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Baseball briefs

By JOHN ROMANO

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 23, 2000


Rays sign minor-league pitchers, infielders

ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-hander Sean Bergman, in Houston's pitching rotation during the Astros' division-winning 1998 season, has signed a minor-league deal with Tampa Bay.

The Devil Rays also signed right-hander Dwayne Jacobs and infielders Ray Holbert and Mike Metcalfe to minor-league contracts. All will be invited to spring training.

Bergman, 30, has a career record of 39-47 with a 5.28 ERA in parts of eight big-league seasons with Detroit, San Diego, Houston, Atlanta and Minnesota. His best season was '98 with the Astros; he was 12-9. Bergman missed a month of the '99 season with a sore arm. He was released three times in 10 months from 1999-2000.

Jacobs, 24, is a Jacksonville native who has spent seven seasons in the low minors. He has averaged close to a strikeout an inning but has almost as many walks. At 6 feet 10, he is the tallest player signed by Tampa Bay.

Holbert, 30, has played 115 games in the majors over parts of five seasons with four clubs. He is the brother of former Rays farmhand Aaron Holbert.

Metcalfe, 28, has spent seven seasons in the Dodgers minor-league system with 13 big league at-bats. He has 288 steals in 600 minor-league games.

REDS: Right-hander Steve Parris, who started Cincinnati's wild-card tiebreaker game in 1999, was traded to Toronto for two minor-league pitchers. The Reds also released outfielder Brian Hunter. YANKEES: New York is poised to bid for Orioles pitcher Mike Mussina with a long-term package believed to be worth at least $70-million. The Yankees were expected to make an initial offer to Mussina of at least $14-million a year for five years, the Boston Globe reported.

BREWERS: People who bought about 4,000 green wooden seats from County Stadium as souvenirs were offered a full $150 refund if they don't want to deal with a potential lead paint risk.

DIAMONDBACKS: Owner Jerry Colangelo remained optimistic that he will sign free-agent first baseman Mark Grace. "I'm going to guess I have Grace before we have a president," Colangelo said.

GIANTS: Reliever Alan Embree had what the team described as a "minor 30-minute cleanup procedure" on his left elbow and is expected to recover by spring. The left-hander made 63 appearances last season, going 3-5 with two saves and a 4.95 ERA.

INDIANS: Second baseman Roberto Alomar says he considers his older brother a member of the team, even though catcher Sandy Alomar became a free agent after rejecting Cleveland's offer to re-sign him. "He's given everything to this organization," Roberto Alomar said. "But I still have to play. I've spent 11 years in the big leagues without Sandy. I'm just going to keep going and do the things I've always done."

MARLINS: Chris Chambliss, the Yankees' hitting coach for the past five seasons, was hired to manage the Triple-A Calgary Cannons. Chambliss helped the Yankees win four World Series championships in five seasons, then was fired. He was Yankees manager Joe Torre's hitting coach with the Cardinals from 1993-95.

PADRES: Right-hander Jason Middlebrook was claimed off waivers from the Mets. San Middlebrook is 26-38 with a 5.67 ERA in four minor-league seasons.

PIRATES: Pitcher Francisco Cordova agreed to undisclosed terms on a one-year contract a week after Pittsburgh declined to exercise its $3.85-million contract option on the right-hander. Cordova, 28, had arm trouble last season and was 5-8 with a 5.21 ERA in 17 starts.

WHITE SOX: Spurning three other teams, shortstop Jose Valentin agreed to a three-year deal paying roughly $5-million a year. It includes a $5-million team option for 2004 with a $500,000 buyout. He batted a career-high .273 with 25 home runs and 92 RBI last season.

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

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