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Nomar 'Mr. Nice Guy' content with contract ... for now

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Posted: Tuesday February 20, 2001 11:42 PM
Updated: Wednesday February 21, 2001 4:24 AM

  Nomar Garciaparra Nomar Garciaparra is signed through 2002 and the Red Sox hold options on him through 2004. Jeff Gross/ Allsport

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -- Nomar Garciaparra could have complained. He could have demanded publicly that the Boston Red Sox rework his contract after Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter got theirs.

Instead, one of the AL's top three shortstops showed no bitterness about the huge, long-term deals the other two received.

"My reaction was, when I go out with those guys, they're buying dinner," Garciaparra said Tuesday with a laugh.

His $6.85 million salary this season is about a third of the $21 million Rodriguez will make and over half of the $11 million salary Jeter gets under their new 10-year contracts.

But Garciaparra, who made $3.3 million last season, showed no jealousy. His good friend and Boston third baseman Lou Merloni may know why.

"If anything," Merloni said, the new contracts are "going to excite him. It's just a matter of time. It's not like he's not going to get it."

Dodgers ace had irregular heartbeat checked

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Los Angeles Dodgers ace Kevin Brown returned to training camp Tuesday, one day after having an irregular heartbeat checked out at a hospital.

"It was just a precautionary measure," Dodgers general manager Kevin Malone said. "We just wanted to make sure it wasn't anything major."

Brown, 36, sat out the first day of full-squad workouts Tuesday because he was tired from the hospital trip, but Dodgers officials said he would return to practice Wednesday.

"It's really not a big deal," Dodgers team physician Frank Jobe said. "He came in saying he had a lot of Cokes and had an arrhythmia of the heart. I have it myself, and a lot of people have it.

"We put him in the hospital just to check it out and he was ready to go. He has a normal heart. He's just going to have to stop drinking so many Cokes."

Grace fits right in with 30-somethings on D'Backs

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Spring training must seem awful quiet to the Chicago Cubs. For the first time in 14 years, Mark Grace isn't there.

The 36-year-old first baseman has taken his irreverence, quick wit, four Gold Glove awards and .309 career batting average to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I think I look good in purple," he said after a voluntary workout with the team's many other 30-somethings on Tuesday. "It matches my underwear."

The full squad begins mandatory workouts on Wednesday.

Yankees plan to offer Strawberry minor league post

TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Yankees hope to offer Darryl Strawberry a job in their organization if his suspension from baseball is ended by the commissioner's office this year.

The eight-time All-Star has been suspended since Jan. 19, 2000, following a positive test for cocaine. He also is undergoing cancer treatment.

The Yankees denied a report that they already have offered Strawberry a job.

He was sentenced to two years' house arrest in September after he violated his probation for a 1999 drug and soliciting prostitution arrest.

"That's the kind of guy George Steinbrenner is," Yankees manager Joe Torre said of his owner. "He feels for the person. Darryl has had some struggles, and it doesn't surprise me that George wants to give him an opportunity to keep his finger in it. Hopefully, that will all be worked out and Darryl can live a productive life."

Canseco absent for first full-squad workout

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jose Canseco, signed by Anaheim last month, was the Angels' only no-show Tuesday morning for the first session when all players were scheduled to participate in drills.

Canseco apparently had the flu, and planned to arrive in Arizona from his Florida home later in the day.

He is scheduled to undergo a physical on Wednesday morning, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he expects the designated hitter-outfielder to join the team on the practice field shortly afterward.

Canseco signed an incentive-laden, one-year contract with the Angels last month. He hit 15 homers and drove in 49 runs in 329 at-bats while splitting time with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the World Champion New York Yankees last season.

The Angels hope he can fill a good portion of the void left by Mo Vaughn, who is expected to be lost for the entire season after arm surgery.

"When he's healthy you can see what he can do," Scioscia said. "He's not too far removed from tremendous offensive years. We're not trying to turn the clock back eight years."

Late for workout, reliever Rain cut by Royals

HAINES CITY, Fla. -- The Kansas City Royals warned Steve Rain about being late for workouts.

So when the reliever showed up tardy Tuesday, the Royals wasted no time -- they released him.

Manager Tony Muser said Rain was about two hours late for spring training drills and did not call to let the club know his whereabouts.

Muser said he and general manager Allard Baird met with Rain on the first day of camp to "tell him what we expect" and stressed the importance being prompt.

"We knew his history in the past, his problem of not being on time," Muser said. "We've got to move on. He's got a great arm, but I don't have the time to waste for another meeting with him.

"I wish him well, but if you can't show up on time, then you're no longer here," he said.

Rain, a right-hander, was 3-4 with a 4.35 ERA in 37 games for the Chicago Cubs in the last two years. He had ankle surgery in November.

The Royals signed Rain to a minor league contract. He was a non-roster invite to camp.

