Derek Jeter and Yankees are at a standstill

Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees haven't held contract talks in more than a week and the shortstop's agent has yet to make a formal proposal, according to a baseball executive familiar with the negotiations.

Jeter, agent Casey Close and Yankees officials met in Tampa, Fla., about two weeks ago to start discussions. At that time, without making any proposals, Close suggested Jeter was seeking a deal averaging about $25 million for six years, the executive said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because neither the team nor Jeter's side has publicly disclosed details of their discussions.

The executive said the numbers were suggested loosely by Close and should not be interpreted as a precise request by Jeter.

New York then made a $45-million, three-year offer to the shortstop. Jeter's side hasn't made a counterproposal, the executive said, but Close followed by suggesting a contract averaging about $23 million for four or five seasons.

Pitcher Javier Vazquez and the Florida Marlins reached a preliminary agreement on a $7-million, one-year contract, a person familiar with the negotiations told the Associated Press.

The deal is subject to Vazquez's passing a physical, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement was made.

The 34-year-old right-hander was 10-10 with a 5.32 earned-run average last season in his return to the Yankees, who acquired him from Atlanta. He was dropped from the rotation during the second half of the season and didn't appear in the playoffs.

Because the Yankees offered salary arbitration, New York will receive draft-pick compensation in June.

Suspected steroid users Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez are on baseball's Hall of Fame ballot for the first time and join Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar, both having fallen just short in last year's vote.

Most valuable players Jeff Bagwell and Larry Walker, and rookies of the year Benito Santiago and Raul Mondesi also will be on the 33-man ballot, the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America said.

Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller is improving after being hospitalized because of pneumonia.

Feller was admitted to the Cleveland Clinic last week, Indians Vice President Bob DiBiasio said Monday. The 92-year-old Feller has regained some strength and is doing better, DiBiasio said. He did not know when Feller could be released.

Feller has had some serious medical issues in recent months. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in August and underwent surgery in October to implant a pacemaker.

Free-agent catcher Yorvit Torrealba agreed to a two-year contract with the Texas Rangers, filling one of the biggest off-season needs for the American League champions.

The Rangers also agreed to a $1.2-million, one-year contract with right-hander Mark Lowe, the reliever acquired from Seattle with Cliff Lee in July.

Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche and infielder Delwyn Young became free agents after clearing waivers. The Pirates removed both players from their 40-man roster when they were designated for assignment Nov. 19. … The Washington Nationals appointed former Dodgers bench coach Bob Schaefer special assistant to the general manager.


Boozer might return soon for the Bulls

Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer reported no problems after practicing with the team Monday for the first time since breaking his right hand in an accident at his home on Oct. 2.

Despite the successful outing, Coach Tom Thibodeau wasn't ready to make a decision on whether Boozer would play Wednesday against Orlando.

Gil McDougald, an All-Star infielder who helped the Yankees win five World Series championships during the 1950s, has died. He was 82.

The Yankees released a statement saying McDougald died Sunday of prostate cancer at his home in Wall Township, N.J.

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