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Saturday, July 12
Decision on Expos' future may come in September news services

Montreal Expos: A decision on the future home of the Expos might not be made until September, a high-ranking baseball official said Saturday.

The commissioner's office originally had targeted the All-Star break for a decision. Northern Virginia, Portland, Ore., and Washington all want the Expos to relocate to their areas for the 2004 season.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that the commissioner's office now hoped to have a decision by Labor Day, and that the end of the regular season was the current "drop-dead date.''

John McHale Jr., executive vice president of administration in the commissioner's office, met with Washington officials during the past week, an official familiar with that area's bid said, also on the condition of anonymity.

Officials from Northern Virginia and Washington planned to travel to Chicago for Tuesday's All-Star game.

"Gabe has been in frequent and regular contract with the relocation committee all week,'' Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority spokesman Brian Hannigan said, referring to his executive director, Gabe Paul Jr.

Hannigan said his group was going to Chicago "to be available to meet with them and continue the discussions and clarify anything they need.''

McHale said he did not know if Portland officials planned to attend, and Portland spokesman Drew Mahalic did not return a telephone call Saturday seeking comment.

Texas Rangers: Outfielder Juan Gonzalez has fired agent Jeff Moorad and is now using Fernando Cuza, sources told The Dallas Morning News.

The move could be a precursor to open up more trade talks involving Gonzalez, who turned down a trade to the Expos largely on Moorad's advice. July 31 is the trade deadline.

Cuza has previous experience as Gonzalez' agent.

  • The club sent first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, left-hander Ryan Snare and outfielder Will Smith to the minor leagues Saturday.

    The Rangers acquired the three players in Friday's deal that sent closer Ugueth Urbina to Florida.

    Gonzalez and Smith were assigned to Double-A Frisco of the Texas League, while Snare will go to Triple-A Oklahoma of the Pacific Coast League. The players are expected to join their respective clubs Sunday.

    All three players had been with Double-A Carolina of the Southern League.

    Gonzalez, the first overall pick in the 2000 amateur draft, was batting .307, Snare went 5-4 with a 3.67 ERA, and Smith was hitting .293.

    Cleveland Indians: Outfielder Matt Lawton was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday, and the Indians recalled rookie first baseman Travis Hafner in time for a day-night doubleheader.

    Lawton dislocated his right middle finger while taking a swing in the fourth inning of Friday night's 12-5 win over the Chicago White Sox.

    Lawton will wear a splint for the next two weeks and might be sidelined for one month.

    After a slow start, the 31-year-old Lawton is batting .313 with eight homers and 17 RBI in his last 25 games. He is hitting .248 with 15 homers and 47 RBI overall.

    Lawton is the third veteran starter to be sidelined with an injury. Ellis Burks (elbow) is out for the season, and shortstop Omar Vizquel (knee) may need season-ending surgery.

    Hafner is back with the Indians after being optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on May 26. He batted just .206 with four homers and 11 RBI in 30 games before being sent down.

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Outfielder Kenny Lofton left Saturday night's game against the Astros after jamming his right hand while sliding into third base in the first inning.

    Lofton was taken for X-rays, which were negative. He is day to day.

    Lofton was injured when he went from first to third after Jason Kendall singled and right fielder Richard Hidalgo mishandled the ball for an error.

    Lofton came into the game batting .281 with nine homers and 26 RBIs. He led the team with 56 runs and 17 steals.

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