Sunday, February 1, 2004

Serafini says sayonara to states

Notebook: New Dodgers owner promises to get big bat

Enquirer news services

Former Reds left-hander Dan Serafini will pitch for a Japanese team managed by former Mets manager Bobby Valentine.

Serafini, 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA for the Reds last season, signed a $280,000 contract with the Lotte Marines.

New Dodgers owner promises to get big bat

On the day his purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers was approved, Boston developer Frank McCourt said his new team "lacks excitement" and promised that he would find a way to deliver a reliable run producer before opening day.

That does not appear to bode well for general manager Dan Evans, who has held tightly to coveted prospects such as Edwin Jackson and Greg Miller because of his long-range vision.

According to sources, McCourt plans to make a serious run at hiring Pat Gillick, who has built winning operations in Toronto, Baltimore and Seattle. There also has been talk of Billy Beane, but Oakland owner Steve Schott told the San Francisco Chronicle he would not give the Dodgers permission to talk to the A's general manager.

For Los Angeles to get Magglio Ordonez from the Chicago White Sox, it would have to trade at least two veteran pitchers - Odalis Perez and Guillermo Mota are the ones most often mentioned - along with a package of elite prospects, including center fielder Franklin Gutierrez and either Jackson or Miller.

According to Sox sources, the price has gone up since free agent Juan Gonzalez signed with Kansas City, taking away an option to replace Ordonez.

Evans wouldn't pay a high price. But it is clear McCourt doesn't have much patience.

BAD TIMING: The Mariners made a late attempt for Ivan Rodriguez but weren't willing to blow away Detroit. They wish they had known earlier that closer Kaz Sasaki was going back to Japan, giving them an extra $9 million.

Maybe then they could have done more than add Rich Aurilia and Raul Ibanez.

"If we knew in October we had that much room on our payroll, we'd be a lot different team today," a Seattle official said.

If the Mariners had known they weren't going to have Sasaki, they probably would have been serious players for Vladimir Guerrero and Miguel Tejada. At this point, it's unlikely they'll do anything major, such as a trade for an elite hitter like Ordonez or Richard Hidalgo.

LAST MAN STANDING: After trading Richie Sexson to Arizona, the Brewers are trying to get their other All-Star, Geoff Jenkins, signed long term. He's eligible for free agency after this season, which could cause him to be traded in midseason.

Milwaukee's initial offer is believed to be $18 million over three years. That would be a pay cut for Jenkins, who is making $8.25 million after hitting 28 homers and driving in 95 runs last year.

"They're not ridiculously low," said Jenkins, who is believed to be seeking four years at $30 million. "But you just understand that it's a process. It takes time . . . It wasn't an insult."

ZIM TAKES BLAME: Don Zimmer has exonerated Pedro Martinez for his part in October's throwdown during the ALCS. "Pedro took some heat that he shouldn't have taken," Zimmer told the St. Petersburg Times. "They say, 'Well, Pedro beat up an old man.' Pedro didn't beat up an old man. An old man was dumb enough to go after him. Pedro didn't do nothing wrong, as far as I'm concerned, and doesn't owe me an apology."

NEN THROWING: Giants closer Robb Nen, who missed last season after undergoing three shoulder surgeries, is throwing again and hopeful of returning this season. Nen said he appreciated a call from Curt Schilling, who had a similar shoulder procedure five years ago. "He wanted to know how I was doing and see where I was at," Nen told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We talked about all the things you have to go through. He told me, 'You're going to have your ups and downs, going to get sore. It's part of the process.' "

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