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Baseball briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 1, 2001

McGwire: 2-year, $30M extension

Mark McGwire and the Cardinals have agreed to a two-year extension worth about $30-million, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The new deal runs through 2003, the season McGwire could be approaching Hank Aaron's home run record of 755.

McGwire, 37, missed most of the second half of last season with a knee injury and had surgery in the off-season, but has been healthy this spring.

St. Louis has scheduled a news conference today at its training camp in Jupiter to announce the deal.

McGwire and the Cardinals were talking about an extension that would pay him $14-million in 2002 and $16-million the next year, the Associated Press reported.

McGwire negotiated the extension himself with the Cardinals and did not go through his agent, Bob Cohen.

He is seventh on the career home run list with 554, just 201 behind Aaron, and would have to average 67 homers in the next three seasons to tie the mark.

McGwire set the season record with 70 homers in 1998, then hit 65 in '99. He hit 32 last season in just 236 at-bats.

With an average salary of $15-million, McGwire will rank about eighth in baseball.

Garciaparra out 1-2 weeks

FORT MYERS -- Unable to swing a bat or throw, Nomar Garciaparra was sidelined on the eve of the first spring training game with a split tendon in his right wrist, raising the question of whether he will be in the lineup on opening day.

Garciaparra said he was "shocked" Monday morning to awake with his wrist swollen so badly he couldn't move it. The injury, which apparently stems from a pitch that hit the All-Star shortstop in 1999, will require him to wear a removable cast for "1-2 weeks until there is improvement" enough for him to begin a rehabilitation program, according to a statement released by team physician Bill Morgan.

"The reason I'm concerned is that it was something that happened a while ago and has come back," he said. "I'd be less concerned if it was just something that happened right off and I knew how I did it and what I had to do to treat it."

Justice sued by son's mom

LOS ANGELES -- Yankees outfielder David Justice is being sued for $5-million in a palimony suit filed by his son's mother, who said she and the infant were ordered out of the Cincinnati home they shared for two years.

Attorney Marvin Mitchelson filed the Superior Court suit on behalf of Nicole J. Foster, 26, the mother of David Justice Jr. The suit claims breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress and domestic violence.

Eric Goldschmidt, Justice's agent, didn't return a telephone message left at his office.

The suit claimed Justice used the ruse of reconciliation last year to gain entry to the home of his estranged girlfriend. Justice showed up with uniformed Cincinnati officers, a locksmith and a friend and threatened Foster with immediate arrest if she didn't leave, according to the suit.

It also claimed Justice struck Foster with a telephone during a confrontation and choked her shortly before the baby was born.

Justice and Foster purchased the home together and planned to marry, Mitchelson said. They became engaged April 4, 1999, and their son was born Dec. 27, 1999. The relationship reportedly broke off in early 2000.

Vizquel gets extension

WINTER HAVEN -- Shortstop Omar Vizquel, a bargain for the Indians the past few seasons at $3-million per year, agreed to a $15-million, two-year contract extension and said he hopes to retire in Cleveland.

"I feel like Alex Rodriguez," a smiling Vizquel said.

The deal includes a mutual option for 2005 with a $1-million buyout and a $1-million personal services contract. The team hopes to keep Vizquel in the organization in some capacity after he retires.

BREWERS: Left-hander Valerio De Los Santos agreed to a one-year contract. No terms were given.

EXPOS: Geoff Blum and Britt Reames were among five players who agreed to one-year deals. The Expos also signed infielder Tomas De La Rosa and pitchers Scott Downs and Scott Strickland.

MARINERS: Former Boston infielder Manny Alexander, who is in camp with Seattle, won't be charged with steroid possession after a court ruled there was insufficient evidence for a criminal complaint. Boston police found the steroids in Alexander's car June 30 while Alexander was on the road with the team in Chicago. Alexander had loaned the car to a former Red Sox batboy, Carlos Cowart.

RANGERS: Right-hander Brian Sikorski agreed to a one-year contract. He was 1-3 with a 5.73 ERA in 10 games with Texas last year.

WHITE SOX: When Frank Thomas ended his nearly weeklong boycott on Tuesday, he did so without any changes to his contract -- oral, written or any other form.

Responding to published reports, Thomas and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf issued a statement denying they'd reached an oral agreement to change the "diminished skills" clause in his contract.

"There is not a gentleman's agreement between us," the statement read. "In fact, no promises have been made and no expressed or implied agreement exists, and Frank intends to honor his contract as written."

Thomas left camp Feb. 21 because he was unhappy with some of the terms of his contract, particularly the "diminished skills" clause.

His contract calls for him to receive $9.927-million in each of the next six seasons, with $3.827-million a year deferred with interest.

But only this year is guaranteed. If he fails to become an All-Star, win a Silver Slugger or finish among the top 10 in MVP voting, the White Sox can revise the deal and pay him only $250,000, plus $10.125-million deferred.

If that happens -- and the White Sox don't have to invoke the clause -- Thomas could terminate the contract and become a free agent.

Thomas said he considered the matter "dead."

"I understand the contract better, but it is a dead issue," he said. "Everything has been said about this."

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