BA News In Brief

Tuesday, December 24

Yankees add Contreras

The Yankees signed Cuban defector Jose Contreras today, five days after the righthander was granted free agency for establishing residency in Nicaragua.

Contreras, 31, received a four-year, $32 million contract.

Tuesday, December 17

Reds sign troubled Nash

The Dayton Daily News reported the Reds have signed outfielder Greg “Toe” Nash to a minor league deal. Nash, 20, was released by the Devil Rays in the fall, one day after he was released from jail after serving eight months because he pleaded guilty to having sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Nash was facing life in prison on three counts of aggravated rape, but served eight months in jail, and he is on probation for the next five years.

Friday, December 13

Schramek, Reds finally reach deal

The Reds signed supplemental first-round pick (40th overall) Mark Schramek. Terms were not disclosed.

Schramek, the Southland Conference player of the year in 2002 after hitting .416-11-49 in 202 at-bats for Texas-San Antonio, signed with the Reds after signing with the Long Island of independent Atlantic League in November and considering an offer from Japan’s Orix Blue Wave.

Thursday, December 5

Angels farmhand Burden dies in sleep

Randy Burden, a righthander in the Angels system, died in his sleep Dec. 5 in Suffolk, Va. He was 23.

No immediate cause of death has been determined.

Burden signed with Anaheim in June as a nondrafted free agent from Chowan (Tenn). College. He had no record and a 7.45 ERA in 10 appearances at Rookie-level Provo this summer.

“The entire Angels organization is deeply saddened by Randy’s passing,” Anaheim farm director Tony Reagins said. “This is very difficult to accept, not simply because Randy was a member of our baseball family, but also because losing someone so young is almost incomprehensible. We extend our deepest condolences and prayers to Randy’s family.”

Friday, November 15

Reds sign two more

The Reds have signed two more picks from the June draft, leaving only one of the club’s first 12 picks unsigned. Fourth-rounder Camilo Vazquez, a lefthander out of Hialeah (Fla.) High, signed for $200,000 while fifth-round pick Kevin Howard, a junior third baseman out of Miami, agreed to a $175,000 bonus.

The Reds signed third-round pick Kyle Edens, a righthander out of Baylor University, to a $300,000 bonus last week. Supplemental first-round pick (40th overall) Mark Schramek remains unsigned.

Friday, October 25

Younger Upton injured on gridiron

Don't look for Justin Upton, our top 14-year-old in last issue's Baseball For the Ages feature, on a football field any time soon. Upton separated his right (throwing) shoulder, broke his collarbone and cracked three ribs during football practice for Hickory High of Chesapeake, Va.

Upton, who was a quarterback, is the brother of B.J. Upton, the second overall pick in the June draft who signed with the Devil Rays for $4.6 million. Justin is considered the top prospect for the 2005 draft, and his father told BA that Justin will not be playing any more football and will focus on the diamond now.

Thursday, October 17

Reds’ Pena tears hamstring

Reds outfield prospect Wily Mo Pena suffered a major setback when he tore his hamstring in the Arizona Fall League earlier this week. Pena, 20, is scheduled for surgery on Friday in Cincinnati. Recovery is expected to take four to six months, which is likely to prevent Pena from being at 100 percent for spring training.

The Reds were hoping Pena’s stint in the AFL would help prepare him for the spring, when he must make the 25-man roster or be exposed to waivers because of the major league contract he signed with the Yankees as a 16-year-old in 1998.

He batted .255-11-47 at Double-A Chattanooga this season, his first action above the low Class A level. Pena received a September promotion and hit .222-1-1 in 18 at-bats. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Dominican fanned 11 times, though, after striking out 126 times in 388 minor league at-bats.

Friday, September 27

Nash released, then released

A day after he was released from a Louisiana jail, outfield prospect Greg “Toe” Nash was released by the Rays. “We received information about what he pleaded guilty to,” general manager Chuck LaMar said. “Once we received that information, then we made an immediate decision.”

Arrested in January and charged with aggravated rape of a 15-year-old girl, aggravated crime against nature and felony theft, Nash was sentenced Aug. 30 to serve 17 months in the Ascension Parish (La.) Jail on three counts of felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile. Prosecutors reduced the charges as part of a plea bargain. Nash's sentence was further shortened with credit for time served and good behavior.

