Expos to be embraced by fans in Puerto Rico



March 09, 2003|By Peter Schmuck

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - From all preliminary indications, the vagabond Montreal Expos will be very well-received when they play 22 games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this season, and that could mean even more games there next year.

There has been speculation that Major League Baseball and the players union could agree to stage half of the Expos home schedule in Puerto Rico in 2004 if no decision has been made on relocating the franchise permanently to Washington or another site.

"You're open-minded," Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Donald Fehr said on Thursday. "Whenever you do an experiment like this, you don't prejudge the results."

Union official Tony Bernazard, a native of Puerto Rico, is confident that the area would be supportive of a larger schedule of games and could play host to the team for a full season if necessary. The area apparently is not a serious option for permanent relocation of the Expos, but that might change if things go as well as hoped this season.

"I was hoping it would be more than 22 games [this year]," Bernazard said.

"I know it will be successful for a short period of time, even if it was 81 games. The question is what would happen over the long term. Let's see how it works out."

Symbolic gesture

The Milwaukee Brewers took a swing at baseball's conflicted stance on supplement usage Thursday, circulating a memo in their spring training clubhouse discouraging the use of products containing the stimulant ephedrine and other potentially hazardous over-the-counter substances.

The club told players that they should no longer bring those products into the clubhouse or store them in their lockers. The document warned about the potential dangers of certain supplements and advised players who continue to use them at home that they should make the team's medical staff aware of what they are taking to minimize the health risks.

It was a nice, symbolic gesture, but good intentions don't supersede baseball's labor agreement. Team officials were quick to admit they do not have the power to ban any substance not covered in the drug policy outlined in the new Basic Agreement. The owners will have to lure the players union back to the bargaining table for that.

Sister act

New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens told a local New York radio show Thursday that he has gotten over the criticism he received in the off-the-wall autobiographical book by teammate David Wells, but at least one close family member hasn't.

Wells has sparked weeks of controversy at the Yankees spring training facility with his strange book, in which he claims to have been drunk when he threw his perfect game. He also said that if he were Mike Piazza and Clemens had thrown a broken bat in his direction during the Subway World Series, the bat would still be lodged in a certain unmentionable part of Clemens' anatomy.

"He has hurt some people with what he said," Clemens said. "I've got three sisters and the middle one's a bit of a bruiser and she wants a piece of him. ... He better look out for himself in the [Yankee Stadium] hallway. She might hit him upside the head with a set of car keys."

No cryogenics in baseball

Yankees star Jason Giambi, who grew up studying the famous Ted Williams strike zone chart, joined the chorus of criticism for the unseemly way that baseball's purest hitter has been treated in death.

Williams' body has been cryogenically frozen and there were even rumors after his death that his son intended to sell his DNA.

"It's really sad," Giambi told the New York Post. "To take an idol like that and try to market him, to try and still make money off him. It's one thing to sell his bat and batting gloves, but it's quite another to keep Pop on ice. That's kind of rough. Let the man rest in peace."

Star turn

For the first time in 57 years, the manager of the National League All-Star team will wear the regalia of the long-suffering Chicago Cubs. The commissioner's office confirmed Wednesday that Dusty Baker would manage in the midseason classic at Comiskey Park in his new uniform instead of the one he wore when he led the San Francisco Giants to the NL pennant last year.

The Cubs haven't been to the World Series since 1945, so Baker will be only the third Cubs skipper ever to manage in the All-Star Game, following Charlie Grimm (1936 and '46) and Gabby Hartnett (1939).

"That'll be cool, even though I didn't [win the NL title] on the Cubs," Baker said.

Strong rebuttal

Chicago White Sox second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez struck a nerve when he was quoted criticizing his former teammates in San Diego. Jimenez said he had a miserable time with the Padres and was treated poorly by the club's veteran players.

The Padres aren't a particularly controversial group, but veteran Ryan Klesko could not let those comments go undisputed. He fired back with a scathing indictment of Jimenez's work ethic.

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