Expos still interested in Rocker
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Posted: Tuesday March 07, 2000 01:41 PM
Two general managers said last week that John Rocker will never pitch for Atlanta again because the team knows he will be a constant distraction. The Braves aren't saying, but they continue to gauge trade interest. Despite a published report, don't rule out the Montreal Expos just yet. Owner Jeffrey Luria called Braves president Stan Kasten to explain he never said the Expos have no interest in Rocker.
Most teams don't think Rocker and his baggage are worth it. For instance, the Rockies had preliminary discussions with the Braves about Rocker. But they backed out when they realized getting Rocker could undo all the positive feelings they've generated in Colorado with a new GM, a new manager and a new-look team.
Show of compassion
Meanwhile, the Braves and Major League Baseball can't be happy about how they lost the arbitration case to uphold Rocker's original suspension. The union and Rocker's agents argued that the Braves did little to reign in Rocker before his comments were published in Sports Illustrated. They said Atlanta could have provided more counsel and advice to Rocker late last season as his comments and on-field behavior escalated toward WWF mentality. But according to one source familiar with the evidence, the biggest factor in the decision most likely came from Atlanta's own Andrew Young, the former UN ambassador who spoke eloquently on the need for compassion. Those words, the source said, "had a much bigger impact than if they came from Gene Orza [of the union] or [agent] Randy Hendricks."
Padres interested in bringing Lee home
The Arizona Diamondbacks are listening to trade offers for Travis Lee now that outfielder David Dellucci looks like he's back from a horrible wrist injury last season. And the San Diego Padres would love to bring Lee back to the city where he starred in college. With no room in their budget to take on more salary, the D'backs would move Lee only if they get another top young player in return, such as pitcher Matt Clement or catcher Ben Davis.
Cards' Morris on the upswing
The Cardinals feel like they will add a frontline starting pitcher in June without having to give up any players. His name is Matt Morris, who missed all of last season because of elbow surgery. Morris already is throwing so hard that Mark McGwire told him in the bullpen recently not to overdo it. Morris then told him he was throwing only 70 percent.
News and notes
Word from the Boston camp is Ramon Martinez looks terrific. Martinez even changed the way he throws his slider. He used to throw his slider only occasionally and with a small tilt to it. Now he throws a slower slider with a bigger break and says he has more confidence in this one . . . Here's a break for Tampa Bay as it tries to gain respectability quickly: the Devil Rays play all but three of their 25 games in April against teams that had losing records last year . . . Spotted in the bullpen in Port St. Lucie one day last week working with Mets pitcher Al Leiter: Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Tom Verducci covers baseball for the magazine and is a regular contributor to CNNSI.com.
BTHLs PAL in CAL
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[This message has been edited by CalifYanksFan (edited March 07, 2000).]