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Deal by Angels falls through, but talks go on


California Angels president Richard Brown said a trade that would have brought the club "a front-line player" fell through Wednesday morning, but exploratory trade talks with unspecified teams continued.

Brown and club vice president Dan O'Brien remain optimistic that the Angels can acquire another established hitter for the middle of the lineup within three weeks.

Brown said none of the Angels' so-called "big four" pitchers -- starters Chuck Finley, Mark Langston and Jim Abbott and reliever Bryan Harvey -- was involved in the trade offer.

Finley tested his sore left foot yesterday by throwing off a mound for the first time since undergoing surgery on Dec. 5 to repair a splintered bone in his big toe.

"He threw 12 minutes off the mound and five minutes on," said Angels manager Buck Rodgers. "So far, so good."

PTC * PADRES: Craig Lefferts, having lost his role as San Diego's stopper because of an off-season trade for Randy Myers, said he'd like to become a starting pitcher.

Lefferts has pitched in 581 major-league games, all but five in relief, in his nine-year career. He led the Padres with 23 saves in 30 chances last season, and was 1-6 with a 3.91 ERA.

* MARINERS: Civic leaders say they can raise $13 million a year in new revenues to help keep the club in Seattle. A group led by businessman Herman Sarkowsky had said it would guarantee $13 million by raising $4 million in new season-ticket sales, $2 million from the team's first cable-TV contract and $7 million in advertising and promotional money for Mariners games.

* ROYALS: Pitcher Mark Gubicza appears recovered from the rotator cuff injury he suffered nearly two years ago.

"All the difference in the world from last spring," pitching coach Guy Hansen said. "Now, he's turning it loose."

Gubicza was injured June 29, 1990, and had surgery to repair a partial tear of the rotator cuff. He pitched last year at less than full strength and finished 9-12.

* BREWERS: Attorneys in Caracas, Venezuela, representing the family of a woman allegedly killed by Julio Machado said they will press for the maximum 17-year murder sentence for the Milwaukee reliever.

But Machado is expected to be allowed to leave prison -- and the country -- as early as next week to play for the Brewers while his case is pending.

Meanwhile, a judicial review board has asked Venezuelan Superior Court Judge Eloy Humberto Aguiar to explain why he decided Tuesday to reduce the charges against Machado from intentional murder to unintentional murder.

* ATHLETICS: General manager Sandy Alderson said he expects his contract extension discussions with manager Tony La Russa to be concluded soon. La Russa's contract with the club concludes at the end of this season.

* RED SOX: The team began practice with a reminder the greatest tribute they could pay late owner Jean Yawkey was to win a World Series, and again closed it without pitcher Roger Clemens, the man they need most to do it.

But first baseman Mo Vaughn was among the veterans who have come early to training camp, and he made an impressive debut, having shed 30 pounds over the winter and all of his hair.

Clemens was expected for the first day of practice with pitchers and catchers Monday. He has been working out at his home near Houston. General manager Lou Gorman had no response to Clemens' comment at a Houston charity event that he had told the club last year that he would not report when camp opened but closer to the baseball contract arrival deadline of March 4.

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