Rockies Catcher Mulls Trade to Dodgers

Friday, July 30th 2004, 9:50 pm
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) _ A deal that would send catcher Charles Johnson from the Colorado Rockies to the Los Angeles Dodgers is being held up while Johnson decides if he wants to waive his no-trade clause.

The Rockies would probably get a minor leaguer and possibly a player to be named from the Dodgers. The teams agreed to the deal Thursday night, but Johnson was still weighing his options Friday.

Citing family concerns, learning a new pitching staff, moving and the chance to get more playing time in Los Angeles, Johnson said he probably wouldn't make a decision until Saturday.

The deadline for deals without waivers is 4 p.m.

``They've asked me about it and I still haven't decided what I want to do,'' said Johnson, who didn't start against Arizona on Friday night. ``I'm not leaning one way or the other. Obviously, I have to make a decision shortly.''

Los Angeles could be in need of a catcher if a deal that sends Paul Lo Duca to Florida goes through.

The Rockies were looking to deal Johnson so they could unload his hefty salary and give J.D. Closser a chance to play in the majors.

Johnson is due $14 million over the next two seasons and Closser, who's at Triple-A Colorado Springs, is considered the Rockies' catcher of the future.

Although Johnson said just a few weeks ago that he wouldn't waive his no-trade clause, he's at least going to give it some thought.

``I'm a professional ballplayer, and it's not like I'm not going to listen to what is being brought up and what is being said,'' Johnson said. ``I definitely will listen to them and I'll tell them I'll let them know.''

Johnson came to Colorado from Florida with center fielder Preston Wilson in a 2002 trade for left-hander Mike Hampton and outfielder Juan Pierre. Johnson set a Rockies record for a catcher with 20 homers last season, but hit just .230 and struck out 84 times.

Johnson's strength in his 10 years in the majors _ with five teams _ has been his defense. He's a four-time Gold Glove winner, holds the record for consecutive games without an error by a catcher at 172 and is one of 10 players to be behind the plate for three no-hitters.

But age appears to have caught up with Johnson this season. The Rockies have become increasingly dissatisfied with his defense _ seven errors _ and have used backup Todd Greene more and more in recent weeks.

Johnson, 33, is hitting .258 with 11 homers and 41 RBIs this season.

``I came here to play and I still believe I definitely can catch every day,'' Johnson said. ``Coming in here last year, I definitely felt I would be catching a little bit more than I did last year and I thought I would get more games in.''