The Rays signed him in 2000 out of a semipro league in rural Louisiana. He batted .240-8-29 in 47 games with Rookie-level Princeton in 2001. “I'm disappointed (with the decision), but I'm also confident that we will get him a job,” said Larry Reynolds, Nash's agent. “I don't have any concerns with how he'll carry himself off the field.”

Marc Topkin

Thursday, September 5

Rockies give Esposito second round money

The Rockies signed 12th-round pick Mike Esposito, a righthander out of Arizona State, for nearly $750,000, which is more than 15 second-rounders received.

Esposito was in Denver last week and is now in Zebulon, N.C., with Double-A Carolina. He is not planned to pitch until instructional league this winter at the team’s minor league facility in Tucson, Ariz.

Brooklyn breaks its own attendance record

Brooklyn drew 317,124 fans, breaking the New York-Penn League’s single season attendance record of 289,381, which it set last year. With two home games over the Labor Day weekend, the Cyclones became the first NY-P team ever to draw more than 300,000. Out of the 160 minor league teams, only seven teams averaged a higher attendance than the Cyclones.

Having sold out the season shortly after opening day, the Cyclones sold more than 3,000 full season ticket plans for the 7,500 seat KeySpan Park.

Monday, September 3

Durham’s Delvin James shot

Devil Rays prospect Delvin James and a female friend were wounded in a random shooting early Monday morning at a Raleigh Waffle House. James, a righthander, was hit in the left shoulder and was treated and released. Monique Frances McNellie suffered serious injuries to her midsection and was in critical condition.

“What happened to Delvin is a tough thing for the team and certainly for Delvin and his family,” Jason Tyner told the Durham Herald-Sun. “There’s not much we can do about it but just go out and play. But it makes you realize how unimportant baseball is compared to something like that. It’s just a game.”

Another Devil Rays farmhard, Nick Bierbrodt, was shot at a Charleston, S.C., restaurant in June.

Saturday, August 31

Dodgers’ Loney breaks wrist

Dodgers first-round pick James Loney broke his left wrist after being hit by
a pitch in a game Thursday. The injury will take four to six weeks to heal,
knocking the first baseman out for the rest of the season.

Loney who was
hitting .303-0-5 in 66 at-bats for Class A Vero Beach after batting .371-5-30 in
170 at-bats for Rookie-level Great Falls, will miss instructional league and
instead attend classes at Houston Baptist University during the fall semester.

Will Kimmey

Sacramento sets another attendance mark

the third consecutive year, Triple-A Sacramento led all Minor League Baseball
teams in attendance. The River Cats drew 817,317 fans in 2002, an average of
11,512 per game over 71 games. The River Cats have attracted 2,580,339
fans during their three seasons (213 regular-season games) in Sacramento.

Wednesday, August 28

Dodgers’ signee Corporan changed name, age

The Dodgers thought they had reached an agreement to sign 16-year-old Dominican righthander Jonathan Corporan for $930,000 in early April. It turns out the player’s real name is Reyes Soto and he’s actually 21.

The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo alerted the Dodgers to the name change. The team will still sign Soto, but for $150,000. He will report to instructional league in the fall and begin his pro career at Class A in 2003.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Soto has been clocked at 93 mph and also throws a curveball, slider and changeup. Soto’s agent, Don Nomura, took him to the Dodgers’ academy in the Dominican Republic in
January, where he has been working out with the Dodgers DOmmican Summer League

Friday, August 23

Phillies sign Hamels for $2 million

The Phillies signed lefthander Cole Hamels, the 17th overall pick in the June draft. Hamels, a product of San Diego’s Rancho Bernardo High, received a $2 million signing bonus and a college scholarship. He will report to instructional league in Clearwater on Sept. 15.

Friday, August 16

RedStixx will pay fans to come

The Columbus RedStixx want people to come to their games so bad, they’ll pay them. The first 1,000 fans through the turnstiles for the final night game of the season on Sept. 1 will receive a voucher redeemable for $1 in cash if they stay the whole game. They also get a free hot dog and soda. Also, no admission will be charged; fans can claim their free tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis at the park on game day.

Columbus ranks last in the Class A South Atlantic League in attendance with an average of 753 per game. The team will move to the Cleveland suburb of Eastlake, Ohio, next season.

