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Pirates Appear Eager to Sign Ramon Martinez

April 09, 2001|Associated Press

The Pittsburgh Pirates are pursuing free-agent right-hander Ramon Martinez and want to sign the former Dodger pitcher within the next few days.

General Manager Cam Bonifay said on his weekly radio show Sunday he was "optimistic" about signing Martinez, released last month after the Dodgers decided that Eric Gagne would be their fifth starter.

If the Pirates sign Martinez, Bonifay said he should be ready to move into the rotation by the end of the week. The Reds, Yankees and Rangers also have shown interest in Martinez, who apparently wants to pitch in the National League.

The 33-year-old Martinez was 0-3 with a 5.83 earned-run average in six spring appearances with the Dodgers, who gave him $368,853 in termination pay when he was released. His one-year contract was worth $1.5 million, with incentives that could have elevated the total value to $5 million.

Martinez, 135-86 with a 3.62 ERA in 13 major league seasons, had rotator cuff surgery in June 1998 and didn't pitch again until September 1999.

He was 10-8 with a 6.13 ERA last season with Boston, pitching with Cy Young Award-winning brother Pedro Martinez, before signing with the Dodgers.

The Pirates currently are without injured starting pitchers Kris Benson, Jason Schmidt, Francisco Cordova and Terry Mulholland.

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The Arizona Diamondbacks put right-hander Bobby Witt on the disabled list and activated right fielder Reggie Sanders.

The 36-year-old Witt injured his pitching elbow during his first start of the season on Saturday. He left the game with two outs in the fifth inning.

An MRI was scheduled today to determine the extent of the injury. Team doctor Michael Lee said the injury either was a strained tendon or a sprained ligament. Either way, Witt will be out for some time.

Witt, who turns 37 next month, was a non-roster invitee to spring training and pitched well enough to win the starting job left vacant by Todd Stottlemyre's shoulder injury.

Manager Bob Brenly said he hadn't decided who would take Witt's place as the fifth starter in the rotation. The likely candidates are Mike Morgan or Miguel Batista. Another possibility will be to bring up a player from triple-A Tucson, perhaps Geraldo Guzman, who spent time with the Diamondbacks last season.

Both Morgan and Batista are in the Diamondbacks bullpen. Sunday's move leaves Arizona with just 10 pitchers, but Brenly said if that becomes a problem, someone could be brought up from Tucson in a hurry.

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The Colorado Rockies put shortstop Neifi Perez, who has a sprained left thumb, on the 15-day disabled list. The club recalled shortstop Juan Uribe from Carolina, its double-A affiliate in the Southern League.

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