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BASEBALL ROUNDUP Mets and Yankees officially begin battle for The Big Apple



Published: Wed, January 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Shawn Estes agreed to a one-year deal with the Arizona.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran and Randy Johnson played in an off-season doubleheader Tuesday, a Cirque de Subway for two crosstown rivals hoping they might meet up again in October.

Beltran, the Mets' $119 million man, stepped before more than 100 reporters and dozens of cameras at Shea Stadium in the morning. Strobes flashing off his shiny gold watch, he smiled as he spoke in English and Spanish.

Three hours later in the subterranean Stadium Club at Yankee Stadium, the sometimes irritable Johnson faced an equally large media mob, politely answering questions about his sidewalk confrontation with a television cameraman a day earlier.

East Side, West Side, all around the town, baseball took center stage as freezing rain fell.

Beltran, who spurned the Houston Astros on Saturday night, said Pedro Martinez's decision to sign with the Mets played a part in his decision. The very first question he addressed was about the Yankees, who turned down a chance to sign him for $100 million over six years.

Speaking in the Diamond Club, overlooking a ball field covered largely by a tarp, Beltran said he was excited about the chance to play for the Mets, trying to overcome their image as New York's No. 2 team.

"I call it the new Mets because this organization is going to a different direction, the right direction, the direction of winning," he said.

Surly Unit

At Yankee Stadium, where about two dozen fans waited outside the office entrance to glimpse the 6-foot-10 Johnson, the marquees outside said: "Welcome to NY, Randy Johnson."

On the scoreboard in left-center, the visiting team on the linescore read "Big" and the home team "Unit." Inside, the Stadium Club was packed as a subway car at rush hour.

"I know that surliness is a good label for me the day that I pitch," Johnson said.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, the Diamondbacks agreed with left-hander Shawn Estes on a $2.5 million, one-year contract and were close to trading Shea Hillenbrand to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Both deals were expected to be announced today, according to a baseball official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Estes turned down a significantly more lucrative, two-year offer from the Washington Nationals and a one-year deal with an option from the San Diego Padres, largely because he wanted to play close to his home in the upscale Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley.

Hillenbrand is to be traded to Toronto for right-hander Adam Peterson, who struggled in his brief major league stint last season but has a fastball in the mid-90 mph range. Peterson had a 2.54 ERA and 15 saves with Double-A New Hampshire.

Lowe to Dodgers

Elsewhere, the Dodgers have a new pitching ace they hope can repeat what he did for the Boston Red Sox in the postseason last October. Derek Lowe, the second-winningest pitcher over the past three seasons, finalized a $36 million, four-year contract with the Dodgers on Tuesday after Los Angeles completed its trade to send Shawn Green to Arizona.

Reliever Terry Adams agreed to a $500,000, one-year contract with the Phillies and is expected to compete for one of the team's remaining bullpen spots.

The Astros and infielder Mike Lamb agreed to a $1.3 million, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.

The Orioles signed right-hander James Baldwin to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Free agent left-hander Scott Schoeneweis agreed to a two-year, $5.2 million contract with the Blue Jays.




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