White Sox give Person a minors deal

Chicago White Sox: Robert Person finalized his minor league contract
with the White Sox on Wednesday.

Chicago also agreed to minor league deals with pitchers Mike
Jackson, Vic Darensbourg and Jose Santiago; infielders Mike Bell,
Kelly Dransfeldt and Bobby Smith; and outfielder Marvin Benard.

Person has pitched in only seven games since July 2002, when he
had season-ending shoulder surgery. But he won 15 games with the
Philadelphia Phillies in 2001, and the White Sox are looking to add
another veteran to their rotation after losing Bartolo Colon to
free agency.

Person would be guaranteed $750,000 if he is added to the 40-man
roster. He would get a $500,000 salary in 2004, and the
right-hander would get performance bonuses that pay him up to
$500,000 more based on a points system for starts and appearances.
The White Sox would get an option for 2005 at $2.5 million plus 150
percent of performance bonuses earned in 2004, and would have to
pay a $250,000 buyout if they decline the option.

Jackson, 39, would get a $500,000, one-year deal if added to the
major league roster. He was out of baseball in 2003 but is 60-67
with a 3.35 ERA and 142 over 17 major league seasons. Jackson went
2-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 58 games with Minnesota in 2002.

Benard, 34, spent his nine-year career with San Francisco,
hitting .271. He ranks 11th among active players with 52 career
pinch hits.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Kintetsu Buffaloes infielder Norihiro Nakamura will
take part in the Dodgers' spring training camp next

Nakamura will head to Vero Beach, Fla., after working out with
the Buffaloes from Feb. 1-10, Kintetsu general manager Keisaku
Ashitaka said Wednesday.

Nakamura, 30, batted .236 for the Buffaloes last season and hit
23 homers while driving in 67 runs. In December 2002, Nakamura
backed out of a deal to join the New York Mets and decided to
remain with the Pacific League team.

Atlanta Braves: Infielder Russell Branyan agreed Wednesday to a minor league contract with the Braves that would pay him $395,000 if he makes the team.

Branyan, 28, will be one of 15 non-roster players invited to
spring training. He hit .216 with nine homers and 26 RBIs in 74
games for the Cincinnati Reds last season. He became a free agent
when Cincinnati didn't offer a contract by the Dec. 20 deadline.

Overall, Branyan has 70 homers and 180 RBIs in parts of six
seasons with Cincinnati and Cleveland.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Minor league catcher Brad Cresse was traded to Montreal for a player to be named.

Cresse, 25, hit .229 last year at Triple-A Tucson with 10 homers and 47 RBIs in 82 games.

"It's a good opportunity for Brad to get some significant playing time for the Expos at the Triple-A level," Arizona general manger Joe Garagiola Jr. said. "In every respect it's a good opportunity for him -- we have a lot of good catching in the system, and in the trade, ultimately, we'll get a player at a position we need."

Garagiola also spoke Wednesday with Adam Katz, the agent for third baseman Shea Hillenbrand. The third baseman asked for $2,875,000 Tuesday and was offered $2.4 million.

"We'll probably speak tomorrow and keep working away at this thing," Garagiola said.

Hillenbrand's hearing will be scheduled for next month.

Arizona also invited 12 players to spring training, a group that includes catchers Craig Ansman, Juan Brito, Chris Snyder and Alan Zinter.

Right-handers Dustin Nippert, Brady Raggio, Brandon Villafuerte and Adriano Rosario; infielder Donnie Sadler; and outfielders Luis Garcia, Felix Jose and Julio Ramirez were also invited.

San Diego Padres: Former big league pitcher Wally Whitehurst was hired as pitching coach of the Padres' rookie-level team in Peoria, Ariz.

Whitehurst pitched for the Padres in 1993-94, going 8-14 with a 4.24 ERA. He also pitched for the New York Mets (1989-92) and Yankees (1996). He had a career record of 20-37 with three saves and a 4.02 ERA.

Steve Webber, a former head coach at Georgia, was named pitching coach at Single-A Fort Wayne. Webber spent 16 years at Georgia, leading the Bulldogs to the National Championship in 1990.

Webber spent the last eight seasons in the Yankees'
organization, most recently as coordinator of minor league

Reliford gets nod
NEW YORK -- Charlie Reliford was selected Wednesday to
become an umpire crew chief, filling the opening created when Steve
Rippley retired last month.

Reliford, 47, has been on the major league staff since 1991. He
worked the 2000 World Series, the 1996 All-Star game and league
championship series in 1999, 2001 and 2002.