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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan • Page 107

Detroit, Michigan
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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1997DETROIT TREE PRESS 7D Tigers balk at multiyear deal for Higginson BY JOHN LOWE Free Press Sports Writer LAKELAND, Fla. As Monday's signing deadline approaches, outfielder Bobby Higginson is frustrated that the Tigers haven't offered him close to what he feels he's worth. "I thought they might want to take care of the guys they want to build around," said Higginson, who also was rebuffed when inquiring about a multiyear contract General manager Randy Smith won't give Higginson a multiyear deal for the same reason he and Higginson are apart on his '97 salary. Higginson bases his case on last season, in which he hit .3,20 with 26 homers and 81 RBIs. Smith remembers Higginson hit .224 and did a second-half fade as a rookie in '95.

"He has to go out and have another good year before we'll talk multiyear," Smith said. "I don't disagree with his approach to base his request on '96. 1 would do the same thing if I were him. But there are too many unknowns. Is he a .320 hitter, a .224 hitter, or somewhere in between?" As much as Smith wants to build a core of young players, he isn't ready to offer multiyear deals that buy out arbitration years.

By early March Higginson, who made $170,000 last season, must sign the ligament. He will rest for a week. NY YANKEES: Outfielder Ruben Rivera will have exploratory arthroscopic surgery on his sore right shoulder today, sidelining him for at least three months. SAN FRANCISCO: An MRI showed no damage to outfielder Barry Bonds' right hip, clearing him to resume workouts a day after he fell down a flight of stairs. DEDICATION: Major League Baseball announced it will dedicate this season to Jackie Robinson and will donate $1 million to the foundation established for the player who broke the sport's color line 50 years ago.

Acting commissioner Bud Selig said all major and minor league players and all major league umpires will wear "Breaking Barriers" arm patches this season. Selig said the All-Star Game in Cleveland on July 8 will be dedicated to Larry Doby, the first black player in the American League, and he will be honorary captain of the AL team. Robinson made his big-league debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. MINORS: Former New York Mets manager Bud Harrelson will manage the Long Island (N.Y.) Ducks, a new independent minor league team, next season. Harrelson last managed the Mets in '91.

OBITUARY: Cal Abrams, an outfield er with the Brooklyn Dodgers in their glory days of the early 1950s, died of a heart attack in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Abrams, 72, will be buried in his white Dodgers uniform bearing the number 18. Abrams batted .269 in 1949-56 with Brooklyn, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and the White Sox. Free Press news services contributed.

Coaches Corner: catching coach Fred Kendall and new Tigers Matt Walbeck and Brian Johnson have caught hundreds of games among them; now they are learning each other. Their obligation is increased by the need for significant improvement from the pitching staff, which last year had the worst ERA in American League history, 6.38. "I'm concentrating on Matt Walbeck and Brian Johnson and finding out what their abilities are," Kendall said. "I'm trying to find out what they have and go from there. We're working on technique and balance, which leads to all aspects of catching.

We're getting a feel for each other. I try to go by what their talents allow them to do." Around the horn CALIFORNIA: Outfielder Tim Salmon agreed to a four-year contract extension for $22 million through 2001. Salmon will make $3.5 million in 1997, the last season of a four-year deal. FLORIDA: Outfielder Gary Sheffield is negotiating a six-year contract extension that could be worth $60 million to $65 million. Sheffield, 28, will make $6.1 million in 1997, the final season of a four-year contract.

HOUSTON: Infielder Ricky Gutierrez will miss three months after surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb. NY METS: An MRI on outfielder Jay Payton's right elbow showed Irritation to for what the club offers or have the club renew his contract at a figure it chooses. Starting next season, Higginson will be eligible for arbitration and likely a huge raise. Smith said he will renew unsigned players Monday, a day after he can first do so. Higginson said Wednesday he expects to be renewed.

Smith and Higginson's agent, Ed Hayes, won't say how many dollars apart they are, but they characterize the gap as significant. "If Bobby is renewed, we will not hold it against the Tigers," Hayes said. "I always have told Bobby that once his contract issue is settled, he shouldn't worry about it the rest of the year and concentrate on baseball." NOTEBOOK: Phil Nevin will have an MRI on his sore left wrist, which prevented him from working out Wednesday and makes him doubtful for today's intrasquad game. Club officials feel the soreness might have been caused by his resumption of catching early in camp. Nevin, an infielder-outfielder, is entering his second season of part-time catching.

