"What [Delgado's] going to do is take the pressure off those guys. There was a lot of pressure on the kid [Cabrera] and Mike [Lowell], especially at the beginning of the year when Jeff [Conine] got off to a slow start and before we got [Paul Lo Duca]. Now you're kind of balancing it out."
--Marlins manager Jack McKeon on the addition of Delgado their lineup (Miami Herald)
"The Marlins are better than they were last year in a division that has really now taken on a loss leader, if you will. That's not to diminish what the Braves organization has achieved, but there's a different luster to that team now that guys have left like [Greg] Maddux and [Tom] Glavine, and different mixes and matches of their offenses over the years. It's very much up in the air."
--Al Leiter, starting pitcher for the Florida Marlins (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
"He should come by the house, have some dinner. I'm not sharing the spotlight because I don't have a spotlight. He's just another pretty Latin face in Miami."
--Shaquille O'Neal, on Delgado's arrival in South Florida (South-Florida Sun-Sentinel)
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL
"We have reached an arrangement with the Red Sox but we will wait for them to disclose the details. I will say I think the fans will be pleased with the outcome. It was a glorious season and we were thrilled to have been a part of it."
--Jodi Mientkiewicz, wife of new Mets first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, on their decision to loan the 2004 World Series ball to the Red Sox for one year (Boston Globe)
"I'll probably ask before the ninth inning, 'What do you guys want me to do with this?' I didn't expect all of this with the ball. Sometimes in life you think you're doing the right thing and it doesn't turn out that way. That's kind of what happened here. I gave Derek Lowe the Game 7 ball from the ALCS and no one seems to want that one. I'll make sure I make it point-blank clear what they want me to do with it, who I should give it to, right after we win the World Series."
--Doug Mientkiewicz, on what he'll do if he records the final out again in the 2005 World Series with the Mets (Newsday)
"I'm excited. Obviously, I understand you guys were in the running for Delgado. Pretty much I'm honored I was probably the second or third option. That's saying a lot. I think Carlos is one helluva ballplayer. But I bring things to the table he doesn't."
--Mientkiewicz (New York Daily News)
"The ball issue was never a factor in the trade or the negotiating process. I've luckily never been involved in the ball situation from the beginning.... It was not a factor whatsoever."
--Red Sox GM Theo Epstein (Boston Herald)
GETTING TO SECOND BASE
"They aren't going to pay him that type of money to sit. I don't know how to take it. I'm used to it. It's not the first time they've done something like this with me. If that's their guy, if he's going to help the team, let's go. I'm not backing down from him. Hopefully, they don't just hand him anything."
--Willie Harris, White Sox second baseman, on the signing of Japanese infielder Tadahito Iguchi to take over at second base (Daily Southtown)
"I'm a grown man. If you don't want me, just tell me, 'Willie, you don't fit in.' Don't feed me from a long spoon when you got me back home getting ready like I'm a starter and then sign someone else.... It motivates me. If that's their guy, that's what they want, I just want a fair chance to challenge this guy. In the offseason they say they have great expectations in me and a lot of plans, and now this thing. It's tough for me to deal with, but I have to take it as another challenge and get ready to play. Now I'm hearing rumors that they want to trade me. It's a business, so that's up to them. If this team doesn't have plans for me, why not go ahead and get rid of me? I'm not saying it as a threat. But pretty much they're saying, 'Willie can't play.' "
"Why did I struggle last year? I didn't play. Now people are going to say, 'You got over 400 at-bats last year.' But it's when you get those at-bats. They were sporadic."
--Harris, inexplicably making excuses for his best offensive season
"The way [Iguchi] goes about the game, he's a perfect fit for what we need at the top of the order. He plays the game the right way. He plays it hard. He's a perfect combination of what we are looking for. My advice was don't worry about the numbers, just go out to win the game."
--White Sox GM Ken Williams, on newly signed second baseman Tadahito Iguchi (Chicago Tribune)
"Willie [Harris] still can serve a valuable role. I'm not upset [about his comments]. I think it's good for him to find his motivation wherever he can and come in and prove to me that I'm wrong."
"He really has been a dominant player at his position for a long, long time. And not only defensively, but with the bat also. It would be a nice crowning achievement for a great career, but I don't think it's necessary."
