NEW YORK - ESPN will start a series of Monday night broadcasts and gain greater flexibility to move games to Sunday nights under a new eight-year contract worth $2.368-billion.
The agreement announced Wednesday, which runs through 2013, allows the network to have a team appear on its exclusive Sunday night games up to five times per season, up from 11 over three seasons under the six-year contract that is expiring.
Baseball is getting $200-million from ESPN in the final season of its current deal, which was worth about $815-million for its TV component and was a product of a lawsuit settlement.
The sport will average $296-million under the new agreement, the Associated Press reported. ESPN will pay baseball $273.5-million in 2006, $293.5-million each of the next four years, $308.5-million in 2011 and $306-million in each of the final two seasons.
"You worry about oversaturation, but this is a sport that its fans follow and live on a day-by-day basis," commissioner Bud Selig said. "I do not worry that this will produce a glut."
The sport's six-year contract with Fox, which runs through 2006 and covers the regular season, All-Star Game and postseason, is worth about $2.5-billion. Baseball also plans to launch its own cable network next year.
MANAGER DOUBTS INJURY: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen questioned whether Damaso Marte is really hurt and criticized the reliever for showing up late for a game last weekend.
"If Marte's not ready to help this team, he can have a nice trip to the Dominican Republic by himself," Guillen said.
Marte's sore neck was examined in Chicago by team physician Charles Bush-Joseph , and the team said the left-hander has a strained muscle on the side of his upper back.
GUILLEN HAS FIT: Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen was ejected after striking out in the fifth inning against the Mets, then threw a bunch of equipment out of the dugout.
Guillen, a former Devil Ray, took a called third strike from Kris Benson leading off the inning. After he went back to the dugout, he was thrown out of the game by plate umpire Bill Miller , sparking a tantrum.
A batting helmet was the first thing to come out. After a bat boy retrieved that, Guillen threw a couple of bats. Once those were collected, what appeared to be a shinguard was thrown out.
BRAVES: Left-hander Mike Hampton , the former Crystal River standout, says he doesn't expect to pitch again this season after a team physician told him recurring forearm tightness could indicate a major elbow injury.
PIRATES: Left-hander Oliver Perez was ejected in the second inning after hitting the Cardinals' Hector Luna in the left leg.
RED SOX: Outfielder Gabe Kapler ruptured his left Achilles' tendon while rounding second on Tony Graffanino 's fifth-inning homer.