Friday, July 26

Jennings leaves Devil Rays for Marlins

The Marlins have named Dan Jennings their vice president of player personnel. Jennings served as the Devil Rays scouting director for the last six seasons.

“Dan brings an extensive and successful scouting background to our organization,” general manager Larry Beinfest said. “His experience and baseball knowledge will be vital as we make decisions and player acquisitions to ensure the long term success of the Marlins.”

Wednesday, July 24

LSU’s Pontiff found dead

Wally Pontiff, a third baseman on the LSU baseball team, was found dead by family members Wednesday morning in his home in Metairie, a New Orleans suburb.

LSU spokesman Kent Lowe confirmed Pontiff’s death but had no details. The school set a news conference for 2 p.m. in Baton Rouge. LSU athletic director Skip Bertman and baseball coach Smoke Laval were to attend. The cause of Pontiff’s death was not known.

Pontiff, 21, was selected by the Athletics in the 21st round of this year’s draft but had announced plans in June to return to LSU for his senior year. He batted .346-6-46 with 20 doubles as a junior.

Thursday, July 18

Diamondbacks, Nippon sign deal

The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed a three-year agreement with the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese Pacific League.

“This agreement will certainly give the Arizona Diamondbacks increased visibility and a greater presence in Japan,” Arizona GM Joe Garagiola Jr. said. “Through the exchange of information, the Diamondbacks will be doing something to help the game grow internationally.”

As part of the relationship, representatives from the Ham Fighters will observe many aspects of the Diamondbacks’ operation, including a potential visit later this summer from a Ham Fighters coach to observe Arizona’s minor league system. Next year, Nippon coaches and players will have the opportunity to visit Arizona’s minor league spring training facilities in Tucson, Ariz.

Former Mexican HR champ dies

Nelson Barrera, who last year broke the all-time Mexican League record for home runs, died July 14 in Campeche, Mexico. He was 44. Barrera was electrocuted while working on the roof of his home, when he touched a high-voltage electrical cable with a piece of metal.

After a funeral mass, Barrera's body was taken to the Campeche ballpark that bears his name, Parque Nelson Barrera, before the final rites at the cemetery. Barrera, who played 25 full seasons–14 with the Mexico City Reds–had 455 career homers, eclipsing the late Hector Espino's record by two.

Saturday, July 13

Owners, players closer to world draft agreement

The players’ union and Major League Baseball owners came closer to drawing up plans for a world draft during a collective bargaining meeting Friday.

Originally, the union had proposed a domestic and an international draft, each with eight rounds. Friday, the union proposed one 16-round world-wide draft. Owners had proposed a 40-round draft and last month cut it to 38 rounds.

Although both sides agree for the first time with the concept of a single, international draft, the number of rounds is still to be determined.

Monday, July 8

Clement breaks HR record

Catcher Jeff Clement of Marshalltown (Iowa) broke Drew Henson's national high school record for career home runs when he hit No. 71 on July 5th in Mason City. Clement, the Twins' 12th-round draft pick in June and a Southern California signee, connected on a 0-1 pitch in the second inning to break the record Henson established in 1998. Henson is now a top prospect in the Yankees organization.

During the spring, pitcher/infielder Micah Owings of Gainesville (Ga.) finished his career with 69 homers.

Thursday, May 30

Dodgers Dominican signing on hold

Dominican pitcher Jonathan Corporan was signed to a contract with a $930,000 bonus in early April, but the signing has been put on hold because of questions about the age of the 6-foot-2 righthander with a 93-mph fastball. The Dodgers originally investigated his birth records to be sure he was the 16 he claimed he was and eligible to sign.

Now, according to the Los Angeles Times, it turns out he may actually be as much as 19, in which case the Dodgers would want to reduce the bonus payment because, according to Jeff Schugel, director of international scouting, “his projection level goes down if he is older.”

Tuesday, May 21

Leonard to have Tommy John surgery

Miami (Ohio) lefthander Chris Leonard will have Tommy John surgery. Leonard, who went 2-4, 4.85 this season with 61 strikeouts and 26 walks in 65 innings, missed his last start for the RedHawks with a sore arm and was shut down for the rest of the season.