--Devil Rays' manager Lou Piniella, on whether Roberto Alomar needs 3,000 hits to get to Cooperstown (St. Petersburg Times)
"I don't think you need to get to 3,000 [hits] to get to the Hall of Fame. I think my numbers speak for themselves. If you need to get to 3,000 to get to the Hall of Fame, there will not be that many guys in there."
--Devil Rays' new second baseman Roberto Alomar (St. Petersburg Times)
WHAT GOOD IS MONEY IF IT CAN'T INSPIRE TERROR IN YOUR FELLOW MAN?
"I don't know what happened, if they drank some funny water, but they all decided they were back on the binge. And, you know, the tough thing about it, it just hurts the industry."
--Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy, on the free agent market this offseason (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
"I think, as we go toward a new agreement, there's going to have to be some form of constraint because these guys can't control themselves. I know it sounds a little harsh, and I'm criticizing my other owners, but that's the way it is. I'm tired of other people affecting the marketplace and making it more challenging for small-market teams."
CHICAGO'S WHERE I'M FROM, SOLITUDE'S WHERE I'M BOUND
"When I came to the Cubs in 1998, I would never have imagined Sammy Sosa would finish his career in another uniform. He always wanted to finish as a Cub, and that didn't happen. So from that standpoint, it's sad for a lot of people."
--Chip Caray, recently dismissed Cubs announcer (Chicago Sun-Times)
"The way I feel, it was inevitable. I think Sammy knew in his own heart he offended his teammates and the fans, and he knew if he was coming back he'd really have to apologize. And one thing about Sammy, he needs those ovations, not those boos. I think it's best for both sides."
--Ron Santo, current Cubs broadcaster (Chicago Sun-Times)
"I might be putting my foot in my mouth, but if you give me eight runs, I'll figure out the rest."
--Ray Miller, pitching coach for the Baltimore Orioles, on working with the new O's offense (Baltimore Sun)
"It was amazing to see him get booed because in Chicago sports history, he's one of the top players in franchise history in Chicago. I relate it to [Michael] Jordan. I can't imagine Chicago Bulls fans ever booing Jordan. That being said, I think it's time for a move [for Sosa]. I think he needs a fresh start. The city of Chicago is going to miss a great player, but I think he needs to move also."
--Todd Walker, Cubs second baseman (MLB.com)
"I don't know a whole lot about the Cubs because I've been playing in the American League. But I think getting some players with speed is one of their priorities, and that's a big part of my game. I don't know what's going to happen, but if the trade is made, I want to go over there and try to fit in. I hope I get the chance to show them what I can do."
--Jerry Hairston Jr., reportedly acquired by the Cubs for Sammy Sosa (Arlington Heights Daily Herald)
"I've been hoping for [a starting role], and when I [re-signed] with the Cubs, it was with the understanding I'd get a chance to be the starting left fielder. This is certainly in my mind, and I hope Jim Hendry believes in me. But at the same time, I know Jim Hendry and [team president] Andy MacPhail are doing what they can to make this team better. I'm not going to cause any uprising."
--Cubs outfielder Todd Hollandsworth, on filling their new outfield vacancy (Chicago Sun-Times)
THERE IS ANOTHER BARRY, YOU KNOW
"I'm doing what I want to do. I have a lot of oars in the water and there's a lot of things that I'm doing. One thing I'm not doing is sitting around at home worrying about baseball--or about anything, for that matter."
--Barry Larkin, addressing his potential retirement (Cincinnati Post)
"I'm a very loyal person, and I just can't accept a salary from a team and not be able to go out there and give 100 percent. I just can't play that way. I can't do it, I won't do it, I haven't done it and I don't see myself doing it."
"He's a pretty good-looking ballplayer. There was a lot of competition to sign him. And that's what it took to get the deal done."
--Benny Looper, Mariners' Vice President of player development and scouting, on the recent signing of Cuban shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. Looper's son Aaron was designated for assignment to make room for him (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
"Home opener ought to be entertaining with A.J. Pierzynski [and the White Sox] coming into town. What a country. What a country. It doesn't get much better than that."
--Ron Gardenhire, Twins manager (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)