McGahee has ‘love’ for WNY

Willis McGahee wants to set the record straight.

The former Buffalo Bills running back, who was traded to the Baltimore Ravens, feels he needs to respond to an article about him in last Sunday’s Baltimore Sun. He has been bashed in Western New York by fans and the media for comments he made in the story.

One quote in the story suggests that he was taking a shot at Buffalo’s women, but he said that was not the case.

“I can’t talk bad about the women in Buffalo because I dated some of them,” McGahee said by telephone from Baltimore, where he is househunting. “One thing about me is I would never call any girl the B-word or anything like that. That’s not me. I have a mom and she didn’t raise me that way.”

A's Batman Piazza won't need a glove in his new role in Oakland

A season ago, veteran Frank Thomas helped propel the Oakland Athletics into the American League Championship Series and this year they are depending on another former perennial All-Star.

Mike Piazza, baseball's all-time home-run leader for catchers, is wearing the A's colors this season.

But the 38-year-old will not be behind the plate on an every-day basis for the first time in his 15-year career.

Like Thomas, Piazza will be the team's designated hitter and bat clean-up between Eric Chavez and Nick Swisher.

"All Piazza has to do is stand in the on-deck circle and you know he's there," Swisher said. "He will be a good addition to the team and a good guy in the locker room. I'm excited to see what he can do for 162 games."

Beason's Workouts

Hurricanes OLB Jon Beason will work out at 10 a.m. on April 5 at Chaminade-Madonna Prep in Hollywood, Fla., where he went to high school. Beason has visits scheduled with the Bengals, Giants, Colts, Steelers, Lions and Chargers.


Gore gets what he deserves

The extension of Frank Gore's contract assures that he won't end up as the Ryan Howard of football.

This winter, after he won the NL MVP and hit 58 home runs for them, the Phillies said they tried to reach a long-term agreement with Howard. But we have to wonder how hard they really tried, knowing that he was ineligible for both arbitration and free agency.

They gave him $900,000 for this year, a big raise over the $355,000 he made last year, but nowhere near what his numbers on the field should command. Even if the Phillies truly couldn't justify a long-term deal, there nothing stopping them from giving him closer to $2 million. OK, in arbitration, the past salary could come back to bite them, but come on. The man hit 58 home runs. He shouldn't be making less than Barry Zito will earn less than two weeks into the season.

By reportedly guaranteeing Gore close to $14 million over the next five years, the 49ers avoid an even bigger absurdity. Can you imagine the NFC rsuhing champion, who rushed for 1,695 yards last year, earning only $450,000 this season while his quarterback pocketed another portion of a $49.5 million rookie deal? And while the new cornerback in town, Nate Clements, started collecting his $22 million in guaranteed money?

McGahee Arrives In Baltimore

When the Ravens traded for Willis McGahee earlier this month, he was adamant about committing to Baltimore's offseason conditioning program.

"This is a fresh start. I'm going to be up here working out," he said in a March 9 press conference. "If the coach tells me to come up next week, I'd be up here next week. That's how it is."

For any of the doubters out there, McGahee was speaking the truth.

On the second day of the Ravens' voluntary offseason workout program, McGahee got his first full session in Baltimore under his belt Tuesday.

Can Pat Burrell Protect Ryan Howard?

Fantasy geeks (and we use that term affectionately) won't be the only ones monitoring Pat Burrell's production carefully come April.  Burrell is effectively on the Phillies' hot seat following a disappointing 2006, in which he battled nagging foot problems.
With Bobby Abreu long gone, the Phils are still trying to fill the void and protect one of the game's premier power hitters.  Pat Burrell will bat behind Ryan Howard in the lineup to start the season, but Philadelphia may have to make a move if the left fielder gets off to another slow start. 
Burrell has never lacked upside, and if you think a healthy 2007 will translate into 30-plus home runs, make sure he's part of your 2007 Bleacher Report Home Run Derby.  

Esmonde: Bye, Willis, it’s so good to see you go

No wonder the Bills got rid of this guy. Willis McGahee, party animal, could not find a place to party in Buffalo.

Maybe it is no surprise. The Bills running back last year had trouble finding holes to run through on the field. His navigational skills off the field apparently were no better.

McGahee was recently traded to the Baltimore Ravens. In an article in Sunday’s Baltimore Sun, he said that he “couldn’t wait to get out of” our fair burg and that the trade was “such a relief.”

His parting shots were all low blows. McGahee — who went to the University of Miami, a notorious party school — questioned the quality of our womenfolk and indicted our supposed lack of night life. He said coming to Buffalo four years ago “was like hitting a brick wall.”

Charton Jimmerson Released by Astros

Outfielder Charlton Jimerson was granted his outright lease Wednesday, four days after being outrighted to Class AA Corpus Christi.

Jimerson, who has 854 strikeouts in 2,378 career minor league at-bats, hit .247 with 18 homers and 45 RBIs last year at Class AAA Round Rock. He hit a 440-foot homer for the Astros in his first major league plate appearance on Sept. 4, 2006, at Philadelphia.

The Astros sent Jimerson to Corpus Christi because their outfield is set in Round Rock with Hunter Pence, Mike Rodriguez and Josh Anderson.

"His request at that point was to find a trade for him and, if not, would we be willing to release him?" general manager Tim Purpura said. "We tried the last couple of days to trade him and couldn't come up with anything, so we released him."


Michael Irvin Hall of Fame Tickets on Sale April 4

Tickets for the induction of Dallas Cowboys great Michael Irvin will go on sale on Wednesday, April 4, 2007 at 11:00 AM ET. Tickets may be purchased online by visiting the Hall's website at or by calling 1-800-913-9788.

