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Roundup

Four-time All-Star Guerrero acquitted of drug charges

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Posted: Wednesday June 07, 2000 02:13 AM

  Pedro Guerrero The lawyer for Pedro Guerrero argued Guerrero never understood he was asked to involve himself in a drug deal. John Swart /Allsport

MIAMI (AP) -- A former major league hitter was acquitted of drug conspiracy charges Tuesday, after his attorney argued that his low IQ prevented him from understanding that he had agreed to a drug deal.

Federal prosecutors argued that Pedro Guerrero, formerly of the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals, told an undercover agent and an informant that he would guarantee payment for a $200,000 cocaine shipment.

But Guerrero's lawyer, Milton Hirsch, told the jury that the four-time National League All-Star and co-MVP of the 1981 World Series was duped by his friend, Adan "Tony" Cruz.

"He really never understood that he was being asked to involve himself in a drug deal," Hirsch said.

The jury acquitted Guerrero after four hours of deliberation.

Guerrero, 43, retired from baseball in 1992. Hirsch said he dropped out of sixth grade in his native Dominican Republic, and has an IQ of 70, Hirsch said. The Miami resident can not perform simple tasks, such as writing a check or making a bed, and receives a small weekly allowance from his wife, Hirsch said.

Another friend of Cruz's, Lary Mercedes, was acquitted of conspiracy to purchase drugs on Tuesday.

Cruz, who was to receive the drug shipment, pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.

Cruz and Guerrero met with two informants and undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent Nestor La Serna at a Miami restaurant on Sept. 29.

One informant, who was wearing a hidden recording device, told Guerrero that he was going to sell Cruz 15 "little animals," and that he understood Guerrero would guarantee payment.

"If he doesn't show up, I'll take care of that," Guerrero allegedly replied.

The next day, according to evidence presented at trial, the informant told Guerrero on the phone that the cocaine was to be delivered shortly and "you're on the hook if (Cruz) doesn't pay."

"Fine, fine, OK, no problem," Guerrero allegedly replied.

Cruz was arrested when undercover agents delivered the sham cocaine to him at a supermarket near Guerrero's house. Guerrero and Mercedes were then arrested at the former ballplayer's home.

Deion's jersey, nameplate removed

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Deion Sanders' nameplate was removed from his dressing cubicle Tuesday and his Cincinnati Reds jersey was tucked away.

A day after the outfielder/cornerback announced he was going to play only football this year, the Reds began writing him out of their plans -- for now.

General Manager Jim Bowden said that Sanders will soon be moved from the team's disabled list to a restricted list, preserving the Reds' rights to Sanders should he decide to try baseball again.

"There are some administrative complications that have to be resolved prior to that," he said.

Until Tuesday, the Reds had kept Sanders' jersey hanging in his cubicle and his nameplate above it. Those were gone, along with Sanders' photo outside the clubhouse.

So ended Sanders' latest flirtation with baseball, a four-month stay during which he neither hit nor got back to the big leagues.

Sanders, 32, left the Reds to play football full-time in 1997. He signed a minor-league contract with the Reds last January and talked about resuming his two-sport status.

Three big problems arose. Four days after he signed the contract, he had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to fix a football injury. That meant he wouldn't be able to run when spring training began.

His chances were further diminished when the Reds got Ken Griffey Jr. in a trade with Seattle on Feb. 10, giving them one of the game's best centerfielders.

Finally, Sanders got back his speed but not his batting stroke. After working out with the Reds at the start of the season, he went on a minor league rehabilitation assignment and batted only .200 against Triple-A pitching.

Stuck in the minors, Sanders got the club's permission to return home to Dallas on May 11. Bowden held out a glimmer of hope that he would play baseball this year and kept Sanders on the disabled list, which meant he would keep getting a baseball salary.

Sanders had a $300,000 base salary that would have jumped to $600,000 if he joined the major league team.

When he signed his contract with the Redskins on Monday, Sanders said he would play only football this year. He didn't rule out baseball in the future.

Sanders said he turned Bowden down last week when the general manager called looking for a replacement for outfielder Alex Ochoa, who went on the disabled list following an appendectomy.

"I don't have any comment on that," Bowden said Tuesday.

Hitchcock undergoes surgery

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Padres left-hander Sterling Hitchcock underwent reconstructive surgery on his left elbow Tuesday.

Dr. Lewis Yocum of the Anaheim Angels performed the "Tommy John" surgery, in which a tendon was taken out of his wrist to repair or replace the torn ulnar collateral ligament.

"A significant bone chip was also removed from behind Hitchcock's left elbow, and mild arthritis was found," the team said in a statement.

Hitchcock, MVP of the 1998 NL Championship Series, will need up to a year and half for recovery, the team said.

Hitchcock (1-6, 4.93 ERA) was San Diego's opening day pitcher. He left a start against Montreal on May 26 complaining of pain in the elbow.

Glynn sent down; Johnson called up

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Outdueling Kevin Brown wasn't enough to keep Ryan Glynn in the majors.

The Texas Rangers sent Glynn back to Triple-A Oklahoma on Tuesday one day after he beat Brown and the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0. Glynn allowed two hits in eight innings to get the win.

Rangers manager Johnny Oates said Glynn earned consideration for another big league start later this season.

Texas recalled right-hander Jonathan Johnson from Oklahoma to take Glynn's place.

Johnson was in the bullpen on Tuesday night for Texas' game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 2-3 with a 5.14 ERA in 19 relief appearances for Oklahoma this season.

Pirates shuffle coaching staff

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates shuffled their coaching staff Tuesday, with Tommy Sandt taking over for Joe Jones as first-base coach and Trent Jewell replacing Jack Lind at third base.

