Sirotka Still Center of Controversy

Friday, February 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Mike Sirotka needs the medical exams. The humor he can do with out.

When the left-hander, acquired by Toronto from the Chicago White Sox last month in the David Wells trade, arrived Thursday at the Blue Jays' training camp, he was angry that Chicago general manager Kenny Williams jokingly referred to his injury situation as ``Shouldergate.''

Sirotka, who has a torn rotator cuff and labrum, was told to exercise for two weeks before his next checkup. Surgery remains an option, and he still doesn't know when or if he will pitch this year.

``I would really expect a little more respect on the matter from Kenny,'' he said at Dunedin, Fla. ``He doesn't have to deal with the injury. He knows as a player, especially from a pitcher's standpoint, that an injury to your throwing arm is in some way a threat to your career. I didn't really appreciate that comment. But it's really turned into a bit of a mess, anyway.''

Toronto said it was unaware he had the shoulder injuries, and the Blue Jays intend to ask the commissioner's office for additional compensation. Chicago said the Blue Jays were aware of the condition of his shoulder.

``We thought we were going to get a healthy pitcher, and we didn't get a healthy pitcher and that's our concern,'' new Blue Jays manager Buck Martinez said.

In Tampa, Fla., Joe Torre mentioned his desire to manage the Yankees beyond 2001 when he met briefly with owner George Steinbrenner.

Steinbrenner and Torre talked for just under 10 minutes in the manager's office. Torre will get $3 million this season in the final year of his contract.

``He came in here and just said, 'When things quiet down, we'll go out and have some lunch,''' Torre said.

Torre, who has led the Yankees to four World Series titles in five years, was concerned the new directive to umpires to clamp down on pitchers throwing at batters would distract Roger Clemens.

``I think there's a chance he's going to be bothered by it,'' he said. ``To me, you're taking away a weapon away — I'm not saying head hunting — I'm saying the ability to pitch inside. It's really tough to take that pitch away.''

Oakland gave manager Art Howe a one-year contract extension through 2002. He is 395-414 in five season, the A's third-winningest manager behind Connie Mack and Tony La Russa.

``I'm planning on being here for a little while,'' Howe said in Phoenix, where Oakland starts spring training Saturday.

At Peoria, Ariz., Seattle Mariners manager Lou Piniella talked about the loss of Alex Rodriguez this winter and Ken Griffey Jr. last year.

``This is a different ballclub, no question about it,'' Piniella said. ``It's hard. In the last two years, we've lost 90 to 100 home runs. We're going to have to change our style of play.''

Piniella said he'll be stressing more of the little things — staying ahead in the count, and playing hit-and-run.

``Unless we swing a deal for another hitter, we're going to have to be a team that executes well offensively and defensively,'' he said. ``We don't have that margin for error. Other years, a three-run homer could make up for a lot of ills.''

At Winter Haven, Fla., Cleveland Indians manager Charlie Manuel was happy no pitchers were injured on the first day of camp. Injuries forced Cleveland's rookie manager to use a major league record 32 pitchers last season.

``That's a freak thing,'' said Manuel, who lost two starters and his top setup man on the same day last year. ``There's going to be injuries this year too, but hopefully they'll come further apart.

``Last year, it seemed like the starting pitchers and the relief pitchers all went down at once. That's just a freak accident, and nothing can be done about it.''

At Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Baltimore pitcher Jason Johnson reported with bleached-blond hair. He was 1-10 with a 7.03 ERA last season.

``I told my wife, `I want to do a little something different this year. I'm going to grow a half-goatee and dye my hair blond.' She said OK, and she did it for me,'' Johnson said.

In Port St. Lucie, Fla., the Mets learned New York prosecutors decided not to file criminal charges against reliever Armando Benitez, accused by his former girlfriend of attacking her.

An investigation determined there was ``an insufficient legal basis on which to proceed with a criminal prosecution,'' said Mary DeBourbon, spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

``Obviously, we're pleased with the results,'' Mets general manager Steve Phillips said.

On the free-agent front, the Yankees added outfielder Henry Rodriguez, agreeing to a $1.5 million, one-year contract. Baltimore agreed to a minor league deal with pitcher Calvin Maduro, and San Diego finalized its $625,000, one-year contract with right-hander Bobby J. Jones.