Yankees soften take on why trade fell apart

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Diamondbacks are not looking for a new partner to create a three-team trade that would send Randy Johnson to the New York Yankees and may keep the Big Unit for 2005.

Arizona managing partner Ken Kendrick said Wednesday he planned
to put aside Johnson talks until after Christmas.

"We're all in a holiday mode starting today, basically,"
Kendrick said. "You never know what to expect in the baseball
world, but I think right now our focus is to get to our families
and let everybody have a little down time."

The Los Angeles Dodgers reversed course Tuesday night and pulled
out of a 10-player deal that would have sent Johnson to the New
York Yankees, pitcher Javier Vazquez to the Dodgers and outfielder
Shawn Green to the Diamondbacks.

"For some reason, the Dodgers over the weekend started to
backpedal," Yankees president Randy Levine said late Tuesday
night. "Why they would break their word is only something they can
answer. It sure is disappointing, and we'll have to think long and
hard before ever doing business with the Dodgers again."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman softened the rhetoric on
Wednesday, and spelled out why he believes the deal collapsed. The
Dodgers had signed off on the trade during a pair of conference
calls late Monday night and early Tuesday.

"After everything seemed to be agreed upon by midnight Monday,
the only way it could work is if you have physicals taken by a
certain time Wednesday," Cashman said. "And that was not feasible
-- the time of year we're at, Christmas week, people out of the

Attempts were made to schedule the physicals, but Vazquez and
Kaz Ishii, who would have gone from the Dodgers to the Yankees,
were out of the mainland United States.

"Everybody tried to make phone calls to see if it would work or
not, but knowing that really going into it, there's no way this can
work," Cashman said. "So it just didn't go forward because it
never had life to go forward. That's really the sum and substance
of it."

Cashman said the Yankees are "not out shopping Javy Vazquez"
and said the pitcher would be moved only to obtain Johnson.

"We've had clubs interested in Javy Vazquez," Cashman said,
"and there's only one situation we might consider moving him in."

The Diamondbacks remain committed to making all major personnel
decisions by the end of the year or in early January. In the
meantime, the team is not out looking for a third team to make the
Johnson trade to the Yankees work, Kendrick said. But the
Diamondbacks will listen to the ideas of others.

"This has been a very highly publicized situation," Kendrick
said, "and if our phone rings, it's always our duty to kind of
listen to what anybody has to say."

Johnson is due $16 million in the final year of his contract
with Arizona and has indicated that he wants a trade to the
Yankees. The Diamondbacks, though, will accept a trade only if it
fits in the team's plans to immediately return to contention after
its disastrous 2004 season, Kendrick said.

"We're going to be sensitive to his interests," Kendrick said,
"but we're not going to make a decision that we don't believe is
in the interest of the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks come first."

Alan Nero, one of Johnson's agents, did not return a telephone
call seeking comment.

The Diamondbacks think Johnson's professionalism, and Arizona's
recent upgrade in talent, would prevent any problems if he pitches
for the Diamondbacks in 2005.

"We have always said that we would be proud to have Randy here
as our opening-day pitcher this year," Kendrick said. "As of this
moment, that is exactly what will happen."

At some point, Kendrick said, the Diamondbacks might halt all
trade considerations and declare Johnson will be with Arizona when
the 2005 season begins.