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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan • 31

Location:
Detroit, Michigan
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Page:
31
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SPORTS MONDAY, FEB. 7, 2005 7D DETROIT FREE PRESS WWW.FREEP.COM amble, hope they draw ace 1 igers Heady negotiating nabs another injured star to heal wounded club Pitch from Hitch was big hit with new rightfielder Ordonez-: GENE CUIDI DREW SHARP BASEBALL 1 I'm not sure how Alan Trammell passed the day Sunday waiting for the Super Bowl kickoff, but I'd be surprised if he -4 i til If 3 jA Hjw i i 1 1 Jf ffis 1 Brilliant. It's a word we haven't associated much with the Tigers in the past 15 years, but it applies in the sec ON THE MONEY Magglio Ordonez's contract, with the Tigers potentially is -worth $105 million, including $6-miilion signing bonus. The Tigers have a $1 5-million option for 201 0 with a $3- million buyout, and a $15- million option for 201 1 with no" buyout. Ordonez's salary in each of the option years would become guaranteed ff he fcas 1 35 starts or 540 plate appearances in the previous season, or 270 starts or 1 ,080 plate appearances in the previous two seasons.

SALARY $6 million $15 million $12 million $15 million $18 million $18 million $15 million YEAR 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 seven years based on Ordonez's health rather than his performance. The guarantees kick in based on the number of games Ordonez plays, not the number of RBIs or where he finishes in certain statistical standings or MVP voting. The Tigers' message to Maggs was the same as it was to Pudge last year if you remain healthy, we know you'll deliver the big numbers. Could it all blow up in owner Mike Hitch's face? Absolutely. But championships are born from not fearing failure.

The message Hitch sends with this statement is that the Tigers aren't afraid to challenge for the American League Central crown in 2006, if not next season. Yes, they're still rebuilding because of a farm system that basically has produced weeds the past 20 years. But bringing in Ordonez means they're throwing away the crutches. They may hobble. They may fall.

But they're not backing away from putting pressure on themselves. Free agency never has been baseball's panacea. You can shop for the supplemental pieces, but winning still requires an internal core of talent that has been patiently and carefully sculpted through time. Ordonez brings excitement, but more important grabs attention, allowing the youngsters another year under the radar so that they can further blossom. Can this team finally catch a break with its young players? Can Jeremy Bonderman build on a dominating finish to 2004 and become the franchise's second 15-game winner in the past 17 years? Can Carlos Pena deliver a consistent 90 RBIs from first base? Can Omar Infante take anoth- JULIE JACOBSONAssociated Press The Tigers wrote protections into Magglio Ordonez's five-year, $75-million deal that get them out of the commitment after one season if left knee problems shelve the rightfielder for 25 games.

ond successful courtship of a great player and another who comes to Detroit with great risk. But since when has reward ever come without risk? The Tigers' motto in the free-agent sweepstakes is pretty clear: Bring us your tired, your poor, your shaky vertebrae, your weakened meniscus. They are what they are, feasting on others' scraps. That's the penalty for more than a decade's worth of poor decision-making combined with dreadfully poor luck. But instead of apologizing for it, Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski and his negotiations wizard, John Westhoff, were smart enough again to work the franchise's failings to their advantage.

Magglio Ordonez joins Ivan Rodriguez as injury-plagued All-Stars who made their way to Detroit primarily through the reservations of the 29 other teams that questioned their physical state. But they're also here because the Tigers wisely respected them during negotiations. The Tigers smartly wrote protections in Ordonez's five-year, $75-million contract that gets them out of the commitment after one season if the potentially degenerative condition of Ordonez's left knee shelves the rightfielder for 25 games. But they also wisely placed incentives that could make the deal worth $105 million over wasn't scribbling potential lineups. And I also wouldn't be surprised if one of them looked like this: 1.

Alex Sanchez CF 2. Carlos Guillen SS 3. Ivan Rodriguez 4. Magglio Ordonez RF 5. Dmitri Young DH 6.

Rondell White LF 7. Carlos Pena IB 8. Brandon Inge 3B 9. Omar Infante 2B After being burned by so many free agents this off-season, Trammell likely wouldn't even allow himself to think about writing Ordonez's name in the cleanup spot until the complicated deal came together over the weekend. That's understandable.

But Ordonez was in much the same situation as Ivan Rodriguez last off-season a free agent with the Tigers his strongest suitor. Except for some late, mild interest by the Mets, his only serious suitor. Barring an unforeseen, eleventh-hour circumstance, it wasn't a matter of if he would sign with the Tigers but when especially after owner Mike Hitch told Ordonez he would do whatever it took. It was what Ordonez wanted to hear, especially after feeling he was disrespected by ownership in Chicago following a productive eight years with the White Sox. The Tigers are expected to introduce Ordonez at a news conference today.

