New York's baseball rivals pulled off quite a double play Tuesday.
In the space of three hours, the city's two baseball teams unveiled their newest multimillion-dollar acquisitions: outfielder Carlos Beltran for the Mets and pitcher Randy Johnson for the Yankees.
Johnson's first pitch in pinstripes was an apology.
The Big Unit opened his news conference introducing him as a member of the Yankees by talking about his confrontation on a Manhattan sidewalk with a television cameraman on the way to his physical for the team the day before.
"I'd first like to once again reiterate: The situation yesterday, it was unprofessional," Johnson said, "and obviously I feel very foolish today at such a great moment of my career that I would have to stand before you and apologize for my actions. Hopefully it's water under the bridge."
Johnson added: "Yesterday, my actions were uncalled for. I'm sorry. I hope I can move on and can get another chance to prove that I'm worth coming here."
In a deal in the works for more than a month and agreed to Dec. 30, the Yankees sent pitchers Javier Vazquez and Brad Halsey, catcher Dioner Navarro and $9 million to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Johnson.
The five-time Cy Young Award winner got a $32-million, two-year contract extension that runs through 2007.
The Yankees revamped their rotation in the off-season, also adding starters Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright.
"Obviously, the acquisition of Randy Johnson is, in more ways than one, a huge addition to our pitching staff," Yankee Manager Joe Torre said in a statement. "His accomplishments speak for themselves, but he will also make everyone around him much better."
For Beltran, his seven-year, $119-million contract with the Mets was all about commitment.
"When I was in Kansas City, I was always worried about being traded for five years," the 27-year-old center fielder said. "When I was traded to Houston, it was not a good feeling. I didn't want to go through that anymore. I would not sign without a no-trade clause. I was looking for stability. The Mets said they would give me that stability."
And they said it over and over and over again.
When General Manager Omar Minaya decided the Mets had a shot at Beltran, the team went after him aggressively.
"Starting at Thanksgiving, they called me 31 straight days," agent Scott Boras said. "They checked in every day, asking where Carlos was at, saying they wanted Carlos. I would tell Carlos every day, 'The Mets called again. And again. And again.' "
Beltran was impressed. Then came the visit.
Boras suggested the two sides meet in Miami. Minaya, fresh off his successful recruiting trip to the Dominican Republic where he charmed free-agent pitcher Pedro Martinez with Thanksgiving dinner, said the Mets would travel to San Juan to see Beltran on his home turf.
"If we are involved, we are involved to win," Minaya said. "I sensed when we got there we would be players, maybe underdogs. But I like being the underdog."
Beltran said the Mets' signing of Martinez impressed him. And he hoped his signing would have a similar effect on first baseman Carlos Delgado, another Mets' target.
Beltran was wowed by the visit, especially the sincerity of Met owner Fred Wilpon.
"He told me, 'If you're happy in Houston, stay in Houston. If you want the big stage, come to New York. Sign with the Yankees or sign with us,' " Beltran said. "He gave me options. He showed me the kind of person he is."
The Diamondbacks agreed with left-hander Shawn Estes on a $2.5-million, one-year contract and were close to trading Shea Hillenbrand to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Estes, who turns 32 in February, was 15-8 with a 5.84 earned-run average for the Colorado Rockies last season. He becomes the third newcomer to the rotation for a vastly revamped Diamondback team after Arizona lost 111 games last year.
Hillenbrand is to be traded to Toronto for right-hander Adam Peterson, 25, who struggled in his brief major league stint last season. Peterson had a 2.54 ERA and 15 saves with double-A New Hampshire.
Juan Gonzalez, two-time American League MVP, signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians that could pay him up to $2.55 million -- if the oft-injured slugger can remain healthy.... The Toronto Blue Jays signed free-agent pitcher Scott Schoeneweis to a two-year, $5.25-million contract. Schoeneweis, the former Angel left-hander, will make $2.5 million next season and $2.75 million in 2006.... The Astros and infielder Mike Lamb agreed to a $1.3-million, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.... The Baltimore Orioles signed right-hander James Baldwin to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
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NEW YORK MAKEOVER
After spending the first 6 1/2 seasons of his career in the AL, Carlos Beltran had little trouble adjusting to the NL after being traded to Houston. Comparing his numbers with the two teams last season, including the playoffs:
*--* Team AB H HR RBI AVG Kansas City 266 74 15 51 278 Houston 333 86 23 53 258 Playoffs 46 20 8 14 435
Johnson was only 16-14 last season, but he was still near the top of the NL leaderboard in most categories. A look:
*--* ERA 2.60 2nd Wins 16 T5th Innings 245 2/3 2nd Strikeouts 290 1st Games started 35 T1st Complete games 4 T4th Shutouts 2 T3rd