Will Gibbons and Lilly soon be southbound?

Al Notebook

August 27, 2006|By Compiled from interviews and other newspapers' reports.

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons and left-handed starter Ted Lilly say their spat - which included a wrestling match in the dugout tunnel Monday - is over.

Now the question is whether their careers in Toronto are also history.

Lilly, 30, is a pending free agent and wasn't expected to be back, anyway. It's almost certain now. There was speculation he would be put on irrevocable waivers, but that won't happen.

For his part, Lilly said: "There's parts of me that want to be here, other parts that don't." Expect the part that wants to test the free-agent market to win out.

He's an under-.500 pitcher who has never won more than 12 games in a season and posted a sub-4.00 ERA just once. But he's left-handed and plenty talented, so he'll get away from Toronto and get a nice payday to boot.

The Gibbons decision is more complicated. His managerial mark in two-plus seasons is just under the .500 mark. And he has had two embarrassing run-ins this season: the Lilly scrap and a verbal tussle with since-traded Shea Hillenbrand in which Gibbons challenged his player to a fistfight.

But general manager J.P. Ricciardi insists Gibbons, 44, is not a hothead.

"The farthest thing from it," Ricciardi said. "The only time you see John get mad, it's justifiable."

Ricciardi added that he didn't think Gibbons' dust-ups would be a big hurdle in luring free agents to Toronto. But getting quality players north of the border - without overpaying, of course - is already challenging. Throw in the unsavory possibility of getting beat up by your manager and free agents may look elsewhere.

Still, Gibbons, who will make $1 million next season in the final year of his contract, is respected by his managerial peers. Plus, he's been dealing with personal issues, learning recently that his father has stomach cancer.

"He's a good man and we're lucky to have him," Ricciardi said of his manager. "The day he leaves here, 10 or 12 other teams are going to be lined up to hire him."

Guillen's mouth

It has been weeks since Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen made this space. And that's too long. Here is some Ozzie, almost unplugged.

On teams suggesting that the White Sox have stolen signs and altered their pitching mound to gain an unfair advantage: "They're mad. They can't admit that a Latino kicked their [butt]."

On being criticized by Boston Red Sox owner John Henry: "He doesn't even know what a field looks like."

On the pressure of being world champions: "To me, it's a pain in the [butt]."

On the weak NL Central: "[St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Mark] Mulder wouldn't even make my team. ... If we played National League teams, the Central Division, we might win 150 games."

Tough reunion

Former Orioles Jason Johnson and Sidney Ponson started opposite ends of a doubleheader between the Red Sox and New York Yankees last Friday at Fenway Park. Boston designated Johnson for assignment between games, and New York did the same to Ponson the next day.

Quick hits

The Oakland Athletics' Jason Kendall scored 26 runs in 73 first-half games. He scored 28 runs in his first 37 games after the All-Star break. ... New York's Hideki Matsui (wrist) has progressed to soft-toss drills but is noncommittal on a 2006 return.

Compiled from interviews and other newspapers' reports.

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