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Baseball briefs

By JOHN ROMANO

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 3, 2000


Devil Rays sign Pulsipher

ST. PETERSBURG -- Bill Pulsipher, once a highly regarded pitching prospect with the Mets before being sidelined with an elbow injury, signed a minor-league contract with the Devil Rays, the team announced Thursday.

Pulsipher, 27, was one of New York's top prospects after being selected in the second round of the 1991 draft. He went 35-22 with a 2.87 ERA in parts of four minor-league seasons before joining the Mets rotation in 1995.

Two months later, he was sidelined with elbow problems and has been fighting injuries since. In between minor-league stints, the left-hander was 8-12 with a 5.74 ERA for the Mets and Brewers the past three years.

The Rays also signed outfielder Norm Hutchins and right-handed pitcher Juan Rosario to minor-league deals. Hutchins, 24, has played seven minor-league seasons in the Angels and Rockies organizations. He has shown good speed but has not hit much above Double A. Rosario, 25, re-signed with the Rays after going 1-3 with a 3.83 ERA and six saves at Double-A Orlando.

All three players will receive spring training invitations.

Cardinals' Clark retires at 36

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals first baseman Will Clark retired after 15 seasons in the major leagues.

Clark, 36, was a career .303 hitter with 284 home runs for San Francisco, Texas, Baltimore and St. Louis. He played in six All-Star games.

His decision comes as a surprise after he helped lead the Cardinals to a National League Central title when first baseman Mark McGwire missed 73 games because of a knee injury.

"Sooner or later you have to make a decision to move on," Clark said. "It's never easy, but I've decided to move on with the second part of my life. The first part was based on being a baseball player. The second part will be based on being a husband and a father."

The Cardinals said they want Clark to remain with the organization. Clark's agent, Jeff Moorad, said it's possible Clark could help out in spring training and do some broadcasting work.

Clark hit .345 with 12 home runs and 42 RBI after coming to St. Louis from Baltimore in a trade for minor-league third baseman Jose Leon on July 31.

Clark, a first-round draft pick by San Francisco out of Mississippi State in 1985, has had three elbow surgeries in recent years. Thirty-six bone chips were removed from his left elbow.

Jays name Martinez manager

TORONTO -- Buck Martinez was hired to manage the Blue Jays after spending the past 14 seasons analyzing the team's performance on television.

Martinez, who turns 52 on Tuesday, played for the Blue Jays from 1981-86 and has been the team's color commentator since 1987. He also has worked for ESPN since 1992.

As a former catcher, Martinez may be able to help the development of young pitchers such as Chris Carpenter, Kelvim Escobar and Roy Halladay.

Martinez takes over a team that went 83-79 and was third in the AL East. But attendance was 1,819,886, the lowest since 1982.

Martinez was a career .225 hitter with 58 homers in 1,049 major-league games.

HELTON PLAYER OF YEAR: Colorado's Todd Helton, who led the major leagues in batting after hitting .400 as late as Aug. 21, was voted the Associated Press Major League Player of the Year.

The 27-year-old first baseman received 21 of 106 votes in nationwide balloting by writers and broadcasters.

Oakland first baseman Jason Giambi was second with 15 votes. San Francisco outfielder Barry Bonds, Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez and Seattle shortstop Alex Rodriguez tied for third with 12 votes.

CUBS: The Commission on Chicago Landmarks has granted preliminary landmark status to Wrigley Field, meaning the panel will review any proposals to remodel or demolish it. Crane H. Kenney, general counsel for Tribune Co., said the company wants the freedom to make changes such as realigning or adding seating. Wrigley Field seats 39,000. He asked the commission to make sure the landmark designation only covers historically significant elements. Built in 1914, Wrigley Field had the first permanent concession stand.

Meanwhile, three days after declaring a Nov. 11 deadline for agreeing to a contract extension with Sammy Sosa, club president and general manager Andy MacPhail backpedaled.

"I have not steadfastly issued a deadline," he said. "I've tried to avoid that."

But MacPhail reiterated he wants the matter resolved by Nov. 11, the first day of the free-agent signing period. Sosa's contract expires after the 2001 season.

Sosa returned to his home in the Dominican Republic about two weeks ago. He had remained in Chicago in part because he hoped an extension could be completed by the middle of October.

GIANTS: Reliever John Johnstone had back surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.

MARINERS: Outfielder Al Martin pleaded guilty to assault stemming from a domestic violence incident in March. ... Seattle did not pick up the $3.01-million option on Rickey Henderson's contract, giving the career steals leader a $260,000 buyout. It gave reliever Jose Mesa a $250,000 buyout. Edgar Martinez's $5.5-million option was exercised, as was reserve outfielder Stan Javier's $1.5-million option.

METS: New York declined to exercise its option on shortstop Kurt Abbott, the Dixie Hollins High and St. Petersburg Junior College product. Abbott, 31, batted .217 with six home runs and 12 RBI for the Mets. He started 25 games at shortstop and two at third base. The team activated Gold Glove shortstop Rey Ordonez from the 60-day disabled list. REDS: Yankees third-base coach Willie Randolph dropped out of consideration for manager, leaving Reds third-base coach Ron Oester as the top candidate.

TIGERS: Detroit declined to exercise its option on right-hander Hideo Nomo.

-- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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