Mecir avoids arbitration, agrees to three-year deal

PHOENIX -- Jim Mecir is glad he's finally got a secure future with a contending team.

Mecir, a key reliever for the Oakland Athletics during their push to last season's AL West title, agreed on Tuesday to a $6.95 million, three-year contract that includes a club option for 2004.

Mecir gets a $350,000 signing bonus and yearly salaries of $1 million, $2.25 million and $3.1 million. Oakland has a $3.3 million option for the fourth year with a $250,000 buyout.

An arbitration hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, but the sides finally reached agreement late Monday night, assistant general manager Paul DePodesta said.

"I was very relieved," Mecir said at the Athletics' spring training complex. "It's the one part of the job I have no control over, so it's hard to sit around and wait."

Padres pitching coach takes leave of absence

PEORIA, Ariz. -- San Diego Padres pitching coach Dave Smith left spring training Tuesday morning and will take an indefinite leave of absence for personal reasons.

Neither general manager Kevin Towers nor manager Bruce Bochy would elaborate.

Asked whether Smith's health was OK, Bochy said: "That's what we want to make sure. This is temporary. We can't wait for him to come back."

Towers said he expects Smith to be back before the regular season begins.

"He's going to get all the support he needs from the organization," Towers said. "He's somebody we think is very important to this organization. He's very good at what he does."

Smith, 46, replaced Dave Stewart as the Padres' pitching coach following the 1998 season. He had spent five seasons as a minor-league coach in the organization.

Twins' Hawkins agrees to two-year, $4 million contract

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Right-hander LaTroy Hawkins and the Minnesota Twins agreed Tuesday to a $4 million, two-year contract.

The deal, reached before the scheduled start of an arbitration hearing in Phoenix, calls for salaries of $1.45 million this year and $2.3 million in 2002. Minnesota has a $3 million option for 2003 with a $250,000 buyout.

Twins manager Tom Kelly has said Hawkins will be his closer this season.

Hawkins converted all 14 of his save chances in a limited stretch as the Twins' closer last season, and was 2-5 with a 3.39 ERA overall. He led the Twins in saves and games finished, and was fourth in the American League with 82 2-3 innings in relief.

After making $1,115,000 last season, Hawkins asked for $1.95 million in arbitration. He was offered $1.3 million.

Bill Rigney, former player and manager, dies at 83

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Bill Rigney, the first manager of the Giants after they moved from New York to San Francisco, died Tuesday. He was 83.

Rigney was admitted to John Muir Hospital Nov. 18 with pneumonia, one year after he was diagnosed with lymphoma. His death was announced by the Oakland Athletics, who had employed him since 1982 as a broadcaster and a special assistant to team president Roy Eisenhart.

Rigney was an infielder with the New York Giants from 1946-53, hitting .259 with 41 homers. He served as the Giants' manager from 1956-60, leading the club in its first season after moving from New York to San Francisco.

"Baseball and the San Francisco Giants have lost one of their greatest treasures," Giants owner Peter Magowan said. "Bill Rigney, along with Horace Stoneham, Chub Feeney and Russ Hodges, personified the Giants when they moved West in 1958.

Former Yankee pitcher pleads guilty to forgery

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Former New York Yankee pitcher Ken Clay avoided a prison sentence Tuesday by pleading guilty to using an ex-girlfriend's personal information to defraud three credit card companies.

Clay pleaded guilty to forgery and other charges and agreed to repay more than $40,000 to creditors by making payments of at least $200 a month. Circuit Judge Charles Williams placed Clay on 15-years probation.

"The victims were mainly concerned with restitution," said prosecutor Cynthia Evers, who agreed to the plea bargain. "They were very happy about the money."

Clay, 46, was arrested in November 1999 after he used Patricia Milne's personal information to falsify credit card applications, lease a 1998 Nissan Pathfinder and forge checks. He faced 20 years in prison if convicted.

Former Braves pitcher who set hitless streak is dead at 72

TITUSVILLE, Fla. -- Bob Buhl, who helped pitch the Milwaukee Braves to the 1957 World Series title and later set a major league record for futility at the plate, has died. He was 72.

Buhl died Friday at his family's home in Titusville, grandson Chris Sheldon said Tuesday.

Buhl went 0-for-70 as a hitter for the Braves and Chicago Cubs in 1962, the most at-bats in a single season without a hit. His drought ended in 1963 when he got his first hit in 88 at-bats.

"He was well aware of that record," Sheldon said.

Buhl's road roommate while with the Braves, Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews, died Sunday.

Last September, Buhl was back in Milwaukee to take part in the closing ceremonies at the final game in County Stadium. In weakened condition, he rode a cart onto the infield but insisted on walking to the mound and standing on the rubber in a Braves uniform.

Buhl was 166-132 with a 3.55 ERA from 1953-1967 with Milwaukee, the Cubs and Philadelphia. He pitched in a Braves' rotation with Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette and made the NL All-Star team in 1960.

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