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Monday, March 06, 2006

Boston Red Sox Pitcher David Wells , Pissed Off With "Lack of Privacy" in Boston, Now Will Remain and Retire, Instead of Seeking Trade

By Howard Ulman, The Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox left-hander David Wells rescinded his trade request and said Sunday there was a "99.9" percent chance he would retire after the upcoming season.

He said he told Boston general manager Theo Epstein of his decision on Saturday. Wells had requested a trade so he could be closer to his family in San Diego. He also disliked the lack of privacy he had when he went out in public in Boston.

During Saturday's meeting, Wells said, Epstein told him "there are a lot of teams out there that are not interested because of the fact that there are a lot of young guys they want to look at."

The 42-year-old Wells is coming off surgery on his right knee, lessening the likelihood that a team would want him before he proves he's healthy. He said his first exhibition start for the Red Sox could take place on March 13 or 14.

Washington Nationals Get Stadium Lease Signed By MLB

By Joseph White, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Major League Baseball took a major step Sunday toward resolving an impasse over a home for the Washington Nationals, signing a lease for a new ballpark.

One day before the Monday deadline imposed by the District of Columbia Council, baseball signed the lease approved by the Council last month. The lease calls for a ballpark to be built along the Anacostia River, south of the Capitol, with a provision capping the city's spending for the project at $611 million.

Baseball, which will not select a new owner for the team until a lease is in place, had expressed concern over the cap, which altered the original 2004 agreement that brought the team from Montreal last season. In particular, baseball was concerned about a scenario in which the team's future owners could be forced to pay cost overruns. The alternatives for baseball would have been to ask for binding arbitration or search for a new city.

"We have worked very hard to accommodate the requests from the mayor and the Council that changed the terms of the agreement that brought the Expos to Washington," baseball chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said in a statement. "Because we believe in the future of baseball in the nation's capital, we have signed a lease that honors the 2004 agreement, while conforming to the emergency legislation that the Council passed last month."

DuPuy said the lease will go into effect if the Council agrees to several provisions, including an agreement that the city not enact any legislation that violates the terms of the lease. Other provisions deal with the issuing of bonds that pay for construction and how those bonds will be funded.

The Council will study the provisions over the next 48 hours.

"I don't see anything that could be a deal-breaker," Councilman Jack Evans said. "The devil is in the details, but all of that sounds like something we can move forward on."

Evans said his main concern with the provisions is that they could delay a final resolution for several week, which would further delay construction.

Council chair Linda Cropp's main concern was that the city's spending cap remained intact.

"I haven't seen the provisions yet, I've only talked to folks," Cropp said. "What they have said to me is that baseball has certified the council's legislation with the $611 million cap. If that is the case, then that's a good thing and we can move forward."

Mark Tuohey, chairman of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission and a lead negotiator for the city, said he saw nothing in the provisions that would scuttle the lease.

Vince Morris, a spokesman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams, said the additional provisions "should be OK," although city leaders would spend Sunday night and Monday examining them.

"We're delighted, and I'm betting millions of Nationals fans are too," Morris said. "This clears one of the last hurdles in the process and gets us ready to finally break ground on a ballpark that gives the Nationals a new home and sparks an exciting economic revival in southeast."

The Expos/Nationals were bought in 2002 by the other 29 major league teams and operate on a limited budget. Baseball and the city have been negotiating the lease for more than a year, and commissioner Bud Selig has delayed selecting a new owner because of the lease dispute.

The Nationals will continue to play at RFK Stadium until the new stadium opens.

Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett in critical condition after stroke

By Jim Mone, AP

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Hall of Fame outfielder Kirby Puckett was in critical condition after having surgery for a stroke, a nursing supervisor said early Monday.

The 44-year-old former Minnesota Twins star, who led the Twins to two championships before his career was cut short by glaucoma, was stricken Sunday at his Arizona home.

Puckett had surgery at Scottsdale health care Osborn, the Twins said from their spring training camp in Fort Myers, Fla., and was later moved to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

A nursing supervisor at St. Joseph's, who declined to give her full name, said Puckett was in critical condition. She did not provide additional details.

"The Minnesota Twins and Major League Baseball ask fans to keep Kirby and his family in their thoughts and prayers," the team said earlier in a statement.

Ron Shapiro, who was Puckett's agent, said he had been in contact with Puckett's family Sunday.

"We're all praying for his recovery," Shapiro said.

Twins center fielder Torii Hunter sat out Minnesota's exhibition game against the Red Sox after learning of Puckett's stroke.

After the game, team officials said they didn't immediately have any further information on Puckett's condition.

"The doctors said that if he has good luck, he'll be all right. You have to keep the faith," former manager Tom Kelly said.

Said manager Ron Gardenhire: "Our hearts and our prayers are all with Puck. We know it's a tough situation out there."

Puckett, who broke in with Minnesota in 1984, had a career batting average of .318 and carried the Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991.

Glaucoma forced the Gold Glove center fielder and 10-time all-star to retire in 1996 after 12 seasons with the Twins when he went blind in one eye.

Three years ago, he was cleared of assault charges after being accused of groping a woman at a Twin Cities restaurant.

Puckett has maintained relationships with many people in the Twins' organization. The team tried unsuccessfully to get him to come to spring training as a special instructor this year, something he hasn't done since 2002.

Another former Twins great, Tony Oliva, a special instructor during spring training, said he has been worried about Puckett's weight.

"The last few times I saw him, he kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger," Oliva said. "And we worried about him. I saw him about five months ago. He always tries to invite me. He says, 'Come to Arizona, and we'll play some golf.' "

Puckett is divorced and has two children.

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