Mondesi still working on pay withholding

PITTSBURGH -- Raul Mondesi might want to return to the
Pittsburgh Pirates this season after all, the Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette reported Friday.

Mondesi's pay was withheld for most of the season because of a
civil suit, and the outfielder returned to his native Dominican
Republic last Saturday.

On Monday, he said he wouldn't play again for Pittsburgh this
year because it was too difficult for him to concentrate on
baseball and he didn't want to be a distraction to the Pirates.

But now, Mondesi is leaving open the possibility of coming back
when his legal troubles are resolved.

"Maybe I'll come back. Maybe I'll stay here," Mondesi told the
newspaper during an interview in the Dominican Republic.

A Dominican civil court ruled in February that Mondesi owed
former major leaguer Mario Guerrero about $640,000 for helping him
improve his baseball skills, a claim Mondesi denies.

Mondesi appealed the ruling, but said the court ordered his
accounts in nine Dominican banks frozen and the Pirates withheld
his pay.

In April, Mondesi threatened to leave the team if the Pirates
didn't pay him by the end of the month.

Last Wednesday, a Dominican court order that caused the Pirates
to hold his pay was lifted. The Pirates then said they would
release Mondesi's wages from an interest-bearing escrow account.

Mondesi will probably remain in the Dominican Republic until at
least mid-June, when a Dominican court is scheduled to hear his

"I don't know how long it's going to take. I don't want to go
back and then have something happen here," Mondesi told the

Besides his legal problems, Mondesi told the newspaper he was
unhappy with his $1.15 million, one-year contract with the Pirates.

"If I don't feel comfortable, either with the Guerrero thing or
my contract, it's better for me to stay here," he said.

The Pirates placed Mondesi on the restricted list, meaning he is
inactive and is not being paid.

Signed as a free agent in February, Mondesi was hitting .283
with two homers and 14 RBIs this season.

Mondesi was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1994 with the Los
Angeles Dodgers. He won Gold Glove Awards in 1995 and 1997, and
twice had 30-homer, 30-steal seasons.

Mondesi has a career batting average of .276 with 266 homers and
842 RBIs in 12 seasons with the Dodgers, Toronto, New York Yankees,
Arizona and Pittsburgh.