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BASEBALL NOTES

Erstad not offered arbitration

December 02, 2006|Mike DiGiovanna; Steve Henson; Bill Shaikin | From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The Angels declined to offer arbitration Friday to 11-year veteran Darin Erstad, but General Manager Bill Stoneman did not rule out the possibility of the first baseman/outfielder's returning next spring.

Erstad, a free agent, underwent surgery after the season to repair a torn ligament and shave down a bone spur in his right ankle.

If he doesn't receive any major league offers, Erstad probably would accept a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training from the Angels, who would give him a chance to prove he's sound.

"He's still going through physical therapy," Stoneman said. "We have to see how he bounces back."

The Angels also declined to offer arbitration to reliever J.C. Romero. They will receive a pick between the first and second rounds of next June's draft as compensation for free-agent second baseman Adam Kennedy, who signed with the Cardinals on Tuesday.

Stoneman also said first baseman Casey Kotchman, who sat out all but 29 games last season because of the effects of mononucleosis, will begin playing winter ball in Puerto Rico this month in an effort to regain his baseball form and his stamina.

Stoneman said pitcher Bartolo Colon's rehabilitation from a rotator-cuff tear is "on schedule," but the right-hander is not expected to begin throwing again until late this month or early January.

-- Mike DiGiovanna

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The Dodgers offered arbitration to free-agent infielder Julio Lugo before the Friday night deadline, meaning they will get two draft choices from the team that signs him, including one in the first round or between the first and second rounds. The Boston Red Sox and New York Mets reportedly are interested in Lugo, whom the Dodgers acquired from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the trading deadline.

The Philadelphia Phillies did not offer arbitration to free-agent catcher Mike Lieberthal, paving the way for the Dodgers to sign the 13-year veteran as a backup to Russell Martin. Lieberthal, who spent much of last season on the disabled list and is recovering from surgery to repair a stomach muscle, still must pass a physical.

The Dodgers did not offer arbitration to three other free agents, pitchers Greg Maddux and Eric Gagne, and center fielder Kenny Lofton. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams may continue to negotiate with free agents not offered arbitration.

The Dodgers are very interested in Maddux and mildly interested in Gagne, and won't pursue Lofton because they signed center fielder Juan Pierre to a five-year deal.

Maddux is seeking a two-year deal for $22 million to $25 million. The Dodgers are willing to offer two years but will try to get the price more in line with the one-year, $10.5-million deal Tom Glavine signed with the Mets on Friday.

Gagne, who is coming off surgery to his back and elbow, began throwing this week but is not expected to pitch off a mound for the benefit of teams interested in signing him for about another month. The Dodgers plan to monitor his progress before deciding whether to make him an offer.

-- Steve Henson

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The San Francisco Giants declined to offer salary arbitration to Barry Bonds before Friday night's deadline but can still negotiate with the free-agent slugger.

The Giants agreed to a two-year contract with second baseman Ray Durham that will pay him between $14 million and $15 million.

The 35-year-old Durham, a switch-hitter and two-time All-Star, batted .293 with career highs of 26 home runs and 93 runs batted in for the Giants with a .538 slugging percentage in 498 at-bats.

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Although the Angels and several other clubs offered minor league coaching and/or managing positions to Troy Percival, the longtime Angels closer plans to take next season off and then consider starting a coaching career in 2008.

-- Bill Shaikin

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Glavine is staying with the Mets, opting against a possible return to the Atlanta Braves.

Glavine is 10 wins shy of 300 after finishing 15-7 with a 3.82 earned-run average.

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Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell said his probe into steroid use in baseball has been delayed because he lacks power to order testimony.

Mitchell was hired by Commissioner Bud Selig in March after more than a year of allegations against Bonds, Mark McGwire and other stars. No timetable was set for Mitchell's report.

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Left fielder Scott Podsednik agreed to a one-year, $2.9-million contract with the Chicago White Sox, avoiding arbitration.

Podsednik batted .261 with three home runs, 45 RBIs and 40 stolen bases in 2006, becoming the fourth player in White Sox history to record consecutive seasons with 40 steals.

But the numbers represented a significant drop-off from a year earlier, when he batted .290 and stole 59 bases.

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Utility infielder Geoff Blum and the Padres agreed to a $900,000, one-year contract that keeps one of baseball's best pinch-hitters in San Diego.

Blum, 33, who hit a key home run in the 2005 World Series for the Chicago White Sox, batted .254 in 109 games last season. But he batted a major league-high .387 (12 for 31) as a pinch-hitter.

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