Bonds says Rose should be in Hall


San Francisco Giants superstar Barry Bonds doesn't know exactly when he will be inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame, but he hopes that banned all-time hits leader Pete Rose will there to greet him.

Bonds bluntly joined the chorus of current and former players who think that it's time for baseball commissioner Bud Selig to reconsider the lifetime ban that makes Rose ineligible for Cooperstown.

"I think it's ridiculous," he told a Bay Area reporter last week. "You've got criminals in this world who murder people and they get out of jail in seven years. You've got a player, no real proof on what he's done, and he's been banned longer than a murderer. Ridiculous. He's paid his dues.

"Everyone just get over it and move on."

There are strong opinions on both sides of the subject, but Bonds said Rose should be inducted as much for the benefit of the Hall of Fame as for himself.

"I don't think for us as players, to me personally, I don't think the Hall of Fame is complete without Pete Rose. Regardless of what happened, he's still considered the best hitter of all time. How can you have a Hall of Fame without the best hitter of all time? OK, he was punished. He's been punished long enough."

Selig is expected to have a meeting later this year with as many living Hall of Famers as possible to discuss the Rose situation. Bonds won't be among them, of course, but Rose has the support of some other living legends -- including wholesome pitching icon Nolan Ryan.

"I'm a supporter of Pete being in the Hall of Fame," Ryan said Monday. "I know what a competitor he was and when you walk into the Hall of Fame and see all those names ... Pete's plaque ought to be in there."

Berkman nixes Chicks

Houston Astros outfielder and proud Texan Lance Berkman was deeply offended by comments from Natalie Maines of the country group The Dixie Chicks, who proclaimed to the audience at a recent London concert that she was embarrassed that President Bush is from Texas.

"It's an outrage," Berkman said. "I am disappointed that a group that claims Texas is their home state would make such a derogatory statement about a fine man in the White House in a time that our country needs to be together and not divided.

"I don't want to shoot them or anything. I just want them to move to Oklahoma."

Say what?

Former Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers manager Sparky Anderson has been known to mangle a quote or two, so who could have been surprised at this assessment of new Tigers manager Alan Trammell?

"What I like about him is that he's not afraid of failure," Anderson said. "I was never afraid of failure, either. But now as I look back, my greatest thing was ignorance. I didn't know I wasn't smart enough to be afraid."

Pitching woe

Trammell can't afford to fear failure because he's going to be knee deep in it in a week or so. The Tigers are so thin that they enter the final week of spring training with just one starting pitcher who is characterized as a lock to be in the starting rotation, somebody named Mike Maroth.

Veteran Steve Sparks is getting hammered regularly, and projected starter Andy Ven Hekken gave up five runs in the first inning of a start against the New York Yankees on Tuesday.

It's possible Trammell will reach way down into the Tigers' minor-league system for a couple of guys -- Jeremy Bonderman and Preston Larrison -- who pitched at Single-A Lakeland last year.

"There's not a whole long list to be choosing from," Trammell said. "I don't know who to keep running out there."

The Tigers apparently have been reduced to waiting to see what usable pitchers get released when major-league rosters are finalized later this week.

Orioles nostalgia

Frank Robinson is enjoying his second season as manager of the Montreal Expos, but he still says the best years of his baseball career were spent in Baltimore.

"[The Orioles allowed me] to grow as a person -- on and off the field," Robinson said. "They gave me the opportunity to coach, be a part of the front office and they gave me an opportunity to manage again."

Robinson also credits the Orioles and the city of Baltimore for paving his way into the Hall of Fame.

Brown bears down

The Los Angeles Dodgers still have time to get their money's worth from $105 million pitcher Kevin Brown, and his performance of late has club officials excited about the impending season.

Brown, coming off surgery in both 2001 and 2002, was overpowering in a Wednesday start against the Expos, giving up just three hits and striking out nine batters over six innings (69 pitches).

"That's the best I've seen him in two years," pitching coach Jim Colborn said. "From what I could see, very few pitches went where he didn't want them to. It allows you to have optimism about what might happen with Kevin Brown."

Even the normally taciturn Brown seems upbeat about the way he's throwing, and why not? He has an 0.56 ERA in five appearances, with 19 strikeouts in 16 innings.

"I'm not satisfied with my [velocity or movement] yet, but there had been times when I questioned whether or not my velocity would come back," Brown said. "Really, it had not been there since I had back surgery ... not that last bit of explosion, that last little bit. I feel like it was closer."

Rangers squeeze

The Texas Rangers have been trying to deal outfielder Carl Everett, hoping to clear space on the roster for former Mount St. Joseph star Mark Teixeira.

The club is so high on Teixeira and fellow third base prospect Hank Blalock that there's talk Everett might even be released to allow Teixeira to stay on the team.

In that scenario, Blalock would play most of the time at third, but Teixeira would play some at third, some at first and some at designated hitter -- perhaps enough to get 400 at-bats.

Bargain star

When the Arizona Diamondbacks gave Luis Gonzalez a three-year extension worth $30 million, it was partly to reward him for playing for short money the past four seasons.

He made $12.5 million over that period, less than some players of his caliber make in a year.

"To say that we got our money's worth is an understatement," Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo said. "This contract is in some way saying thank you for the contributions that have been made, and more importantly what we expect Luis to do over the next few years, because there is a lot of baseball left in this guy."

Lofton accepts challenge

Outfielder Kenny Lofton, who finally caught on with the Pittsburgh Pirates last weekend, says he has extra incentive to prove he should not have been left dangling in the free-agent market until March.

"You want to show that you've still got it," Lofton said. "It's not like I have a chip [on my shoulder], but I want to let people know I can play this game."

Lofton can still play. He proved that during a productive postseason with the Giants last October. But he also can be an irritating presence that frustrates teammates and opponents. He proved that last fall when his obnoxious on-field behavior nearly triggered a feud with the St. Louis Cardinals.

His volatile behavior also might have played a role in the soft market for his services.

Big savings

The Rondell White trade was a win-win deal for the Padres. They got a big bat to replace injured Phil Nevin and unloaded some payroll in the process.

How can that be, when White will make $5 million this year and departed Bubba Trammell will make only $2.5 million? Because Trammell had $5 million guaranteed for next year and White is signed only through the end of this season.

The Padres also are expected to get money back from insurance policies on Nevin and closer Trevor Hoffman, setting them up to be very flush if they decide to beef up the team for the opening of their new stadium next year.

Neagle feeling better

Colorado Rockies pitcher Denny Neagle (Arundel) had no trouble with his sore left elbow in a bullpen session yesterday, but his status as the Opening Day start is unclear.

Compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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