Griffey wants to keep wearing Reds uniform

Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- While baseball executives shuttled from room to room trying to work out deals, Ken Griffey Jr. telephoned his general manager Saturday and made it clear he didn't want Cincinnati to trade him.

''He called me just to make sure I knew he wasn't disgruntled,'' Reds GM Jim Bowden said. ''His position is he wants to stay in Cincinnati and finish his career there.''

Phil Nevin vetoed a deal last month that would have sent him from San Diego to the Reds for Griffey, leading to speculation that another swap might be in the works.

Bowden said going into the winter meetings that he wasn't looking to trade his star center fielder but would listen to offers. He said Saturday that he doesn't anticipate a deal.

''We met with seven clubs today, and his name didn't come up,'' Bowden said. ''One of the clubs brought his name up Friday. That discussion ended pretty quickly. One of the reasons the Cincinnati Reds don't have no-trade clauses is we want to be able to listen to any offers in case we're overwhelmed.''

Montreal general manager Omar Minaya, at the center of most trade talk, kept up his meetings Saturday and said his instincts told him he probably would make a deal before the meetings end Monday.

''There's 20 different potential offers out there I need to sort out and my staff needs to sort out,'' he said.

As the second day of the meetings drew to a conclusion, there hadn't been a single trade and only one free-agent signing, with St. Louis agreeing Friday to a $500,000, one-year deal with pitcher Chris Carpenter. The only transaction announced Saturday was not exactly a biggie: Pittsburgh hired Frank Velasquez as its strength and conditioning coordinator.

Most teams, it seemed, were waiting for Minaya to do the heavy lifting. He has been ordered to cut payroll by the commissioner's office, which operates the Expos on behalf of the other 29 teams, who bought the franchise earlier this year from Jeffrey Loria.

''Every general manager I met with today just met with Omar,'' said agent Jeff Moorad, who represents Ivan Rodriguez and dozens of other players. ''There's no doubt that the possibility of Montreal trades have impacted the pace.''

With the meetings nearly halfway over, it was the coldest market since the collusion era of 1985 to 1987. Adam Katz, another prominent agent, sat in one of the lobbies of the Opryland Hotel on Saturday afternoon, waiting to meet with the Phillies, when his cell phone rang.

''Nothing's going on. It's like ice,'' he said. ''I should be home with my son.''

Still the Chicago Cubs discussed various deals, the New York Yankees closed in on signing backup infielder Todd Zeile and Arizona shopped around first baseman Erubiel Durazo. Teams discussed possible three-way trades and even a four-team deal that involved Toronto, the Diamondbacks, Oakland and possibly Colorado.

Outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, and pitchers Bartolo Colon and Javier Vazquez are the Expos' top players being discussed, and second baseman Jose Vidro, shortstop Orlando Cabrera, third baseman Fernando Tatis, catcher Michael Barrett and pitcher Tony Armas Jr. also could be available.

Minaya was completed his first round of meetings, and hoped to start his second round late Saturday or Sunday.

''I'm not going to say yes to team six when I haven't met with teams eight, nine or 10,'' he said.

Atlanta, quiet at the winter meetings in recent years, was looking to restock its pitching staff following the departures of Tom Glavine, Mike Remlinger and Chris Hammond. The Braves have offered Greg Maddux salary arbitration, and it's unclear if the four-time Cy Young Award winner will accept.

''The No. 1 priority right now is to get Maddux back on the team,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said. ''It was tough losing Glavine and Hammond and Rem, but we found guys last year and we'll find them again.''

Thursday's deadline for free agents offered arbitration to accept it and Friday's deadline for teams to offer 2003 contracts to their unsigned players have also slowed the market. Agents have heard rumors that dozens of their clients may be cut loose Friday.

''December 20th is having a huge impact,'' Katz said. ''But the system is what it is and guys will find jobs.''

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