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Several teams expressed interest in Leiter

NEW YORK -- Stuck in their contract negotiations, Al Leiter
and the Mets agreed Tuesday to explore what New York general
manager Omar Minaya called "other options."

Minaya spoke Monday night with the 39-year-old left-hander. The
Mets have been trying to re-sign him, and a baseball official,
speaking on the condition of anonymity, said last week that the
sides were closing in on a one-year deal worth between $4 million
and $5 million.

Talks have stalled since, and the Florida Marlins made an offer.
In addition, Leiter had lunch with Yankees general manager Brian
Cashman, who expressed interest.

Leiter appears to be waiting for the Mets to indicate they
earnestly want him back.

"There are options out there that he wants to explore, and we
have options that we want to explore," Minaya said Tuesday. Minaya
said the sides decided to "look at those options and see after the
(Thanksgiving) holidays where were are."

Alan Hendricks, Leiter's agent, did not want to discuss the
situation.

"Negotiations started before I got here," said Minaya, hired
in late September. "I have to review which is the best way to put
the club together, and Al has to review what is in his best
interests."

Minaya also said he got a call from Carl Pavano's agent and will
have additional talks with him.

New York filled out much of new manager Willie Randolph's staff
Tuesday, hiring former Chicago White Sox manager Jerry Manuel as
first base and outfield coach, Sandy Alomar Sr. as bench coach,
Manny Acta as third base coach and Guy Conti as bullpen coach. Rick
Peterson remains the pitching coach, and the Mets hope to hire Rick
Down, a member of the Yankees' minor league staff, as batting
coach.

Randolph has known Alomar since they were teammates on the 1976
Yankees and called him a father figure. Alomar is entering his 45th
professional season.

"He taught me how to play the game," Randolph said. "It's
just like having a Don Zimmer beside you, that wealth of baseball
knowledge."

Manuel managed the White Sox from 1997-03 and was voted AL
Manager of the Year in 2000 after Chicago won the AL Central.

Acta was Montreal's third base and infield coach the last three
seasons, and Conti spent the last four seasons as the Mets' minor
league field coordinator.

In addition, Ray Ramirez will become the Mets' head trainer,
replacing Scott Lawrenson. The hiring of Ramirez, an assistant
trainer with the Texas Rangers the past 13 years, might be just the
start of an overhaul of the medical and training staff.

Mike Piazza, Jose Reyes and Kaz Matsui were sidelined for
extended periods last year, and Minaya was concerned about the
injuries and the long recovery time.

"It's better to start fresh," he said.