MIAMI With a new ballpark finally on the horizon, the Florida Marlins are beginning to loosen their purse strings.
Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez has agreed to the framework of a $70 million, six-year contract to remain with the Marlins, a person familiar with the negotiations said Saturday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the deal hadn't been completed. It's expected to be announced next weekend when the team returns home from a seven-game trip.
In February, the Marlins reached an agreement to build a long-sought, retractable-roof stadium near downtown, which is expected to substantially increase revenue for a franchise with a history of poor attendance and tight budgets.
Florida's 2008 payroll of $22 million is by far the smallest in the major leagues.
SEXSON'S SUSPENSION REDUCED TO 5 GAMES: Richie Sexson's suspension for charging the mound in Seattle's 5-0 loss to Texas on Thursday was reduced from six games to five.
The Mariners said Sexson would begin the suspension with Saturday night's game against the Chicago White Sox. He will miss the final two games of the series against the White Sox, and all three games Monday through Wednesday against the Rangers.
Sexson charged the mound and flung his helmet at Kason Gabbard after the left-hander threw an eye-high pitch to him that was more over the plate than inside in the fourth inning of Thursday night's game.
A-ROD MAKES PROGRESS IN FLORIDA REHAB: Alex Rodriguez is making progress in his rehab from a strained right quadriceps, and the third baseman could rejoin New York Yankees late next week.
"So far, so good," Rodriguez said Saturday.
The three-time AL MVP is scheduled for an MRI on Monday and is eligible to come off the 15-day DL Thursday.
Colon allows 1 run in 3 innings in minor league start
PAWTUCKET, R.I. (AP) Red Sox pitcher Bartolo Colon allowed one run and four hits in three innings during a rehab start Saturday night for Triple-A Pawtucket.
The 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner, who signed a minor league deal with Boston during the offseason, threw 36 of 49 pitches for strikes and topped out at 94 mph.
Colon strained his right oblique muscle and was placed on the disabled list April 7, a setback in his attempt to return to the big leagues with the Red Sox.
In his only previous appearance for Pawtucket, Colon pitched five innings and earned the win in a 3-0 victory over Indianapolis on April 3.
On Saturday, Pawtucket beat the Norfolk Tides 4-2.
Braves RHP John Smoltz hopes to resume throwing Sunday
PITTSBURGH (AP) John Smoltz hopes to persuade the Atlanta Braves' medical staff to allow him to resume throwing as early as Sunday.
Smoltz has been sidelined for two weeks because of biceps and rotator cuff problems in his right arm. A starter when the season began, Smoltz will go into the bullpen once he returns.
He anticipates having some pain when he starts throwing, but is optimistic it will be minimal and the discomfort will go away sometime this season.
Orioles 2B Roberts out with foot injury
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts left the Orioles' game against the Royals in the bottom of the first inning Saturday night with a bruised left foot. He was listed as day-to-day.
Roberts, who led off the game with a single to raise his average to .257, did not return after a rain delay of 1:52 in game at Kansas City. Roberts, a 2007 All-Star selection who had played in all 38 games this season, was replaced by Luis Hernandez.
Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez was a late scratch from the lineup with soreness in his left wrist. He was replaced by Guillermo Quiroz.
Rangers' Kevin Millwood leaves start early
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Texas right-hander Kevin Millwood left Saturday night's game against Oakland in the first inning with a right groin strain.
After throwing a pitch to Jack Cust, Millwood bent down and placed his hands on his knees. Rangers catcher Gerald Laird immediately signaled for the team's medical staff.
Yankees place Betemit, Albaladejo on DL
DETROIT (AP) Already missing Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees lost backup Wilson Betemit on Saturday with an injured hamstring.
Betemit, one of two infielders sharing time at third since Rodriguez went on the disabled list April 30, left New York's 5-2 win over Detroit after tweaking his right hamstring while running to second base. Morgan Ensberg took his place in the lineup.
Manager Joe Girardi said the club will place Betemit on the 15-day disabled list and recall infielder Alberto Gonzalez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Buck optioned to Sacramento
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) The Oakland Athletics activated outfielder Travis Buck and optioned him to Triple-A Sacramento prior to Saturday night's game against the Texas Rangers.
Buck, who was batting .154 in 15 games before being placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 24 due to shin splints, was 5-for-21 in six rehab starts for Sacramento.
"He needs to get some at-bats to get his swing back," A's manager Bob Geren said.
Geren said right-hander Kiko Calero has been cleared to begin a rehab assignment with Sacramento. Calero hasn't pitched this season as he recovers from a torn right rotator cuff.
Brewers running out of time to make decision on Weaver
MILWAUKEE (AP) The Brewers must decide soon if they plan to add veteran Jeff Weaver to their rotation.
Weaver, who'll make his third Triple-A start for Nashville on Sunday in Las Vegas, struggled in his first outing, but pitched seven innings in his most recent performance on Tuesday, giving up a run off four hits.
If Milwaukee doesn't call him up by June 1, Weaver can opt out of a contract that would pay him $1.25 million in salary with a chance to earn $2.75 million more in performance bonuses.
Cardinals yank Jason Isringhausen from closer's role
MILWAUKEE (AP) Jason Isringhausen got his wish.
After blowing his major league leading fifth save on Friday night in a 4-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cardinals' embattled reliever will no longer close games, manager Tony La Russa said Saturday.
"He's still prepared to pitch important innings, but for a while we'll try to keep him out of the ninth inning," La Russa said. "If we're playing well, there's still going to be games where you can't cherry pick his situations because if we're playing well, you need your bullpen."
The Cardinals manager said the closing duties will be split between Ryan Franklin and Russ Springer, and that he wouldn't shy from using a left-hander in the role against certain lineups.