Koskie grew up watching Jays

Originally Published: December 14, 2004
Associated Press

Toronto Blue Jays: Corey Koskie finalized a $17 million, three-year contract with the Blue Jays, who hope the hard-hitting third baseman will help offset the loss of Carlos Delgado.

"I grew up watching the Blue Jays. Every Canadian kid's dream is to play for a team you grew up watching," the 31-year-old native of Anola, Manitoba, said during a news conference Tuesday. "I remember where I was when Joe Carter hit his home run to win the World Series. This is a real happy day for me and my family."

Koskie hit .251 with 25 homers and 71 RBI last season for the Minnesota Twins and had a .342 on-base percentage.

Eric Hinske, the 2002 AL Rookie of the Year, will be moved from third to first base if he's not traded. Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said Hinske was willing to make the move to first.

"If you can get Corey Koskie, I'll go anywhere," Ricciardi quoted Hinske as saying.

Koskie gets a $3 million signing bonus and salaries of $2.5 million in 2005, $5.25 million 2006 and $5.75 million in 2007. Toronto has a $6.5 million option for 2008 with a $500,000 buyout.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The club trotted out Royce Clayton, citing the acquisition of the former Colorado shortstop as another example of the team's determination to recover from last year's 111-loss season.

Clayton signed a $1.35 million, one-year contract after passing a physical.

He joins third baseman Troy Glaus, right-hander Russ Ortiz, catcher Kelly Stinnett and utilityman Craig Counsell as free agents signed in the last week.

Counsell, who agreed to a $2.7 million, two-year deal, wasn't able to make the Clayton news conference and was to be introduced Wednesday.

Clayton, 34, has hit .257, with 105 homers, 627 RBI and 202 stolen bases in his 14-year career. He was an NL All-Star in 1997 with St. Louis.

Cleveland Indians: Infielder Jose Hernandez's $1.8 million, one-year contract was finalized, giving Cleveland a free swinger with decent power who started at four positions last season with Los Angeles.

Hernandez's versatility, power and ability to back up young shortstop Jhonny Peralta made him worth the price, Shapiro said. Hernandez batted .289 with 13 home runs and 29 RBI last season.

He will not become the starter at second base -- the Indians still are interested in bringing back All-Star Ronnie Belliard.

Shapiro said third baseman Casey Blake, who is headed to right field to make room for Aaron Boone, also could play second. He added that the Indians would sign another hitter if they fail to sign Belliard, who is eligible for salary arbitration.

In other moves, the Indians designated infielder Josh Phelps for assignment to make room for Hernandez on the 40-man roster. The Indians have 10 days to trade or release Phelps.

Cleveland also acquired right-hander Thomas Mastny from Toronto to complete the Nov. 24 trade for infielder John McDonald.

San Francisco Giants: Veteran left-hander Jeff Fassero is among 12 players signed to minor league contracts by the San Francisco Giants and invited to spring training as non-roster players.

The club announced the moves Tuesday.

Fassero, 41, played mostly for Colorado last season but also appeared in one game for Arizona. He went 3-8 with a 5.51 ERA in 111 innings for the Rockies.

In June, Fassero went against manager Clint Hurdle's instructions and pitched to Giants slugger Barry Bonds at Coors Field. Bonds hit a pitch off the plate over the left-field wall for a solo home run.

The Giants also signed pitchers Armando Almanza, Brian Cooper, Matt Kinney, Jeremy Fikac, Brandon Puffer and Brandon Villafuerte; catcher Yamid Haad; infielders Julio Cordido and Donaldo Mendez; and outfielders Doug Clark and Julio Ramirez.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press