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Friday, November 8
Neagle's big contract still problem for Rockies

Associated Press

DENVER -- Colorado Rockies pitcher Denny Neagle isn't just agreeable to waiving the no-trade clause in his contract. He wants out.

"They need payroll flexibility, and I want to go to a place where I am more appreciated,'' Neagle said Thursday. "I know that I haven't lived up to my end of the bargain. But honestly, it hasn't worked out here for either of us, and it would be best for both parties if this marriage ended.''

Elarton hopes to stay
DENVER -- Pitcher Scott Elarton is hoping to stay with the Rockies next season, though he currently has no 2003 contract.

The Lamar native was sidelined by a shoulder injury soon after the Rockies acquired him in July 2000 in the deal that sent Pedro Astacio to the Astros. Last spring, doctors decided Elarton needed shoulder surgery and he didn't play.

The Rockies want to sign Elarton to a non-guaranteed deal rather than a contract. Elarton told the Rocky Mountain News on Thursday he expects to agree to terms to remain with the club.

"I don't want to play anywhere else,'' said Elarton, who was paid $1.4 million last season. "I like (manager) Clint (Hurdle). I like the doctors and the trainers. There's a good young core of guys.''

Elarton, the Astros' first-round draft choice in 1993, said he felt loyalty to the Rockies because of the way they dealt with his surgery.

"They have treated me very well throughout all of this,'' he said. "I think they got damaged goods when they traded for me. They didn't know it at the time. I didn't know it at the time. But the way it turned out, something was wrong. They've given me a chance to get healthy, and I'd like to be healthy for them.''
-- The Associated Press

Neagle said he would consider restructuring his contract through deferrals, if he gets sent to a desirable location. He prefers Chicago, New York or a city on the West Coast. The left-hander twice vetoed trades to the Detroit Tigers last summer.

Neagle, 34, has $37.5 million remaining on his contract, including $9 million in 2003.

The Rockies have tried to move Neagle for 11 months, but his big contract and performance have stifled offers.

Neagle signed a five-year, $51.5 million deal in December 2000, then turned in a 17-19 record with a 5.32 ERA.

He was demoted to the bullpen for seven weeks last season before returning after John Thomson was traded July 31 to the New York Mets. He rediscovered his changeup and was among the best pitchers in the National League for a month, until a left elbow injury set in.

Neagle said he had a small bone chip and some floating pieces removed during surgery a month ago and has resumed offseason workouts.

Trading Neagle or Mike Hampton, the other well-paid, under-performing starting pitcher the Rockies signed in 2000, would give the club much-needed payroll relief.

The Rockies are holding contracts for $40.5 million on five players with a payroll that is expected to cap around $51 million.

With no takers for Hampton or Neagle, the Rockies have held preliminary talks with Arizona about right fielder Larry Walker.

"I don't think that's something that can be blamed on me and Mike. Larry's name has been out there in trade rumors for the past couple of years,'' Neagle said.

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