IN A SURPRISE move, Colorado released righthander Jhoulys Chacin after the Rockies' former ace struggled this spring.

After going 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA last year, Chacin had a 6.52 ERA in four appearances in Cactus League games, two starts. He walked four and struck out five in 9 2/3 innings.

"It's a tough day," manager Walt Weiss said. "A tough day for us, for me having to have that conversation with Jhoulys, who has been a warrior for us."

The reason for the move, Weiss said, was that the club had brought in a number of starting candidates and, "We just felt like Jhoulys was behind a few of the other guys."

Chacin was 38-48 in six seasons with Colorado with a 3.78 ERA, including 14-10 with a 3.47 ERA in 2013.

He had a $5.5 million salary this year that was not guaranteed and will receive 45 days' termination pay: $1,352,459.

Noteworthy

* Cleveland manager Terry Francona said he doesn't expect slugger Nick Swisher to be ready for the team's April 6 season opener at Houston. Swisher underwent surgery on both knees in August and has been slower to recover than expected. Swisher only began running the bases last week and is expected to play in a minor league game tomorrow.

* Bartolo Colon, not Matt Harvey, has been picked to start the New York Mets' opener at Washington on April 6. Harvey is returning from elbow ligament-replacement surgery that has sidelined him since August 2013. Colon was 15-13 with a 4.09 ERA last year and at 41 will become the oldest Opening Day starting pitcher in the major leagues since April 2006, when 43-year-old Jamie Moyer was on the mound for Seattle. Mets manager Terry Collins said he decided not to start Harvey because of the long layoff. "He is our ace," Collins said. "We know that. He knows it."

* Miami finalized its 7-year, $49.57 million contract with outfielder Christian Yelich.

* Texas released lefthanded reliever Joe Beimel, who allowed 11 earned runs in three innings over four spring appearances.

* A lawyer for rooftop clubs around Wrigley Field says the Chicago Cubs are illegally trying to drive his clients out of business by constructing a large video board at the stadium. The claim came yesterday in Chicago as U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall heard arguments on whether she should order a halt to construction of the rightfield sign that would block several rooftop views.

* A man convicted of killing former major leaguer Rodney Craig when both men were homeless in downtown Los Angeles has been sentenced to 16 years to life in state prison. Billy Morales was sentenced in the August 2013 killing at a homeless encampment.

Prosecutors say Craig was living on the street and trying to stay at the encampment when other transients kicked him out. As Craig left, he reportedly tried to kick a dog. Authorities say Morales chased Craig and stabbed him once in the chest.

Craig, an outfielder, played in four big-league seasons between 1979 and 1986 with Seattle, Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox.

* The company that makes the iconic bats gripped by generations of ballplayers - from Babe Ruth to David Wright - announced a deal to sell its Louisville Slugger brand to rival Wilson Sporting Goods Co. for $70 million.

For 131 years, the family behind Hillerich & Bradsby Co. has supplied bats for games from the sandlots to the big leagues.

H&B CEO John A. Hillerich IV said keeping the bat business in family hands had been discussed for years. But as the competition's lineup grew in recent years, the family became willing to listen to offers to acquire the brand.

Under terms of the agreement, H&B will continue to manufacture Louisville Slugger wood bats at its factory in downtown Louisville, Ky.

* A proposal to turn the iconic but shuttered Houston Astrodome into a massive indoor park and build a tree-lined green space around the structure could cost nearly $243 million, according to a report released by a nonprofit research group focused on land use.

The report by the Urban Land Institute is part of an effort by officials in Houston's Harris County as well as preservation groups and local residents to save the Astrodome from potential demolition.

The group's report calls for creating a massive indoor park within the stadium, with spaces for exercise and biking trails and indoor rock climbing, as well as new underground parking. The outside areas around the stadium would be converted into tree-lined green spaces.

The land institute also said its plan would provide space that could be used by the Houston Texans and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, both of which use NRG Stadium next door.