BASEBALL

New professional team to call Old Orchard Beach home

Old Orchard Beach has reached an agreement with the East Coast Baseball League to field a team at The Ballpark in 2015.

“The town is excited to welcome back professional baseball to The Ballpark this summer,” town manager Larry Mead said in a press release issued Tuesday.

The ECBL is a new pro independent league based in Canada. It plans to have four teams play a 48- to 60-game schedule this year.

The Raging Tide played at The Ballpark the past four summers, the last three in the wooden-bat Futures Collegiate Baseball League.

The ECBL is holding a naming contest for the Old Orchard franchise on its Facebook page. Scott “Nate” Nathanson will manage the team, and Alex Markakis is the interim general manager.

MAJOR LEAGUES: Alex Rodriguez issued a handwritten apology “for the mistakes that led to my suspension” but turned down the Yankees’ offer to host a news conference and did not detail specifics about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.

The five-paragraph statement issued Tuesday was addressed “to the fans.”

Rodriguez said “I regret that my actions made the situation worse than it needed to be” and “I’m ready to put this chapter behind me and play some ball.”

Anthony Bosch, the former owner of the South Florida clinic that supplied performance-enhancing drugs to major leaguers including Alex Rodriguez, was sentenced to four years in federal prison.

Bosch pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to distribute testosterone to athletes from the now-closed Biogenesis of America clinic.

n Barry Zito is returning to Oakland on a minor league deal, according to two sources. Zito, who was drafted by the Athletics in 1999, would get $1 million for the season if added to the 40-man roster.

FOOTBALL

NFL: The Browns hired quarterbacks coach Kevin O’Connell, who prepared Johnny Manziel for last year’s NFL draft and recently helped Oregon star QB Marcus Mariota and other prospects.

 The Chiefs released wide receivers Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins as they began to clear roster and salary cap space for a busy offseason.

 The Packers released tight end Brandon Bostick, who mishandled a Seattle onside kick in the Packers’ loss in the NFC title game last month.

TENNIS

RIO OPEN: Top-seeded Rafael Nadal beat Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil at Rio de Janeiro, winning 6-4, 6-1 in his first match of the season on his favored clay surface.

Second-seeded David Ferrer also advanced to the second round, defeating Daniel Gimeno-Traver of Spain 6-4, 6-3.

On the women’s side, No. 1 Sara Errani of Italy beat Brazilian Teliana Pereira 6-3, 6-3.

DUBAI CHAMPIONSHIPS: Top-seeded Simona Halep eased to a 6-2, 6-0 win over Daniela Hantuchova in the second round, second-seeded Petra Kvitova rallied to defeat Elina Svitolina 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 and No. 3 Caroline Wozniacki served for the match three times before beating Samantha Stosur, 4-6, 6-1, 7-5.

DELRAY BEACH OPEN: Sam Querrey, a semifinalist last week in Memphis, injured his back and retired while leading Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia 6-3, 1-2 in the first round.

AUTO RACING

INDYCAR: Series chief Mark Miles outlined a plan to expand the schedule to 20 races over the seven months between football seasons to draw more television viewers.

– From staff and news services