Sandt, 49, was hired by the Pirates as a special instructor on Feb. 15 after serving as the Colorado Rockies' first-base coach last year. He has spent 13 seasons in the major leagues as a coach with the Rockies, Florida Marlins and Pirates.

Jewett, 36, had been a manager in the Pirates' minor league system since 1992, spending the last three years at Class AAA Nashville of the Pacific Coast League. He led Class AA Carolina to the Southern League championship in 1995.

Jones, who has 38 years of baseball experience, had been the Pirates' first-base coach since 1997, while Lind, 53, began his association with Pittsburgh in 1988 as a third-base coach for Class AAA Buffalo of the International League.

Jones and Lind have been offered other positions within the organization.

Indians sign pitchers Williams, Green

MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- The Cleveland Indians, desperate for pitching help, signed righthanders Brian Williams and Tyler Green to minor league contracts Tuesday.

Williams was released from the Chicago Cubs on May 24, while the oft-injured Green was pitching for the Indians in extended spring training on a tryout basis.

The Indians, who are in an unaccustomed position of being in second place in the American League Central, still have five pitchers on the disabled list, including starters Charles Nagy and Ricardo Rincon.

Williams appeared in 22 games for the Cubs this year, going 1-1 with a 9.62 ERA, allowing 28 hits over 24 1/3 innings.

The 6-5 Green had spent his entire career in the Philadelphia Phillies organization after being selected in the first round (10th overall) in the 1991 draft. He owns a career record of 18-25 with a 5.16 ERA in 70 games, including 68 starts. He did not pitch in the majors last season.

Green has been hampered by arm problems throughout his career. He missed all of the 1996 season due to arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder and has also been sidelined in each of the last two seasons with shoulder and elbow problems.

The 29-year-old Green had his best season in his rookie year, 1995, when he went 8-9 with a 5.31 ERA in 26 games. He stumbled in the second half of that season but was the Phillies' lone representative at the All-Star Game.

Star Tribune group working for new Twins stadium

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A group of business and government leaders including the publisher of the Star Tribune of Minneapolis is preparing a plan for a scaled-back, mostly privately-financed baseball stadium, the Star Tribune reported on Tuesday.

The group, headed by Star Tribune publisher John Schueler and Jim Campbell, president and CEO of Norwest Bank Minnesota, envisions a traditional neighborhood ballpark.

Modeled after Wrigley Field in Chicago or Fenway Park in Boston, the park would emphasize nearby private development. Early cost estimates are at least $120 million to $150 million, but Schueler told the Star Tribune that those numbers are probably low.

The group, known as New Ball Park Inc., has not worked out financing or chosen a site, but three locations are under early consideration -- the old Bureau of Engraving site on Portland Avenue near the Metrodome and the Star Tribune; a site in the warehouse district on Hennepin Avenue; and a site near the downtown incinerator.

Schueler said the plan is to have recommendations for an architect, site and financing developed by August.

Thursday Architects & Associates, a joint venture of several national architectural firms involved in the planning process, would hold a planning roundtable in July.

The group was formed after several prior failed attempts at getting the Twins a new ballpark.

"The persistent unwillingness of Minnesota citizens to finance a $300-million to $500-million stadium for the Twins suggests that if there is to be public support for a new stadium it will have to be a different kind of stadium -- one that not only generates the revenues needed by the Twins, but more importantly one that clearly benefits and enhances the quality of public life in Minneapolis, and is less expensive as well," said an April 6 memo from Thursday Architects.

Group member Mark Stenglein, a Hennepin County Board Member, said the group knows public funding is unlikely to be available.

Stenglein wouldn't discuss specifics but said it is possible Hennepin County or Minneapolis would establish a tax-increment financing district to encourage development or be involved in a land swap.

"Government's role will be very limited," he said. "There will be zero new tax dollars involved."

The group has consulted Chicago architect Philip Bess for guidance on the ballpark proposal. Bess, a professor at Michigan's Andrews University, has been a persistent but lonely voice among ballpark architects. He supports old-style, neighborhood-based ballparks, like Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.

Bess told the Star Tribune he could design a Minneapolis ballpark that would cost about $150 million and that could seat about 38,000 to 40,000 people that is "less expensive and more intimate." It would include luxury suites and club seating.

He said any ballpark construction must be part of a larger master plan for ancillary development, but that development should not view the ballpark as "an anchor to an entertainment zone."

The area around the ballpark should have the "characteristics of a neighborhood," with housing, retail and public spaces, Bess said.

Chris Clouser, the new Twins CEO, said he has met individually with some group members, including Schueler, Campbell and Dave Mona, a public relations executive and former Minneapolis Tribune sports writer.

Clouser said the group has operated separately from the Twins and Clouser said the Twins plan to form a ballpark-related citizens' commission to study the future of baseball in Minnesota.

"The more people involved the better," he said. "We're really starting over, to a degree. And if the discussion moves to, 'What does the state and community want to do,' not what I want to do or [Twins owner] Carl [Pohlad] wants to, then that will make a real contribution to the discussion."

Among the potential problems discussed by the group is a conflict of interest if the park is built on Star Tribune property.

To avoid suggestions of a conflict, Schueler said neither the Star Tribune nor its parent, the McClatchy Co., would contribute to New Ball Park Inc.

Tim J. McGuire, the Star Tribune's editor, said he told Schueler he was "not thrilled about his involvement."

McGuire said Schueler instructed him "to make sure that his involvement does not interfere with the newsroom's pursuit of the story."

Minneapolis city leaders support New Ball Park's efforts.

"I think it's absolutely exciting that the business community is taking an active interest, an aggressive interest in baseball staying in Minneapolis," Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton said.


 
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