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Sierra getting chance for another comeback with Rangers

DALLAS (AP) _ Outfielder Ruben Sierra agreed Monday to a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers, getting the chance for another comeback with the team with which the former All-Star started his career.

Sierra was invited to spring training as a non-roster player. He is guaranteed $90,000, and if added to the major league roster would get a $600,000, one-year contract and the chance to earn $200,000 more in performance bonuses. If Sierra isn't added to the roster by the March 30 opener at Anaheim, the 37-year-old outfielder could request his release.

``He left a lot of money on the table from other places, but Texas is where his heart was,'' said Sierra's agent, Chuck Berry.

Sierra was disappointed a year ago when the Rangers didn't offer him a new contract, even after he hit .293 with 23 homers and 67 RBIs in 94 games during the 2001 season and was the AL comebacker player of the year.

``It's a second home to me. I grew up there and wanted to come back,'' Sierra said by phone Monday from his home in the Dominican Republic. ``I hope I can finish my career in Texas.''

Last season, Sierra hit .270 with 13 homers and 60 RBIs in 122 games for Seattle. He started 53 games in left, 44 as the designated hitter, and one in right before being used primarily in a reserve role the final two months of the season because of a strained left quadriceps muscle.

Sierra said he's healthy and working hard to get ready for spring training. Texas pitchers and catchers report to Surprise, Ariz., on Feb. 12, and other players have their first workout Feb. 18.

The Rangers return outfield starters Juan Gonzalez, Carl Everett and Kevin Mench from last season and signed Doug Glanville to a one-year deal.

``Here's a chance to add a guy we think can potentially be part of the mix that we like,'' said new Rangers manager Buck Showalter, who also managed Sierra with the Yankees in 1995. ``Guys like Ruben find a way to get it done. Where it fits and how it works out will work itself out.''

Sierra isn't worried about having to compete for a spot on the roster.

``I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about being ready,'' Sierra said. ``I'm not thinking about trying to make the team or that it's going to be hard. I've been through a lot of stuff harder than that. It's not going to be difficult.''

Sierra started his career in Texas (1986-92) before being traded to Oakland late in the 1992 season. He was with the Athletics until being traded to New York in 1995 and then to Detroit and Cincinnati in 1996, and played for Toronto (1997) and the Chicago White Sox (1998).

After being released by the White Sox and then signed and released by the New York Mets in 1998, Sierra spent 1999 in the independent Atlantic League and started 2000 in the Mexican League before signing a minor league deal with Texas.

Sierra played in 20 games with Texas at the end of the 2000 season, and then started 2001 at Triple-A Oklahoma before being recalled May 3 and finishing the season.

Sierra is still Texas' career leader in triples (44) and ranks fourth in hits (1,246), homers (177), RBIs (730) and extra-base hits (469) in 1,147 games over parts of nine seasons.

In 1,898 career games with eight teams, Sierra has a .270 average with 276 home runs and 1181 RBIs. He ranks sixth on the all-time career list for home runs by a switch-hitter and has homered from both sides of the plate in a game six times.
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