The contract is five years for $75 million, about $5 million more than what had been reported as the Tigers' original offer. The contract has protections for the Tigers should Ordonez land on the disabled list for an extended time due to a recurrence of the knee trouble that required multiple surgeries last year. It also gives Ordonez the opportunity to make more if the Tigers pick up two option years at the end. It wasn't an easy agreement to reach. Someone with knowledge of the negotiations said a couple of days ago: "I think Dave Dombrowski probably wants to strangle Scott Boras about now." But the presidentgeneral manager and the agent worked through their differences as they did with Pudge last winter.

Boras reminded the Tigers how well the Rodriguez signing turned out on the field and at has another premier free agent with all of his extremities in casts. And Boras will no doubt assure all that any injury is inconsequential and demand a 12-year contract. It's not a desirous situation, but Dombrowski has brilliantly made the most of the disadvantages that come with being the Tigers the past 15 years. You've got to make smart decisions. You've got to be lucky.

But most of all, you can't be afraid to roll craps. Contact DREW SHARP at 313-223-4055 or dsharpiSfreepress.com. Order his book, "Razor Sharp, "for $14.95 at www.freep.combookstore or by calling 800-245-5082. er step toward becoming this generation's Lou Whitaker? Can either Roberto Novoa or Franklyn German stabilize the bullpen through the seventh inning so the Tigers can get to Ugueth Urbina in the eighth inning and Troy Percival in the ninth? Can 2003 first-round pick Kyle Sleeth position himself as a potential threat to join the rotation in 2006? That's where the answers to divisional competitiveness eventually rest. Until then, the Tigers will remain an afterthought when it comes to free agency.

Dombrowski probably will get a call again next year if agent Scott Boras the box office, where the team -showed a 40 percent increase in attendance. Boras said Ordonez could do the same for a club that won 72 games last season and is desperate to continue its climb from a 43-119 record in 2003. Yes, the Tigers are making what could be a long-term commitment to Ordonez, but it's also a commitment on his part. He knows the Central Division and believes he can help make the Tigers contenders not for one season but for many to come. Much depends on how well Ordonez's knee holds up.

But the doctor in Austria who treated the outfielder sounds confident it won't be a problem. And you'd have to think the Tigers got a number of medical opinions. Snagging Ordonez helped rescue what had been a bleak offseason for the Tigers, who had been shut out since signing free-agent closer Troy Percival in -November. Long-suffering fans hope Ordonez a four-time AI1-Star can be the difference-maker Juan Gonzalez Don't be surprised if the deal is sneered at and panned outside -Detroit. Teams that wouldn't get involved in the bidding on a long-term contract for Ordonez be-' cause of concerns about his knee already were shaking their heads when word of the Tigers' original offer leaked.

Many of those teams are the same ones that passed on Rodriguez last off-season. No one knows how all of this is going to turn out for the. Tigers, but I know this if you don't toss the dice, you'll never roll a seven. Contact GENE GUIDI at 313-222-2378 or guidijifrecpress.com. Ordonez passes physical, takes final swings at Sox AROUND THE HORN FREE PRESS NEWS SERVICES to find out when he'd first return.

"April 29 for three games," he said. "That'll be exciting. I hope the fans know I did my best for them." Tampa Bay: Outfielder Jose Cruz Jr. was traded with cash to Arizona for left-hander Casey Fossum. Cruz hit .242 with 21 home runs and 78 RBIs last season.

Fossum joined the Diamondbacks last off-season as part of the trade that sent right-hander Curt Schilling to Boston. Fossum started 27 games for Arizona, going 4-15 with a 6.65 ERA. The Devil Rays signed free agent Travis Lee for $1 .3 million. The first baseman was limited to seven games for the Yankees last season because of an injured left shoulder. In 2003, Lee had 19 homers and 70 RBIs for the Devil Rays.

"I'm really excited to get going." The Sox's contention that Ordonez's knee injury was more serious than first believed led him to fire his agents, Tom Reich and Adam Katz, and hire Scott Boras. The move signaled the end of Ordonez's slim chances of staying with the Sox because of the contentious relationship between Boras and Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Ordonez had a falling-out with general manager Ken Williams over the injury, and Ordonez said he feels vindicated for getting the kind of deal he had sought before last summer's knee surgery. "I don't think someone would sign me for seven years if my knee wasn't all right," Ordonez said. "That's one of the reasons I didn't sign back with Chicago.

Kenny was burying me, saying my knee was not OK. It feels good to have an owner and a general manager who treat you like this." The Cubs were among teams interested in signing Ordonez, believing they could get him with a two-year deal. But when Mike Hitch extended a five-year offer with two option years, the Cubs, Mets and Rangers had no chance. Asked about playing the Sox 19 times a year, Ordonez thumbed through a Tigers pocket schedule CHICAGO Former White Sox outfielder Magglio Ordonez passed a physical Sunday and will be announced officially as a Tiger today at Comerica Park. Ordonez agreed over the weekend to a five-year, $75-million contract the kind of commitment he was seeking to stay with the Sox.