The 6-foot, 205-pound junior is rated as a second- to fifth-round pick in the June 3 draft based on the strength of his Cape Cod League performance last summer. He earned pitcher of the year honors after posting a league-best 0.98 ERA.

Monday, May 13

It has come to this

As if seeing URLs for online gambling sites on the back of has-been celebrities wasn't horrific enough, the New York-Penn League’s Lowell Spinners have gotten into the act by sponsoring a local boxer themselves. Boxer–and Lowell native–”Irish” Micky Ward was planning to wear Spinners trunks and “Lowell Spinners” across his back for his May 18 fight against Aturo “Thunder” Gatti.

“We are extremely proud to have Micky Ward, a Lowell hero, wear special Spinners shorts,” said Lowell general manager Shawn Smith.

Tuesday, May 7

Calgary moves games to Omaha to avoid snow

The Omaha-Calgary four-game series scheduled for this week in Calgary, Alberta, has been moved to Nebraska due to snow and freezing temperatures in the Canadian city.

The Cannons have been snowed out at home for four consecutive days and Calgary received an extensive snowfall again Sunday night. Due to snow and frigid temperatures, the field at Burns Stadium has been rendered unplayable for the remainder of this week.

As a result, the Royals will take on Calgary in a single game Wednesday at Haymarket Park in Lincoln. Omaha will host the Cannons in a doubleheader Thursday at Rosenblatt Stadium.

Wednesday, April 17

Fan petitions MLB to televise draft

A fan in Riverside, Calif., has started an online petition urging Major League Baseball to televise the draft. Kyle Smith, 23, hopes to forward his list of names to the Commissioner’s Office, as well as a sports programming channel in hopes that he can watch at least the first few rounds of the annual June affair on TV.

“I’ve been following the minor leagues for about 2 years now, and the draft really caught my interest last year,” he said. “I figured that there’s basically no way MLB would come up with the idea of televising it on their own, so I created this petition in an attempt to show them that there’s a lot of interest.”

You can view and sign the petition at

Will Kimmey

Tuesday, March 26

Rays release first-ever draft pick

The Devil Rays released minor league outfielder Paul Wilder from minor league
camp. The club’s first draft pick (No. 29 overall in the 1996 First-Year
Player Draft), Wilder played five seasons in the minor leagues but never
reached the Double-A level.

Monday, March 25

Expos sign deal with Mexican club

The Montreal Expos signed a working agreement with the Saltillo Sarape Makers of the Mexican League. The joint agreement will include the sharing of scouting and player development information, and will cover strategies concerning players, scouts and coaches.

The Saltillo Sarape Makers have teams that play in both the Mexican Winter and Summer Leagues. Their winter team, the Culiacan Tomato Growers, won the 2002 Mexican Winter League and 2002 Caribbean World Series championships.

Friday, March 22

Blue Jays outbid Rangers for Salas

Toronto outbid the Rangers for Jose Salas, a 17-year-old switch-hitting
shortstop from Venezuela. The Blue Jays gave Salas a $75,000 signing bonus.
Assistant general manager Grady Fuson will use the international market this
year in hopes of making up for not having picks in the second through fifth
rounds of the amateur draft. The Rangers lost the picks as compensation for
their free-agent signings.

The Rangers first venture into the market of Cuban defectors ended with the release of third baseman Osmani Garcia. He had two unspectacular seasons in the minor-league system. The Rangers
previously released second baseman Jorge “Spider” Diaz after only one

Gerry Fraley

Wednesday, March 20

Snelling breaks thumb

Mariners No. 4 prospect Chris Snelling broke his thumb while making a diving catch on Saturday and will be sidelined indefinitely. He will see a hand specialist this week.

The Australian outfielder’s all-out hustle made a favorite of Mariners manager Lou Piniella in spring training. Snelling hit .336-7-73 for Class A San Bernardino in 2001.

Tonis won’t throw until July

Mike Tonis, a 2000 second-round pick of the Royals, had surgery on March 15 to repair a labrum tear and will not be able to catch this season.
Tonis will not be able to begin throwing until mid- to late-July. He might be able to participate in August games as the DH, but would not be able catch until the Fall Instructional League.

