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McGriff denies change of heart

Slugger shoots down rumor he's reconsidering deal to Cubs but won't say he'll remain a Ray.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 25, 2001


ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Reports out of Chicago on Tuesday that Fred McGriff was reconsidering his rejection of a trade that would send him to the Cubs sounded like news.

Until McGriff was asked about them.

"No truth," McGriff said Tuesday night. "That's a new one on me. Every day it's something new."

McGriff doesn't like the attention, but with Tuesday's non-waiver trading deadline approaching and the Rays actively trying to trim payroll, it's going to be like that for several days. Other reports have mentioned the Yankees and Braves.

There also is considerable interest in pitcher Albie Lopez, who is scheduled to start Thursday. Arizona is said to be extremely interested, and also could have interest in catcher Mike DiFelice, perhaps in a package deal. Oakland and Boston are also interested in Lopez.

The latest McGriff talk started with a Chicago Sun-Times story that read, "McGriff has told some Devil Rays teammates he is thinking about changing his mind and approving a trade to the Cubs."

On July 16, McGriff ended a deal that would have sent him to the Cubs for two minor-leaguers by declining to waive his no-trade clause, citing family reasons.

Tuesday, McGriff said nothing had changed: "I'm happy. I'm a happy man."

McGriff said attention to his status has "been a joke. If it would have been handled differently, nobody would be saying nothing."

However, he also declined a chance to stifle further speculation. Asked if he expected to finish the season with the Rays, McGriff said, "I expect to be playing baseball for two more months." With the Rays? "This team, some team. I expect to be playing."

General manager Chuck LaMar said he is continuing to explore various trade possibilities, but was not aware of a change in McGriff's position.

"I have not heard from (agent) Jim Krivacs or Fred McGriff concerning any change in thoughts on the Cubs situation, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays have not reached agreement with any club concerning Fred's services," LaMar said.

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