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Dodgers chase after Schmidt

Cubs land Lilly; Garcia to Phillies

A day after losing shortstop Julio Lugo and right fielder J.D. Drew, the Los Angeles Dodgers concentrated on trying to sign ace Jason Schmidt away from San Francisco yesterday during action at the winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

"We do not have a deal," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said, as Schmidt's agents, Alan and Randy Hendricks, were still meeting with several teams, including the World Champion Cardinals.

The Dodgers were able to sign catcher Mike Lieberthal away from the Phillies after 13 years. Lieberthal, a former Gold Glove winner who will turn 35 next month, signed a one-year contract and will serve as a backup to Russell Martin. Schmidt went 11-9 with a 3.59 ERA in 32 starts during 2006 for the Giants, pitching 213 1/3 innings, the third time in four years he went over the 200-inning mark.

But the three-time All-Star, who will turn 34 next month, told the Associated Press he did not want to comment on any deals until he officially has a new team.

Schmidt spent the past 5 1/2 seasons with the Giants and has been offered arbitration, but general manager Brian Sabean was doubtful that Schmidt might still accept. "It probably had sailed," Sabean said. "He got his payday. It just wasn't going to be with us."

Waiting on Schmidt didn't keep the Giants from getting other deals done. The Giants finalized a $16 million, three-year contract with catcher Bengie Molina to replace Mike Matheny, who might not play again because of a concussion. The deal to acquire Molina had been in the works for several days, and Sabean called Matheny's representative to let him know the club was moving forward.

Molina, a two-time All-Star, is scheduled to make $4 million next season, $6 million in 2008, and $6 million in '09. He batted .284 with a career-high 19 home runs and 57 RBIs in 117 games for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006.

Lilly gets 4-year deal
Lefthander Ted Lilly reached a preliminary agreement with the Cubs on a four-year contract worth about $40 million. "He's a Cub and wants to be part of getting them back to the World Series," agent Larry O'Brien said. Lilly, who will turn 31 next month, spent the past three seasons in Toronto, going 15-13 with a 4.31 ERA in 32 starts in '06 . . . Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, 51, didn't feel well and was hospitalized upon the recommendation of the team physician . . . Righthander Gil Meche was negotiating with Toronto, agent Casey Close said . . . The Oakland Athletics signed lefthanded reliever Alan Embree to a two-year, $5.5 million contract while also closing in on a deal with Mike Piazza to be designated hitter. Piazza, who would replace Frank Thomas as the team's DH, was deciding between an offer from the A's and one from the Rangers. But Texas officials said they were out of the mix . . . The Cleveland Indians found a front-runner for their closer's job, agreeing to a $4.25 million, one-year contract with Joe Borowski, 35. Borowski, who had 36 saves last season for Florida, was close to finalizing a two-year deal last week with Philadelphia, but the Phillies didn't like the results of medical tests performed on his right shoulder. The Indians had their doctors examine Borowski Tuesday, and apparently felt Borowski was worth taking a chance on. The Indians also completed their $11.5 million, three-year contract with outfielder David Dellucci . . . Veteran lefthander Andy Pettitte decided he will pitch next year rather than retire. "Andy told me he wants to play in 2007 and perhaps beyond," said his agent, Randy Hendricks, who is expected to talk primarily with the Yankees and Astros.

Garcia to Phillies
The White Sox traded starter Freddy Garcia to the Phillies for righthander Gavin Floyd and a player to be named, believed to be pitcher Gio Gonzalez. Garcia was 17-9 with a 4.53 ERA for Chicago last season and, in 2005, was the Game 4 winner for the White Sox as they clinched their first World Series title since 1917. Floyd, the fourth overall selection in the 2001 draft, was 4-3 with a 7.29 ERA in 11 starts for the Phillies last season. White Sox manager Kenny Williams later let slip that the other player is Gonzalez. "It's 11 o'clock at night, what do you want?" Williams said . . . In a swap of promising pitchers, the Mets acquired hard-throwing reliever Ambiorix Burgos from the Royals for starter Brian Bannister. Burgos, 22, saved 18 games for the Royals this year, going 4-5 with a 5.52 ERA in 68 games

Bonds's chase is on
Barry Bonds's appearance at the meetings caused quite a stir as speculation swirled about where he would resume his chase of Hank Aaron's home run record. The seven-time NL MVP sported a casual look with jeans and a black polo shirt to go about his business. Though the Giants wouldn't say whether they met face to face, his agent, Jeff Borris, said he sat down with Sabean for three hours yesterday. Sabean, meanwhile, wouldn't confirm whether a conversation had taken place. He was more concerned with announcing Molina's deal. "I'm Sgt. Schultz," said Sabean. "Silence is golden. This is about Molina. I'm staying away from left field completely." By last night, Bonds had left the hotel, but there was a possibility he might return today. "He's not driving. He's not on a boat," Borris said. "He could be on Matterhorn [at Disney World]. You don't know where he is, his mode of transportation." . . . Pittsburgh infielder Freddy Sanchez, who reached the major leagues despite childhood foot problems and a diagnosis that he might never walk, won the 17th Tony Conigliaro Award for overcoming adversity. Sanchez was born with a club right foot and a severely pigeon-toed left foot. He needed surgery at 13 months, followed by years of therapy. In his second full season, Sanchez led the NL with a .344 average. The award will be presented at the 68th annual dinner of the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America Jan. 11 . . . All-Star second baseman Mark Loretta, who became an advocate for skin cancer prevention after being treated for a malignant melonoma, will receive the Hutch Award, given annually to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of Fred Hutchinson, who died of cancer at 45 . . . Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch won the J.G. Taylor Spink Award from the BBWAA for meritorious contributions to baseball writing.

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