<
>

Giants GM Sabean to determine feasibility of signing A-Rod

SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Giants general manager Brian
Sabean plans to "kick the tires" to determine the feasibility of
signing free agent Alex Rodriguez, but characterized the team's
chances of acquiring the slugger as "a reach."

With Barry Bonds' tenure in San Francisco over after 15 seasons,
there has been speculation that the Giants could try to replace
baseball's home run king with the player considered to have the
best chance to break Bonds' record.

Rodriguez recently opted out of his $252 million, 10-year
contract with the New York Yankees and filed for free agency.
Sabean was asked on a conference call Thursday whether the team was
willing to commit a large percentage of its payroll to a player
expected to receive a contract worth $30 million or more per year.

"I don't even know that they know what their expectations
are," Sabean said of A-Rod and agent Scott Boras. "You have to do
due diligence. I think that's the best way to put it: kick the
tires on anything, including him. In baseball, almost anything is
possible. How probable something like that would be would be a
reach for me for the reasons you said. It can literally hamstring
what you want to do for quite a while."

The 32-year-old Rodriguez led the majors with 54 homers and 156
RBIs this season. His 518 career home runs are the most by anybody
his age and 184 more than Bonds' 334 at the same age. Bonds holds
the career mark with 762 home runs.

Sabean said the team was already in discussions about a one-year
deal with a vesting option for free-agent shortstop Omar Vizquel,
and was interested in re-signing third baseman Pedro Feliz.

The priority this offseason is improving an offense that
finished last in the majors in slugging percentage with a .387 mark
and second-worst with 693 runs scored. That will have to be done
without Bonds. Sabean reiterated the team's stance that it will not
bring him back despite recent comments by the slugger that
suggested there was still a chance he could return to San
Francisco.

With a thin free-agent pool, Sabean said upgrades might require
trading some of the club's young pitchers.

Rookie Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are expected to stay in San
Francisco, but the team could entertain deals for Noah Lowry or
Jonathan Sanchez.

The Giants also hired a new hitting coach Thursday, giving the
job to former AL batting champion Carney Lansford.

Lansford, a five-time All-Star who won the batting title in
1981, received a two-year contract to replace Joe Lefebvre on
manager Bruce Bochy's staff. Lansford grew up in the Bay Area
cheering for the Giants.

Lansford said he will encourage "unselfish baseball," with
players taking pitches to allow for stolen bases. He wants his
hitters advancing runners and creating runs.

"We have to do whatever it takes to win a ballgame," he said.
"If that means taking pitches, you have to do that and feel good
about it. At the same time, still move that runner over so the next
guy can pick him up. That's hard to do sometimes, but winning
ballclubs do that."

Sabean quickly added that did not mean the team didn't want to
have any power in the lineup.

"We're not looking to have a Punch and Judy team," he said.
"Nor is Carney going to be a Punch and Judy hitting coach. We
believe in trying to hit doubles, trying to hit the ball as hard as
you can. There will be times where those doubles are going to turn
into home runs."

Lansford batted .290 during a 15-year career with the Angels,
Boston and Oakland. Lansford, who was hitting coach for the
Rockies' Triple-A affiliate this season, had previously been a
bench coach for Tony La Russa in Oakland (1994-95) and St. Louis
(1997-98).