Zito hoping to sign new deal with Athletics

Updated: February 18, 2006, 6:29 PM ET
Associated Press

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.

Starting Pitcher
Oakland Athletics

35 14 13 89 171 3.86

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.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press