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A's prepared to let Tejada walk

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 16, 2003

PHOENIX -- The Athletics will not offer Miguel Tejada a multiyear contract to remain with the team after this season, owner Steve Schott said Saturday, claiming the A's can't afford to keep the AL MVP.

Schott said Oakland would not negotiate with the star shortstop, which Tejada was hoping to do during spring training. He wants a long-term contract and the A's can't offer that, Schott said.

Tejada's agents have asked the team to make an offer first. He can become a free agent after this season.

"I just think the world of him," Schott said. "The problem is there's absolutely no way we can sign Miguel to a long-term contract. The system is broken down when only two or three teams can pick up a player of Miguel's caliber and sign him to an eight- to 10-year contract and pay him the money he deserves. This small-market team with the system we have just can't afford him."

After announcing the decision, Schott took Tejada aside to break the news. Tejada said he understood Schott's position and the conversation went well.

NO VIOLENCE: The Mets and Dodgers were perfect guests.

Leaving their feud back home, they opened a two-game visit to Mexico City in far more subdued fashion than they left Wednesday's flareup in Florida, playing a brawl-free slugfest that New York won 16-11 in 11 innings.

"This series is more important to the overall scope of baseball in general than to two teams going at each other trying to settle a score," said Mets pitcher David Cone, who gave up six runs in 21/3 innings in his worst spring start.

A-ROD NOT CONCERNED: Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez is "very optimistic" that he will recover quickly from a small herniated disc in his neck.

Rodriguez, facing his worst injury since joining the Rangers in December 2000, plans to be in the lineup opening day at Anaheim on March 30.

EPHEDRA CONTROVERSY: Officials have made no decision on whether to ask for a ban on ephedra in the major leagues, commissioner Bud Selig said. He said officials have received the toxicology report linking ephedra to the death of Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler this spring.

CARDINALS: Rightfielder J.D. Drew, recuperating from offseason knee surgery, took batting practice for the first time. ... Centerfielder Jim Edmonds, out since March 7 with a calf injury, reported improvement and hopes to get into some games before the season opener.

MARINERS: Reliever Norm Charlton was reassigned to minor-league camp. The left-hander is scheduled to have surgery Monday to repair a torn anterior capsule on the front of his pitching shoulder.

MARLINS: Right-hander A.J. Burnett was removed in the third as a precaution after walking the Orioles' Gary Matthews with two outs. Burnett felt tightness in his right forearm and was to be re-evaluated.

TIGERS: Left-hander Steve Avery, trying to revive his career after two years out of baseball, pitched two scoreless innings against the Braves, his former team. "I've been pitching since mid December and I haven't gotten tired yet," Avery said. "You don't know what a great feeling that is, compared to where I was when I quit."

TWINS: Left-hander Kenny Rogers faced hitters for the first time since signing a one-year, $2-million contract Thursday, throwing 25 pitches in two innings against Orioles minor-leaguers.

WHITE SOX: Right-hander Danny Wright played catch for 15 minutes and felt no pain in his injured elbow. Wright, the projected No. 4 starter, threw for the first time in 10 days and hopes to be ready by opening day.

OBITUARY: Al Gionfriddo, the Brooklyn Dodgers outfielder who robbed Joe DiMaggio of a tying home run in the 1947 World Series, died Friday in Solvang, Calif. He was 81. Mr. Gionfriddo was playing golf at Solvang's Alisal course when he collapsed on the fifth green, according to the Santa Barbara News-Press.

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