Blue Jays Say Bye to Molitor; Athletics Will Keep Eckersley

From Staff and Wire Reports

Toronto decided Wednesday to let Paul Molitor become a free agent, while Oakland decided to bring Dennis Eckersley back for next season.

Molitor, 39, will receive a $1 million buyout from the Blue Jays, who could have exercised a $4 million option.

Eckersley’s $2.25 million contract for next season was guaranteed by Oakland, even though he pitched in only 52 games last season. The contract had called for the option year to be guaranteed if he pitched in 54 games. But the A’s wanted him back.

Baltimore exercised its 1996 option on pitcher Jesse Orosco, but declined to exercise its $1.3 million option on pitcher Doug Jones and instead will give him a $100,000 buyout.


Milwaukee declined to exercise a $2.5 million option on center fielder Darryl Hamilton and settled a grievance with him for $275,000.

Seattle prevented reliever Norm Charlton from filing for free agency by offering him salary arbitration.

The New York Yankees have delayed their decision on Darryl Strawberry’s contract. The team said it would extend its deadline on the outfielder’s contract until today.

The Yankees hold a $1.8 million option for next season. The deadline on exercising it was Wednesday.

Twenty-six more players filed for free agency, raising the total to 56 after three days. Among them were Toronto outfielder Devon White, Dodger pitcher Ramon Martinez, Cleveland pitchers Ken Hill and John Farrell, New York Yankee catcher Mike Stanley, Oakland pitcher Steve Ontiveros and St. Louis reliever Tom Henke.


The Dodgers, in an attempt to strengthen their bullpen in late-inning situations, signed free-agent right-handed reliever Darren Hall, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays, to a one-year major league contract.

Hall, 31, tied a rookie Blue Jay record by saving 17 games in 20 opportunities in 1994. He was 0-2 with three saves and a 4.41 earned run average in 17 games in 1995 when he underwent arthroscopic elbow surgery and missed the second-half of the season.

Hall received a clean bill of health Tuesday from Dr. Frank Jobe and signed Wednesday.

“I’ve liked him for a couple of years,” said Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president. “I look at him as someone who can be a very key setup man for us and pitch in the ninth inning.”


A plan to build a $300 million, baseball-only stadium in hopes of keeping Houston Astro owner Drayton McLane from moving the team is getting the cold shoulder from Houston officials.

“There is no guarantee whatsoever that if you improve the Astrodome or build a new stadium that Drayton wants that the team will sell more tickets to ball games,” Steve Radack, a Harris County commissioner. “The Dome is perfectly suited for baseball because it was built for it.”


California businessman Kevin McClatchy will have an extra week to complete his final offer for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates announced that McClatchy has until 3 p.m. on Tuesday to demonstrate he has the cash to complete the deal and to post an additional $2 million dollar deposit. McClatchy already has put up a non-refundable $1 million deposit.


National League President Len Coleman rejected the Houston Astros’ grievance against the Chicago Cubs over the Rick Wilkins trade. Houston acquired Wilkins on June 28 for Luis Gonzales and Scott Servais. Wilkins was disabled July 2 because of a herniated cervical disk and underwent surgery July 9. He was on the disabled list for 65 days.

“It is long settled in our industry that the principle of caveat emptor--'let the buyer beware'--applies to player transactions,” Coleman said. “Exceptions to this long-settled rule should be made only when there is evidence or purposeful concealment or intentional misrepresentation.

“Should a club wish to address the risk associated with trading for player contracts, they are free to ask for medical records, speak to club doctors and otherwise more formally investigate the matter and-or condition the trade on a medical examination.”

Sparky Anderson says he’s enjoying retirement since leaving the Detroit Tigers last month and doesn’t plan to manage a major league team again.

Anderson, 61, said he would rather enjoy his grandchildren, golf and traveling with his wife, Carol. He already has booked two speaking engagements in February, when he’s usually at spring training and not at home in Thousand Oaks.


The cost of converting the Olympic stadium to a new home for the Atlanta Braves rose $23.4 million. The Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority approved adding the expenditure to the $207 million the Olympic organizing committee already was paying to build the stadium for the Games and then turn it into a ballpark.


Guy Forget of France beat second-seeded Austrian Thomas Muster, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in the second round of the Paris Open. Pete Sampras, soon to be No. 1 again, and Jim Courier, a former No. 1, advanced to the third round but Goran Ivanisevic, Thomas Enqvist and Muster were three of the first eight seeded players to be eliminated.

Sampras beat Frenchman Arnaud Boetsch, 6-3, 6-4. Courier, a two-time French Open winner, had a 6-1, 6-7 (2-7), 6-2, victory over Dutchman Jacco Eltingh.

Pro Hockey

Defenseman Chris Pronger of the St. Louis Blues was suspended for four games and fined $1,000 by the NHL after slashing center Pat Peake of the Washington Capitals. Peake will be out at least a month because of fractured thyroid cartilage.


Major League Soccer will conduct open tryouts across the country over the next two months in a talent search for American soccer players for the league’s inaugural season starting next April. Tryouts will be held in all 10 cities of the MLS, the FIFA and U.S. Soccer-sanctioned Division 1 soccer league. Los Angeles tryout date will be Dec. 2-3. For more information, call (800) 678-1328.

Steve Soboroff, long considered Mayor Richard Riordan’s man on the L.A. Coliseum Commission, has left that post and been replaced by attorney Lisa Specht. Soboroff, vice chairman of Football LA, has been working on plans to place football, basketball and ice hockey franchises in locations other than the Coliseum or Sports Arena, and said he considered it appropriate that he leave the commission.