Brown a Marlin, Hill to Rangers

From Staff and Wire Reports

With David Cone's future decided, five other free-agent pitchers picked their new teams Friday.

Kevin Brown got the biggest deal, a $12.9-million, three-year contract with the Florida Marlins. Next was Ken Hill, who agreed to an $8.15-million, two-year deal with the Texas Rangers, who also agreed to a $2-million, one-year contract with reliever Mike Henneman.

Erik Hanson and the Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a three-year contract worth about $9.5 million. And Jamie Moyer and the Boston Red Sox agreed to a one-year contract worth at least $600,000.

Other deals were percolating. Andy Benes and the St. Louis Cardinals were said to be close to a two-year contract for about $8 million. Kenny Rogers, according to some agents, was nearing a decision to re-sign with Texas.

Among non-pitchers, third baseman Todd Zeile and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a $2.5-million, one-year contract. Infielder Craig Grebeck and the Marlins agreed on a minor league contract that will pay him $400,000 if he makes the big league club.

Brown, 30, spent nine seasons in the Ranger organization before signing with Baltimore last spring. He was 10-9 with a 3.60 earned-run average for the Orioles and made $4,225,000.

"I'm looking forward to coming here to a very young promising team," he said. "Maybe the Braves won't be able to stay on their pedestal."

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On the last working day before Christmas, George Steinbrenner fired his public relations man because he went home for the holidays.

With no idea that Cone would be re-signed, Rob Butcher, the Yankees' director of media relations and publicity, went home to Wilmington, Ohio, on Thursday afternoon. Cone signed a $19.5-million deal and Steinbrenner fired Butcher on Friday.

"If I made him angry enough, if he feels his only recourse is to fire me over it, he's the owner, that's his prerogative," Butcher said.

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Anheuser-Busch has agreed to sell the St. Louis Cardinals to a group of investors for $150 million, a deal that will keep the team in its home city. The sale by the brewery must be approved by baseball and is expected to be completed on Feb. 15.

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Former Montreal General Manager Kevin Malone was named the Baltimore Orioles' assistant general manager. . . . Hall of Famer Hank Aaron avoided a trial by reaching a settlement with three sportswear manufacturers who claimed he broke exclusive contracts with them.

Skiing

Italian star Alberto Tomba, who withdrew from the giant slalom at Kranjska Gora, Slovenia, on Thursday because of poor course conditions and flew home to Italy, was back Friday and apparently found the snow to his liking.

The defending World Cup champion was clocked in 47.46 seconds for the first run, half a second faster than any other skier. Starting in 15th place in the second run, he attacked the course, and his time of 49.38 gave him an overall clocking of 1:36.84--an impressive 1.21 seconds ahead of runner-up Jure Kosir of Slovenia.

Ending a streak of bad luck and poor performances, Sweden's Pernilla Wiberg won a World Cup slalom at Veysonnaz, Switzerland.

Wiberg overcame a first-run deficit of .77 seconds in posting an overall time of 1 minute, 14.42 seconds.

Slovenia's Urska Hrovat, runner-up in the previous slalom at St. Anton, Austria, was second at 1:14.72. She was followed by first-run leader, Kristina Andersson of Sweden, at 1:14.73.

Speedskating

Sylvain Bouchard of Canada set a world record in the men's 1,000 meters of 1:12.27 in the Canadian long-track championships at Calgary.

Americans Christine Witty and Casey FitzRandolph swept the 500- and 1,000-meter races on the first day of the U.S. sprint championships at Milwaukee.

Witty, of West Allis, Wis., took the women's 500 in 40.47 and the 1,000 in 1:20.97. FitzRandolph, of Verona, Wis., won the men's 500 in 36.96 and the 1,000 in 1:14.53.

Olympics

The committee staging the Olympic torch run next year expects logistic challenges but agreed to change the route to pass through former Olympic champion Jim Thorpe's birthplace of Prague, Okla. Prague officials and Thorpe's relatives had been fighting to get the route changed after learning that the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games mistakenly listed Yale as Thorpe's birthplace and left out Prague.

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