Ball goes on auction block Monday

Updated: October 12, 2004, 5:46 PM ET
Associated Press

San Francisco Giants: Barry Bonds' 700th home run ball will be up for sale beginning Monday.

The ball will be placed on an auction site at from Oct. 18-27, with bids beginning at $1, said Daniel Horowitz, the attorney for the man who ended up with the historic blast at SBC Park.

Steve Williams got the ball after a scramble in the left-center bleachers. Timothy Murphy has sued Williams, saying he should get the ball because he had it locked behind his knees while at the bottom of a scrum before Williams swiped it.

A judge refused to hold up the sale, freeing Williams to sell it. Attorneys for Murphy said they are continuing with their suit.

Bonds on Sept. 17 became the first member of the 700-homer club in 31 years, joining Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. He now has 703 career home runs, trailing only Ruth (714) and Aaron (755).

Cleveland Indians: The Cleveland Indians declined to pick up Omar Vizquel's $5 million contract option for next season, making him eligible to become a free agent when the World Series ends.

"This step is a mere formality and does not impact the process in re-signing Omar Vizquel," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said Tuesday. "It does not lessen our hope or desire in bringing Omar back."

The 37-year-old shortstop has said he wants to return for a 12th season in Cleveland, but the Indians are targeting a starting pitcher.

The Indians will pay Vizquel's $1 million buyout and could sign him to a new deal or enter salary arbitration with him by Dec. 7.

Shapiro last week called bringing back the widely popular Vizquel "a long shot."

The team doesn't want to lock into any contracts because it wants to look at the free-agent market and has some pending salary arbitration cases, including one with second baseman Ronnie Belliard.

Vizquel hit .291 with seven homers and 59 RBIs this season. He also scored 82 runs, stole 19 bases and had no errors over the last 55 games.

Shapiro also wants a veteran middle infielder and said it was unlikely he would start the season with Jhonny Peralta at shortstop together with Brandon Phillips at second base.

The Indians could offer salary arbitration to Belliard, who had a strong first season in Cleveland, or Shapiro said his coaching staff feels third baseman Casey Blake could shift to second.

Cincinnati Reds: Left-hander Mike Matthews and right-hander Aaron Myette chose free agency Tuesday rather than stay with the Cincinnati Reds, who took them off their 40-man roster.

Matthews was 2-1 with a 6.30 ERA in 35 relief appearances for the Reds. He had surgery July 6 to remove bone chips from his elbow.

Myette had an 8.31 ERA in five relief appearances for the Reds. He was one of the top relievers at Triple-A Louisville, saving 19 games with a 2.89 ERA.

Pittsburgh Pirates Right-handed pitcher Nelson Figueroa was unconditionally released Tuesday.

The Pirates bought Figueroa's contract in August from their minor-league affiliate in Nashville, where the 30-year-old went 12-8 with a 4.19 ERA in 23 starts. With the Pirates, he was 0-3 with a 5.72 ERA in 10 games -- including three starts.

Figueroa has played in 74 major league games with Arizona, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. He has 33 starts and is 7-17 with a 4.65 ERA.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press