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World Series | GIANT NOTES

Kent's Free to 'Seek His Fortune Elsewhere,' Owner Says

October 27, 2002|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

The San Francisco Giants are prepared to lose Jeff Kent, saying they won't alter their budget to re-sign the All-Star second baseman.

However, there's one team in particular the Giants hope Kent doesn't join.

"I'd hate to see him in a Dodger uniform," owner Peter Magowan said. "I don't think he'd look very good in a Dodger uniform, from my perspective. Of course, they might have a very different perspective."

Magowan said he has "heard about all kind of places where Jeff would help a ballclub," but won't engage in a bidding war for Kent, who is coming off his sixth consecutive season with at least 100 runs batted in.

"I have no idea what the demand for him might turn out to be in an industry that lost $800 million this year," said Magowan, also facing the possible departures of General Manager Brian Sabean and Manager Dusty Baker. "I believe there are going to be some adjustments next year.

"It's up to Jeff. If he wants to seek his fortune elsewhere, it's a free country. There's not much we can do about it if he doesn't want to be here. These are things we have to find out pretty soon."

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At a lunch meeting in early May, Barry Bonds told agent Scott Boras he had overhauled his batting approach to hit for a higher average this season.

That wasn't the type of news Boras expected after Bonds established a record with 73 home runs in 2001, but Bonds figured he would be pitched around even more and wanted to maximize his run production.

"He said, 'I'm going to go up the middle and go to left field more,' " Boras recalled, saying Bonds thought the opposition wouldn't expect that.

Despite breaking the record for walks he set in 2001, Bonds led the majors with a .370 batting average and hit 46 homers with 110 RBIs and 117 runs.

"I don't shake my head and say, 'How did he do that?' Baker said. "You do find yourself saying, 'Man, he's done it again.' "

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The Giants calculated an additional profit of $3 million if the World Series went four games and $9 million if the maximum were played.

"There's a difference in there of $6 million," Magowan said, "and that will affect [the 2003 payroll]."

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Former Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda could hardly be described as a fan favorite in San Francisco.

Perhaps he should be.

Not only did Baker play for Lasorda, but, says Lasorda, he converted Giant reliever Felix Rodriguez into a pitcher.

Signed as a free-agent catcher by the Dodgers in 1989, Rodriguez was converted to a pitcher in 1993.

That spring, Rodriguez was with the Dodgers in Toronto for an exhibition game when Lasorda sent word down to the bullpen that he wanted Rodriguez to pitch.

Rodriguez refused at first.

"I want you to pitch," Lasorda insisted. "You can do this."

Pitch he did, that day and for the rest of that season with Class-A Vero Beach. Rodriguez was 8-8 with a 3.75 earned-run average in his first year on the mound.

By the end of the 1995 season he had reached the majors.

Rodriguez went on to pitch for the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks before being traded to the Giants in 1999.

It all began that day in Toronto when, at Lasorda's insistence, Rodriguez took off the catcher's gear for the last time.

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Times staff writer Steve Springer contributed to this report.

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