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Around the Majors - April 21

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Around the Majors - April 21

Postby WebHamster » Wed Apr 21, 2004 5:00 pm

By Eric Gold, MLB Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Even though the season is less than a month old, rumors are already flying about possible trades. Will the Yankees deal veteran centerfielder Kenny Lofton? Do the White Sox have enough money to throw around to keep four-time All-Star Magglio Ordonez in the Windy City?

Lofton went on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quad hitless in his last 10 at-bats. Although he turns 37 on Memorial Day, Lofton still possesses good speed and can be an asset at the plate due to his bunting skills. However, it could be tough trying to trade him since he signed a two- year contract with the Yankees in the offseason.

The reason the Yankees may want to part with Lofton stems from an over abundance of centerfielders and possibly Lofton's unwillingness to be a designated hitter at times. Bernie Williams is already the everyday centerfielder and Bubba Crosby has shown the ability to back up at the position. Also, Lofton was visibly upset earlier when he started the season- opening series in Japan batting from the nine hole.

As for Ordonez, rumors in the offseason had him pegged to the Red Sox as part of a possible Alex Rodriguez blockbuster that was never finalized because of union blockage. Now that Ordonez is in the final year of his contract and is being paid $14 million this season, he'll likely want at least that much per year over a new five-year deal. This situation may go right to the wire of the July 31 trading deadline. In any case, the White Sox have to know where they stand by that time because they're certainly not just going to lose him to free agency.

There was a trade completed on Wednesday as lefthander Brad Thomas was acquired by Boston from the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named or cash considerations. The Red Sox took a liking to Thomas, who has flexibility as a starter and reliever. The 26-year-old, a native of Sydney, Australia, still hasn't won a game (0-3, 9.89 ERA) since breaking into the majors in 2001.

WELCOME BACK KATA

Matt Kata will finally get his chance to become the everyday second baseman for the Arizona Diamondbacks, but unfortunately for the team, his break comes because of a devastating injury to veteran Roberto Alomar.

Alomar broke a bone in his right hand Tuesday night when he was hit by a fastball from Ben Sheets in the sixth inning of a 4-2 loss to Milwaukee at Miller Park. Alomar, who joined the Diamondbacks as a free agent in the offseason, isn't expected back until at least early June.

That opens the door for Kata, who will be in the starting lineup the majority of the time now at second base. The 26-year-old switch-hitter appeared in 78 games last season for the Diamondbacks and hit .257 with seven homers and 29 RBI. He was hitting .280 this season entering Wednesday's action.

In case Kata falters, Chad Tracy may get a chance to play at second. Tracy, who was recalled from Triple-A Tucson following Tuesday's game, was hitting .400 in the minors this year and was leading the Sidewinders with 11 RBI.

TIMELY TIDBITS

Here are some interesting team facts heading into Wednesday's games.

Baltimore Orioles pitchers have held opponents to a .211 batting average this season, lowest in the American League.

The Cubs have notched 10 or more hits in all eight of their victories this season and have homered in all but two of their games.

The Rangers are starting this season with 19 straight games against AL West opponents. It marks the fourth straight season the club is beginning the year with a large number of contests against division rivals. The Rangers went 10-9 in the opening stretch against the division in 2001, 5-13 in 2002 and 8-11 last year. Heading into Wednesday night's game with Anaheim, the Rangers were 7-7.

The Yankees began the season with 13 consecutive starts by right-handed pitchers before Alex Graman made his major league debut Tuesday against the White Sox in Chicago. It was the longest such streak by the Yankees to start a season since 1945, when righthanders started the first 49 games of the season.

Despite the losses of Ugueth Urbina and Braden Looper in the offseason, the Marlins currently lead the majors with a 0.94 bullpen ERA.
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