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Article:Baseball Notes This Week

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This has been a week for milestones. Manny Ramirez reaches and passes the 500 homer mark, Ken Griffey, Junior needs one to reach the 600 mark and the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays are proving to the baseball world and themselves that they can play the type of baseball they are capable of.

We’ve also had a manager meltdown in front of the media (Ozzie Guillen) and another skipper (Joe Torre) return to the place where it started for him as a big league skipper.

So without any more delays (rain or otherwise), a look at the week that was in baseball.

Andruw goes under the knife - Dodgers outfielder Andruw Jones underwent surgery to repair a slight tear in his right cartilage last Tuesday, and the Dodgers reported that all went well.

Nothing unexpected was found during the procedure performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, and Jones' estimated recovery remains at four to six weeks. He will begin therapy immediately.

Jones became a Dodger last winter after the team that drafted and developed him, the Atlanta Braves, failed to resign him. He has won the Golden Glove for centerfielders every year since 1998 and made his World Series debut against the New York Yankees in 1996.

He connected for two home runs to left field on his first two at-bats as the Braves routed the New York Yankees 12-1. Jones became the youngest player ever to homer in the World Series (breaking the late Mickey Mantle’s record - on Mantle's birthday.)

Whether he was in the batter's box or gliding under a fly ball to make a casual basket catch, Jones played the game in a very relaxed manner. This temporarily earned him the ire of manager Bobby Cox in June 1998 in an oft-forgotten incident in which Cox pulled Jones out of a game because he felt Andruw had lazily allowed a single to drop in center field.

Jones is hitting .198 on the season and has been slumping, even going so far to take on the media.

Braves’ AAA facility closer to reality - “If you build it, they will come,‘ the line from “Field of Dreams” says.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gwinnett County’s new baseball stadium has moved one step closer to reality. County officials issued a development permit last Friday authorizing utility work and other site improvements at the 12-acre site on Buford Drive east of I-85.

GCVB officials have said they will need to hurry to complete construction of the stadium in time for the April 2009 opening day in the International League.

Preston Williams, the GCVB general manager and the man who is directly leading stadium construction for the county, was not in his office Wednesday and did not return a telephone message seeking comment on the project's status.

But Richard Tucker, chairman of the board of the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau said construction of the $45 million stadium appears to be right on schedule as of now.

"We have every reason to believe we're going to have it done on time, on budget and be ready to open for baseball on April 1," he said.

The stadium is being built to accommodate the top minor league affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, which the club agreed to relocate from Richmond next year as part of the stadium deal. The team plays in the International League.

The county contributed $12 million in property tax funds to pay for purchase of the land and some construction costs. Officials say the remainder of the project is expected to be paid from lease, ticket, parking and naming rights revenues.

MLB teams to draft Negro League Players for one day - While Dave Winfield doesn't want credit for the idea, he can hardly escape getting credit for it since everybody else says Winfield came up with it. And the idea is one that people across baseball are praising.

According to Winfield proposed having a "ceremonial" draft on June 5 for surviving players from the Negro Leagues. The draft would be a way for Major League Baseball to connect its past with its present, he said.

Winfield, a vice president with the Padres, told reporters, "You would truly bring the past into the present. You would change these people's lives. You would change baseball history -- American history.”

Winfield brought his initial idea to Commissioner Bud Selig and Jimmie Lee Solomon, baseball's executive vice president. The three of them tweaked it a bit before turning the idea into a plan that would accomplish what Winfield had hoped for: saluting those black and Latino ballplayers who had been excluded from the Majors because of their color.

As part of its 2008 First-Year Player Draft, each team will select a player whose career encompassed the Negro Leagues and other leagues. Participation in the Draft was voluntary but all 30 clubs will participate as Major League Baseball keeps alive the legacy of "black baseball."

Sosa calling it quits - According to Hoy, a Dominican Republic newspaper, slugger Sammy Sosa will retire from baseball after the next World Baseball Classic. Sosa is not currently playing in the Major Leagues, with his last team being the Texas Rangers.

Sosa, who won the 1998 National League MVP with the Cubs in the same year that he and former St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire were chasing Roger Maris’ home run record that season, told the newspaper that it "would be great if folks can see me for the last time wearing the uniform of the [Dominican Republic] National Team." Sixteen countries will play in the second WBC in March 2009. Sosa did not play in the first WBC in 2006.

Last year Sosa recorded 21 home runs and 92 RBIs in 114 games while playing for the Rangers. He hit his 600th career home run last June and has no interest in working for Major League Baseball.

"There's something that I wish to state very clearly: I'm not looking for a job. In fact, I have told my agent that he should stop offering my services to MLB teams," Sosa told Hoy. "I'm not retired. I remain highly focused and not begging for a contract."

Angels of Anaheim to host 2010 All Star Game - The cat is out of the bag. Commissioner Bud Selig announced last Wednesday what the rest of baseball has known for more than a year: The Los Angeles Angels will host the 2010 All-Star game.

The All-Stars will be at Anaheim for the first time since 1989, when Bo Jackson hit a 448-foot homer and was selected MVP. Nolan Ryan was the winning pitcher in the AL's 5-3 victory, and John Smoltz, the only player still active from that game, took the loss.

The only other All-Star game in Anaheim was in 1967, a 2-1 NL victory in 15 innings, the longest All-Star Game in history. Tony Perez hit the game-deciding home run off Catfish Hunter.

The 2010 game is scheduled for July 13.

This year's All-Star contest is at Yankee Stadium, and St. Louis will host the 2009 game. Arizona is the expected host in 2011, Kansas City in 2012 and the New York Mets' Citi Field, currently being built behind Shea Stadium’s left field wall, in 2013.

Securing the All-Star game was a joint effort by the Angels and Anaheim, which is scheduled to go to state appellate court on June 20 in its fight over the team's 2005 name change from Anaheim Angels to Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.




BaseballChannel.TV will stream the Negro League Draft live at 1 p.m. Eastern and the opening rounds of this year's First-Year Player Draft will follow at 2 p.m. Both events will be held at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. Fans are encouraged to attend with free admission and seating at the complex will be first-come, first serve. This is a chance for Major League Baseball to right some wrongs that were done, either intentionally or by omission. 

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