Tonis had knee surgery at the conclusion of last season, which prevented him from playing in the Arizona Fall League. He began last season with Class A Wilmington, hitting .252-3-18 in 33 games. He was promoted to Double-A Wichita, where he hit .270-9-43 in 63 games.
–Alan Eskew

Gentry latest to suffer in Shouldergate

Garrett Gentry, the catching prospect the Rockies
acquired from the Astros in the Pedro Astacio deal in July, has retorn his right
labrum and will be out for the season because of his second such surgery in
nine months. Gentry initially tore the labrum with Houston’s Class A Michigan
affiliate last season and underwent surgery in August.

That means all three
players in the deal had shoulder problems. Astacio was unable to pitch for
the Astros in the final month of the regular season and the postseason
because of a labrum tear. He opted against surgery and signed in the
off-season with the New York Mets. In addition to Gentry, the Rockies
acquired right-handed pitcher Scott Elarton, who earlier this month underwent
surgery on his right rotator cuff and biceps.

Tuesday, March 19

Rangers, A’s swap Duchscherer, Vizcaino

The Rangers sent righthander Justin Duchscherer, who was headed for a crowded Triple-A rotation, to the Athletics in exchange for righthanded reliever Luis Vizcaino, who was out of options.

Vizacaino, 26, went 2-1, 4.55 with one save in Oakland last season. Duchscherer, 24, went 13-6, 2.47 between Double-A Trenton and Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma in 2001. The Rangers acquired him from the Red Sox last June 12 for catcher Doug Mirabelli.

Ray Knoblauch dies at age 74

Ray Knoblauch died of Alzheimer's disease early Monday morning. Knoblauch, 74, was one of the nation's most successful high school baseball coaches, compiling a 598-225 record as head coach at Bellaire High in Houston during a 25-year career that included four state championships and three runner-up finishes.

His son Chuck is among the dozens of players who went on to productive careers at a variety of levels in professional baseball after playing at Bellaire.

Dodgers release third-round pick Taylor

The Dodgers released righthander David Taylor, their third-round pick in the 2001 draft, after he violated team rules. The Dodgers had paid him a $385,000 signing bonus. Taylor tossed just six innings for the organization in the Gulf Coast League last season.

Friday, March 15

Toe Nash’s bail increases

Devil Rays prospect Gregory “Toe” Nash has been indicted on new charges and given a higher bond for the alleged
rape of a 15-year-old girl in her home in January.

Nash, 19, was indicted Thursday on three felony counts of aggravated rape
and his bond was raised from $300,000 to $500,000. He had been arrested Jan.
and booked with aggravated rape, a felony, and aggravated crime against
nature, a felony that covers a variety of sexual misconduct.

Devil Rays spokesman Rick Vaughn said Nash remains a member of
the Devil Rays organization, but the team will not post his bail.
“He’s innocent until proven guilty,” Vaughn said. “So we are just going to let the legal
system take its course.”

Thursday, March 14

Haynes out 3 months

Nathan Haynes, 22, the top-ranked outfield prospect in the Angels organization, had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and is expected to miss the first three months of the season. Haynes was scheduled to play center field at Triple-A Salt Lake and could replace Darin Erstad if Erstad leaves as a free agent after the season.

The Angels’ No. 8 prospect, who was a supplemental first-round pick of the Athletics in 1997, batted .310-5-23 last year in 316 at-bats with Double-A Arkansas. He adds the thumb injury to a list of past maladies that includes arthroscopic surgery on both knees, nagging wrist and shoulder problem and a career-threatening sports hernia.

Tuesday, March 12

Borchard out 4-6 weeks

White Sox top prospect Joe Borchard will miss four to six weeks after breaking a bone in his right foot. He sustained the injury when he fouled a ball off his foot in a Cactus League game.

The outfielder is expected to start his season in Triple-A Charlotte after his foot heals.

Thursday, March 7

MLB makes 3 personnel moves

Commissioner Bud Selig reorganized the upper tier of the commissioner’s office Thursday, making three appoinments.

Robert DuPuy was named major league president and chief operating officer, replacing Paul Beeston, who resigned today. John McHale Jr. leaves the Devil Rays to replace DuPuy as MLB’s executive vice president of administration. Jonathan Mariner was named senior vice president and chief financial officer, replacing Jeff White as CFO.

