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  Tue, July 13, 2004


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Johnson could be one star on the move
By BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

National League pitchers Jason Schmidt of the San Francisco Giants, left, and Arizona pitcher Randy Johnson stand in the outfield during an All-Star workout in Houston, Monday, July 12, 2004. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Tonight's All-Star game will most likely be the latest chapter in an annual memory maker.

Like when Pete Rose knocked catcher Ray Fosse into next week to give the National League a 5-4 win in the 1970 game. Or when Gary Carter blocked the plate to take Dave Parker's throw and tag out Brian Downing in a 7-6 NL win in 1979. Or Bo Jackson leading off with a homer in a 5-3 AL win in 1989.

And, of course, the 11-inning, 7-7 tie in Milwaukee in 2002 when both teams ran out of pitching. Oops.

Point is, the all-stars who make memories tonight at Houston's Minute Maid Park may not wear the same uniforms by Aug. 1.

Take Randy Johnson, the Arizona Diamondbacks lefty who could be on the move.

Or, take Carlos Beltran. The Houston Astros outfielder, acquired last month, could be shipped to a contender with Houston hitting the break at 44-44.

Johnson told reporters yesterday he'd consider waiving his no-trade clause if the last-place Diamondbacks want to move him to a contender. It took a while, more than 25 minutes, but eventually Johnson answered the query.

"They haven't approached me to waive my no-trade," he said.

"The only way it works is if my leaving benefits the Diamondbacks.

I'd do it because they wouldn't have to pay my salary."

Interested parties include the New York Yankees, the Anaheim Angels and Boston Red Sox, with Johnson's 2001 World Series co-most valuable player Curt Schilling of the Sox screaming "Red Rover, Red Rover, let Randy come over." There's also some lobbying behind the scenes by Schilling.

"I'm not going to leave to go somewhere to theoretically have a chance to win," Johnson said.

"It's going to be some team that (actually) has a chance to win, that's the only way."

The Blue Jays are not players in this. In fact, their big stab at Johnson was in 1992, when Johnson was a member of the Seattle Mariners. It was Plan B, had Oakland outfielder Rickey Henderson not waived his no-trade clause ... after the A's paid him $200,000 US to join the Jays.

The Chicago White Sox, first place in the AL Central -- a team that recently added righty Freddie Garcia in a deal with Seattle and locked him up to a multi-year deal -- will pursue Beltran.

Who knows, maybe the Yankees, with Hidecki Matsui in left, Bernie Williams or Kenny Lofton in centre, and Gary Sheffield in right need some outfield help. They only had eight all-stars.

The Diamondbacks are 31-58, unable to see the lights of the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers. The Astros are 10 1/2 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals, led by Chris Carpenter, and 3 1/2 games out in the wild-card race.

It's hard to get down on the Astros. Few have done more than Houston owner Drayton McLane and GM Gerry Hunsicker. They added starters Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens, and they acquired Beltran from the Kansas City Royals. There are 40,000 in the park when Clemens pitches, but a time may come, near the July 31 trade deadline, when they decide to blow up the season.

But back to Johnson, who said his goal was to get back to the Series, adding, "That's why we all play."

Johnson will earn $16 million this season and is due for $16 million in 2005. Unlike Carlos Delgado, Johnson says he does not want a new contract to wave his rights to block a trade.

"I keep reading I want an extension and how that's the only way I'd accept a trade. In the interest of accuracy, that is absolutely incorrect," he said. "Saying I'd go to Anaheim because I have a house 20 minutes from the park is absolutely incorrect."

With a major league-leading 145 strikeouts, Johnson is 10-7 with a 2.99 earned-run average. His preference?

"I'm really torn between the Boston clam chowder and the Manhattan clam chowder," he said jokingly.