The Journal News from White Plains, New York on March 22, 1988 · Page 52
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The Journal News from White Plains, New York · Page 52

White Plains, New York
Issue Date:
Tuesday, March 22, 1988
Page 52
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D8 THE JOURNAL-NEWS, TUESDAY, MARCH 22, 1988 Mets make room for Miller, send Almon to Phils By Jim Corbett Staff Writer PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The Mets created an opening for Keith Miller yesterday when they traded utility infielder Bill Almon to Philadelphia for two minor-league pitchers. In return for Almon, 35, New York received right-hander Vladimir Perez, who is ticketed for the Mets' Class A Little Falls, N.Y., affiliate, and left-hander Shawn Barton, who is expected to pitch for their Class AA Jackson, Miss., club. Perez is the younger brother of Montreal pitcher Pascual Perez. Mets manager Dave Johnson said from the start of spring training he'd love to have Miller make his team as a supersub because the speedy 24-year-old makes things happen. Miller batted .373 in 25 games METS for the Mets last season when second basemen Wally Backman and Tim Teufel were disabled by hamstring pulls. "It's no secret I told you I wanted him (Miller) on the bal-lclub," Johnson said before yesterday's 9-3 exhibition victory over the Montreal Expos at West Palm Beach, Fla. "But I can't say that just because we traded Almon we're going to go with Miller. It's not a given." Almon figured to make Johnson's 24-man roster as the late-inning backup for rookie shortstop Kevin Elster. Miller played shortstop in high school but hasn't played there regularly since then until this spring. He also has played center field and second base for the Mets this spring. If Almon was not traded, Miller was expected to be demoted to Class AAA Tidewater where he could get his regular at-bats. "It just means I'll be getting Miller ready to back up the outfield, second base and shortstop now," Johnson said. "I need to find another backup shortstop, that's the main thing. Billy was the main backup shortstop and he figured to make this team." Miller believes he has been handed an opening, not a job. "I'm not going to assume anything," said Miller, who is batting .240 (6 for 25) this spring with three RBI. "I'm not going to take the attitude the job is mine. If things work out, if I do make the ballclub, I'll know what my role is and concentrate on shortstop." First baseman-third baseman Dave Magadan could also benefit indirectly from the Almon trade if Johnson chooses to slide Howard Johnson from third base to shortstop occasionally to spell Elster against a tough right-handed pitcher. Economics were a factor in the Mets' decision to trade Almon as well. Almon's 1988 contract called for the Mets to pay him $250,000 if he made the team. Miller owns a split contract that calls for him to be paid at a rate cf $70,000 on the major-league club and $40,000 at the minor-league level. "The trade had been pending for about a week," Mets general manager Frank Cashen said. "We were getting to crunch time (with Almon)." Almon, a journeyman who is going to his sixth major-league team in 12 years, hit .240 for the , v tSLm. Bill Almon Mets last season after arriving in a three-player May 29 trade with Pittsburgh. Due to a technicality concerning the Basic Agreement involving Almon's status as a non-ranking free agent last winter, there was some question as to whether Almon could be traded prior to June 15 without his consent. But the point became moot when Almon, hitting .250 in 12 games this spring, granted his approval late yesterday. "I'm surprised. I was looking forward to this year. I've never been on a championship team before and I thought I had a chance this year," Almon said. Perez, 19, was signed as a free agent by the Phillies last March and posted a 3-2 record for Class A Spartanburg, S.C., last season. Barton, who turns 25 in May, was the Phils' 21st pick in June '84 draft, posting a 1-1 record at Class A Maine last year and a 6-5 mark at Class AA Redding. lue Jays might swap Bell for Dave Winfield The Associated Press The Toronto Blue Jays have initiated talks that would send American League MVP George Bell to the New York Yankees for veteran outfielder Dave Winfield. The New York Daily News and Newsday reported in today's editions that the Blue Jays first brought up the deal about a week ago. Toronto Manager Jimy Williams is attempting to move Bell from left field to designated hitter, and Bell has resisted the move. "It's a 24-man roster, it's a team roster and a team does not revolve around one person, whether they're from the Dominican, the United States or Canada," Williams said. "Every individual has to pull his load. He has a job to do." YANKEES Any trade of Winfield would require his permission