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Mets get mercurial Hidalgo

By wire services
Published June 18, 2004

HOUSTON - Hoping to help their sagging offense, the Mets acquired rightfielder Richard Hidalgo from the Astros on Thursday for right-handers David Weathers and Jeremy Griffiths.

Hidalgo has put up big numbers in the past, but he was in the midst of a disappointing season. He recently lost his starting job to Jason Lane, and soon after he went to general manager Gerry Hunsicker and asked to be traded.

"We're pleased to have him," Mets manager Art Howe said. "I know what he can do. He's a run producer, an outstanding rightfielder. He hasn't played on a regular basis. He'll get that opportunity here."

Weathers adds an experienced middle reliever to Houston's thin bullpen. The Mets also get $4-million from the Astros to offset the difference in salaries.

Hidalgo, 28, is batting .256 with four homers and 30 RBIs, a huge dropoff from last season's .309 average with 28 home runs and 88 RBIs. He was voted Astros MVP in 2003.

MARLINS ADD KOCH: The Marlins acquired reliever Billy Koch from the White Sox for minor-league infielder Wilson Valdez.

Florida acquired the right-hander and cash from the White Sox, who recently had replaced Koch with Shingo Takatsu, Japan's all-time saves leader, as closer.

"I was sort of expecting it a little bit, but I didn't think (Florida)," Koch said. "Through the grapevine, I hear things. I never heard the Marlins, but it'll be good. I like the heat, I like the sun."

Also, Marlins right-hander Josh Beckett left his start in the fourth with a muscle strain on the right side of his back. He is day to day.

EXPOS MOVE: A group trying to buy the Expos and move them to Norfolk, Va., says it already has commitments for more than 5,000 season tickets and 75 luxury boxes.

The Norfolk Baseball Company is three weeks into a sales drive to show that the area can support a major-league team. Businesses and organizations, including Fortune 500 companies Smithfield Foods Inc. and Norfolk Southern Corp., have pledged $1,000 each to reserve luxury suites, said William Somerindyke Jr., co-founder and CEO of the Norfolk Baseball Company.

CARDINALS: Gold Glove catcher Mike Matheny passed a final test and is likely to be activated from the disabled list today. Matheny has been out since June 3 with a strained muscle under his right rib cage.

ORIOLES: Third baseman Melvin Mora left in the first inning with a sprained ligament in his left foot. X-rays were negative.

PHILLIES: First-round draft pick Greg Golson, a high school outfielder from Austin, Texas, agreed to a contract with a $1.475-million bonus and a college scholarship.

YANKEES: Right-hander Mike Mussina threw off a mound and felt no problems from the ailing groin that forced him out of his previous start. Mussina plans a more strenuous bullpen session Saturday.

OBITUARY: Rob Derksen, the manager of Greece's Olympic baseball team and an Orioles scout, died Wednesday in the New York area. He was 44. The cause of death was unknown.

[Last modified June 18, 2004, 01:13:22]


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