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  Sun, December 12, 2004


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Yanks eye Delgado
Red Sox also seem interested
By BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

The New York Yankees have shown interest in free agent Carlos Delgado. (AP File Photo/Linda Kaye)

Carlos Delgado looks at the hand-written list. Seattle Mariners. Baltimore Orioles. Texas Rangers. New York Mets.

Delgado, the free agent, David Sloane, his agent, and a northern visitor are in a booth at the Menudo Mexican restaurant in Anaheim, minutes away from the nerve centre of the baseball universe.

Delgado is asked whether other teams have expressed interest.

"The Yankees. We're going to a meeting with them as soon as we finish eating," Delgado says, as he and his visitor dine on carnitas while Sloane talks on a cell phone between sips of soup. The Yankees?

Earlier, Delgado was asked of his ideal destination?

"I want to go where I can win," Delgado said.

He might have a chance with the Yankees.

Sloane is off the phone.

"Oh," Sloane says matter of factly, "we also met with the Boston Red Sox."

Is that a bidding war we smell burning or just a new batch of fajitas arriving at the next table?

The World Series champion Sox -- who could non-tender or deal first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz or Kevin Millar -- and Yankees have battled for years over landing the same players, whether it be Alex Rodriguez, Curt Schilling, Bernie Williams or Randy Johnson and this year's object of both teams affection, Carl Pavano.

Some Yankee people want Delgado because, if the season began today, the Yankees do not have a first baseman. Jason Giambi will open on the disabled list. His replacements, Tony Clark and John Olerud, will not be back.

Free-agent centre fielder Carlos Beltran remains the Yanks prime target. Sloane remembers being asked why he recruited so many Jays farmhands at single-A Dunedin in 1990.

He signed Mike Timlin, Jeff Kent, Jesse Cross, Anthony Ward and Greg O'Halloran of Mississauga.

"I gave them a variation of the answer Willie Sutton gave when they asked him why he robbed banks," Sloane said. "I went after Toronto players because that's where the talent was."

Sloane signed reliever David Weathers in 1991.

"In those days, the front office treated all my players in a first-class manner, the Jays under Paul Beeston and Pat Gillick were one of the first teams to have family rooms," Sloane said. "Things changed in 1995 when Interbrew took over."

After O'Halloran dumped Sloane in 1992, Sloane recruited O'Halloran's backup: Delgado.

"And Carlos became Carlos," Sloane said.

When did Carlos become Carlos? It wasn't in 1994, when he had eight home runs by April 19.

It wasn't in 1996 when, as the DH, he hit 25 homers and drove in 92 runs or, in 1997, when he took over at first base for Olerud, hitting 30 homers and knocking in 91 runs.

"It was probably 1998," Delgado said, wearing a plain white shirt and black pants, making an adept stab at the guacamole.

Under Tim Johnson, Delgado hit .292 with 38 homers and 115 RBIs. He played for managers Cito Gaston, Johnson, Jim Fregosi, Buck Martinez, Carlos Tosca and John Gibbons with the Jays.

"I learned the most from Cito," Delgado said.

And now, Delgado is looking for a place to win.

Yesterday, for the first time, there was a serious inkling two of the top clubs were interested.