons. Assistant coach Melvin Hunt will serve as the team's interim coach. Shaw went 56-85 for a .397 winning percentage and Denver takes a 20-39 record and a six-game losing streak into its game tonight against Milwaukee.

Shaw replaced George Karl, who was ousted after Denver won a franchise-record 57 games in 2012-13 only to be bounced from the first round of the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- One of the real stars of the Sacramento Kings has rejoined the cub. Former fan favorite Vlade Divac (VLAH'-day DEE'-vahts) has been named vice president of basketball and franchise operations, a job that will include advising the front office and coaching staff.

Divac retired from basketball in 2007 and served as president of the Serbian Olympic Committee two years later. Divac is one of only four players in league history with at least 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists, 1,200 steals and 1,600 blocked shots. The others are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (kuh-REEM' ab-DOOL' juh-BAR'), Hakeem Olajuwon (ah-KEEM' ah-LAH'-zhoo-wahn) and Kevin Garnett.


UNDATED (AP) -- The league-leading Nashville Predators are in unknown territory these days as they are in the midst of their longest losing streak of the season, three. Tonight the Preds, who have a league-best 89 points to lead the Western Conference, conclude a two-game eastern swing with a game against the Devils in New Jersey.

Calgary will be playing without captain and defenseman Mark Girodano the rest of the season. The Flames learned that he would be out the rest of the way on Monday because of a torn biceps. Tonight the Flames are in Philadelphia to face the Flyers.

Tampa Bay and Buffalo have met four times this season with the Lightning coming out on top three times. As a matter of fact Tampa Bay has outscored the Sabres in the season series 13-3. Tonight they meet for the final time this season on the Lightning's home-ice.

The rest of the schedule has Washington skating in Columbus, the Panthers home to the Maple Leafs, Ottawa at Minnesota, the Stars entertaining the Islanders, Anaheim at Arizona, Edmonton's Oilers at home to the Kings and San Jose at Vancouver.

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