Man's 'mission' was scale fence, confront Belle Free Press News Services Sarasota, Fia. a man who said he was "on a mission from God" drove from Ohio to Florida, then scaled an 8-foot fence at spring training to confront Chicago White Sox outfielder Albert Belle. Belle was not hurt in the incident, which occurred last Friday near the clubhouse. David E. Henry, 38, of North Ridgeville, Ohio, apparently was upset Belle left the Cleveland Indians after last season.

Henry, charged with felony burglary and misdemeanor loitering and prowling, remains in the Sarasota County Jail. Police said Henry told them his business with Belle was not. complete because the $ll-mil-lion-a-year outfielder needed to atone for his treatment of Cleveland Indians fans. "I'm not sure what his intentions were," Belle said Wednesday. "You figure a guy who jumps a fence and comes in through the back way, his intentions aren't very nice.

"Security did a tremendous job of stepping in. You kind of have a tendency to think about what happened to the tennis player (Monica Seles), where security was a little lax." Seles, stabbed by a fan while sitting courtside at a match in Germany in 1993, was sidelined for 27 months. Henry, who scaled a chain-link fence, confronted Belle as he was walking through the press room to the clubhouse. They were several yards apart Henry told police "he was the Biblical Omega Man and was on a mission from God." MMM SONY CO RECEIVER Detachable-Face Security 30Wx4 High Power Amp 8X Oversampling Digital Filter Intro Scan, Repeat I2, Shuffle Play Fully Renewed Full One-Year Parts and Labor Warranty UJLUUUU LULU Lira scorned at home after Tigers' season Charlie Vinceot, from Page ID games," he said. "They were killing my E-ray." What? "My E-ray, man.

They were killing my E-ray, it went way up." Indeed, his ERA at one time was in the neighborhood of 7, which is a neighborhood that used to ensure the pitcher would soon relocate in another neighborhood say Toledo or Jacksonville or one of the other Tigers' farm cities. But before you could say this-summer-stinks-at-the-stadium-and-I think-Ill-go-play-golf, Lira won three straight including the first two shutouts of his career to raise his record to 6-7. That was July 7. He never won another game, lost his final seven decisions and went to Venezuela to face his fans. Now he is back, a constantly chattering and chirping bundle of energy, one of nine pitchers scheduled to throw in today's first intrasquad game.

And this spring, for the first time, he reported to camp on time, perhaps because he was eager for a new start, perhaps because he was eager to get away from his old friends in Venezuela. If you want to believe this year's pitching staff is better, if Bell wants to believe it, what do you think about a young man from South America who came here to make his fortune and his name and after two seasons has filled his bank account but goes home to hear his name vilified in the streets? "I think we will be better," he said, sounding more hopeful than certain, "because it look like we have more talent on our pitching staff." But lira does not try to fool you and does not try to fool himself and he conceded, "I felt exactly the same way last spring; we looked really good in spring training." At 24, it is far too soon to declare Lira a failure, just as it is far too soon to declare him an integral part of the Tigers' future. He is what most of the team's players are, a gamble of sorts. Not men on a steady path to success, but players on the seesaw of uncertainty. i His ERA dropped during the final two months of the season while he was losing those seven straight decisions, and his season came to a premature end when a batted ball during batting practice broke a bone in his left hand Sept 18.

"After the second half of the season my E-ray was lower, but I didn't win a game," he recalled. "But that is just a part of the game. Just a part of life." One day before exhibition games begin, Lira is one of three leading candidates to pitch Opening Day in Minnesota, along with Omar Olivares and Justin Thompson. lira said he has no idea if he will get that assignment, though he admitted, "I'd be very happy to do that again." Lira, who grew up in Venezuela wanting to be a third baseman and mimicking the moves of Dave Con-cepcion and Manny Trillo, thinks he came back to the United States this year an improved pitcher. He is, for sure, an appreciative pitcher.

"I am a better pitcher," he said, muni im-irin-T-or I I StJ Vi III iNUiiiiT- YtmmmT" Installed Save '221 I EXPERT REPAIR cMfl TUNES "because I am more experienced. I learned last summer day by day in some good ways and in some bad ways. I made some mistakes last year, and I haven't forgotten them. "I didn't have a real good year. But it was beautiful." gm, CDX-5290B hi un I 3 MOBILE ELECTRONICS Allen Park Allen Road at Southfield (313) 381-1053 Berkley Woodward at 1 1 Mile (810) 547-4880 Roseville Gratiot, N.

of 13 Mile (810) 294-8100 Westland Wayne Road at Warren (313) 728-9790 i i i Tues. Wed. 9am-6pm; Thurs. Fri. 9am-8pm; Sat.

