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FREEWAY SERIES NOTES

Dodgers' ticket-price increase leads majors

March 31, 2007|Bill Shaikin and Eric Sondheimer | Times Staff Writers

The Dodgers' average ticket price increased 26.9% from last season, the largest such jump in the major leagues, according to an annual study conducted by Chicago-based Team Marketing Report.

The average ticket price, excluding premium seating, rose from $20.09 to $26.28, according to the report. The major league average this season is $22.29.

The Boston Red Sox had the highest average at $47.71, followed by the Chicago Cubs at $34.30 and the New York Yankees at $29.01.

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Scot Shields covered all the proverbial bases in the contract he signed Thursday. The Angels agreed to pay him $18 million over four years as a setup man, and Shields got them to include incentive bonuses for games started and games finished, in case they use him as a starter or closer in the future.

By signing away two years of free agency, Shields could be forfeiting his chance to close for another team -- as well as make a few million dollars more.

"I want to play for a winning ballclub," said Shields, who will be 35 when the contract expires. "I'll have a chance to do that for the next four years."

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In a minor league trade, the Dodgers acquired former major league infielder Tomas Perez from the Chicago Cubs for future considerations. Perez, 33, is expected to be the backup middle infielder at triple-A Las Vegas, where prospect Tony Abreu is slated to play shortstop.

Another shortstop prospect, defensive whiz Chin-Lung Hu, hit .254 at double-A Jacksonville last season and could return there.

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Nomar Garciaparra returned to Dodger Stadium on Friday feeling all the emotion and pride that comes with becoming a father for the first time.

Mia Hamm, Garciaparra's wife, gave birth late Tuesday night to twin girls, Grace and Ava.

"People always tell you if you're a parent, they can't put it in words, they can't describe it until you go through it," he said. "They're absolutely right. The thing is the girls are doing well, the wife is doing well. I'm very lucky."

The girls were born about five weeks before their expected delivery date. Garciaparra hurriedly got a flight from spring training in Florida to Los Angeles.

"The good thing was I had my wife on the phone through the whole procedure," said Garciaparra, who spent Wednesday and Thursday with his family before returning to the lineup Friday night.

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Dodgers catcher Mike Lieberthal was feeling fine one night after the Angels' Nick Gorneault barreled over him trying to score. He was held out of Friday's game as a precaution. ... Dodgers Manager Grady Little said shortstop Rafael Furcal "is still improving," from his sprained ankle but no firm decision has been made about his availability for Monday's season opener.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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