Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Send Alicea to Red Sox Deal Accompanies Endorsement for Pena as Second Baseman

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Cards Send Alicea to Red Sox Deal Accompanies Endorsement for Pena as Second Baseman

Article excerpt

The Cardinals' revolving door at second base promises to be a little less hectic next season.

The team traded Luis Alicea to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday for minor-league pitcher Nate Minchey and minor-league outfielder Jeff McNeely.

Alicea is a former No. 1 draft pick who was one of three players shuffled in and out of the lineup the last couple of years.

Minchey was 11-5 at Pawtucket in the International League last season and 2-3 in eight games with the Red Sox. He will be placed on the 40-man roster.

McNeely, a speedy center fielder who batted .231 at Pawtucket, will be placed on the Louisville roster. Both are 25 and both are former No. 2 draft picks - Minchey by Montreal in 1987 and McNeely by Boston in 1989.

The Cardinals selected Alicea first in the 1986 draft. He began this year as the club's regular second baseman but batted only .189 through May 13, when he had lost his job.

"I don't know if he put a lot of pressure on himself," Cardinals manager Joe Torre said, "but he had trouble getting into gear."

Alicea made periodic returns as a starter, when Geronimo Pena and Jose Oquendo either were struggling or injured.

After Pena went out for what was left of the season with a broken elbow, Alicea was 13 for his last 29 with seven runs batted in. For the season, he batted .278 in 205 at-bats with two homers among his eight pinch-hits.

For his career, Alicea, 29, is batting .250. His best season was 1993: .279 average with five homers and 46 RBIs in 362 at-bats.

He also had 11 triples in only 265 at-bats in 1992 and, in his four seasons here, he hit 23 triples to 11 home runs. "I'd try to stretch doubles into triples," Alicea said, "just to show that I can play."

For the most part, Alicea, a former Florida State star, always seemed more comfortable as a part-time player. Defensively, he committed only four errors but too many times was unable to make a critical play or complete a double play.

Whether or not the owners implement new rules next week, making players with four years or more restricted free agents, the Cardinals were unlikely to offer Alicea a contract. He made $650,000 last season.

Boston used Tim Naehring (.276) and Scott Fletcher (.227) at second base this season, but Alicea said that Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette told him that he would be the regular.

"The Cardinals are a class-act organization, and I had a lot of good times there. But I guess it's time to move on to different and better things," Alicea said from West Palm Beach, Fla.

This is the first trade for Alicea but he was not surprised. "Oquendo has got another year (on his contract) and Pena is back. Something had to happen," he said.

Alicea first hit town in 1988 at age 22, when the Cardinals brought him up from Louisville after trading Tom Herr to Minnesota. …

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