Thursday, January 31, 2002

Baseball notebook

Dante a Dodger

Enquirer staff and news services

        Free agent outfielder Dante Bichette signed a minor-league contract.

        Bichette said he'll make a base salary of $575,000 if he's on the Dodgers' opening-day roster, with incentives that would bring the salary close to $1million.

        “It's an exciting situation,” Bichette said. “I think they need some offense with Gary Sheffield gone, and hopefully I can help them.”

        The Dodgers traded Sheffield to Atlanta two weeks ago for Brian Jordan and Odalis Perez. The Dodgers have Shawn Green in right field and plan to look at Jordan in center field, leaving Bichette as a candidate to play left.

        Bichette, 38, is a career .299 hitter with 274 home runs in 14 seasons. He hit .286 with 12 homers and 49 RBI for the Red Sox in 2001.


        Short a veteran starting pitcher, Seattle finalized a one-year contract with right-hander James Baldwin.

        Baldwin, 30, split last season between the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 10-11.

        “James is the type of pitcher we've been looking for to round out our pitching staff,” general manager Pat Gillick said. “He is a veteran who will fit well in our rotation.”

        Coming off shoulder surgery, Baldwin went 7-5 with a 4.61 ERA for the White Sox last season, then was dealt to Los Angeles and went 3-6 with a 4.20 ERA.

        Baldwin is expected to join a starting rotation that will include Freddy Garcia, left-hander Jamie Moyer and Paul Abbott.


        Infielder Deivi Cruz, let go by Detroit last month, agreed to a $500,000, one-year contract.

        Cruz started 102 games at shortstop and seven at third base for Detroit last year, his fifth season in the big leagues. He batted .256 with seven home runs and 52 RBI.

        In 1999, Cruz had a .984 fielding percentage at shortstop, the second-best mark in the AL and third-best in the majors.

        Cruz became a free agent Dec.20 when Detroit failed to offer a 2002 contract.


        Free agent infielder John Valentin was signed to a minor-league contract.

        Valentin, 35 next month, will get a chance to earn a spot on the bench and an opportunity to prove he's healthy.

        Valentin was limited to a total of only 30 games in the past two seasons for Boston because of heel and knee injuries.

        “I feel I'm 100 percent and can play everyday,” said Valentin, who had surgery on his right heel in early September. “Unfortunately, I wasn't able to land an everyday job at this juncture.”


        Right-hander Mike James agreed to a minor-league contract.

        The team is also showing interest in signing left-hander Kent Mercker and right-hander Pete Harnisch.

        James, 34, came to the big leagues with the Angels in 1995 and spent the past two seasons with St. Louis. He was limited to 40 appearances last season because of right shoulder inflammation, which led to an eight-week stint on the disabled list.

        Mercker, 33, sat out the 2001 season after a cerebral hemorrhage. He pitched for Anaheim in 2000.

        Harnisch, 35, went 38-23 with Cincinnati from 1998 to 2000. He was limited to seven appearances in 2001 because of right elbow tendinitis and rotator cuff soreness.


        Tim McCarver, a baseball analyst for Fox Sports and a former All-Star catcher, will join the broadcast team this season.

        McCarver, who won an Emmy last year as the top sports event analyst, will broadcast about 25 games.


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