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FanFest mix of old, new

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays' weeklong winter caravan will culminate with the annual FanFest next weekend at Tropicana Field.

Highlights of the FanFest, open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Feb. 16 and noon-4 Feb. 17, include autographs, clinics, clubhouse tours and question-and-answer sessions with general manager Chuck LaMar. Admission and parking are free.

New this year is a sports card/memorabilia show and the Wilson Experience, an exhibit that lets fans try out baseball and softball equipment.

Returning is the Club MLB Roadshow, a multimedia interactive exhibit that includes batting and pitching cages, a broadcast booth, and baseball history displays.

There also will be a silent auction and numerous activities for children and adults.

Individual game tickets also go on sale Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Trop, WestShore Plaza team store and through Ticketmaster.

FIVE DEALS: The Rays agreed to terms Friday on one-year contracts with outfielder Jason Conti and pitchers Brandon Backe, Delvin James, Matt White and Victor Zambrano.

Among those is Esteban Yan, whose contract may be determined in an arbitration hearing Thursday. Yan, who made $650,000 last season, is seeking $2.4-million. The Rays offered $1.5-million, and negotiations are not going well.

"I'm sure we'll have some discussions heading into a possible hearing Feb. 14, but there are significant differences," LaMar said.

Agent Alan Nero said: "I don't see a lot of hope to get this settled."

If Yan's case goes to a hearing, it will be a first for the Rays.

NO SNOW-BALL: Outfielder Jason Tyner was one of 13 U.S. players banned from winter-league play for three years for allegedly breaking a contract to play in the Dominican Republic in 2000-2001.

ANOTHER ARM? The Rays worked out 33-year-old right-hander Ramon Martinez, who had retired in May, but have not offered him a contract.

SOSA DENIES ROBBERY: Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa lost about $1,000 at a hotel while visiting Caracas, Venezuela, for the Caribbean World Series, his agent said. Adam Katz denied a report by El Universal that Sosa and his brother, Jose Antonio, were robbed of $20,000 at the Caracas Hilton. Katz said he did know how Sosa lost the money. Venezuela's Judicial Technical Police said Sosa's brother reported to federal investigators that $20,000 was lost.

D'BACKS: Catcher Damian Miller agreed to a $2.65-million, one-year contract.

INDIANS: The team will wear white sleeveless jerseys with the Chief Wahoo logo over the left chest and navy caps with a red script letter I at home games on weekends and holidays. Silver trim was added to regular home and away jerseys.

DODGERS: Kazuhisa Ishii agreed to a $12.3-million, four-year contract.

MARINERS: Left-hander Norm Charlton, who had rotator cuff surgery last month, was released.

RANGERS: Right-hander Mark Petkovsek was designated for assignment, making room for free agent right-hander Ismael Valdes.

ROCKIES: The team is close to signing free-agent pitcher Pete Harnisch. The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News reported that Harnisch, 35, would work under a minor league contract until he reports to spring training and passes a physical.

CARIBBEAN SERIES: Mexico won the six-game, round-robin series in Caracas, Venezuela, beating Puerto Rico 3-0.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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