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BASEBALL / DAILY REPORT | DODGERS

Griffey, Jones Affect Claire

February 18, 1996|BOB NIGHTENGALE

Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president, wasn't anticipating easy negotiations, but his colleagues have made his job much tougher.

Claire watched two weeks ago when the Seattle Mariners gave Ken Griffey Jr. a four-year, $34-million contract extension, and then swallowed again last week when discovering that the Atlanta Braves were giving Chipper Jones a four-year, $8.25-million contract.

Griffey's contract figures to have an impact on future negotiations with catcher Mike Piazza, and Jones' contract could have immediate ramifications.

If Jones is worth $750,000 this season after finishing second in balloting for rookie of the year, couldn't Hideo Nomo make a case that he should be worth more for finishing first? And if Nomo is worth more, shouldn't pitcher Ismael Valdes receive a comparable salary? And how about outfielder Raul Mondesi?

"This is a concern to me," Claire said. "The amount of money we're giving to one player should be a concern to everyone involved. A smaller and smaller percentage of the players are getting a larger and larger percentage of compensation.

"I think this is something we need to address."

Claire contends that Jones' contract should not have an immediate effect on Nomo or Valdes because Jones has two years of service time. He sat out the 1994 season because of a knee injury, but was on the 25-man roster.

Yet Claire concedes that Jones' contract could have a direct bearing on negotiations with Mondesi, who's seeking a multi-year contract. Mondesi earned $435,000 last season and may now seek a contract that exceeds Jones.'

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Starter Darren Dreifort, who sat out all of last season recovering from "Tommy John" surgery, stole the show in camp by pitching effortlessly in front of Dodger officials.

"My arm feels absolutely great," said Dreifort, the Dodgers' 1993 first-round pick. "I can't even tell the difference between now and before surgery, it feels that good."

Said Dodger pitching coach Dave Wallace: "We're obviously very pleased. He's throwing great, free and easy."

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The Dodgers signed starter Chan Ho Park and catcher Ken Huckaby to one-year contracts. . . . The Dodgers can't remember the last time it was so cold in Vero Beach. The temperature dropped to 34 degrees Friday night.

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