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Baseball briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 28, 2001

State economists don't help Marlins' plans for stadium

TALLAHASSEE -- Lobbyists and lawmakers scrambled Friday to subsidize a new stadium for the Marlins with the team's owner and Major League Baseball threatening that the team won't stay in south Florida without it.

With Senate President John McKay saying a bill to provide a tax rebate for a new downtown Miami stadium is dead if it costs the state any money, lobbyists tried to pressure state economists to say it wouldn't.

But economists for the Legislature, the Department of Revenue and Gov. Jeb Bush refused to back down from their stand the state would lose money. The House bill (HB 1189) could be voted on Monday.

McKay and Bush are reluctant to pay for a new stadium for a multimillionaire owner, John Henry, in a year when lawmakers are struggling to find money for schools and health care for the poor.

"I'm not sure this is the most pressing issue that our state faces," Bush said.

At issue is whether fans going to a new stadium -- where their ticket, food and souvenir purchases would be mostly exempt from state taxes -- would displace other spending that would be taxable.

The bill would give the Marlins a partial sales tax exemption on revenues generated by the new stadium. Any tax money beyond $1.5-million, which is what the team currently pays the state, would be rebated.

Robert Cruz, a consultant for the Marlins, suggested the new stadium could cause fans to change their spending habits. "It could come from saving less and spending more," Cruz said.

American consumers' rate of savings is currently around zero percent.

GARVEY VS. UNION: The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce Monday if it will hear an appeal from the players' union to delay action in Steve Garvey's $3.1-million settlement. The Major League Baseball Players Association is slated to pay the former player on Monday as part of a $280-million settlement team owners agreed to pay in 1990 after arbitrators ruled owners conspired to hold down free-agent salaries.

INDIANS: Charles Nagy was back at Jacobs Field for the first time this season in his improbable comeback from elbow surgery. The right-hander threw an 11-minute bullpen session for pitching coach Dick Pole, who liked what he saw. Nagy, who has won 123 games in 11 seasons with the Indians, is scheduled to report to Triple-A Buffalo and will start Monday at Rochester.

REDS: Cincinnati bought the contract of pitcher Matt Skrmetta from Triple-A Louisville. The right-hander took the roster spot of backup first baseman D.T. Cromer, who was optioned to Louisville on Thursday. Skrmetta was 1-1 with a 1.13 ERA in seven games for the Louisville RiverBats.

REDS-YANKEES: ESPN reported a possible trade of two-time Gold Glove second baseman Pokey Reese to the Yankees is unlikely to happen. The Cincinnati Post reported Thursday that the Reds were trying to send Reese to the Yankees for second baseman Alfonso Soriano, but ESPN's Peter Gammons reported the Yankees rejected the deal 10 days ago.

RANGERS-DIAMONBACKS: Right-hander Jonathan Johnson was traded to the Diamondbacks for an undisclosed amount of cash. Johnson, 26, had a 9.58 ERA in five relief appearances for the Rangers this season. He will be assigned to Arizona's Tucson club of the Pacific Coast League.

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