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Professional baseball roundup

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 21, 2001

Andruw Jones awarded record arbitration deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Braves center fielder Andruw Jones became the biggest winner in salary arbitration Tuesday, receiving a $4.5-million raise to $8.2-million.

The award eclipsed the $7.25-million closer Mariano Rivera got last year when he lost his arbitration case with the Yankees. The Braves had offered Jones $6.4-million.

"It's cool," said Jones, who made $3.7-million last season and now is the fifth-highest paid Brave. "They said some stuff, but it's not a big deal. ... Win or lose, I would still go to spring training and play the same baseball I always do."

In Monday's hearing, Jones was compared with Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter after four seasons. Jones, who has won three consecutive Gold Gloves, set career marks last season in batting average (.303), home runs (36), RBI (103), runs (122), hits (199) and doubles (36).

In his four full seasons Jones, who turns 24 in April, has batted .272 with 116 home runs, 361 RBI, 129 doubles and 95 stolen bases. After his fourth season, Jeter, 26, had hit .318 with 63 home runs, 341 RBI, 122 doubles and 42 stolen bases.

The Braves won their first two arbitration cases, with Kevin Millwood and John Rocker, saving $1.88-million.

General manager John Schuerholz said he thought the Braves presented a strong case in Jones' hearing. "I'm surprised a little bit, but not entirely," Schuerholz said.

Belle limping but can play

He worked during the off-season to rehabilitate the hip, but at this point he is striving primarily to prevent it from getting worse. Belle also put on 15 pounds in his upper body during the winter, some in his chest but a good portion in his belly

After being examined by team physicians Tuesday morning, Belle limped as he participated in his first practice this spring.

Yanks keep eye on Strawberry

TAMPA -- The Yankees hope to offer Darryl Strawberry a job in their organization if the commissioner's office ends his suspension this year.

The New York Post reported that Strawberry would give hitting tips but his main job would be to offer himself as a cautionary tale to young players.

Also, Paul O'Neill might be wavering on plans to retire after this season. "I wish I wouldn't have said it," he said.

And four seasons after his last appearance in the majors, Sid Fernandez was given a minor-league contract.

ANGELS: Jose Canseco, signed last month, was the only no-show for the first session when all players were scheduled to participate in drills.

ATHLETICS: Former Rays reliever Jim Mecir avoided arbitration and agreed to a $6.95-million, three-year contract that includes a club option for 2004.

BLUE JAYS: Toronto asked commissioner Bud Selig to void their trade of David Wells for Mike Sirotka because of Sirotka's shoulder problems, the New York Times reported. The White Sox submitted their case for upholding the trade. Blue Jays general manager Gord Ash declined to discuss the team's position.

DODGERS: Pitcher Kevin Brown returned to training camp, one day after having an irregular heartbeat checked out at a hospital. "It was just a precautionary measure," general manager Kevin Malone said.

EXPOS: Tim Raines is in camp. He hasn't played in a regular-season game since 1999, retiring because of lupus, a disease that attacks the kidneys.

GIANTS: Barry Bonds wants to know if he has a future in San Francisco. General manager Brian Sabean says it is too soon to tell. The three-time MVP asked the team either to begin negotiations on a contract extension or consider a trade.

MARINERS: Second baseman Mark McLemore said he wants a trade because he is starting this spring on the bench.

REDS: Deion Sanders, with a newly approved minor-league contract, began his comeback bid when the team held its first full-squad workout. Sanders signed his new deal Monday after none of the other 29 teams objected.

TWINS: LaTroy Hawkins agreed to a two-year contract, avoiding arbitration. Terms of the deal, which includes a team option for 2003, were not disclosed.

RIGNEY DIES: Bill Rigney, the first manager of the Giants after they moved from New York to San Francisco, died at age 83.

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