Giants to close deals with CF Roberts, infielder Aurilia
SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants were nearing deals Monday that would bring back infielder Rich Aurilia and reunite center fielder Dave Roberts with his former manager in San Diego, Bruce Bochy.
The Giants didn't expect to announce any signings until later this week, or perhaps not even until the baseball winter meetings in Florida starting Dec. 4.
General manager Brian Sabean has been helping out the family of former Orioles 20-game winner and Giants special assistant and longtime scout Pat Dobson, who died suddenly Wednesday night from leukemia.
The 35-year-old Aurilia played for the Giants for his first nine major league seasons from 1995-2003, helping San Francisco to the 2002 World Series. He spent the last two seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and has expressed interest in returning to the Bay Area. He batted .300 with 23 home runs and 70 RBI in 440 at-bats in 2006.
"We're moving in that direction, but we're not done," said Aurilia's agent, Barry Axelrod.
San Francisco still has major holes to fill and lost out on center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. to the Los Angeles Angels as well as power hitter Carlos Lee, who signed a $100 million, six-year contract last week with the Houston Astros.
The Giants, who missed the playoffs for the third straight year and replaced manager Felipe Alou with Bochy, have decisions to make at every infield position except for Omar Vizquel's spot at shortstop, catcher and left field. San Francisco reportedly has spoken with the Boston Red Sox about acquiring slugger Manny Ramirez -- though several variables would have to be worked out for a deal to happen.
San Diego Padres
The Giants have been in discussions with 42-year-old star Barry Bonds about him returning for a 15th season as he chases Hank Aaron's career home run record of 755. The Giants also like veteran catcher Gregg Zaun as a potential complement to Eliezer Alfonzo, who did a great job filling in while Mike Matheny was forced to miss the final four months of the season with a concussion.
Matheny, signed through 2007, might opt to retire if his symptoms don't improve soon.
Aurilia could be a fit anywhere in the infield. He played 52 games at third base last season, 47 at first, 26 at shortstop and 10 at second. The Giants would like to give rookie Kevin Frandsen, coming off his batting title in the Arizona Fall League, a shot to win the job at second.
Roberts spent the past two seasons with Bochy in San Diego and has said he would be interested in following the manager to the Giants.
A reliable leadoff hitter, Roberts batted .293 with two homers and 44 RBI and stole a career-best 49 bases this year.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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