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Giants sign Morris

Righthander gets three-year deal

The San Francisco Giants landed the proven starter they've been coveting for months.

Righthander Matt Morris agreed to a three-year contract with the Giants, leaving the St. Louis Cardinals after nine seasons. The deal has been in the works for weeks and became official after Morris passed a physical yesterday.

Morris went 14-10 with a 4.11 ERA last season and won his first eight decisions for the Cardinals, who lost to the Houston Astros in the NL Championship Series. But St. Louis didn't pursue Morris with the same fervor as the Giants, who were desperate to add a top starter to what had become a patchwork rotation the past two seasons.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean said as soon as the season ended -- the Giants missed the playoffs for the second straight year -- that upgrading the starting pitching was his top priority.

Morris's contract contains a club option for a fourth season.

''Simply put, Matt Morris is a winner," Sabean said. ''He's a gamer who not only gives his team a chance to win every time he pitches, but as his record indicates, he's around to collect the win himself. Matt will be a perfect complement to the top of the rotation and provide valuable leadership to our younger pitchers."

Morris is 101-62 with a 3.62 ERA in his career.

Padres re-sign Roberts

It seems Red Sox fans hoping for a reunion with Dave Roberts won't get their wish. The Padres agreed to a $2.25 million contract with Roberts, who had been mentioned as a trade possibility in the Sox' efforts to deal disgruntled David Wells to the West Coast. Roberts, who batted .275 with a team-high 23 stolen bases with San Diego last year, will be moved from center field to left. Of course, the speedy Roberts always will have friends in Boston thanks to his stolen base in the bottom of the ninth of Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, which helped spark the Red Sox' historic comeback against the Yankees. San Diego also is closing in on a $1 million deal for reliever Doug Brocail, who went 5-3 with one save and a 5.52 ERA in 61 appearances with Texas last season . . . Spurned in their pursuit of Morris and Josh Beckett, the Rangers acquired righthander Vicente Padilla from the Phillies for a player to be named. The deal was pending Padilla passing a physical, according to two baseball officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the trade had not been finalized. Padilla, who is eligible for salary arbitration, was 9-12 with a 4.71 ERA in 27 starts last season, when he made $3.2 million. The Rangers had pursued Morris and were willing to trade All-Star third baseman Hank Blalock to get Beckett, but the Marlins last month traded Beckett to the Red Sox.

Rincon to St. Louis

While losing Morris from their rotation, the Cardinals took a step toward rebuilding their bullpen, reaching a preliminary agreement on a $2.9 million, two-year contract with free agent Ricardo Rincon. The contract is contingent on the 35-year-old lefthander passing a physical . . . Lefthander Kenny Rogers and the Tigers finalized a $16 million, two-year contract. The parties had reached a preliminary agreement last week . . . The Astros and first baseman Mike Lamb avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.7 million contract . . . Utility infielder Damion Easley agreed to a $700,000, one-year contract with the Diamondbacks. Easley hit .240 with nine homers and 30 RBIs last season for Florida . . . Former Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson was sentenced to five days in jail after being convicted of driving while impaired. District Judge James Mann ordered Ponson to report this afternoon to the Central Booking and Intake Center in Baltimore, where he is expected to serve his sentence.

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