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Arthritic knee means no '04, unlikely '05

NEW YORK -- Injured New York Mets first baseman Mo Vaughn will not play baseball in 2004 and is
doubtful for 2005 because of an arthritic left knee.

Vaughn went on the disabled
list May 3 with joint and cartilage damage in his knee and didn't
play again last season.

He hoped to come to spring training but after working all
winter, but the 36-year-old Vaughn said in a conference call Thursday that he had been
advised not to try a comeback.

"From what the doctors say, it would be tough this season and
it's not very bright for years to come," Vaughn said. "It doesn't
look good at all. It's a bad situation."

Vaughn said he works out two hours a day, four days a week. "I
don't want to put so much stress that I need a knee replacement at
40 and the another one at 60," he said.

"I worked hard this offseason trying to put strength in the
knee. An athlete knows his body. You know pain. You feel it in your
bones. You've got to get up, get on with life and keep moving."

Vaughn is owed $15 million for 2004, the final year of an $80
million contract he signed in 1999. The Mets have a $14 million
option with a $2 million buyout in 2005. Insurance on the deal will
reimburse the team for 75 percent of the contract once he misses 90
days.

Mets general manager Jim Duquette refused to discuss that issue.

"We can't talk about the insurance," he said. "Mo is on the
disabled list as of Opening Day."

Agent Jeff Moorad would not call Thursday's announcement a
retirement, even though prospects for Vaughn playing again seem
slim at best.

"It may seem a fine line," Moorad said. "We don't hold great
hope the Mo will be able to play again. We are stopping short of
calling this a retirement at this point. Mo is still under contract
with the New York Mets and looks forward to continuing his
involvement with the team, perhaps in community activities."

Vaughn, the 1995 AL MVP with Boston, has 326 career homers,
1,064 RBI and a .293 batting average in 12 major league seasons.
He missed the entire 2001 season with a ruptured tendon in his left
arm and hit just .190 with three homers and 15 RBI in 27 games for
the Mets last year -- his second with the team.