Seattle Mariners owner Jeff Smulyan said last night that the team was for sale for $100 million, but would be offered to local buyers first, which is required by its lease with the Kingdome.
"It's not easy for me to stand here and tell you I have failed," Smulyan said.
Smulyan has been ordered by Security Pacific Bank to repay a loan of nearly $40 million or else find a buyer for the team. Officials in St. Petersburg, Fla., who failed to gain a National League expansion franchise have said they are set to lure the Mariners to Florida to play in the Florida Suncoast Dome.
Commissioner Fay Vincent said he wasn't surprised by the announcement.
"This is a significant step by Jeff," he said from his home in Greenwich, Conn. "We have to wait to see how things play out."
* BRAVES: Otis Nixon's attempt to shorten his drug suspension from 60 days to time served was turned down by George Nicolau, baseball's permanent arbitrator.
Nixon, a 32-year-old outfielder, was suspended by Vincent on Sept. 16 after testing positive for cocaine. He missed the final 21 days of the regular season, the National League playoffs and the World Series. Nicolau's ruling means Nixon also will miss the first 18 days of the 1992 season.
* PIRATES: Barry Bonds said he expects to be traded and he indicated he wouldn't mind if he ended up with the Mets and his friend Bobby Bonilla.
"I'd like to go to California, but that's not the only door opening," Bonds said. "Bobby's in New York. Why wouldn't I want to play in New York?"
The Pirates are negotiating with Bonds' agent, Rod Wright, on a multi-year contract. Pirates general manager Larry Doughty said the team opened discussions with a figure "in the area of our offer to Bonilla," which would be about $23 million.
* METS: Al Jackson, fired by the Orioles after Baltimore's pitching staff finished last in the American League with a 4.59 ERA, was hired as a minor-league pitching instructor by the New York team where he spent 16 years early in his career.
Meanwhile, Dwight Gooden continued his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery, throwing a baseball for the first time since undergoing surgery in September. He played catch with former team trainer Larry Mayol for five minutes and said he didn't experience any discomfort in his right arm.
* ATHLETICS: Oakland has signed Carney Lansford, 34, to a one-year contract to fill its vacancy at third base.
He missed virtually all of the 1991 season because of a knee injury suffered last New Year's Eve in a snowmobile accident. In July, he attempted to play but his return to the game proved to be premature and he was placed on injured reserve.
* ANGELS: Left-hander Chuck Finley underwent successful corrective foot surgery on the big toe of his left foot, which had troubled him last season, and is expected to be ready to play by the start of spring training.
* RED SOX: Jeff Gray is making improvement in his recovery from a mild stroke he suffered in July. The right-handed pitcher is walking unlimited distances, jogging for 10 to 15 minutes and practicing his throwing on a daily basis.