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Berkman Injured Playing Football

From Associated Press

Houston Astro right fielder Lance Berkman may not be ready for the start of next season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing flag football.

Berkman will undergo surgery within 10 days, the Astros said Friday, and will need five to six months to recover. The injury occurred during a church-related function, new Astro General Manager Tim Purpura said.

A three-time NL All-Star, Berkman batted .316 last season with 30 homers and 106 RBIs. Purpura said he probably could begin running 10 to 12 weeks after surgery and return to baseball activities in four months.

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The St. Louis Cardinals exercised a $2-million option on pitcher Chris Carpenter, who emerged as the team’s ace before sitting out the playoffs because of arm trouble. Carpenter, who earned $650,000 in salary and bonuses last season, would have been paid a $200,000 buyout if the option had been declined.

The 29-year-old right-hander was 15-5 with a 3.46 earned-run average in 28 starts. His .750 winning percentage ranked second in the National League.

After helping the Cardinals to the best regular-season record in the major leagues at 105-57, Carpenter was to be the top starter in the playoffs before suffering nerve damage to his right biceps on Sept. 18, the day the club clinched the Central Division.

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Jon Lieber’s $8-million option was declined by the New York Yankees, and he filed for free agency. Lieber, recovering from elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2003, began spring training as the Yankees’ fifth starter and rose to No. 2 by the playoffs.

He was 14-8 with a 4.33 ERA in 27 starts in the regular season and was 1-1 with a 3.43 ERA in three starts in the postseason.

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Left-hander Al Leiter of the New York Mets filed provisionally for free agency, awaiting a decision by the club on its $10-million option. The Mets have until Nov. 15 to exercise the option or elect to pay a $2-million buyout. Leiter, who turned 39 last month, was 10-8 with a 3.21 ERA in 30 starts this season.

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Right-hander Ugueth Urbina’s $4-million option was exercised by the Detroit Tigers. Urbina, who signed as a free agent on March 29, was 4-6 with a 4.50 ERA and 21 saves in his first season with the Tigers. He left the team after his mother was kidnapped Sept. 1 in Venezuela. If Detroit had declined the option, he would have been owed a $500,000 buyout.

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The chair of the District of Columbia Council proposed that a new ballpark be built next to RFK Stadium instead of a site south of the U.S. Capitol, a plan that could cause Major League Baseball to drop the scheduled move of the Montreal Expos to Washington.

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Council Chair Linda Cropp made the proposal to cut costs for the new ballpark, which she estimates would be $600 million on the original site, far above the estimate in the $435 million deal Mayor Anthony A. Williams signed in September.


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