Paul Hagen | It's time to crank up the rumor mill

Posted: June 22, 2007

THERE ARE always rumors here, rumors there, rumors everywhere as the July 31 deadline for making trades without waivers approaches. Early indications are, however, that this could be an unusually unsettling time for some of baseball's biggest names.

Would the Reds consider trading Ken Griffey Jr.?

"I can't control what happens upstairs," he shrugged. Meanwhile, some reports suggest that he's told friends he'd love to play for the Cubs. And Cincinnati is believed to be actively shopping Adam Dunn.

Will the White Sox trade lefthander Mark Buehrle? He can be a free agent at the end of the season and the Sox have made no effort this year to sign him to an extension. The Mets are reported to be already pestering general manager Kenny Williams about him.

Will the Mariners trade Ichiro? He, too, is a free agent in November and is sending signals that Seattle's losing ways have begun to wear on him.

"It's like a comedy skit. For us, it's not funny," he noted after a recent loss.

Will Minnesota trade Torii Hunter, another upcoming free agent?

"I want to be with the Twins . . . but I'm human and [the team's] silence [on negotiating an extension] makes you wonder," he said. "I can't believe there hasn't been a conversation about it. That's tough to swallow."

Will the low-payroll Marlins trade lefthander Dontrelle Willis or third baseman Miguel Cabrera?

Will the Cubs trade righthander Carlos Zambrano before he's eligible to walk away at the end of the year?

Will the Rangers trade slugger Mark Teixeira or relievers Eric Gagne and Akinori Otsuka? All-Star shortstop Michael Young would be mighty upset if they do.

"I've been through three rebuilding phases since I've been here. I'm not in favor of that at all," he said.

Will the Orioles trade Miguel Tejada? The Astros Roy Oswalt? The Giants Barry Bonds?

Barry Bonds? "They can trade me. They can do that," Bonds told the San Jose Mercury News, hinting at a willingness to waive his no-trade clause before adding that he doubts management would consider it.

He's probably right. But expect to hear a lot of rumors about a lot of stars in the next 5 weeks.

Around the bases

* When Pirates closer Matt Capps enters a game at PNC Park, Toby Keith's "Big Bull Rider" plays on the sound system and a stampede of cattle runs across the stadium's video board.

* The Mets have been camp-aigning at Shea Stadium for fans to cast All-Star votes for catcher Paul Lo Duca. "It's hard not to notice," Lo Duca said. "I had a couple batters come to the plate and say they voted for me. It was pretty funny."

* Curt Smith, whose current book "The Voice" details the rise, abrupt fall and final redemption of former Yankees announcer Mel Allen, is reportedly currently at work on a biography of legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully.

The hot corner

* Scouts for the Phillies, Dodgers, Mets, Orioles and Devil Rays attended the White Sox game Tuesday, sparking speculation that they were watching outfielder Jermaine Dye.

* Twins catcher Joe Mauer used a Japanese wrap called Kinesio Tape to help him return more quickly from a quadriceps injury. The wrap is supposed to increase blood flow and decrease inflammation.

* Minnesota continues to look for a third baseman and, possibly, a designated hitter. Speculation so far has centered on Tampa Bay's Ty Wigginton.


"You can't predict. All you can do is look at the previous performance, look at how many innings somebody throws, what an MRI shows. The MRIs are almost identical going back for a few years . . . With all due respect, he wasn't throwing well. It's not as if he were on the way to a Cy Young season and suddenly you lose him."

Phillies general manager Pat Gillick on Freddy Garcia? No, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti on losing righthander Jason Schmidt, their big offseason free-agent acquisition, for the rest of the year following shoulder surgery.

"The bullpen is always the least predictable area of your team. That's why you try to stick to short commitments out there."

Gillick? No, Indians general manager Mark Shapiro on the release this week of veteran Roberto Hernandez. Unless another team picks him up, the Tribe will be responsible for the remainder of his $3.3 million contract plus a $200,000 buyout of the 2008 option.


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