Expos fill front office positions

The Expos named Dana Brown scouting director and hired Lee MacPhail to serve as the club’s director of professional scouting. MacPhail’s uncle, Andy, is the Cubs president, CEO and general manager.

The moves come a day after Jim Beattie rejoined the team as a special assistant to general manager Omar Minaya. Beattie returned to the Expos after resigning as the team’s vice-president and general manager on October 31, 2001. He served in those positions for six seasons.

Kevin Mitchell to manage Sonoma County

The Sonoma County Crushers of the independent Western League have hired Kevin Mitchell as manager and director of baseball operations.

Mitchell, 40, played for seven teams and 13 seasons in the major leagues. He won National League MVP honors in 1989 when he hit .291-47-125 for the San Francisco Giants.

Monday, March 4

Red Sox name Chadd scouting director

The Boston Red Sox named David Chadd their new scouting director. Chadd previosuly served as scouting director for Florida Marlins. He replaces Wayne Britton, who had held the post since January 1998.

Thursday, February 28

UT’s Quintanilla regains eligibility

University of Texas sophomore infielder Omar Quintanilla will have his eligibility reinstated on Sunday, March 10 after making restitution on benefits received and sitting out a total of 21 games, the NCAA announced.

Quintanilla played in four games in a fall league in Caseta, Mexico, outside of his native El Paso, and had received five round-trip airline tickets to attend the games and a team postseason banquet. The NCAA ruled Quintanilla must sit out the four games equivalent to what he played in Mexico as well as 30 percent of the current season (17 games) for the benefits received. He will have to pay $1,394.25, the cost of the airline tickets, to a charity of his choice before he can play.

“I made a mistake, and I’m sorry that my team has had to deal with this issue,” said Quintanilla, who hit .367-2-37 in 196 at-bats last season. “I plan on taking care of what I need to do in order to return to my team as soon as possible.”

Wednesday, February 27

Expos, Marlins trade FSL affiliates

The Expos and Marlins made the first trade of the spring, agreeing to swap affiliates in the Class A Florida State League. Expos minor leaguers will now play for the Brevard County Manatees while the Marlins players will become Jupiter Hammerheads. No players will switch organizations.

Tuesday, February 26

Texas RB Benson to play baseball this summer

University of Texas running back Cedric Benson will play baseball in the Dodgers organization this summer, the Associated Press reports. Benson, Los Angeles’ 12th-round pick last June, will attend Dodgers training camp during his spring break in March and then return to the team when school lets out in mid-May. He will head back to Austin when football practice resumes in August.

“I’m totally excited,” said Benson, who rushed for 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns on 223 carries as a freshman. “Baseball is my first love. That’s the first sport I played.”

Friday, February 22
Mariners’ Heaverlo likely to miss season

Seattle Mariners No. 6 prospect Jeff Heaverlo has opted for arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and is expected to miss the season. The 24-year-old righthander was 11-6, 3.12 with four shutouts in 27 starts last season at Double-A San Antonio.

Thursday, February 21

Watson takes over for Robinson

Major League Baseball has appointed Bob Watson as vice president of on-field operations, the position vacated by Frank Robinson when Robinson was named the field manager for the Expos.

Watson will handle player discipline, time of game, uniform policy, stadium configuration and all other on-field issues for MLB.

Pohlad to sell Twins

Twins owner Carl Pohlad has announced his intent to sell the team. Comissioner Bud Selig has given the plan his blessing. The announcement comes after Major League Baseball’s plan to fold the Twins was struck down by a Minnesota judge ruling that the team must fulfill its Metrodome lease this season.

“I believe that our fans in the Upper Midwest want the Twins to continue to play here,” Pohlad told the Associated Press. He added that “may best be achieved” by a sale, which would require the buyer keep the team in Minnesota.

Wednesday, February 20

Red Sox sign Morales

The Boston Red Sox agreed to a minor league contract with Andy Morales, a Cuban defector who played for in Yankees organization last year. Morales is the subject of a Players’ Association grievance over a $4.5 million, four-year contract he signed with the Yankees, who later said the third baseman was three years older than he claimed.

