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Zito hoping to sign new deal with Athletics

PHOENIX -- Barry Zito, the Cy Young Award winner of 2002,
reported to spring training camp Saturday and said he was hopeful
he could sign a new contract with the Oakland A's.

Zito's present, five-year contract expires at the end of this
season. He will make an estimated $8.5 million this year. He was
14-13 last season, his fifth straight at .500 or better.

Pitchers and catchers were required to report to spring training
Saturday, but they did not have to be physically present at the
Papago Park training facility. Zito was among a small number of A's
who showed up anyway.

"Money isn't the goal," Zito said. "It's more about me maxing
out on the field, being where I want to be pitching-wise. This is
my home team. I haven't spoken to my agent in a month or so."

Zito and assistant general manager David Forst both said the
team's new ownership group, headed by developer and real estate
magnate Lew Wolff, might make for a new contract climate. In 2003,
the A's gave up early in negotiations with shortstop Miguel Tejada,
who ended up in Baltimore.

"I don't foresee that happening," Forst said. "Lew and his
ownership group have proven things are a little bit different
now."

The Wolff group has brought in new players such as outfielder
Milton Bradley and former two-time American League MVP Frank
Thomas.

"Lew Wolff has brought some unpredictable things to this team
in the sense [of] comparing him to the old owners, which is a good
thing," Zito said.

Only two pitchers failed to report. Juan Cruz will be late
because or oral surgery back home in the Dominican Republic.
Santiago Casilla ran into visa problems when it was disclosed that
he had used the name of a younger man, Jairo Garcia, for the past
six seasons, according to the A's media guide.