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Indians Deal Colon to Expos

Baseball: In what could be its last season, Montreal gears up for playoff race by acquiring Cleveland ace.

June 28, 2002|From Associated Press

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians figured they had no chance to win this season, even with ace Bartolo Colon. For the Montreal Expos, this might be their last chance.

The disappointing Indians traded Colon to the surprising Expos for first baseman Lee Stevens and top prospect Brandon Phillips in a six-player deal Thursday night.

Cleveland sent Colon and a player to be named--said to be minor league pitcher Tim Drew--and cash to the Expos for Stevens and three prospects: pitcher Cliff Lee, outfielder Grady Sizemore and Phillips, a shortstop.

"I hope it sends a message to our fans and players that we are trying to be competitive and trying to make the playoffs," Expo General Manager Omar Minaya said.

Colon is 10-4 with a 2.55 earned-run average in 16 starts.

The Indians, who had great expectations after starting the season 11-1, have faded ever since in the American League Central.

They are 36-41 and in third place, seven games behind Minnesota.

"It's a big blow to us, a shock," said C.C. Sabathia, now the Indians' top pitcher. "Bartolo was certainly the best pitcher on the staff. He carried the load for this team."

The Expos, who escaped baseball's plan to eliminate them in the off-season, have been one of the majors' best success stories this year.

Despite a team thrown together in spring training, the Expos are 41-36 and in the middle of the NL wild-card race.

General Manager Mark Shapiro said the deal signals a new phase for the Indians.

"This very clearly and very definitively demonstrates that we are moving into a formal rebuilding process with players that we all feel are going to be here in the '04 and '05 seasons which are when we feel we can start to emerge as a contender again," he said.

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