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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Marlins Owner Jeff Loria Says Willis Trade Rumors Are Not True

Loria: No truth to trade rumors


Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera aren't going anywhere.

So said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who tersely dispelled growing speculation that the team might soon be looking to trade its two biggest stars.

''They are so unfounded as to be ridiculous,'' Loria said Friday of the rumors, which have surfaced in recent days on television and in print.

``We are not shopping players. We're rebuilding a team here.''

Loria, speaking just hours before Willis took the mound to face the Washington Nationals, said he doesn't normally comment on trade rumors. But he told The Miami Herald that he thought it was necessary to make an exception in this case, calling the rumors false and ``irresponsible.''

Willis, who finished second in the National League Cy Young Award voting last season after setting a franchise mark with 22 wins, is making $4.35 million, which represents more than a fourth of the team's majors-low on-field payroll of about $15 million.

Cabrera is making $472,000 but is expected to see a large pay increase next season when he becomes eligible for arbitration for the first time.


Scott Olsen was told toward the end of spring training to circle April 15 on his calendar.

With that day finally having arrived, the left-hander is anxious about joining the rotation and making his first start for the Marlins this season.

''The days have gone real slow,'' said Olsen, scheduled to take the mound tonight against the Nationals. ``I was working out up in Jupiter when the team left for Texas, everybody was gone pretty much, I was in a hotel room by myself, and I had nobody to talk to.''

Olsen is back among friends and teammates now and said his goal is to remain with the club all season.

''It's going to be a year to develop, and I think and hope I can remain up here and grow,'' the 22-year-old pitcher said.

Olsen made his major-league debut with the Marlins last season, receiving four starts and going 1-1. But less than a week after being sent back to Double A Carolina on July 22, Olsen was shut down for the rest of the season because of discomfort in his left elbow.

''I was only up [with the Marlins] for 29 days and everything happened real quick,'' he said. ``Now I've got a chance to soak it up a little bit, enjoy my time and work hard.''

Jackie Robinson Day! - On This Day On April 15th 1947, He Became The First Black Man To Play In Major League Baseball

A special day for Jackie at Shea - MLB.com

Pregame tribute kicks off Jackie Robinson Day across baseball

NEW YORK -- The words faded in and out on Shea Stadium's video board like torches illuminating a road out of darkness.
"Courage ... Determination ... Teamwork ... Persistence ... "

As the pillars of Jackie Robinson's life framed a video tribute to the baseball pioneer and emancipator, Brewers and Mets players spilled out of their dugouts and made their slow way to the third- and first-base foul lines, respectively.

"... Integrity ... Citizenship ... Justice ... "

Josh Groban's powerful voice, belting out "You Raise Me Up," escorted the powerful images of Robinson's odyssey from signing a contract with the Dodgers through carrying out his contract with America.

And, still, the testimonials kept coming.

"... Commitment ... Excellence ... "

Shea Stadium public address announcer Alex Anthony greeted a house full of sun-splashed Mets fans to a brief pregame ceremony to honor someone who was "a beacon of hope and inspiration to Americans in all corners of the country."

And so fans stood in ovation to welcome Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow, as she strolled to the middle of the infield between her escorts, Bob DuPuy, the president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball, and Mets manager Willie Randolph.

Mrs. Robinson waved her response to all sections of the park, then made way for Adriana Lee, a Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar at Rutgers University, to deliver the ceremonial first pitch to Carlos Delgado.

Then four members of the Christ Tabernacle Youth Gospel Choir delivered an acappella national anthem -- and it was over.

Ceremonies marking the third annual Jackie Robinson Day, observed throughout MLB on Saturday and focused on Queens, were as subdued as the event it celebrates.

When Robinson played in his first Major League game on April 15, 1947, everyone recognized the occasion as groundbreaking. Yet no one could foresee the extent to which one man's noble bravery would revolutionize the sport.

Fifty-nine years later, the extent is evident and was reflected in that pregame video montage. Featured were not only African-Americans who have since endowed the game, but also images of Ichiro Suzuki taking bows and Manny Ramirez sprinting with a mini-flag and glimpses of others in the MLB melting pot.

"He opened a lot of doors," said Mets outfielder Cliff Floyd. "Especially at a time that had to be most difficult to play. It had to be really tough on him.

"I think it's great for baseball to now take the time to embrace someone like that, to let people know why this is someone they should appreciate."

As decreed three years ago by Commissioner Bud Selig, Jackie Robinson Day commemorates the man who carried baseball across the color line, with the entire country gradually to follow.

Given the breadth of Robinson's influence, baseball actually has shriveled to a small part of the day held in honor of his legacy. Sport has receded into the background to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, which has aided meritorious scholars for 33 years, and to social progress in the general population.

Thus, the Shea Stadium ceremonies included "silent partners," who seldom hear the overt cheers they deserve.

Such as members of the Tuskegee Airmen, that legendary squadron of 994 African American pilots who helped execute World War II air raids. Three days ago, President Bush awarded to them the same ultimate civilian award presented last year to Jackie Robinson -- the Congressional Gold Medal.

Also attending were Negro League survivors Robert Scott, who pitched for the New York Black Yankees in 1945-50, and infielder Armando Vazquez, who played eight years in the league through 1952.

