Facing a midnight deadline, New York Yankee slugger Cecil Fielder gave no indication Saturday whether he would drop his trade demand or become a free agent and lose his $7.2-million salary.
Seven hours before a decision was due, Yankee General Manager Bob Watson said he had not spoken with Fielder's agents all day. That, of course, fueled speculation that owner George Steinbrenner was handling the talks for a contract extension.
"I don't know a thing," Watson said. "I'll have to wait and find out, just like everyone else."
Fielder worked out at the Yankees' camp in the morning, and was not on the traveling roster for the spring training game against Detroit at Lakeland, Fla. He left at 11 a.m. and said he was heading home.
Would he be back today as a member of the team he helped win the World Series?
"I don't know. We'll see," he said. "I'm not commenting on those questions."
"It's good to get this out of the way, one way or another," he said.
If Fielder did not rescind his trade demand by the deadline, he automatically would become a free agent. It could be a costly decision because he would be without a contract, and no team would be likely to give him close to the money he is set to make with the Yankees this year.
Fielder wants a contract extension, and there were recent reports that Steinbrenner was considering a three-year deal for $21 million or a two-year deal at $14 million.
Atlanta Brave pitcher Denny Neagle was scratched from his scheduled start Saturday. He has been bothered by a sore right shoulder most of the spring and had a cortisone shot Thursday. He is expected to make his next start Friday, but he could be inserted into the rotation earlier if he's ready.