Hampton was taking batting practice Wednesday at the Braves’ complex while the team was playing the Detroit Tigers in nearby Lakeland. He fell to the ground in pain after a swing, prompting fears that he broke a rib. X-rays were negative and team doctors determined that he strained his left oblique, still a serious injury for a pitcher. Major League Baseball announced its $700 million, seven-year agreement with DirecTV and said the deal contains a provision that allows its “Extra Innings” package of out-of-market games to remain on cable television if the other incumbent providers agree to match the terms. Around the horn Frank Thomas made his first appearance for the Toronto Blue Jays, going 1-for-3 with an RBI in a “B” game against the Phillies. “I prefer to start late like this because you know what you’re doing out there,” said Thomas, who signed an $18.12 million, two-year contract. “You’ve had enough BP, enough cage work to know what you’re doing out there.” Mike Hampton’s comeback took a major blow. And, no, it has nothing to do with his reconstructed elbow. The Atlanta Braves left-hander injured his left side during batting practice, of all things, and won’t be ready for the start of the regular season. Hampton, starting the seventh season of a $121 million, eight-year contract, will miss the rest of spring training and could be out as long as two months. The Braves had been counting on him to bolster a rotation that includes John Smoltz, Tim Hudson and Chuck James. “I think I pulled it pretty bad,” Hampton said Thursday. “There’s nothing you can do about it now except try to get it healed up and get it better.” Outfielder Jody Gerut was released by the Pittsburgh Pirates after nearly two years of inactivity due to a knee injury. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Kinney needs elbow ligament-replacement surgery and will likely miss the entire season. Kinney was a top candidate for setup relief pitcher this year. He first tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching forearm one year ago. Team physician Dr. George Paletta said Thursday the torn ligament has grown increasingly worse. The torn ligament in Kinney’s right arm should be surgically replaced with a tendon from his left wrist, Paletta said. Kinney’s recovery should take about 10 months. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!