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BASEBALL EXTRA / INTERLEAGUE PLAY | AROUND THE NL

Owner Mulls Future of Florida Marlins

June 16, 1997|Associated Press

Florida Marlin owner Wayne Huizenga claims his team will lose $30 million this year, which may prompt him to reduce the payroll next season or sell the franchise he founded in 1993.

Huizenga is disappointed with attendance after committing $175 million to upgrade the Marlin roster since last season.

Attendance has risen 30% this year, not including this weekend's sold-out series against the New York Yankees, but Huizenga hoped for an even bigger increase.

"Obviously we're not going to lose $30 million again," he said in published reports. "I'm not interested in doing that. But we wanted to be fair, to give it a test. So we did give it a test. Attendance is not near good enough."

Since last season, Huizenga has committed $89 million on free agents and $61 million for slugger Gary Sheffield's six-year contract extension. The Marlins nearly doubled their payroll to $48 million, eighth-highest in the major leagues.

One of their free-agent signings was Alex Fernandez, the former Miami Hurricane standout who began his major league career with the Chicago White Sox. Said Huizenga: "We had a game with Alex Fernandez pitching and there were 12,000 people in the stands. And he's supposed to be the hometown hero from Miami. That was very disappointing."

The spending has paid off in the standings. The Marlins have the third-best record in baseball. And the value of the team is on the rise. Financial World magazine estimates the Marlins are worth $123 million, compared to $98 million last year.

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Chicago Cubs catcher Tyler Houston underwent an emergency appendectomy Sunday. The Cubs put Houston on the 15-day disabled list and recalled catcher Mike Hubbard from triple-A Iowa. . . . Outfielder Kenny Lofton returned to the Atlanta Brave starting lineup after missing two games because of back spasms. . . . Philadelphia put right-handed pitcher Garrett Stephenson on the 15-day disabled list because of an injured left knee and recalled right-handed pitcher Scott Ruffcorn from triple-A Scranton. . . . Fernando Valenzuela, acquired in a trade by St. Louis from San Diego on Friday, will join the Cardinals today in Milwaukee. . . . Pittsburgh activated outfielder Mark Smith from the 15-day disabled list.

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