Major League Baseball
NEW YORK – The Yankees have added another Cuban defector, agreeing to a major league contract with third baseman Andy Morales, The Associated Press learned.
While the Yankees did not announce the agreement, it was confirmed Tuesday by two sources familiar with the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The deal is worth more than $4 million over four years, the sources said.
Morales, who hopes to compete with incumbent third baseman Scott Brosius, already has been assigned No. 87 and was listed Tuesday on a roster at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, Fla., where pitchers and catchers report Wednesday.
The roster also included free-agent outfielder Henry Rodriguez, who has been assigned No. 45. Rodriguez and the Yankees agreed in mid-January to a $1.5 million, one-year contract, but New York has not announced that signing, either.
Morales, 26, hit a three-run, ninth-inning homer at Camden Yards two years ago when Cuba’s national team beat the Baltimore Orioles 12-6 in an exhibition game. He had two hits earlier in the game and ran around the bases with his arms spread wide after homering.
He was among 30 Cubans intercepted at sea near Key West last June by a Coast Guard cutter and sent back to Cuba, then made it to the United States the following month, landing on the Marquesas, a group of islands near Key West.
Cubans who reach U.S. soil generally are allowed to stay after brief immigration processing, but those stopped at sea are returned.
Morales then established residency in Peru, in order to become a free agent. If he had become a U.S. resident, he would have been subject to baseball’s amateur draft.
He becomes the third major Cuban defector signed by the Yankees, joining Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, who has been with the team since 1998, and Adrian “El Duquecito” Hernandez, who will be the Yankees in spring training this year.
Boston and the Chicago Cubs also were interested in signing Morales.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman could not be reached and Morales’ agent, Gus Dominguez, declined comment.
CHICAGO – Mike Sirotka has a partially torn rotator cuff and damaged shoulder, and the Toronto Blue Jays will ask the White Sox to rework last month’s deal that sent David Wells to Chicago.
A day after examining Sirotka, Dr. James Andrews said Wednesday that Sirotka was injured at the time of the trade and cannot currently pitch.
Toronto said it will pass on Andrews’ diagnosis to the White Sox and “seek adequate compensation.”
Sirotka was traded to the Blue Jays on Jan. 14 as part of a six-player deal that sent Wells to the White Sox. Sirotka passed one physical after the trade. But the Blue Jays announced last week that a second exam revealed a complete tear of the labrum and the left-hander most likely would have to miss the whole season.
White Sox general manager Ken Williams has said he gave the Blue Jays all the information he had on Sirotka’s medical history and problems.
Sirotka said Monday he was hurt when he was traded, but he doesn’t think the White Sox tried to
mislead the Blue Jays. Sirotka said his injured shoulder apparently stems from last season, when he was favoring a sore elbow. The shoulder got worse during a goodwill tour of Japan last fall.
MIAMI – Florida Marlins closer Antonio Alfonseca agreed Tuesday to a $6 million, two-year contract just before the scheduled start of his arbitration hearing.
Alfonseca made $380,000 last season, when he led the major leagues last season with 45 saves.
He’ll be paid $2.45 million this year and $3.55 million in 2002. He had asked for $3.15 million, while the Marlins had offered $2.35 million.
“We’re pleased that we could settle his contract without going to arbitration, and look forward to his continued development as one of the premier closers in the major leagues,” general manager Dave Dombrowski said.
The Marlins last week avoided arbitration with second baseman Luis Castillo when he accepted a $2.2 million, one-year deal.
Florida’s pitchers and catchers report for spring training Monday in Melbourne, Fla.
National Football League
DAVIE, Fla. – Thurman Thomas has decided to retire. He’ll do it as a Buffalo Bill, the team with whom he spent 12 of his 13 NFL seasons.
The Miami Dolphins are expected to waive Thomas, allowing the running back to sign with the Bills, remain with his former team for a day, and then retire
“He’s really decided that it’s best to go out on top, that he’s had a long and great career, and it probably makes sense to hang ‘em up,” said Leigh Steinberg, Thomas’ agent.
Because of league rules, the Dolphins cannot release Thomas until after Feb. 22.
Thomas, who will turn 35 in May, had 136 yards rushing and 117 yards receiving last season as the Dolphins’ third-down back before suffering a season-ending knee injury against San Diego on Nov. 12.
During his 12 seasons in Buffalo, he helped lead the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls.
Thomas will finish his career with 12,074 yards rushing, ninth on the all-time list and just 46 yards behind Franco Harris. Thomas also is sixth in all-purpose yards.
“His desire is to retire as a Buffalo Bill, after the long and successful career that he had there,” Steinberg said. “That seems right to him.”
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