Morales, who will work out in Boston’s minor league camp, spent two weeks in spring training last year with the Yankees. He was sent to their Triple-A team in Columbus then went to Double-A Norwich, where he hit .231 with one homer and 14 RBIs in 48 games. He was released by the Yankees on July 31 and signed Aug. 6 with the Sonoma County Crushers of the independent Western Baseball League.

More birthdays for Rockies Encarnacion, Uribe

Rockies outfielder Mario Encarnacion and shortstop Juan Uribe have celebrated a few extra birthdays, according to the Denver Post. They’re the latest players who’ve been revealed to be

older than they claimed. Encarnacion goes from 24 to 26, while Uribe adds on another year and is officially 22-years-old.


Tuesday, February 19

Neugebauer has sore shoulder

Brewers top prospect Nick Neugebauer experienced soreness in his shoulder a day after throwing for the first time this spring, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

Neugebauer, who had arthroscopic shoulder surgery to repair a slight tear in his labrum after making his second major league start last September, received a cortisone shot on Saturday and will be restricted from throwing for five days before being re-evaluated. Neugebauer said he felt the same discomfort he experienced last year.

Canseco signs with Expos

Jose Canseco has signed a minor league contract with the Expos and was invited to spring training.

Canseco, 37, played for the Chicago White Sox last year, signing as a free agent in June. In 76 games, he hit .258-16-49.

Monday, February 18
Marlins sign Raines

Tim Raines signed a minor league contract with the Marlins and was invited to spring training.

If the 42-year-old Raines makes it to Florida this year it will be his 23rd season in the majors.

Raines came back from a shoulder injury last season and hit .303-1-9 in 89 at-bats combined for the Expos and Orioles. Last season in Baltimore he and son Tim Jr. became the second father-son combination to start for the same major-league team.

Friday, February 8

Furcal among 4 Braves with age discrepancies

Shortstop Rafael Furcal is among four Braves who had their

birthdates questioned for visas, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Furcal is 23, not 21.


Catchers Steve Torrealba (listed as 23) and non-roster invitee Luis Taveras (listed as 24) could not prove their ages either. Reliever Jose Cabrera was able to verify his birthdate (March 24, 1972).

“I think they’re embarrassed,” Braves assistant general manager Frank Wren said of Dominican players who get caught in birthdate scams. “It’s like any kid. They want to get that opportunity, and they want to sign that contract.”

Friday, February 8

Dodgers, Ishii reach deal

The Dodgers and Kazuhisa Ishii agreed on a four-year, $12.2 million contract Thursday night. The Japanese lefty will be introduced at a news conference today.

The Los Angeles Times reports the deal includes a $1.5 million signing bonus and two option years that could make the deal worth $18 million.

Thursday, February 7

Dodgers, Ishii near deal

The Dodgers and Kazuhisa Ishii are close to agreeing on a contract that would pay the Japanese lefthander more than $12 million for four years.

The final parameters of the deal now are being worked out, with Ishii’s request for a no-trade clause as one of the major sticking points. Ishii, 28, must also pass an extensive physical in order to complete the deal by Friday’s midnight ET deadline. If Ishii signs, the Dodgers will pay the Yakult Swallows $11.26 million.

Ishii went 12-6, 3.37 with 151 strikeouts and 63 walks in 171 innings last season for the Swallows.

Wednesday, February 6

Ripken Group set to buy team

It appears the long-rumored sale of the Utica Blue Sox to the Ripken Group, headed by recently retired Orioles legend Cal Ripken, is finally going through. The move would place the franchise in Aberdeen, Md., in time for the 2002 season.

Blue Sox owner Bob Fowler was to meet with city and county officials from the Utica area this afternoon, according to The Utica Observer-Dispatch. A press conference was scheduled for 2 p.m. to announce the fate of the franchise. New York-Penn League president Ben Hayes was on his way to Utica from his Florida office for the press conference.

The Ripken Group’s purchase of the Blue Sox has been an agreement in principle since at least the Winter Meetings in Boston in December. However, National Association rules preventing overlapping of territories kept the deal from going through. The Carolina League’s Wilmington Blue Rocks claimed territorial rights over the Aberdeen market, effectively blocking the move until a settlement can be reached.

Tuesday, February 5

MLB postpones contraction until 2003

Baseball comissioner Bud Selig has decided to hold off attempts at contraction until 2003. Baseball wanted to eliminate the Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos, but the deal was stopped when the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled the Twins had to honor the final year of their lease with the Metrodome.