because he is a 10-year veteran and has been with the same club for five years. In the past, Winfield has said he has no interest in leaving New York. Bell, 28, hit 47 homers and drove in a league-leading 134 runs last year. He was rewared with a two-year contract for a guaranteed $4.1 million. Winfield, 36 years old, will make $1.85 million this year. He signed a 10-year deal with the Yankees in 1981 for $18.3 million. The Yankees have the option to buy out the last two years for about $1.9 million. "In terms of a separation, David Umps step away from home plate NL's Eric Gregg loses 53 pounds By Ben Walker The Associated Press KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Eric Gregg and other National League umpires may get more beefing from players this season, but they'll be carrying around less beef. Gregg has lost 53 pounds since last season, the result of the NL office ordering its heavier umpires to get slim and trim. "They demanded that we do it," said Gregg, who once weighed 370. "They said it was something that was necessary. "The National League picked up the tab. They said they would pay the costs for us for working out with trainers and going on special programs." Overweight umpires became the butt of jokes at last year's World Series. Gregg and John McSherry, two of the bulkier NL umpires, were not out of position for any calls, but the league thought its umpires needed to streamline their appearance. "It didn't bother me when they told us to lose weight," Gregg said. "It was something I needed to do." Others have followed suit and now look more fit in their blue-and-gray umpire suits. Gregg said Bruce Froemming has dropped 50 pounds, McSherry has lost 33 and Harry Wendelstedt 21, among others. "Bruce and I are having a race," Gregg said. "I'm winning so far, but we both want to keep going." Gregg spent the off-season working with a sports trainer near his home in Philadelphia. He also went on a diet. "I still eat three square meals a day, but no red meat," he said. "Also, I don't eat within four hours of going to sleep. That might be the biggest thing." Gregg, one of the more flamboyant umpires in baseball, admits it might be hard to stay in shape during the year. He has lost weight in past winters and seen it return during the season. "You want to eat after the game," he said. "That will be tough, because you're not supposed to eat within those four hours." He might get more time because games could end earlier as the result of new rule changes. The NL wants more strikes called this season, partly to speed up games. Batters may not like the adjustment, while pitchers are complaining about tightened balk rules. There might be more arguments and Gregg's children might see their father in the middle of them. That's OK with Gregg, who said he lost weight mainly because of his children. "I want to see them grow up and go to college," Gregg said. "At the rate I was going, my doctor said I wouldn't have lived that long and been around for all of that." is not looking to move," Winfield's agent Jeff Klein told the News yesterday. "However, we would be fools not to consider anything. Toronto is a quality organization and a contender, which is a significant factor. (General Manager) Pat Gil-lick runs first-class operation." Winfield hit .275 last year with 27 homers and 97 RBI. It was the first time in six seasons he did not drive in 100 runs. A source told the News the Blue Jays would overlook the eight-year age difference because they feel they need a veteran with leadership abilities. But because of Winfield's age it is likely the Yankees would have to give up more. "I haven't had any conversation with Pat Gillick regarding this," Yankees GM Lou Piniella said. Although Winfield has had several successful seasons with the Yankees, he has had a running verbal battle with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Stienbrenner has often been critical of Winfield's hitting in clutch situations. Since the Yankees signed Winfield as a free agent they have won the AL pennant once in 1981, his first season with the team. He was l-for-22 in the World Series as New York lost in six games to Los Angeles. Prior to signing with the Yankees, Winfield played eight seasons for the San Diego Padres. He led the National League in RBIs in 1979 with 118. Newsday also reported the Blue Jays are interested in Baltimore shortstop Cal Ripken for Bell. It's time to put that on-again-off-again trip on again. If you've been meaning to fly off to somewhere wonderful, it's time to stop putting it off. With TWA's low fares, Triple Mileage offer, and Getaway" Vacation packages to nearly anywhere, you've just run out of excuses. Get a Free Companion Ticket. If you're in another airline's frequent flyer program, you could be doing much better with TWA. 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