5 Cubs bidders selected

The Baltimore Sun

Tribune CEO Sam Zell said yesterday that the media conglomerate has chosen five bidders for the Chicago Cubs.

Zell said during a conference call with lenders that separate bids have been made on Wrigley Field, the nation's second-oldest baseball stadium. The team's sale must be approved by Major League Baseball.

"We hope to have a deal to MLB by the end of the year," said Zell, the real estate mogul who last year led an $8.2 billion buyout of the company, whose holdings include The Baltimore Sun. He said he expects "rapid" approval.

Tribune is selling the ballpark, baseball team and a 25 percent interest in a local sports channel to raise cash to pay down $13.4 billion in debt, mostly related to the buyout.

MLB in June sent out financial books on the three properties to nine preapproved bidders.

The list reportedly included a group headed by John Canning, chairman of private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners LLC; billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban; and the family of online brokerage Ameritrade's founder, Joe Ricketts.

People familiar with the process - who declined to be named because of confidentiality agreements - told the Associated Press after the deadline for initial bids passed July 18 that Tribune had narrowed the field to five. In the conference call yesterday, Zell assured lenders the company is on track to meet a $593 million debt payment in June.

RED SOX: : Boston is close to making a trade for Braves center fielder Mark Kotsay, ESPN and ESPN The Magazine reported. ESPN.com has learned that Kotsay, a 12-year veteran who is hitting .289 with six home runs and 37 RBIs this season, cleared waivers earlier this month, freeing the Braves to trade him to any other team. Kotsay did not start last night. The trade talk arose as J.D. Drew was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain, leaving Boston without its All-Star right fielder. In other news, Josh Beckett felt strong in a 50-pitch side session and is on target to start Friday night against the White Sox. Beckett missed a turn in the rotation because of numbness and tingling in his right arm.

YASTRZEMSKI: : Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski has been released from a Boston hospital one week after having triple-bypass heart surgery. The former Red Sox left fielder was discharged yesterday, according to team spokesman John Blake. He had surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital after experiencing chest pains. Yastrzemski, the last player to hit for baseball's Triple Crown by leading the American League in batting average, homers and RBIs in 1967, turned 69 on Friday. His family released a statement after the surgery saying it was "a complete success."

BRAVES:: Pitcher Tom Glavine said he is just a little sore after having season-ending elbow surgery last week and is unsure whether he'll pitch next season. The 300-game winner said he'll wait to see how his recovery goes before deciding whether he will try to return for his 23rd season. "We've got a good five weeks here for me to rehab and get a good sense of how I'm recovering," Glavine said. Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, told Glavine, 42, that his left flexor tendon had not pulled away from the bone, as the Braves had thought. Rather, Andrews only had to clean out scar tissue and sew together a small gap that had formed in his tendon.

BLUE JAYS:: Toronto activated third baseman Scott Rolen from the 15-day DL. Rolen was placed on the list on Aug. 10 with left shoulder tightness. He is expected to work out with the team for a couple of days before returning to the starting lineup. ... Also, manager Cito Gaston said reliever Jeremy Accardo will not pitch again this season because of a right forearm injury. The right-hander, on the DL since May 10, will be examined by Andrews.

NATIONALS: : Washington placed outfielder Austin Kearns on the 15-day DL with to a stress fracture in his left foot and reinstated outfielder Elijah Dukes. Kearns could miss up to six weeks, costing him the rest of the season. It is the 25th time the Nationals have sent a player to the DL this season, and the second stint for Kearns, who has already missed 38 games this season because of an elbow injury.

RAYS: : Third baseman Evan Longoria will resume hitting this week as he continues a rehab program for a broken bone in his right wrist. The All-Star expects to start throwing today and hitting within the next few days. He hopes to return around Monday.

ROCKIES: : Colorado placed closer Brian Fuentes on the bereavement list and recalled Steven Register from Triple-A Colorado Springs. Fuentes earned his 26th save in a win Monday over San Francisco but left the team a day later to be with his family. Manager Clint Hurdle is not putting a timetable on his return.

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