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Eyre, $11 million deal in hand, focuses on Cubs

CHICAGO -- Scott Eyre couldn't concentrate. A song would blast from the sound system between innings, and he'd sing it while trying to retire opposing batters.

He would forget game situations, too.

And at home, he was "a lot grumpier, I guess."

Eyre has reason to smile now.

His attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is under control. And after going 2-2 with a career-low 2.63 ERA for the San Francisco Giants last season, the reliever agreed to a contract with the Chicago Cubs that guarantees him $11 million over three seasons.

"I'll give everything I've got every time I pitch, which is
hopefully about 80 times a year," Eyre said Friday during a news
conference at Wrigley Field. "I do enjoy pitching. I hate sitting
in the bullpen."

The 33-year-old left-hander gets a $1 million signing bonus,
$2.7 million next season and $3.5 million in 2007. He has a $3.8
million player option for 2008 and possible bonuses that could
total $2.4 million over the three years.

The contract also includes a no-trade clause for next season and
a limited no-trade for 2007 and 2008 that allows him to block deals
to 10 teams.

Eyre's 86 appearances last season led the majors and were a
career-high. He stranded 66 of 78 inherited runners, struck out 65,
walked 26 in 68 1/3 innings and held batters to a .200 average.

The Giants had offered a two-year deal with a club option, but
Eyre wanted a third year and to be closer to his family in Florida.

"This game is about relationships," agent Tommy Tanzer said.
"It's about relationships and trust, and there's not enough of
that left."

Eyre played briefly for Baker with the Giants in 2002 and is
close with Cubs bench coach Dick Pole. And Tanzer has a good
working relationship with general manager Jim Hendry. Those factors
helped push the Cubs to the top of a list of finalists that
included St. Louis, Houston and Atlanta.

The Cubs were ninth in the NL with a 4.19 ERA last season and
were without an experienced left-hander in the bullpen after
releasing Mike Remlinger in August.

"Obviously, we needed to plug some holes in the bullpen,"
Hendry said.

The Cubs are also searching for a leadoff hitter and wouldn't
mind adding another starting pitcher. They also are pursuing
free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal.

"He's earned the right to decide to stay or leave," Hendry
said. "If he has interest in not returning to the Braves, then we
would have a good shot."

Whether the Cubs sign Furcal or not, Nomar Garciaparra's days as
Chicago infielder appear to be over.

Garciaparra is a free agent and probably would move to the
outfield if he returns, according to Hendry. A five-time All-Star
and two-time AL batting champion with Boston, Garciaparra hit .283
with nine home runs and 30 RBI in his first full season with the
Cubs, missing 3½ months due to a groin injury. Normally a shortstop, he played 34 games at third base.

The Cubs are also interested in A.J. Burnett, who was 12-12 with
a 3.44 ERA for Florida but struggled down the stretch and was
banished from the team in the final week after criticizing manager
Jack McKeon and his coaches.

"I don't know a lot about A.J. personally," Hendry said.
"Unless you're in that clubhouse, you don't really know what it's
like. I remember when we made the trade with the Dodgers, I don't
think I heard a lot of good things about Eric Karros before he got
here. He was one of the finest guys I've ever seen in a major
league clubhouse."

Eyre knows something about redemption.

He broke into the majors as a starter with the White Sox in 1997
and moved to the bullpen. He struggled during his four seasons on
the South Side, never posting an ERA lower than 5.04, before being
traded to Toronto after the 2000 season.

Eyre was diagnosed with ADHD in May 2002, three months before
the Blue Jays waived him. Until then, he simply thought he was
simply forgetful, a bit quirky.

"I was just me," he said.

On medication, things changed for Eyre.
In 3½ seasons with San Francisco, he was 6-5 with a 3.18 ERA in
264 appearances.

"The psychologist I talked to said it's amazing you made it as
far as you did in baseball," he said.