“While the clubs would have preferred to contract for 2002 and begin addressing the economic issues immediately,” Selig said, “events outside of our direct control, including yesterday’s court decision in Minnesota, have required us to move the date of contraction to 2003.”

Add 3 years to Angels’ Ortiz

Angels righthander Ramon Ortiz is latest player to have his correct age revealed. While the team believed Ortiz was 25, it turns out he is actually 28, and will turn 29 on March 23.

The discrepancy was discovered when Ortiz applied for his new visa in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

“I have to make the assumption Ramon fibbed a little bit,” Angels general manager Bill Stoneman told the Orange County Register. “Our documents all show his birth date to be in 1976. We heard when he went to the U.S. consulate, there was a discrepancy between the birth date on his passport and the one on his birth certificate.”

Dodgers sign Figueroa following showcases

Jhonathan Figueroa's year-long tour of showcases ended when he signed with the Dodgers for a $500,000 bonus in mid-January. The Venezuela native first emerged on the scene in December 2000 at the Perfect Game World Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla. His 6-foot-5, 210-pound big league frame was enough to merit a second look from scouts, though the lefthander was far from a finished product at that time. He received mild interest at the time, but the minimal offers only made him want to work harder and improve his status.

Perfect Game officials invited him to their 2001 pre-draft showcase in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His velocity increased from 85-87 to 87-88 mph and his stock began to rise. He was named the No. 2 prospect at the PG South showcase at Baylor last August, and the No. 1 prospect at the PG Midwest showcase at Cedar Rapids in September.

Figueroa also spent last fall tuning up in the PG Fall Scout League, where he completely overpowered high school competition, going 6-1 with 65 strikeouts in 33 innings. His reign of dominance continued at a California showcase in January when he displayed a lively fastball that touched 93 mph, an improved changeup and a plus curveball.


Tuesday, January 29

Magallanes wins Venezuelan title

Magallanes defeated Aragua 4 games to 1 to win the Venezuelan League championship. It was the 10th title for Magallanes. Magallanes was led by the strong pitching of Ruben Quevedo, who started two games going 1-0, 1.35, and Johan Santana, who went 1-0, 1.29. They also got strong relief from set up man Darwin Cubillan–who saw action in four of the five games and had a 1.93 ERA, Doug Sessions (5 2/3 innings, 1.59 ERA) and closer Oscar Henriquez who got a save in the final game.

Derek Nicholson led the team with five RBIs in the finals while Robert Perez, Robert Machado and Endy Chavez all provided outstanding offensive performances. Magallanes has yet to decide on all of its reinforcements for the Caribbean Series. They have selected Pastora’s Ramon Hernandez, the regular season batting leader, to be the DH, and are likely to add another starting pitcher to go along with Quevedo, Santana, Andrew Lorraine and Jeremy Gonzalez.

Tuesday, January 22

Juan Cruz is 23, not 21

It has been reported that righthander Juan Cruz, the Cubs No. 2 prospect, is 23-years-old and not 21. The commissioner’s office informed the Cubs of the discrepancy after Cruz presented a birth certificate in order to obtain a visa.

The team isn’t that upset about the new information. “He’s 23, one year older than a kid coming out of college,” Jim Hendry, the Cubs vice president of player personnel, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’re not upset about anything. We expect him to compete for a job in the rotation. That’s all there is to it.”

Wednesday, January 16

College season kicks off

The 2002 college baseball season got started Tuesday in Hawaii, as Division II Sonoma State (Calif.) swept a doubleheader from host Hawaii-Hilo by scores of 5-3 and 4-3.

Sonoma State pitchers Aaron Parker and Brett Wedding combined on a three-hitter in the nightcap for the Cossacks, who went 50-17 a year ago. Parker struck out eight in five innings for the Cossacks, who also started 5-foot-5 Brian Stream at second base and Rob Garibaldi in the outfield. Stream was San Jose State’s second baseman during the 2000 College World Series, while Garibaldi started parts of the last two seasons for Southern California.

The Vulcans, Division II in all sports but baseball, were dropped from the Western Athletic Conference this season in favor of Louisiana Tech, which entered as a full member. They’ll play this season as an independent.