Sunday, March 16, 2003

A's say they won't re-sign Tejada

By The Associated Press

The Oakland Athletics have just about given up any hope of keeping Miguel Tejada beyond this season.

Oakland owner Steve Schott told the AL MVP on Saturday that the team won't offer him a multiyear contract. Tejada, who can become a free agent after this season, has said he wants a long-term deal.

"I really want to stay here, but I know it will be hard for them to keep me here," Tejada said. "That's business. I'm going to keep playing hard. They might change their mind. ... If they want, we can work something out."

Tejada hit .308 with 34 home runs and 131 RBIs last season to help the A's win 103 games and the AL West. He would be the second MVP to leave Oakland in three years. Jason Giambi, the 2000 MVP, signed a $120 million, seven-year contract with the New York Yankees after the 2001 season.

With Tejada entering the final year of his contract, his agents asked the A's to make an offer first. But Schott said there would be no negotiations because the team can't afford a long-term deal and he does not want to "insult" the star shortstop with a low offer.

"I just think the world of him," Schott said. "The problem is there's absolutely no way we can sign Miguel to a long-term contract. The system is broken down when only two or three teams can pick up a player of Miguel's caliber and sign him to an eight-to-10-year contract and pay him the money he deserves. This small-market team with the system we have just can't afford him."

Tejada has not said how much money he will ask for. He made $3.65 million last season and will get $5 million this year.

"The free agent guys like Miggy are going to demand a big price," teammate Barry Zito said. "Seeing another big player who could lead us to the World Series leaving is frustrating as a player. I'm not going to lie. There's two sides of it. Guys want to be paid their value."

After announcing the decision, Schott took Tejada aside to break the news to him just before the A's beat the Seattle Mariners 3-1 Saturday.

"He told me the truth and I know he didn't lie to me," Tejada said.

So it seems Tejada would have to accept less money to stay with the franchise he joined as an undrafted free agent at age 17 - and possibly even a one-year contract, though that seems doubtful. He said he might consider it.

"Depends. Maybe," Tejada said.

Schott said the team is not considering trading Tejada during the season because he believes the A's can reach the World Series.

"Now I'm going to prepare to play a real good year," Tejada said. "Not because I'm going to go somewhere else or for a big paycheck, but because I think we can go to the World Series."

In other games:

Mets 16, Dodgers 11, 11 innings

At Mexico City, the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers left their feud back home, opening a two-game spring training visit with a brawl-free slugfest.

"This series is more important to the overall scope of baseball in general than to two teams going at each other trying to settle a score," Mets pitcher David Cone said.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig feared the teams could start a "revolution" in Mexico following their Port St. Lucie brawl Wednesday, which began when Mike Piazza was hit by a pitch from Guillermo Mota.

Piazza charged the mound and later went looking in the Dodgers' clubhouse for the pitcher, who also hit him in spring training last year.

After baseball officials warned both teams, there was no attempt at retaliation at Estadio Foro Sol in the start of the "Serie de Primavera," or "Spring Series." Mota didn't even make the trip.

Cardinals 10, Expos 6

At Jupiter, Fla., Orlando Palmeiro went 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs for St. Louis. Miguel Cairo and Fernando Vina each had two hits and two RBIs, and Cardinals starter Brett Tomko allowed three runs in four innings.

Pirates 5, Phillies 4

At Bradenton, Fla., Craig Wilson, trying to find a place in Pittsburgh's lineup now that he's no longer platooning, hit a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning. Wilson's solo shot off Rheal Cormier gave him four homers and 10 RBIs this spring.

Indians 8, Astros 4, 10 innings

At Kissimmee, Fla., Bill Selby hit a three-run double in a five-run 10th inning to lift Cleveland. Trailing 3-2 in the ninth, the Indians tied the game on an RBI single by Coco Crisp. Alex Escobar started the 10th-inning rally with a solo homer.

Craig Biggio had a two-run single for the Astros.

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 3

At Dunedin, Fla., Bernie Williams hit a three-run homer and Sterling Hitchcock pitched four solid innings for New York. Hitchcock allowed two runs - one earned - and four hits in four innings, striking out five.

Shannon Stewart doubled twice, scored twice and drove in a run for Toronto, raising his average to .448 this spring.

Devil Rays 3, Red Sox 2

At St. Petersburg, Fla., Pedro Martinez gave up three unearned runs and four hits in three innings, striking out four. Shea Hillenbrand hit a two-run homer and is batting .500 this spring.

Tigers 6, Braves 4

At Lakeland, Fla., Steve Avery, trying to revive his career after two years out of baseball, threw two scoreless innings against his former team and got the win. Brandon Inge, Dmitri Young and Damion Easley homered for Detroit.

Gary Sheffield homered, singled and scored twice for the Braves.

Marlins 8, Orioles 7

At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Al Martin and Todd Hollandsworth homered for Florida. Marlins starter A.J. Burnett was removed as a precaution after feeling tightness in his right forearm.

Marty Cordova homered twice for Baltimore and Larry Bigbie added a three-run shot. Jeff Conine had three hits.

Angels 4, Cubs 3

At Tempe, Ariz., Chris Bootcheck, competing for the fifth spot in Anaheim's rotation, worked five scoreless innings. Jeff DaVanon hit his third homer of the spring.

White Sox 8, Brewers (ss) 1

At Tucson, Ariz., Mark Buehrle threw four shutout innings and Carlos Lee hit a grand slam for Chicago.

Royals 12, Rangers (ss) 4

At Surprise, Ariz., Dee Brown doubled twice and drove in two runs for Kansas City to give him a team-leading 14 RBIs this spring. Michael Tucker had three of the Royals' 17 hits and drove in three runs.

Rockies 11, Diamondbacks 2

At Tucson, Ariz., Todd Helton had three hits and three RBIs for Colorado, snapping Arizona's eight-game winning streak. Rockies right-hander Jason Jennings turned in his best start of the spring. The NL Rookie of the Year pitched five scoreless innings, allowing four hits.

Giants (ss) 9, Padres 3

At Peoria, Ariz., Livan Hernandez pitched five innings in his longest outing of the spring for San Francisco. The right-hander allowed three runs, seven hits and two walks. Mark Kotsay homered for the second straight game for San Diego.

Giants (ss) 5, Mariners (ss) 4

At Scottsdale, Ariz., Seattle closer Kazuhiro Sasaki struck out two in a perfect inning and Ryan Franklin pitched six sharp innings for the Mariners.

Giants starter Jason Schmidt allowed one run in five innings in his best spring start. Minor leaguer Branden Florence hit a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth to win it.

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