Yankees acquire Trammell
PEORIA, Ariz. — Outfielder Rondell White has a place to play following his trade from the New York Yankees to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Bubba Trammell and minor league left-hander Mark Phillips on Wednesday.
More importantly, the Padres cleared approximately $5 million from the books for 2004, which will help them pursue free agents prior to moving into their new downtown ballpark next season.
The trade came less than two weeks after Padres left fielder Phil Nevin had surgery on his dislocated left shoulder, which likely will cause him to miss the season.
White will play left field and bat fifth, providing protection for Ryan Klesko. Trammell had been scheduled to play right field, but rookie Xavier Nady is now the frontrunner to start there instead of in left.
White, 31, was a disappointment in his first season with the Yankees, getting hurt during spring training and failing to regain his swing until late in the season, when he was injured again. He batted .240 with 14 homers and 62 runs batted in.
New York had little room for him following the signing of Japanese star Hideki Matsui, who figures to be play left field alongside center fielder Bernie Williams and right fielder Raul Mondesi.
“It’s good and bad. I’m going to miss the guys,” White said in Tampa, Fla. “I had a chance to play with a group of Hall of Famers. I didn’t want to leave New York. I wanted to come back and prove what I can do.
“It’s a business. I’m getting a chance to play every day. I think I’m an everyday player.”
White makes $5 million this year and is eligible for free agency after the season.
Trammell, a former New York Met, makes $2.5 million in 2003 and $4.75 million next year. He has a $4.75 million team option for 2005, with a $250,000 buyout. If the Yankees decline Trammell’s option, the Padres will reimburse them for the buyout.
While taking on $2.5 million in salary this year, the Padres at least dumped Trammell’s 2004 salary. If they can also trade pitcher Kevin Jarvis and catcher Wiki Gonzalez, they’d clear more than $10 million for 2004.
“This gives us flexibility in ’04 to allow us to be a player in the free agent market,” general manager Kevin Towers said. “With Nevin back next year and having Nady, it would be tough for Bubba to get playing time.”
The Padres are interested in star Japanese shortstop Kazuo Matsui and Oakland’s Miguel Tejada, the reigning AL MVP, who’s been told by the Athletics that they can’t afford to offer him a multiyear contract after this season. Both are eligible for free agency after the season.
Trammell, 31, had a breakout year in 2001, hitting .261 with 25 homers and 92 RBI. He struggled last year though, while platooning much of the season with Ray Lankford in left, batting .243 with 17 homers and 56 RBI.
“I’m excited. I’m going to a team that’s a perennial winner,” Trammell said.
BURNETT OUT WITH SWOLLEN ELBOW
Florida Marlins right-hander A.J. Burnett might miss his Opening-Day start because of an inflamed elbow.
An examination by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., yesterday didn’t reveal any ligament damage in the elbow. Burnett was given a cortisone shot to reduce the swelling.
Burnett left his last start Saturday because of tightness in his forearm. He is expected to be out for three-to-five days and will be re-evaluated after he is cleared to throw.
Burnett missed almost a month last August because of a bone bruise in his right elbow. He returned in September and made four starts.
EMMITT TO THROW OUT FIRST PITCH
Former Dallas Cowboys great Emmitt Smith, the NFL’s rushing leader, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Texas Rangers’ home opener April 4 against Seattle.
Smith, who spent 13 seasons with the Cowboys before his release last month, will be joined by Everman High School senior Corey Fulbright for the first-pitch ceremony. Fulbright was paralyzed from the waist down in a December football game.
St. Louis Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen felt stiffness in his right shoulder yesterday, perhaps postponing his first game this spring training.
Isringhausen, coming off surgery, had been scheduled to pitch today against Baltimore if he had felt all right following his second batting practice, on Monday.
“I’ll be surprised if he pitches,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said after the Cardinals’ 14-12 loss to the New York Mets. “He came in today and didn’t feel that great, so I don’t know if we’ll push it.”
Isringhausen had 32 saves in 38 chances last season. Before yesterday, the Cardinals had been optimistic that he would be ready for the season opener.
INDIANS CHANGE PITCHING COACHES
Rookie manager Eric Wedge made his first pitching move with the Cleveland Indians.
Wedge changed pitching coaches just 12 days before the club’s season opener, firing Mike Brown and replacing him with Carl Willis yesterday.
Willis had been the pitching coach at Triple-A Buffalo the past two seasons under Wedge, who has made it clear in his first spring camp that the Indians are his team.
Wedge said he decided to make the move in the past couple of days and did it with general manager Mark Shapiro’s approval. Wedge felt it was necessary to make the change before the regular season started.