Howe welcomes 'dear friend' Peterson

New York Mets: Rick Peterson was hired Wednesday as the Mets' pitching coach, reuniting him with manager Art Howe.

In their first news conference since making Jim Duquette general
manager last week, the Mets also said they want to re-sign the team
captain, 43-year-old left-hander John Franco.

Franco came back from reconstructive elbow surgery in May 2002
and went 0-3 with a 2.62 ERA and two saves in 38 games.

Peterson, who had been Oakland's pitching coach for the past six
seasons, replaces Vern Ruhle, who was reassigned after the season.

New York had a 4.48 ERA, 10th among the 16 NL teams. The Mets
want Peterson to put a pitching program in place through the entire

During his time with the Athletics, Peterson helped develop
Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson into one of the top trios in
baseball, and the A's staff had the best ERA in the AL during the
last two seasons.

Peterson works with the American Sports Medicine Institute lab
of Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.

"The real issue with getting a biomechanical analysis of a
pitcher is to reduce the risk of injury," Peterson said.

Howe called Peterson a "very dear friend" and said trust would
be the key to Peterson's relationship with pitchers. Still, Howe
admitted, "It's hard to judge how far along he can bring them."

Seattle Mariners: John Mabry became the ninth Mariners player to declare for free agency Wednesday after the team declined
to pick up his option for the 2004 season for $1.5 million.

Mabry, a little-used outfielder for the Mariners last season,
was given a $250,000 buyout.

In 64 games, Mabry hit .212 (22-for-104) with three home runs
and 16 RBIs. He was on the disabled list from May 28-June 19 with
an injured right shoulder last season.

The Mariners signed Mabry as a free agent last January. He
played with them in the 1999-2000 seasons, too.

The Mariners' other free agents include All-Star right-hander
Shigetoshi Hasegawa, who finished the season as the team's closer
last season, and Gold Glove center fielder Mike Cameron.

The others are veteran utilityman Mark McLemore, left-handed
reliever Arthur Rhodes, infielder Rey Sanchez, catcher Pat Borders,
reliever Armando Benitez and reliever Giovanni Carrera.

Mariners spokesman Tim Hevly said Wednesday that the Mariners
can still re-sign any of their free agents.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Chuck Hernandez replaced Chris Bosio on Wednesday as pitching coach of the Devil Rays.

Hernandez had been the team's minor league pitching coordinator
for the past six seasons. Bosio resigned after one year with the
team because of personal reasons.

Hernandez, 42, was the California Angels pitching coach from
1993 through 1996 before joining the Devil Rays' organization. He's
spent the last 26 years working as a coach at various levels.

"He was the most qualified person for the job," Tampa Bay
manager Lou Piniella said. "He's worked with most of our young
pitchers, knows them very well, and he's had major league
experience. I am thrilled to have him on board."

Tampa Bay had a 4.93 ERA last season, 11th among 14 AL teams.

Hernandez never pitched in the majors, but spent 1979 through 1983 in the minor league systems of the Yankees and White Sox.

San Francisco Giants: Catcher Alberto Castillo will re-sign with the team, agreeing to a one-year contract for $400,000.

Castillo, an 11-year major league veteran, appeared in 11 games
for the NL West champions last season, hitting .188 (3-for-16) with
a home run, a double and four RBI.

Chicago White Sox: Dave Wilder was hired as a special assistant to general manager Kenny Williams.

Wilder spent the last four seasons with the Brewers,
working as a special assignment scout last season after serving as
vice president of player personnel from 2000-02. He was the
Brewers' primary talent evaluator at both the major and minor
league levels, and oversaw the scouting and player development

Before going to the Brewers, the 43-year-old Wilder was the Cubs assistant general manager in 1999. He was the Cubs
farm director from 1996-98.

Wilder played seven seasons in the minor leagues before retiring
in 1989. He began his player development career with Oakland in
1990, serving as a scout and coach with Single-A Medford.

Also Wednesday, the White Sox announced they were not renewing
the contract of bullpen catcher Man Soo Lee. Lee, who once held the
Korean League home run record. He had been the bullpen catcher since 2000.

Cincinnati Reds: Waivers were requested on pitcher Ryan Dempster for the purpose of granting his
unconditional release.

Dempster is ineligible to re-sign a major league
contract with Cincinnati until May 15.

The Reds acquired Dempster in a July 2002 trade with Florida in
an attempt to improve the starting rotation.

Dempster went 3-7 for the Reds this season with a 6.54 ERA in 20
starts and two relief appearances. He didn't pitch after July 28.
He underwent surgery Aug. 4 to remove a bone chip from behind his
right elbow and to repair a complete ligament tear.