White Sox buy Thomas out at $3.5M

SPORTS DIGEST

Sports Digest

November 05, 2005

The Chicago White Sox bought out Frank Thomas for $3.5 million yesterday, making the best slugger in team history eligible for free agency.

Thomas, 37, exercised a $10 million mutual option for next season on Monday, giving the team five days to decide whether to exercise its half. The White Sox could try to re-sign the two-time American League Most Valuable Player for less money.

"There should be no question about the respect this organization has for Frank and all that he has helped us accomplish, including a World Series championship," general manager Ken Williams said in a statement. "He is the greatest hitter in White Sox history. At the same time, it is my responsibility to make the best decisions I can on behalf of the organization."

Thomas, who has missed most of the past two years with foot and ankle problems, hit .219 with 12 homers in just 105 at-bats last season. He missed the first two months while recovering from surgery on his left ankle, then broke the ankle in July, ending his season.

Yankees -- Ron Guidry rejoined New York as the team's pitching coach, and former Red Sox manager Joe Kerrigan was hired as bullpen coach. Guidry, the 1978 AL Cy Young Award winner, was a three-time 20-game winner who played for the Yankees from 1975-1988. Kerrigan was the Red Sox pitching coach from 1997 until he became manager in August 2001.

Brewers -- Hall of Famer Robin Yount is returning to Milwaukee as the bench coach, 12 years after he left the only team he played for. Yount, 50, holds nearly every offensive record in Brewers history in a 20-year career that ended in 1993.

Reds -- Bucky Dent was hired as Cincinnati's bench coach, making him the top assistant to close friend Jerry Narron. Dent, 53, worked with Narron for seven years as a Texas coach before managing in the minors.

Indians -- Second baseman Ronnie Belliard's $4 million option was exercised, as Cleveland rewarded one of its steadier and more underrated players. In his second season with Cleveland, Belliard hit .284 with 36 doubles and set career highs with 17 homers and 78 RBIs.

Dodgers -- Los Angeles and outfielder Jose Cruz Jr. agreed to a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $3.21 million. Cruz joined the Dodgers in August and was one of their most productive hitters in the season's final weeks.

Angels -- Mike Scioscia got a new deal to manage Los Angeles through the 2009 season. His previous contract extension, announced in 2003, signed Scioscia through 2007 with a club option for 2008. The new deal includes a team option for 2010.

Mets -- General manager Omar Minaya led a delegation earlier this week that visited free-agent closer Billy Wagner at his home in Virginia, the New York Post reported.

Twins -- Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson said he wants to be first in line to buy the team if it goes up for sale. Jackson, who heads an investment group with Las Vegas ties, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he spoke to Twins officials last month about his desire to purchase the team.

Padres -- General manager Kevin Towers will remain with the team after a two-week stretch in which he interviewed for the Diamondbacks' GM job, was considered to have a shot at filling the vacant job with the Red Sox and was sought by the rival Dodgers for their GM opening.

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