Report: Williams to be dealt to Rockies
PHOENIX, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Two long-term veterans, Arizona third baseman Matt Williams and Larry Walker of Colorado, are the principals in a proposed blockbuster trade between the teams.
Various reports indicate all that is need is the waiving of the no-trade clauses of the players.
According to MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, five players would be involved in the deal, with Arizona also sending first baseman Erubiel Durazo, outfielder David Dellucci and reliever Bret Prinz to the Rockies in exchange for Walker.
The teams entered a 72-hour negotiating window with both players late Tuesday.
Williams's agent, Joe Longo told MLB.com that Colorado General Manager Dan O'Dowd, President Keli McGregor, and Manager Clint Hurdle will sit down with Williams on Wednesday to make their case face-to-face.
"Matt's willing to sit down and listen, and that's what's going to happen (Wednesday)," Longo told MLB.com. "We're going to sit down and listen to what the Rockies' side of it is."
"The Rockies will talk to him and say, 'We want you to be a Colorado Rockie," said Arizona GM Joe Garagiola, Jr. "The Rockies will now reach out to him and there will be discussions and [Williams] will then decide."
Garagiola spoke with Walker's agent, Pat Rooney, on Tuesday.
"Yes, I suppose so," Garagiola said when asked if he planned on speaking directly to Walker. "The things I discussed with Pat [Rooney] are things that are more appropriately discussed with an agent."
Williams met with Diamondbacks Managing General Partner, Jerry Colangelo, and Manager Bob Brenly Tuesday morning to discuss the Rockies' interest. Colangelo would not comment on the meeting.
The 6-3, 237-pound Walker, a seven-time Gold Glove winner, has indicated that he would approve a trade to Arizona, but MLB.com said Williams' response is less clear.
Before the 1998 season, the 6-2, 219-pound Williams requested a trade from Cleveland to the new Arizona franchise to be close to his three children, who were living with his former wife in the Phoenix area.
The Rockies are in need of a third baseman and Williams would likely be a starter there. That could be a big selling point, as the Diamondbacks will have a surplus of infielders when Craig Counsell returns from offseason surgery.
That would mean Williams, who batted .260 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI last season, likely would see a substantial decline in his playing time.
Also, Arizona centerfielder Steve Finley is a free agent, and there is no guarantee on either side that he will be back.
In initial contract talks with Finley, Garagiola indicated the two sides were further apart on the financial aspect rather than the length of the deal.
"I'm not going to get into how a possible trade would affect the rest of our roster," Garagiola said when asked if the club would cut off talks with Finley should the Walker deal go through.
Also, the Arizona Republic reported that getting Williams would benefit Colorado financially. The paper said Williams will earn $10 million in the final year of his five-year contract with the Diamondbacks, would clear salary space for Walker, who will earn $38 million over the next three seasons with the Rockies. The Diamondbacks have three players under contract for about $20 million for 2004.
Rios finished in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday released outfielder Armando Rios and added six players to their 40-man roster.
In his first game with Pittsburgh, Rios tore his left ACL and was forced to miss the rest of the 2001 season. He appeared to be bouncing back from the injury in spring training only to be injured once again after colliding with Michael Cuddyer of the Twins in an exhibition game just a week before Opening Day 2002.
Rios started the season in Pittsburgh's starting lineup, but was hampered by a noticeable limp. He was placed on the disabled list in May, and did not return to the big leagues until August.
For the season, he batted .264 with one home run and 24 RBI in 76 games.
"In evaluating the space that we had available and players that we thought would be most likely to help us in 2003 and beyond, we just didn't feel that Rios would be a fit," said Pirates General Manager Dave Littlefield.
Rios missed almost two months with a left knee contusion. He played in just 76 games in 2002, batting .264 with one home run and 24 RBI.
He was acquired at the 2001 trade deadline in the deal that sent righthander Jason Schmidt to the San Francisco Giants.
Rios, 31, has a .276 batting average with 34 homers and 156 RBI in 370 career games.
The Pirates also added infielders Pat Meares, Walter Young and Jose Castillo, pitchers Bobby Bradley and Dave Williams, and catcher Ryan Doumit to the 40-man roster. Also, minor league pitcher John Grabow was designated for assignment.
Raptors ink Jermaine Jackson
TORONTO, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The Toronto Raptors Wednesday signed guard Jermaine Jackson, who appeared in 24 games last season. He was the final cut from training camp roster.
The 6-4 Jackson originally was signed by Toronto to a 10-day contract on Jan. 10, 2002. He then was signed to a contract for the remainder of the season on Jan. 30, and averaged 2.4 points, 2.4 assists and 11.7 minutes per contest.
The Raptors are able to add Jackson to their roster after being granted a roster exemption by the NBA under the special hardship rule. The rule allows a team with three players on its injured list to substitute an active player if another player misses a minimum of three straight games because of injury.