The mission of Jackie Robinson Day is mainly to recognize, both where we were and where Robinson led us, but also to educate new generations for whom his deed had been faded by time.

For people like Floyd, who is testament that the tributes are working.

Floyd had grown up in Chicago knowing Robinson simply as the man for whom the Little League field on which he played had been named.

"You'd think the coaches would tell you what he had done," Floyd recalled. "But, no, they never said anything. So I really didn't know much about his part in history.

"That's the great thing about this day. It makes people take a new look at what he did, and I think that's important."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Barry Bonds - Security Rep Visits Dodgers In Effort To Protect Bonds - SF Chronicle

Baseball security chief visits L.A. as he keeps track of how teams are protecting Bonds

Henry Schulman - SF Chronicle
Saturday, April 15, 2006

Los Angeles -- The first Giants series in Los Angeles prompted a visit from Major League Baseball's security chief, Kevin Hallinan, who revealed he met privately with Barry Bonds each of the last two springs to discuss his safety as he pursues the home-run record.

"I promise these players every year in spring training, I take responsibility for their security and their families' security," Hallinan said. "It's good to have a working relationship with all of them. When one of them is going for a record or is in some way in prominence, they'll get special attention, absolutely."

However, for all the talk of beefed-up security for Bonds in light of the steroids scandal, Hallinan said baseball and the teams Bonds visits are not necessarily flooding ballparks with more cops. Instead, Hallinan is having the teams' operations people talk with one another. For instance, he debriefed the Padres' security folks and asked what they might have done better when the Giants were there last week. Hallinan then had the Padres pass their answer to the Dodgers' people, who in turn will talk to Diamondbacks security ahead of Monday's game in Phoenix.

Hallinan would not divulge specific numbers of security personnel but said, "There's a way of moving people around from a timing standpoint. Sometimes it's good to do a good commercial at the front gate, showing a lot of (security) people. Those are the same people appearing at certain parts of the ballpark. Many times it isn't the number of people, it's how you use them.

"It's like a good shortstop. He knows how to position himself. It's the same with security guards. You've got to know how to position them."

Hallinan will not change his game plan based on the headlines, such as Thursday's revelation that a federal grand jury is investigating Bonds for alleged perjury.

"You try not to let the news of the day dictate what you're going to do or not going to do," he said. "I don't allow what's being alleged in the media and what's happened to impact that. I try to be consistent in my planning process across the board."

More on 25: In a scene sure to be repeated in every city, Los Angeles reporters tried to get manager Felipe Alou to discuss the allegations against Bonds. Alou made it clear he will not answer. When asked for the thousandth time if this was a distraction for the team, Alou said, "We don't have time to give it time here."

General manager Brian Sabean, speaking with Giants beat reporters, was asked if he had any contingencies in case the team lost Bonds for reasons not related to injury. He responded, "We've already done that. We've deepened the team the best we can, whether he's in the lineup or out of the lineup."

LA Angels Spring Training Home Attendance Down From 2005

Angels' home draws raves, fewer fans
JJ Hensley

The Arizona Republic
Apr. 15, 2006 12:00 AM

Spring training put a spring in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim's step, even if attendance was down this year.

The club drew 94,739 fans this year at the renovated Tempe Diablo Stadium, down from more than 106,000 a year ago. But with the club playing two fewer games and competing for fans with the World Baseball Classic, the Angels brass found the silver lining.

"We think it was a great spring training," said Tim Mead, the Angels' vice president of communications. "With the (World Baseball Classic) event there, there were a lot of people worried about how that was going to affect Cactus League play, but we think there was plenty of baseball to go around for everybody."

Overall numbers from the Cactus League back that up.

The league eclipsed the million-fan mark for the third consecutive year, drawing 1,169,030 for the 12 teams in the league. The World Baseball Classic drew more than 90,000 fans in Arizona.

The numbers league-wide and for the Angels would have been higher but a string of rainouts and a split-squad game on the final weekend of play kept some fans away, Mead said.

Still, he said, the club's revenues were up. Spring 2006 also was memorable as the year the club unveiled the redone stadium, which received a $20 million face lift in less than a year.

Mead said officials with teams throughout Major League Baseball were impressed with the club's facility, which allowed the team to move its minor leaguers into a shared facility with the big-league club.

"The people it probably meant the most to were the kids coming into the minor league camp," he said. "For them, it was, 'We're in the big leagues now.' "

And Tempe is in the big leagues, too, if only for a month.

Mead said the club has always seen a lot of the Angels' trademark scarlet hue in the stadium, but with the new facility, the team has started to create a real connection with Tempe.

"The interest is there," he said. "We've started to reach that point where we start establishing a quote-unquote, home base."

Retailers, restaurants and bars in Tempe and along Mill Avenue are getting used to seeing the effects of spring training at the cash register, too.

"Business is always great during March," and this year was no different, said Sarah Krajnak, manager of The Library,a Mill Avenue bar.

The reason, Mead said, is simple. Between the scouts and the fans, the Cactus League and the World Baseball Classic, "There was probably not a better place in the country to watch baseball than in Arizona."

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