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Johnson To Wait on Free Agency

May 10, 2001

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Florida Marlins catcher Charles Johnson wants to put the team’s stadium issue aside for now and decide later whether to declare himself a free agent after this season.

His agent, Scott Boras, said Johnson will wait until after the season to make a decision.

Johnson is in the first year of a five-year, $35 million contract that includes a clause allowing him to become a free agent this winter because the Marlins’ plan for a new ballpark failed to win approval from the legislature.

``I know I’m going to be here for this season,″ Johnson said before Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. ``So I’m just going to go out and enjoy it, help this team win ballgames and not think about this whole process. I’m not going to even look at the future right now because I’ve got to focus on this season now.″

The unusual escape clause was proposed by Boras.

``Charles came here to eventually win, and that requires the organization to keep the team together,″ Boras said. ``And certainly a new stadium is a part of that.″

The Marlins have said only a new ballpark will allow them to afford to keep a competitive team.

There’s been some progress in the push for a new ballpark this week. Gov. Jeb Bush said Tuesday he favors a tax referendum in July to extend a parking surcharge that would help finance the project.

``Even the in last 48 hours, the political environment as to the stadium is totally different than it was two days ago,″ Boras said. ``So this is an ever-changing process. ... We’re just going to stick to the measurements of our agreement, then sit down and talk about these things when the season ends.″

Johnson, 29, could command a lucrative salary on the free agent market. Through Tuesday he was hitting .316 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs.

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