Toronto signed center Greg Foster with a previous exemption granted by the NBA on Nov. 6.
Jackson had been playing for the Great Lakes Storm of the Continental Basketball Association.
Eye surgery for Davenport
GREEN BAY, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Running back Najeh Davenport of the Green Bay Packers, who broke a bone in his left eye socket on the opening kickoff last Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings while bringing down Minnesota return man Nick Davis, has undergone season-ending surgery.
The injury occurred while Davenport was making a thunderous tackle on Davis at the end of the runback.
Coach and General Manager Mike Sherman said right guard Marco Rivera might be able to play this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rivera left the Minnesota game in the first quarter after spraining the MCL in his right knee.
Rivera was replaced by second-year guard Bill Ferrario, but Sherman indicated he might move Mike Flanagan to guard and have Frank Winters start at center if Rivera can't play in the Tampa Bay game.
"We'll go with our five best," Sherman said. "Whichever gives us the best chance to win the game, that's how we'll go."
Earlier this season, Rivera sprained the MCL in his left knee in the game at Detroit on Sept. 22, but was able to recover in time to start against the Carolina Panthers the following week.
Including playoffs, Rivera has started in 76 of Green Bay's last 77 games.
"Marco has proven to be a great healer, so we'll just take that day by day," Sherman said.
Na'il Diggs injured both of his knees on the Metrodome turf Sunday in Minneapolis, but the more severe injury was to his right knee. Monday, Diggs has had an MRI, and hopes to be able to play at Tampa Bay.
Sherman said Diggs strained his MCL and would be listed as questionable.
Meanwhile, rookie defensive end Aaron Kampman broke his right hand during pregame warm-ups at Minnesota, then suffered a concussion.
He is listed as questionable for the Buccaneers.
Kampman has been starting in place of five-year veteran Vonnie Holliday, who missed the last two games after undergoing athroscopic knee surgery on Nov. 6. Holliday could return this week, but will be listed as questionable.
Cornerback Tyrone Williams is also expected to recover in time to play this weekend. He has a strained left hamstring. Williams has played in 115 consecutive games.
Finally, the team waived fifth-year defensive end Jared Tomich, who was in his second stint with the team, and signed defensive end Keith McKenzie.
He re-signed with the Packers on Nov. 6 after first signing with Green Bay on Jan. 2, 2002. He was inactive for the 2001 regular season finale and subsequent postseason games. In training camp this year, he posted seven tackles including two quarterback sacks, while playing in five games.
The 6-2, 275-pounder was waived by the Chicago Bears on Oct. 16. He started three games for the Bears this season.
Guilty plea in Breeders probe
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Nov, 20 (UPI) -- The National Thoroughbred Racing Association Wednesday hired former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to oversee a review of its electronic wagering systems, and it announced a systematic examination to determine if new security measures should be instituted.
Giuliani Partners will work with the Technology and Security Risk Services unit of Ernst & Young, which was hired two weeks ago in reaction to charges that three former fraternity brothers fixed a Pick Six wager on the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup, producing a $3.6 million payout.
NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith said that Giuliani will bring "independence and credibility" to the review process.
"Thousands of fans wager every day on horseracing across the country and should be confident with the knowledge that their wagers are being handled in a secure fashion in an honest system," Giuliani said. "The NTRA should be applauded for its immediate response in rallying racing leaders to review the security of the electronic wagering systems and to maintain the confidence of its consumers."
The NTRA plans to use information assembled by Equibase on Pick Four, Pick Six and similar wagers going back to the first of the year to determine whether there were any unusual circumstances in the makeup of the wagers. High-dollar payouts will receive the most scrutiny.
"We are determined to learn everything necessary to assure the pari-mutuel system's integrity and protect our customers' interests," Smith said.
The NTRA announcement came as Chris Harn, 29, one of the three accused of fixing the Pick Six ticket, pleaded guilty in federal court in White Plains, N.Y., to conspiracy to commit wire and computer fraud and to money-laundering charges. He also admitted laundering winnings for himself and two others on bets placed between November 2001 and October 2002.
Harn was fired last month from his job at Autotote Systems Inc., a subsidiary of the company that processed Breeders Cup bets. He faces as much as 25 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.
Harn is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 19, and will have to pay restitution.
Also implicated in the Oct. 26 Breeders Cup scam are Glen DaSilva and Derrick Davis of Baltimore. The three men all belonged to Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at Drexel University in Philadelphia in the early 1990s.
Prosecutors said that Harn allegedly hacked into the Autotote system to change wagers Davis made through an off-track account to reflect the winners of four already-run Breeders Cup races, wheeled with all the horses in the remaining races.
When Volponi, a 43-1 shot, won the Classic, he produced a $3.6 million winning Pick Six ticket for the suspects, triggering alarms at the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.