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Bonds Creates Stir at Winter Meetings

December 7, 2006

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) _ Barry Bonds swept through the lobby at the winter meetings, and Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry was hospitalized as baseball’s annual gathering neared its conclusion.

Jason Schmidt appeared headed to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Ted Lilly decided on the Chicago Cubs and Andy Pettitte chose to pitch next year, setting off bidding between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.

In the first big deal of the session, the Chicago White Sox traded starting pitcher Freddy Garcia to the Philadelphia Phillies for a pair of young arms: Gavin Floyd and a player to be named that White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said would be Gio Gonzalez.

``If we’re going to have any sustained success, we’re going to have to filter in some of the young players,″ Williams said, adding that he was looking to make room in the rotation for Brandon McCarthy.

Bonds left through the kitchen one night at the 1992 winter meetings when his deal to join the San Francisco Giants hit a temporary snag. Back at baseball’s annual swap session Wednesday, he quickly moved through the hotel lobby with his entourage and headed upstairs.

Fourteen years later, Bonds and the Giants are trying to extend their relationship, far apart on a deal but possibly destined to remain with each other. General manager Brian Sabean wouldn’t even say if he planned to meet his star slugger.

``I’m Sgt. Schultz,″ Sabean said. ``Silence is golden.″

Bonds met with Giants officials for about three hours, then left the hotel. He might return Thursday.

``He’s not driving. He’s not on a boat,″ agent Jeff Borris said. ``He could be on Matterhorn (at Disney World). You don’t know where he is, his mode of transportation.″

Hendry, perhaps the busiest of baseball’s GMs this offseason, wasn’t feeling well and spoke by phone with Cubs team physician Dr. Stephen Adams, who recommended that the 51-year-old go to a hospital to be examined. Hendry was expected to remain in the hospital overnight.

``It was determined that he should stay for observation and further evaluation,″ Cubs spokeswoman Sharon Pannozzo said.

On the third day of the four-day meetings, other players made news while Bonds and pitcher Barry Zito weighed their options.

_ The Dodgers were trying to sign Schmidt to a $47 million, three-year contract, a deal that would put him at the front of a formidable rotation.

_ Lilly reached a preliminary agreement on a $40 million, four-year contract with the Cubs, who made the left-hander the latest in an offseason spending splurge that included Alfonso Soriano ($136 million), Aramis Ramirez ($75 million) and Mark DeRosa ($13 million).

_ Unable to retain Lilly, Toronto tried to strike a deal with right-hander Gil Meche.

_ San Francisco finalized a $16 million, three-year contract with catcher Bengie Molina.

_ The New York Mets sent pitcher Brian Bannister to the Kansas City Royals for reliever Ambiorix Burgos in the first trade of the week.

_ The Mets and Oakland were talking about the possibility of New York shipping outfielder Lastings Milledge to the Athletics in a deal for starter Rich Harden or Joe Blanton.

_ Cleveland completed contracts with outfielder David Dellucci ($11.5 million over three years) and reliever Joe Borowski ($4.25 million for one year), whose two-year deal with Philadelphia fell through last week after the Phillies reviewed his physical.

_ Oakland agreed to a $5.5 million, two-year deal with left-handed reliever Alan Embree and was closing in on a contract for Mike Piazza, who would become the team’s designated hitter.

_ Two-time All-Star Mike Lieberthal agreed to a $1.25 million, one-year contract to become the Dodgers’ backup catcher.

_ Reserve outfielder Matt Stairs said he will sign with Toronto.

_ Atlanta was close to trading left-hander Horacio Ramirez to Seattle for reliever Rafael Soriano.

_ The Cubs traded utilityman Freddie Bynum to Baltimore for a player to be named. The Orioles also finalized a $900,000, one-year contract with backup catcher Paul Bako.

``There’s been one trade? I didn’t miss much,″ Athletics general manager Billy Beane said when he arrived, two days late.

Bonds wore jeans and a black polo as he walked through the lobby of the Dolphin hotel, not far from Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Borris, has expressed frustration at trying to work out a deal to remain with the Giants. But no other suitors have publicly emerged.

Back at the Galt House in Louisville, Ky., in 1992, Bonds showed up for a news conference to announce his $43.75 million, six-year deal with the Giants only to have the deal held up for two days while paperwork was put together.

As for Schmidt, the Dodgers emerged as the most likely destination for the three-time All-Star, although the St. Louis Cardinals also were trying to sign him. An agreement with Los Angeles would be contingent on Schmidt passing a physical.

``We do not have a deal,″ Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said.

Schmidt would join a rotation that includes right-hander Derek Lowe (16-8, 3.63), All-Star game starter Brad Penny (16-9, 4.33), youngster Chad Billingsley (7-4, 3.80) and newcomer Randy Wolf, a 2003 All-Star who had major elbow surgery in July 2005.

Pettitte, who immediately joined Lilly as the top available left-handers behind Zito, had been unsure whether he wanted to pitch again. The 34-year-old veteran pitched for the Yankees from 1995-03, helping New York win four World Series titles and six AL pennants. He spent the last three seasons with the Astros, who reached the World Series for the first time in 2005.

Pettitte was 14-13 with a 4.20 ERA in 35 starts for Houston last season.

``Andy told me he wants to play in 2007 and perhaps beyond,″ said his agent, Randy Hendricks. ``There is no timetable other than all deliberate speed.″

Boston was winding down its annual exploration of trades for Manny Ramirez, who wants to leave the Red Sox. Boston has never found a deal to its liking and set Wednesday as its soft deadline for a trade.

``We’re open to talking to teams and seeing how tonight goes,″ general manager Theo Epstein said.


AP Baseball Writer Mike Fitzpatrick and AP Sports Writers Jimmy Golen and Janie McCauley contributed to this report.

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