Texas Rangers outfielder Juan Gonzalez wants the club to move in the fences at The Ballpark in Arlington and is hinting that it might become an issue in negotiations toward a long-term contract extension.
The fence in left-center field is 390 feet from home plate, giving the stadium the second-deepest left-field power alley in the league (behind Yankee Stadium). Gonzalez said it costs him 15-20 home runs per year.
That's probably a stretch, but he likely would have hit more than 50 homers last season if the fence dimensions were less challenging.
"I lose home-run balls out there every season -- balls that are over the fence anywhere else are caught in Arlington," Gonzalez said. "When I lose home runs, I think we lose. The team loses."
Maybe so, but don't look for any architectural changes soon. Rangers officials like the stadium just the way it is, and Gonzalez is short on leverage because his contract runs through this year and includes a club option on 2000.
There had been speculation that a large-market team would acquire Oakland Athletics starter Kenny Rogers before Opening Day, but it appears that the Cleveland Indians and New York Mets will take a wait-and-see attitude toward the veteran left-hander.
The Indians are believed to have backed away from a deal for Rogers recently because of concern about the elbow inflammation that caused him to go 11 days between starts. They remain interested -- along with the Mets and several other teams -- but apparently want to see how he pitches in his first couple of regular-season starts.
Bad news bears
The Chicago Cubs averaged 7.8 runs through the first 28 games of the exhibition season, but won just nine of those games. That probably had something to do with the pitching staff's 6.63 ERA over the same period, which doesn't bode well for a return to the playoffs.
Cubs general manager Ed Lynch recently made a play for veteran Minnesota Twins closer Rick Aguilera, but the trade talk didn't go anywhere because Aguilera reportedly is resistant to the idea of pitching in a setup role.
Good glove, no ego
Chicago White Sox third baseman Greg Norton has played so well defensively that he has evoked comparisons with departed Gold Glover Robin Ventura, but the talk hasn't gone to his head.
"I can't even compare myself to him," Norton said. "What did he win, five Gold Gloves? I don't think I have five of anything, not even shoes."
Pub Date: 4/04/99