Gagne Will Take Free-Agent Route

From Associated Press

Shortstop Greg Gagne's career with the Dodgers appears finished.

The Dodgers announced Friday that Gagne, who batted .251 with nine homers and 57 runs batted in in 144 games this past season, has opted to become a free agent.

"Greg did an outstanding job for us the past two seasons and we wish him the very best," Executive Vice President Fred Claire said. "We held an option on Greg's contract for 1998, but Greg has expressed an interest to be closer to his home in Massachusetts."

Gagne, who turns 36 next month, said late in the season that he might retire, but also left the door open to playing for a team closer to his home. He and his wife, Micki, have three children.

Gagne committed only 16 errors in 548 total chances last season for a fielding percentage of .971.

He played in 128 games for the Dodgers in 1996, batted .255 with 10 homers and 55 RBIs.

In 13 full big league seasons and parts of two others, he has a .254 average with 111 homers and 604 RBIs. He played for the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals before joining the Dodgers.

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Angel catcher Chris Turner has cleared waivers and elected free agency.

Turner, 28, played in 13 games this season for the Angels, batting .261 with one double.

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The Cincinnati Reds released left-hander Pete Schourek, who has suffered through arm troubles over the past two seasons.

The Reds added left-hander Joey Eischen to the 40-man roster.

Schourek, 28, underwent season-ending elbow surgery in 1996 to tighten up ligaments and remove some scar tissue. He again was bothered by arm troubles this season and made only 17 starts, going 5-8 with a 5.42 earned-run average.

In four seasons with the Reds, Shourek went 34-32 with a 4.27 ERA in 81 games. Schourek, who finished second to Atlanta's Greg Maddux in 1995 Cy Young Award voting, is 50-46 with a 4.44 ERA in his career.

The Reds, who are reported to have lost $15 million each of the past two seasons, have been trying to trim their payroll. Wednesday, they cut $8.2 million off next year's obligation by letting pitchers Kent Mercker and Mike Morgan and first baseman Hal Morris become free agents.

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Outfielder Danny Tartabull, who signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for $2.2 million this spring but played only three games, has declared free agency.

Tartabull suffered a broken left foot when he was hit by a foul ball opening day. In late September, he underwent an MRI, which showed that he still had a broken bone.

Tartabull turned down a minor league assignment.

Phillie pitchers Scott Ruffcorn and Billy Brewer also rejected outright assignments and opted for free agency.

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A task force assigned to decide a site and financing for a proposed new ballpark for the San Diego Padres should be able to finish its work by the end of the year, its chairman said Friday.

The City Task Force on Ballpark Planning will be aided by work done by a previous task force, chairman Patrick Shea said.

The first task force determined last month that the Padres can't generate the necessary revenue to survive if they remain in Qualcomm Stadium after their lease expires in two seasons. Qualcomm Stadium was expanded to 71,600 seats earlier this year to accommodate the NFL's Chargers.

The issue of a new ballpark will have to go to a public vote sometime next year, perhaps in June.

Padre owner John Moores would like a new ballpark built on the downtown waterfront. He has said that the Padres will pay for a portion of a new ballpark.

The task force will consider two downtown sites and a site next to Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley.

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Gov. Arne Carlson said Friday he will call a special legislative session Oct. 23 to deal with the Minnesota Twins' demands for a publicly subsidized stadium.

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