9am-5pm ENTRY OR GARAGE i DOORS! I (810)399-9900 Free Press Plus Info Line! 1-313-962-PLUS; touch 8888 Michigan's Favorite Outdoor Show A YilllJir SPORT AND t''WeeU UJfi4- TRAVEL SHOW j''0" Z'" J) JoXin oj movy onr Produced by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs xru vu ULiruu xruu uvbf February 21 March 2, 1997 Novl Expo Center, Novl, Michigan A Family Show With Something for Everyone Who Enjoys the Outdoors! FREE Entertainment and Seminars Daily Over 350 exhibitors First 200 people in line at the Tiger Stadium Box Office receive a FREE autograph player photo! 1 Featuring: Over 200,000 square feet of exhibit space dedicated to the latest in fishing and hunting equipment, fishing and power boats, recreational vehicles, outdoor gear, and vacation outfitting destinations throughout North America! Big Buck Brewery Big Buck Night Thursday, Feb. 27 4:00 pm Show Hourn For Show Information Call 1-800-777-6720 OUTOOORAMA 2101 WOOD ST LANSING, Ml 48912 After Feb. 18 Call Show Office: 1-810-380-7000 ADMISSION Adults. (6.50 CNWrwi 12 4 under, S3 CMdren under 5 Free Adult tan day pass $10 CMdtm day pass SS Fit Fab. 21 Sat Fab 22 Mar 1 Sin 23 Mou-Tum.

FA 24.25 WMF TlM -Ftl Fab. 27-2S Ski Mir. 2 4pm 10 9 30 pm 11 am id 9 30 pm 11amlo7pm 4pmto9 30pm Noon 10930 pm 4pm 10 9 30 pm 11 amto6pm fiswf If Call 810-977-7655 Tigers tickets including Opening Day and Inter-League games go on sale this u) Saturday, March 1 at 10 am. The 1997 season promises to be exciting with young Tigers SPEND SOME QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY THIS Aggressive Marine-Detroifs largest Chaparral Dealer presents: IK Toledo Beach Marina Your Place on the Lake Direct access to Lake Complete Service Erie Center Over 500 Deepwater Tw0 Bath Houses Sandbar Lounge Dockominiums Discount Marine Rack Launch Store Center De Grocery Store Located right on Lake Erie like Travis Fryman, Tony Clark, Bobby Higginson, Brian Hunter, and Justin Thompson leading the way. Get to the Box Office early and guarantee yourself a great seat.

CALL 810-25-TIGER For Croup and Season Ticket plans call 313-963-2050 This section will be featured in the Sunday Classified and Thursday. Sports. Contact your Advertising Executive to reserve space today! Or call Cnd Value section Get lleftfield grandstand ticket, 1 hot dog or pizza sliqe, and 1 Coke for just $8. Available every game, all season long (excluding Opening Day). S'97 ticket prices UpperLower Box $15 Lower Reserved $12 Upper Box (Outfield) $10 Upper Reserved $8 Bleachers (Adults) $4 Bleachers (14 and under) $1 23 3Blnterleague games Promotion dates June 16, 17, 18 vs Florida Marlins Mondavs Kids Run the Bases A PURE FAMILY PLEASURE BOAT-FUN FOR ALL SKI, FISH, CRUISE IN COMFORT FUN COSTS LESS THAN YOU A FULL LINE OF CHAPARRALS ARE NOW ON DISPLAY AT June 30, July 1 2 vs New York Mets August 29, 30, 31 vs Philadelphia Phillios Thursdays Player Autographs Fridays Fireworks Spectacular (M3y23 -Au929) Dock your boat with convenience and Call today or stop by for more information! (419)242-4351 (313) 243-3800 select sunaays Promotional Giveaways Fans can ako purchase tickets by calling TicketMaster at (810) 25-TIGER, or any of the following numbers; Toledo (419) 474-1333 Saginaw (517) 754-4800 Kalamazoo (616) 373-7000 Battle Creek (616) 963-8080 Lansing (517) 4S4-5656 Windsor (519) 792-2222 Grand Rapids (616) 4563333 77cxir7iAsnit 810-977-7655 HUDSON'S, HARMONY HOUSE, BLOCKBUSTER MUSIC CALL FOR T1X (810) 25-T1GER IntumtH information hHp'wwwHchMmnMainom MM KINK THE PREFERRED CARD OF froTTiosfs IQl for more information.

2265 Union Lake Road Commerce Twp 8103605700 Exit 9 off I-75 Just Minutes North of Toledo.

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