Cutting Easley Costly to Tigers

From Associated Press

Damion Easley became the most expensive player cut loose in baseball history when the Detroit Tigers released him Friday with $14.3 million still owed on his contract.

The 33-year-old infielder is in the fourth season of a $28.9-million, five-year contract. The Tigers must pay him $6.5 million this year, $6.5 million in 2004 and a $1.3-million buyout of an $8-million team option for 2005.

The record for the most money owed to a released player was set last Saturday, when the Tampa Bay Devil Rays cut Greg Vaughn, who is guaranteed $9.25 million this year.


Easley also is the first major leaguer released with more than one year left on his contract since the Angels cut pitcher Jim Abbott, who had two years and $5.6 million left on his deal.

“It’s a very tough decision for everybody involved,” Tiger President Dave Dombrowski said. “He’s a quality individual. He’s done a lot for the organization ... It’s a lot of money.”

Easley lost his starting job last Saturday when Manager Alan Trammell decided to use Ramon Santiago as his starting second baseman this season.

Detroit obtained Easley in a July 1997 trade with the Angels and he was an All-Star the next season.

Easley was the regular second baseman through 2001, but injuries limited him to 85 games last season when he batted .224 with eight homers and 30 runs batted in in 304 at-bats.


It didn’t take Al Martin long to find work after being released by the Florida Marlins.


The Devil Rays signed the 35-year-old outfielder shortly after Florida let him go when he refused to sign a form giving the Marlins advance permission to demote him to the minor leagues.

Florida wanted Martin, in camp on a minor league contract, to agree that he would not refuse an assignment to the minors during the first 45 days of the season.

If Martin had been added to the major league roster without the agreement, his major league salary this season would have become guaranteed.

The Devil Rays also signed left-handed pitcher Mike Venafro and claimed outfielder George Lombard off waivers from the Detroit Tigers.

Martin, as did Venafro, agreed to a one-year contract. He hit .342 this spring for the Marlins with four doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs. He last played in the majors two years ago for Devil Ray Manager Lou Piniella in Seattle.


Right-hander Rudy Seanez agreed to a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers.

Seanez, who was a non-roster invitee to spring training, strained his right groin Tuesday and will open the season either at triple-A Oklahoma or double-A Frisco of the Texas League.

He’ll remain at the team’s spring training facility in Sunrise, Ariz., to rehabilitate.

The Rangers also assigned left-handed pitcher Doug Davis to Oklahoma.


The Colorado Rockies announced that the humidor in Coors Field will be used again this season.

The major leagues’ only climate-controlled baseball storage chamber was constructed last spring to store balls at 40% humidity, preventing them from drying out and shrinking in Denver’s arid climate and mile-high elevation.

The Rockies insist they are not altering the ball -- merely preserving it to the manufacturer’s specifications. According to the rules, baseballs are to weigh 5 1/4 ounces and measure 9 1/4 inches in circumference.

Balls exposed for long periods in Colorado’s climate tend to fall below those specifications. A smaller, lighter ball tends to fly farther. Because they dry out, they also become slicker.


Negotiations have broken down between the New York Yankees’ YES Network and Cablevision, jeopardizing the telecasts of games to three million homes in the New York metropolitan area this season.

The collapse of the talks came less than a month after the two sides vowed to work out their differences on behalf of the fans. The Yankees start their season Monday.

Mediators said most of dispute involves long-term and arbitration-related issues.