Williams' Decision Helps to Clear Up Boston Uncertainty
Tracy RingolsScripps Howard News Service, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Boston manager Jimy Williams got rid of all the uncertainty in the Red Sox camp in one day by announcing rookie Nomar Garciaparra will be the shortstop with John Valentin moving to second and Wil Cordero to left field, leaving Troy O'Leary in a potential right-field platoon with Rudy Pemberton.
Garciaparra will become only the second rookie shortstop in Boston's opening day lineup in 32 years, the first since Tim Naehring in 1991.
Williams also announced that Mike Stanley will be primarily a DH and is not in the picture for catching duties. They are moves that had been anticipated since before spring training, but ones that Williams refused to make until two weeks into the exhibition season. "I think respect is something we need to talk about," Williams said of the delayed announcement. "How can I move John Valentin to second base without ever seeing him? "If I were a shortstop, what kind of respect would I have for a manager if he said I'm going on somebody else's decision that you should go to second? I don't think it's the right thing to do." Williams learned the delicacy of position changes for veterans when he managed Toronto and found himself in the middle of a controversy when the organization decided to make left fielder George Bell a full-time DH. That undoubtedly was why he tried a diplomatic approach in Boston, including private meetings before the public announcement. His effort, however, wasn't helped by the constant antagonistic approach the Boston front office takes with the players. Medical problems continue to haunt the New York Mets. Derek Wallace, supposed to be the righthanded setup man for closer John Franco, is out for five months following surgery for an aneurysm under his right shoulder. Jay Payton, the top outfield prospect in the organization, is headed for a ligament replacement in his right elbow for the second time in three years. Righthanded starter Armando Reynoso came out of a recent start with a soreness in his right elbow, near the spot where he had a ligament transplant while he was with the Rockies in 1994. Shortstop Rey Ordonez is showing no signs of improving despite rest for what is being called right rotator cuff tendinitis. Righthanded pitcher Juan Acevedo has been slowed by a sore shoulder, second baseman Carlos Baerga by elbow weakness, and catcher Todd Hundley by a strained hamstring. And then there's the case of pitcher Roberto Ramirez. He made such an impression pitching for the Mexico City Reds against the Mets that the Mets worked out a deal to try out Ramirez, but he threw for only seven minutes in a bullpen session, complained of shoulder soreness and was returned to the Mexico City team. Houston manager Larry Dierker remains committed to using Craig Biggio as the leadoff hitter, but he is having trouble plugging the No. 2 hole that Biggio handled the last three years. Pat Listach, projected to hit second, was scratched after early spring struggles. Now the Astros are talking about rookie right fielder Bob Abreu. The catch with Abreu making the team is contingent upon Derek Bell being able to move to center field, and the jury is out on that. "We'll see where he is at the end of the spring," Dierker said. "We don't want him to get discouraged or lose patience." San Diego continues to have talks with the Yankees that could lead to Hideki Irabu getting his wish and pitching in New York. After initially asking for 1996 AL Rookie of the Year Derek Jeter as the prime player in a package, the Padres have modified the proposal to outfield prospects Ricky Ledee and Rafael Medina plus as much as $4 million. Ledee is considered the key figure in the deal. It's no longer an experiment. Los Angeles manager Bill Russell said Raul Mondesi will open the season hitting third, Mike Piazza dropping to cleanup and Eric Karros to fifth. Terrell Wade has been drawing all the starting assignments in the competition for Atlanta's fifth starter spot, and has calmed fears about his control, walking only one of the first 24 batters he faced. Brandon Cromer, part of the package Pittsburgh received in its multi-player deal with Toronto, has emerged as the likely Pirates second baseman. Darren Daulton's recent start against Baltimore could have been an attempt by Philadelphia to showcase Daulton in hopes an AL team - particularly Baltimore - would be interested in him as a DH. "We'd always be interested in players of Darren's offensive caliber," Orioles assistant general manager Kevin Malone said. "If we heard he was available - and we haven't heard that - we would have to consider it." Malone should listen close. The Phillies want Rico Brogna to play first, there's no DH in the NL, and Daulton's knees won't allow him to catch on a regular basis. California is still evaluating how much it really wants Rickey Henderson, who San Diego is attempting to deal. Manager Terry Collins would love a second speed guy to go with Darrin Erstad in the lineup. But to create playing time for Henderson, it would probably mean releasing Eddie Murray, whose clubhouse presence is considered a vital addition for the Angels. The Angels also are hesitant to give up lefthanded reliever Chuck McElroy until they are convinced closer Troy Percival is healthy. And they want to rework the incentives in Henderson's contract, which has a base of $2 million with an additional $5,000 for every plate appearance between 301 and 600. Cleveland remains in the Henderson picture, but the Indians aren't ready to make a move now. Texas first baseman Will Clark, coming off elbow surgery, has been swinging the bat so well that Rangers manager Johnny Oates is predicting a 100-RBI season for Clark. Clark drove in a career-low 72 runs last year, and has driven in more than 80 runs just once in five years. Said Oates: "He may not hit a lot of home runs for us, but if he swings the bat like he has been, he'll get a lot of RBIs." Cleveland shortstop Omar Vizquel is out indefinitely with soreness in his right shoulder. Vizquel underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum and remove a bone spur from the shoulder socket last October. "The doctor said I tried to do too much, too fast," Vizquel said. "I've never had surgery before, so I don't know how to react." The Chicago White Sox figure to have plenty of experience behind the plate with the trio of Ron Karkovice, Chad Kreuter and Tony Pena, who average 34.7 years of age and 10.3 years of big-league experience. Karkovice figures to catch four or five times a week, with Kreuter handling James Baldwin, and Pena filling in. Seattle thinks it finally solved its revolving door in left field with rookie Jose Cruz, Jr., their first-round draft choice in 1995. How big a hole has left field been in the Kingdome? Center fielder Ken Griffey Jr., has played alongside 46 different left fielders in his eight-year, big-league career. Cruz could become the 15th different opening night left fielder when the team opens its 21st season in April. They used eight different left fielders last year. Kansas City manager Bob Boone admits he doesn't expect closer Jeff Montgomery, who underwent shoulder surgery in September, to be ready opening day. "He's over the hump in his mind," Boone said. "He's going to be OK. The question is when." Until Montgomery returns, the Royals will give Jamie Bluma a chance to close games. Rookie Bubba Trammel, who had 33 home runs and 99 RBIs at the Class AA-AAA levels last season and led the Arizona Fall League with 41 RBIs, has made such a strong impression with Detroit this spring that the Tigers are shopping Melvin Nieves. Cincinnati had an interest, but not enough to part with shortstop Pokey Reese. A 5-pound weight gain by Los Angeles center fielder Brett Butler since the start of spring training has buoyed Butler's hopes of a successful comeback from thyroid cancer. Butler now weighs 158 pounds.…
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Publication information: Article title: Williams' Decision Helps to Clear Up Boston Uncertainty. Contributors: Tracy RingolsScripps Howard News Service - Author. Newspaper title: St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO). Publication date: March 16, 1997. Page number: 3F. © 2008 St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.