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FIRST BLACK PLAYER?: Baseball historians are trying to determine whether William Edward White was the first black player in the major leagues.

White played one game for the Providence Greys of the National League on June 21, 1879, and the Society for American Baseball Research is researching his history, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Until now, it was generally accepted that the first black players were catcher Moses Fleetwood Walker and his brother, Welday, an outfielder. Both played for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association, then a major league, in 1884. After that, no black player appeared until Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

White attended Brown University, was born in 1860 and was the son of A.J. White of Milner, Ga., according to the school's records.

Peter Morris, a SABR researcher, contacted Civil War historian Bruce Allardice, according the Journal. Allardice found that the only A.J. White in Milner in 1880 was Andrew J. White and that the 1870 census said his household included a 35-year-old mulatto woman, Hannah White.

TIGERS SEEK INSURANCE: Burned by recent big-money deals, Detroit is hesitant to commit to another with catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who has a history of health problems.

Rodriguez, a 10-time All-Star, is pondering a four-year, $40-million offer that is loaded with clauses based on his health. The Detroit Free Press reported that the Tigers have no problem committing substantial money to Rodriguez but need an out clause.

CUBS: The team finalized a deal to end its dispute with most of the owners of rooftop bleachers that overlook Wrigley Field. The rooftop business owners agreed to pay the team about 17 percent of their revenue, expected to bring the team between $1.2-million to $1.7-million a year. The agreement includes provisions for owners to be reimbursed if their views are hindered by ballpark alterations, including a proposed expansion of Wrigley's bleachers.

PHILLIES: Right-hander Vincente Padilla agreed to a $2.6-million, one-year contract.

PIRATES: Chris Singleton, who spent part of last season as the Athletics' starting centerfielder, agreed to a minor-league contract.

REDS: A team hall of fame being built next to the taxpayer-financed stadium is unlikely to open until 2005 because the team doesn't have the $10-million to $12-million it needs to finish its interior.

RED SOX: DH/first baseman David Ortiz agreed to a one-year contract worth $4,587,500.

ROYALS: Country singer Garth Brooks was invited as a nonroster player to spring training. Brooks' visit is designed to promote his charity, Teammates for Kids.