Pitchers, catchers arrive at spring training
The day for pitcher and catchers to report for spring training, awaited by baseball fans since the last out of the World Series, brought with it some of the messy offseason news of money and contract negotiations.
St. Louis and representatives of Albert Pujols agreed to extend the window for a new deal for 24 hours through aa a.m. Wednesday because they didn't want to distract from Cardinals great Stan Musial receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The three-time NL MVP will make $16 million this season, including $4 million deferred without interest, and is eligible for free agency after the World Series. He had said he would cut off talks when he arrives for spring training, early as usual on Tuesday.
"Given the timing of everything we will remain quiet at this time," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "I don't want to lead people on or characterize something one way or the other. Our approach has been pretty consistent since Day 1 and that's to allow this to be done in a confidential state. Given we are only 48 hours from the deadline I'll remain that way."
The 31-year-old Pujols is the only player in major league history to hit 30 or more homers in each of his first 10 seasons, and he reached 100 RBIs each one of those.
Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and Mozeliak will accompany the 90-year-old Musial to Washington, where the Hall of Famer will receive the award today.
In Clearwater, Fla., Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he wants a contract extension before his team starts the season.
The most successful manager in franchise history is entering the final year of a deal he signed after leading the Phillies to the first of four straight division titles in 2007. He's making $2.4 million this season.
"I think once the season starts, I don't want to talk about my contract," Manuel said. "Hopefully something happens in spring training, and if not, my extension and contract, I definitely don't want it to be a distraction for our team,"
With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in the rotation, Manuel has what appears to be the top starting staff in the majors. Joined by No. 5 Joe Blanton, the Fab Five held a joint news conference.
Across the bay in Tampa, New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia said he is not concerned a provision in his $161 million, seven-year contract that gives him the ability to opt out after this season will become a distraction.
Sabathia went 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA in 34 starts last year. As the Yankees reported Monday, he said he still felt as though the clause wouldn't be used.
"I don't want to talk about that all year," Sabathia said. "I'm here to try and help this team win. I went through it with the free-agency thing. It's not going to distract me at all."
Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner doesn't think Sabathia will opt out.
In Mesa, Ariz., closer Carlos Marmol and the Chicago Cubs avoided arbitration by agreeing to $20 million, three-year contract.
"I grew up in this organization. I feel very proud," said Marmol, who had 38 saves in 43 chances with a 2-3 record and 2.55 ERA last season.
In Scottsdale, Ariz., the Giants reported as World Series champions for the first time since winning the title in 1954.
"After what we were able to do last year, I wanted to be back hanging with the boys," left-hander Jonathan Sanchez said. "It's fun to get together for practice, in the bullpen and joke around, have a good time."
One group of players gathered for a card game at a round table, others sat around chatting with reporters or clubhouse attendants. Catcher Buster Posey used a utility tool to work the laces on his glove.
"It's going to be crazy here for the next couple of days," Posey said.
Atlanta reported for its first spring training since 1990 without Bobby Cox, who retired as manager and was replaced by Fredi Gonzalez.