"When you have an owner that's committed to you and respects and believes in you, it really feels good," Ordonez told the Chicago Tribune. I33ME Lefty's right at home with FBR victory I HiJ fitr i iiw I i nri mwmr 1 il mwiiI wmim GOLF ROUNDUP FREE PRESS NEWS SERVICES NEW 2005 RAM 1500 4X4 SLT BIG HORN VALUE GROUP window, automatic full size spare, remote keyless entry, CO stereo, shift on the Fly 4x4 system, anti spin, split bench seats. Stk. 15291 25 CHRYSLER DISCOUNT CHRYSLER DISCOUNT 1 Mickelson won the FBR formerly the Phoenix Open for the second time. He was just 25 when he won in a playoff with another youngster, Justin Leonard, in 1996.

Mickelson became the first player in five PGA Tour tournaments this year to protect a 54-hole lead, the longest such streak since 1976, when third-round leaders did not win the first five PGA Tour" events of the year. After a 73 in the first round, Mickelson was 19 under in the last 54, including an 11-under 60 in the second round, tying the course record with his lowest score in an official PGA Tour event. European PGA: Craig Parry kept saving par. Nick O'Hern kept missing putts. Parry finally birdied the fourth playoff hole and won the Helneken Classic when O'Hern missed a 10-foot putt at Royal Melbourne in Australia.

"That was bloody hard work," Parry said. "Each time, I thought I was going to lose." Parry's 12-foot birdie putt gave him his first title since the Ford Championship In March and snapped Emit Els' three-year winning streak at the Heineken. Els bogeyed three holes on the back nine Including the 18th to finish with a one-under 70 and two shots out of the playoff. Parry closed with a 70 to match O'Hern (71) at 14-under 270. Sophia, rushed to hug their dad on the 18th green.

"Daddy, there's treats after," the youngest one said. The victory in the $5.2 million event was worth $936,000. With chants of "A-S-U!" and "Go, Lefty!" from the crowd everywhere he went, Mickelson finished at 17-under 267 on the Tournament Players Club course. Scott McCar-ron and 21-year-old Kevin Na, the youngest player on the tour, tied for second at 272. McCarron shot his second consecutive 65, and Na had a 69.

Na played in the final group with Mickelson and faltered before rallying with birdies on the 15th and 17th for his best finish in his second season on tour. Steve Flesch (69), Tim Herron (67) and David Toms (68) tied at 273. Toms would have finished second but he double-bogeyed No. 18. "To have this win in a tournament I value and cherish so much, it really means a lot," said Mickelson, who now lives in San Diego.

"It's the first time I've won since the Masters, too." SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Phil Mickelson finished a triumphant week at his second home, winning the FBR Open by five strokes for his largest margin of victory in a PGA Tour event. Mickelson, an Arizona State graduate and former Scottsdale resident, struggled with his driver in a final-round three-under-par 68, but no one mounted a serious challenge Sunday. He never led by fewer than three strokes over the last 18 holes. Mickelson survived shots deep into the desert and into the water, then capped his round with a 26-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 18th to the wild cheers of the friendly throng.

"We had a lot of fun," he said. "We miss the people here so much." Afterward, his daughters, 5-year-old Amanda and 3-year-old NEW 2Q05 DURAKGO SIT 4X4 I FAMILY VALUE PKCliATOR KAR DVD SYSTEM 4.71 V8 engine remote Wyien entry. 3rd raw sealing, rear anneal luimng txwoe ten entertamnwrt system, log lamps, pwr driven seat CD stereo iiovwwxiow.poiwioaa,wioniniHy4ii4!iiswii sm isaui CHRYSLER OISCOJNT A4 CWHSLER DISCOUNT NEW 2005 GRO CARAVAN SXT REAR DVD LEATHER LOADED SPECIAL EDITION PACKAGE Power sunroof, rear DVD. leather seals. Infinity sound system power dnvers seat, dual power sliding xn roof rack, tog lamps alum wheels, power ungate, wireless heated phones, healed seats Stk 523321 CHRYSLER DISCOUNT CHRYSLER DISCOUNT rv ii --w 1 iu'V'j Angelelli wins 24 after Stewart car fails AUTO RACING FREE PRESS NEWS SERVICES last two hours," Angelelli said.

"You go all out for 22 hours and then have to be very careful in traffic and not do anything stupid the last two hours." A year ago Stewart lost the race when his suspension failed with less than 25 minutes left. The winners covered 710 laps, a total of 2,527.6 miles on the 3.56-mile road course. They averaged more than 105 m.p.h. Pontiac Crawford that Stewart shared with former race winners Andy Wallace and Jan Lammers had a gearbox failure. That allowed Angelelli to protect a comfortable lead, and he, Wayne Taylor and Fiinmanuel Col-lard claimed an 11-lap victory Sunday at Daytona International Speedway in their Pontiac-pow-ered Riley prototype.

"That was the toughest part of the race, that DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -From day to night and buck again, teams led by Tony Stewart and Max Angelelli fought for the lead in the Rolex 24 endurance race. Then, with 123 minutes left in the 24-hour sports car event, the.

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