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Reds avoid arbitration, give Williamson $400,000

Posted: Tuesday February 19, 2002 2:38 PM
Updated: Tuesday February 19, 2002 7:12 PM

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) -- Reliever Scott Williamson avoided arbitration Tuesday by accepting the Cincinnati Reds' offer of a $400,000 base salary for 2002.

Williamson could get an additional $200,000 if he makes all of his performance bonuses, bringing him to the $600,000 he had asked for in arbitration. It's unlikely that he'll pitch enough to make the full amount.

Williamson, 26, was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1999, when he went 12-7 with a 2.41 ERA with 19 saves in 62 relief appearances. He started 10 games and relieved in 38 others in 2000, going 5-8 with a 3.29 ERA.

The right-hander made $400,000 last year, when he tore a ligament in his right elbow in the first week of the season and had reconstructive surgery. The club decided he shouldn't get a raise because he missed virtually the entire season. The case was scheduled to be heard by an arbitration panel on Thursday in Tampa.

Steinbrenner to give Strawberry coaching job

TAMPA, Fla. -- George Steinbrenner has not given up on Darryl Strawberry.

The New York Yankees owner said Tuesday the troubled former outfielder will be offered a job as a player development coach after completing court-mandated drug treatment.

"He will join me," Steinbrenner said. "He will come with us. He knows he has a place to go."

Strawberry was sentenced May 18 to two years' house arrest at a rural Florida drug treatment center.

Steinbrenner has been monitoring the progress of the eight-time All-Star, and said he deserves another opportunity.

"I'll take that chance," Steinbrenner said. "You got reach out and help."

The position likely would involve working with minor league players at the Yankees' complex in Florida.

Winfield hired as Padres vice president

SAN DIEGO -- Hall of Famer Dave Winfield was hired Tuesday as a vice president and senior adviser of the San Diego Padres, the club where he started his major league career.

Winfield, 50, has been a member of the Padres' board of directors for nearly two years and went into the Hall of Fame last summer with a Padres' cap.

"The Padres have graciously welcome me back into the family since my retirement," Winfield said. "Baseball is still very much in my blood, and I'm honored to be asked to increase my role."

He will concentrate on baseball operations, marketing, player development, community relations and diversity issues. He also will be involved in the new downtown ballpark, where resumed construction resumed Tuesday after a 16-month delay.

Winfield joined the Padres in 1973 straight out of the University of Minnesota. He spent the first eight seasons of his 22-year major league career with the Padres, who retired Winfield's No. 31 jersey.

Twins sign Hunter to one-year deal

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins reached a late agreement with Torii Hunter on a one-year, $2.4 million contract Tuesday, avoiding arbitration with the Gold Glove center fielder.

Hunter's agent, Larry Reynolds, had asked for $2.7 million and the Twins had offered $2 million.

Hunter missed Tuesday's workouts in Fort Myers because he was in Tampa for the arbitration hearing. Twins general manager Terry Ryan also was in Tampa.

Last season, Hunter hit .261 and set career highs with 27 homers and 92 RBIs to go along with his Gold Glove. He made $250,000.

Torborg returns following skin cancer surgery

MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Florida Marlins manager Jeff Torborg returned to work Tuesday with two bandages on the right side of his face following skin cancer surgery.

Torborg, 60, missed Monday's spring training workout to have a growth removed from his sideburn. His doctor said the prognosis is good, and Torborg can still be out in the Florida sun.

"He just told me to pile on the sunscreen, which I do that anyway," Torborg said.

A plastic surgeon assisted in the procedure.

"He said he was going to make me look like Robert Redford," Torborg said jokingly. "The guy was lying."

Yankees sign Leyritz to minor league deal

TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Yankees signed Jim Leyritz to a minor league contract Tuesday and invited him to spring training.

Leyritz is best known for hitting a key World Series home run for the Yankees in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series against Atlanta.

Leyritz, 38, played for the independent league Newark Bears and San Diego's Triple-A team in Portland last season. He will compete for a utility spot, including backup catcher.

"No promise ... no nothing," Leyritz said. "It's an opportunity. I want to come here and get a foot in the door. We'll see what happens."

Leyritz has a career .264 average with 90 homers and 387 RBIs in 903 games.

Tigers hire Mike Veeck as promotions consultant

DETROIT -- Bill Veeck owned the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns at various times and was the brains behind "Disco Demolition Night" at Comiskey Park in 1979 and the 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel's appearance in 1951.

The Tigers are hoping Veeck's son can bring some excitement to fans at Comerica Park.

Mike Veeck's hiring as a team promotions consultant was announced by Detroit on Tuesday. He previously held front-office jobs with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Florida Marlins.

Tigers president Dave Dombrowski, who worked with Veeck while with the Marlins, spearheaded the effort to bring him to Detroit.

Plans for new promotions already are under way. The team plans to expand Friday night fireworks and will move Thursday autograph sessions to Saturdays.

Sunday home games will be devoted to children, who will be allowed to run the bases after the games.

Bush likens Japanese prime minister to Ichiro

TOKYO -- President Bush likens Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to Ichiro Suzuki.

"He reminds me of the new American baseball star, Ichiro: The prime minister can hit anything you throw at him," Bush said Tuesday to Japanese lawmakers, who laughed approvingly.

Japan's legislative body is considering Koizumi's economic reforms, which Bush endorses.

Last year, Bush and Koizumi ended their first meeting with a brief game of catch at the Camp David presidential retreat outside Washington. At a joint news conference, Koizumi tossed Bush a hardball with an underhand delivery. Bush, the former owner of the Texas Rangers, snagged it with one hand and winked.

Suzuki left Japanese baseball after the 2000 season to sign with the Seattle Mariners and became the American League's Rookie of the Year and MVP, hitting a league-leading .350 with a major league-high 56 steals.

Vosberg agrees to minor league deal with Expos

JUPITER, Fla. -- Pitcher Ed Vosberg agreed Tuesday to a minor league contract with the Montreal Expos and was invited to spring training.

Vosberg, 40, spent last year with the Philadelphia organization, splitting time between the Phillies and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 18 games and 12 2-3 innings with the Phillies, Vosberg went 0-0 with a 2.84 ERA. The left-hander was 1-0 with five saves and a 3.00 ERA in 27 games with the Red Barons.

In nine seasons in the major leagues, Vosberg is 10-15 with a 4.26 ERA. He has played for (1986, 1999), San Francisco (1990), Oakland (1994), Texas (1995-97), Florida (1997), Arizona (1999) and the Phillies (2000-01).

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