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Rogers accepts two-year, $6M deal

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Kenny Rogers is coming back to the Texas Rangers, agreeing Monday to a $6 million, two-year deal. The team also bolstered its bullpen by signing setup man Jeff Nelson to a
one-year contract.

The deal for Rogers, who pitched a perfect game thrown for Texas in 1994, is contingent on him passing a physical. The 39-year-old
left-hander would get $2.5 million this season and $3.5 million in
2005 for his third stint with the team -- he also pitched for the
Rangers 1989-95 and 2000-02.

Nelson signed a $1.5 million, one-year deal Monday after passing
his physical.

Rogers' popularity with fans and his experience could make him the
team's opening day starter. The rest of Texas' rotation is filled
with young players and Chan Ho Park, an expensive free-agent signee
last year who proved to be an injury-plagued bust.

Nelson, 37, was part of four World Series championships with the
Yankees. He fulfills the need for a right-handed reliever and has
12 years of experience to share with more young pitchers in the
bullpen.

"It puts a veteran who has been around this league that has had
years and years of success together with our young, growing kids,"
Texas assistant general manager Grady Fuson said. "That's a big
ingredient as this club goes forward."

The Rangers are coming off four straight last-place finishes in
the AL West. The last three were with AL MVP Alex Rodriguez at
shortstop, where he remains after trade talks with Boston ended
last month.

Nelson was 4-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 70 games last season for
Seattle and New York, returning to the Yankees in a trade in
August. With the Rangers, he could earn an additional $300,000 in
performance bonuses.

"This kind of reminds me of the 2003 Marlins that just won the
World Series. Nobody thought they would win, and obviously I didn't
think they would beat us when I was back in New York last year,"
Nelson said. "It also reminds me of the 2002 Anaheim Angels. It is
a great young team, and you have some good key veterans together."

The Rangers, whose offseason signings already have included
36-year-old outfielders Brian Jordan and Eric Young, expect to
finalize Rogers' signing and reintroduce him Tuesday.

Rogers turned down a chance to return to the Rangers last
season, then signed with the Minnesota Twins. He went 13-8 with a 4.57 ERA in
33 games.

His career record in Texas is 101-79 with a 4.18 ERA in a
club-record 463 games, including 187 starts. He also has played for
the Mets, Yankees and Oakland A's.

Nelson and a former Yankees teammate are facing assault and
battery charges as a result of a bullpen incident with a Fenway
Park groundskeeper during Game 3 of the American League
Championship Series. Nelson pleaded not guilty at his arraignment
last weekend in Boston, with a pretrial hearing scheduled Feb. 5.

Nelson is hopeful that the situation will be resolved and
settled without a trial before Texas pitchers report to training
camp Feb. 19 in Surprise, Ariz. He said the case never should have gone as far as it has.

"I don't think at all this is about Jeff Nelson. It's about the
Yankees and Red Sox," he said Monday. "I just happened to be in
the wrong place at the wrong time. By no means did I want this to
happen."

Nelson believes things would have been different had the Red Sox
gone to the World Series, or if he wasn't then playing for the
Yankees.

"If the Red Sox had beaten us in the ALCS, we would have
probably never heard anything about this. If I was with another
team, then you would have never heard anything about this," he
said. "But since it's the Yankees-Red Sox and they want to
continue this rivalry on and off the field, that's what happens."