Friday, March 21, 2003

Players to decide on new All-Star format next week

Baseball notebook: Winner would earn home field in World Series

The Associated Press

NEW YORK - Baseball players plan to decide next week on whether to approve management's plan to give the league that wins the All-Star Game home-field advantage in the World Series.

The union held a telephone conference call with players earlier this week. Union lawyer Gene Orza said Thursday no decision was made.

"We'll have a decision before opening day," he said.

The season starts March 30, when World Series champion Anaheim plays at home against Texas.

Since the start of the World Series in 1903, home field has alternated between the American and National leagues. Commissioner Bud Selig proposed the change after last year's All-Star Game in Milwaukee ended in a 7-7, 11-inning tie when both leagues ran out of pitchers.

Owners unanimously approved the switch Jan. 17, but the union must agree to it.

EXPOS: Washington offered to pay between 50 and 80 percent of the cost of a new ballpark for the Montreal Expos if baseball moves the team to the nation's capital.

The District of Columbia and Portland, Ore., made their presentations Thursday to baseball's committee on the future of the Expos, who were bought before the 2002 season by the other 29 clubs. Northern Virginia is to address the committee today.

CARDINALS: Jason Isringhausen won't pitch in an exhibition game until next week, and the closer could start the season on the disabled list.

Isringhausen, who had surgery during the offseason to repair a frayed labrum, felt stiffness in his right shoulder Wednesday, a day before he was to appear in his first game.

SHORT HOPS: Pedro Martinez pitched five strong innings in his best outing of the spring as Boston beat the Tigers 5-3.

Martinez allowed one run in the first inning, then settled down and retired the last seven batters he faced and 13 of the last 14. He gave up three hits, struck out five and walked none.

• Norm Charlton, who missed all of last season and had surgery Monday, was released Thursday by the Seattle Mariners, who offered the 40-year-old left-hander a job in their player development department.

"We appreciate everything Norm has done for this franchise in his career," Mariners general manager Pat Gillick said.

• Oakland Athletics right-handed pitcher Aaron Harang was optioned to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, clearing the way for left-hander John Halama to become the team's fifth starter.

• Hideo Nomo will pitch the season opener for the Los Angeles Dodgers against four-time defending NL Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson.

Nomo won 14 of his final 15 decisions last year and didn't lose after July 16. He was picked Thursday by manager Jim Tracy for the March 31 game at Arizona.

GAME REPORT: Terry Mulholland was pounded for 11 runs in the first two innings as the Indians lost to the Astros 13-4.

Mulholland got just five outs, allowing 12 hits and two walks. Jeff Kent hit a three-run homer off the left-hander.

"They hit most every pitch I threw," he said. "When they do that, they're going to score. I put the ball up in the zone, and those guys are good enough hitters to capitalize on it."

• Jose Cruz Jr. and Rich Aurilia hit two-run homers to lead the Giants over the Rockies 10-6.

Kirk Rueter, the Giants' scheduled opening-day starter, won despite allowing four runs and nine hits in 52/3 innings.

• Sammy Sosa hit an opposite-field, two-run homer and Trenidad Hubbard also connected as the Cubs beat the Padres 6-4.

Winner Juan Cruz held the Padres hitless for 41/3 innings before rookie Xavier Nady doubled into the left-field corner. Cruz allowed just one hit and struck out six in five innings. He walked one.

• David Dellucci hit a second-inning grand slam and Matt Williams followed with another homer as the Diamondbacks beat the Brewers 15-2.

Dellucci added a two-run single in the third. He was hit by a pitch by Mike Buddie in the fifth, prompting plate umpire Brian Knight to warn to both benches. Dellucci was 3-for-3 and scored two runs.

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