A-Rod signing still a mystery

  • LARRY LaRUE / The News Tribune
  • Saturday, December 9, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports


The News Tribune

DALLAS – Pat Gillick thought baseball’s annual winter meeting might be a slow one and on Saturday he appeared dead on – the most exciting Mariners news of the day was that they had scheduled a meeting today with Tom Lampkin’s agent.

The free agent, a 36-year-old left-handed hitting catcher who tore a ligament in his right arm last June, could be Seattle’s first signing here.

Will Alex Rodriguez be the second?

“As of this moment, we haven’t scheduled another meeting with Scott (Boras),” assistant general manager Lee Pelekoudas said.

But if Seattle hasn’t planned another meeting with A-Rod’s agent, others have.

The Rangers and White Sox will meet with Boras today, and the Braves apparently remain interested enough to have made an offer.

Rumor of the day here – and Gillick wouldn’t discuss it – was that the Mariners had told Boras they would match the offer of any other team, taking money out of the decision for Rodrguez.

What the Mariners did Saturday was meet with six teams, looking for a matchup that would land a productive hitter in a trade. They didn’t seem to come away much closer to a deal than when the day began.

“We’ll meet (today) with a few more teams, and maybe have a follow-up meeting or two,” Pelekoudas said. “I wouldn’t say we’re particularly close on anything.”

With right-handed hitting catchers Dan Wilson and Chris Widger under contract, the Mariners will try today to sign Lampkin, who has begun throwing since undergoing Tommy John surgery on June 28.

“He’s a bit ahead of schedule in his rehab, and we’re told by our trainers that he’ll be able to play some games in spring training,” Pelekoudas said. “Jay Buhner was playing seven months after his surgery. It’s a little tougher on a catcher, but in February it will be eight months for Lampkin.

“He’s throwing, but he still hasn’t swung a bat. He won’t until January.”

Until the injury ended his season, Lampkin had been the more productive part of a two-catcher system with Wilson, batting .252 with seven home runs and 23 RBI in justs 103 at-bats. Wilson, by comparison, had five home runs and 27 RBI in 268 at-bats.

As for trade possibilities, the Mariners are looking for the same player they were seeking at the GM meetings last month – a productive third baseman.

“Even if we get Alex back, we need one more bat in the lineup,” Pelekooudas said. “And if we lose Alex, we need two more bats,” manager Lou Piniella said.

  • Around the meetings: Boston GM Dan Duquette arrived at the meetings late, having flown first to California to make a $122 million offer to the agent of outfielder Manny Ramirez. So far, that figure isn’t enough. When Red Sox beat writers asked Gillick about the Mariners possible interest in Ramirez, he said: “We have no interest.” … Not done yet? Among the teams courting free agent right-hander Darren Dreifort are the Colorado Rockies – the same team that’s already signed lefties Hampton and Denny Neagle to more than $171 million in deals in the last 10 days. The Rockies would love to land Dreifort, then trade right-hander Pedro Astacio. The Red Sox and Mets have already inquired abut Astacio. … Oakland has yet to make a major move this offseason, but GM Billy Beane arrived here Saturday acknowledging that outfielder Ben Grieve is very much available. A deal with the Reds for pitcher Scott Williams, rumored since the November GM meetings, hasn’t come together. … Cubs manager Don Baylor was once named National League Manager of the Year with the Rockies and knows something about pitching in Coors Field. His prediction on Hampton in Colorado? “I saw some awfully good pitchers make some awfully good pitches that produced some terrible results,” Baylor said. “That park kills good pitching.” … Free agent veteran pitcher Kevin Appier is being pursued by the Mets, Red Sox and Dodgers. … Shortstop Mike Bordick has been eyed by the Mariners and other teams, but seems to be hoping the Orioles make him a competitive offer. Bordick loved playing in Baltimore but was traded to the Mets last season. Now, apparently, he wants to return unless an offer elsewhere overwhelms him.

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