The cost per ticket for seats on the floor is $52.00 and sideline stadium seats are available for $26.00 per ticket.


Beason coming up

According to a league source, Miami LB Jon Beason has been scheduled for an April trip to Gillette Stadium, making him the third known player to take one of the 20 in-house visits the team is allowed to stage. He joins Tennessee WR Robert Meachem and Purdue OLB/DE Anthony Spencer in that group.

At first blush, Beason looks like an ideal fit for as a Tampa-2 “will” linebacker, which in most cases would make him iffy for the Patriots’ gap-control system. But after coming in at 6-foot and 237 pounds at the Combine, while clocking a 4.6 40-yard dash, New England has shown strong interest, having worked him out privately after the Hurricanes’ Pro Day in Coral Gables. His athleticism is key, especially considering the team’s struggles in covering tight ends down the seam and in the hook-to-curl zones over the last two years. He would project to the inside in the Patriots’ system, as he spent all of college — after converting early from fullback — as an off-the-line ‘backer.

Beason has close to 10 visits set up, and has steadily risen up draft boards after projecting into the second round at the beginning of the process. About half of the linebacker’s scheduled visits are with teams drafting above the Patriots’ first first-round pick (24th overall). He’ll also have another workout for about 15 teams in Coral Gables on April 5.


Gore reaches agreement with 49ers through 2011

When the San Francisco 49ers selected tailback Frank Gore in the second round of the 2005 draft, the former University of Miami star proved to be one of the biggest steals in the last several seasons. On Tuesday evening, the 49ers opened up their coffers to Gore, the NFC rushing leader in 2006. has learned that the 49ers reached agreement with Gore on a four-year contract extension through 2011, with the deal averaging just shy of $7 million in terms of so-called "new money."

Gore will receive an initial signing bonus of $6.5 million and total guarantees of nearly $14 million. The contract will pay Gore $13.862 million in its first two seasons and $18.212 million in the first three years. Because Gore had one season remaining on his original rookie contract, the four-year extension creates a five-year deal, and the total value over the course of the five seasons is $28.012 million.

Building chemistry - Giants' Manning wants Shockey, Burress in New York

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has asked tight end Jeremy Shockey and receiver Plaxico Burress to come to Giants Stadium this spring for offseason workouts.

Shockey and Burress have worked out in Miami the past two seasons and skipped the voluntary workouts that Manning has attended.

Manning has telephoned Burress and Shockey and told them he would like them to be available when he starts throwing in mid April.

Burrell makes adjustments at plate

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Even after pulling a home run on an awkward, lunging swing and driving in the go-ahead run with a flare to left field Tuesday night, Pat Burrell is batting only .204 this spring.But he hasn't lost his grip on the No. 5 spot in the Phillies' lineup.

Before the Phillies' 6-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Bright House Networks Field, manager Charlie Manuel said Burrell most likely will bat fifth -- behind Ryan Howard -- in the season opener Monday against Atlanta.

"It's not like if something happens and he goes bad that I wouldn't consider moving him, but right now, he's my guy," Manuel said. "I compare him to the other guys in our lineup. He's hit there before for me the last two years."


Dear Willis McGahee, Your words to The Baltimore Sun certainly stung some people in this town, leaving them calling for you to apologize. Not me. I have to say thank you.

Thanks for putting to rest any regrets Buffalo fans may have had about seeing you gone. There was some fan disgruntlement after they shipped you to Baltimore for a couple of third-round draft picks and a roll of tape.

But you took care of that in an article Sunday in the Baltimore Sun:

“Coming from Miami, I was used to partying, going out, just having something to do every night. Restaurants, whatever. Going to Buffalo, it was like hitting a brick wall,” you told The Sun. “Like, ‘Damn!’ Can’t go out, can’t do nothing. There’s an Applebee’s, a TGI Friday’s, and they just got a Dave & Busters. They got that, and I’m like, ‘What the?’ And, you know, the women …”

Magic Benton, Ethenic Sands and Brad Kunz Make Firecats Final Roster

Estero, FL- The Florida Firecats have released their 22 man roster. The Firecats have 12 players retuning from last years team that posted a 13-3 record in the regular season and won the South Division for the 3rd straight year including 3 Miami Hurricanes.

Magic Benton               WR                  6-0                   200                   Miami

Ethenic Sands               WR                  6-0                   185                   Miami

Brad Kunz                    OL                   6-7                   315                   Miami

(floridafirecats press release,

Jimerson Left Off Astros 40-man Roster

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The Houston Astros erased two more names from their roster on Monday when they outrighted outfielder Charlton Jimerson to Double-A Corpus Christi and bid farewell to right-hander Ezequiel Astacio, who was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers.

Jimerson also comes off the 40-man roster. Headed for the Minor Leagues for the seventh year in a row, the 27-year-old outfielder wasn't in a chatty mood after emerging from manager Phil Garner's office.

"I don't have anything to say," he said.


New team, new start for Ravens' McGahee

Motivation problems?

Though McGahee wasn't surrounded by the best talent in Buffalo, motivation seems to have been a problem at times. He'll readily admit that he didn't step into a leadership role, even though Bills coaches asked him to be more vocal.

"I'm shy, to tell you the truth," McGahee says. "I'm not really the type of person to be all yelling, 'We need to do this, we need to do that.' I went to the University of Miami. We know how to play. You don't need to yell at me to tell me to do something. Just tell me, and I'll go ahead and do it.

"I wasn't, I guess, a team leader. But if you aren't happy, you're just going to do your own job and don't worry about nothing else. They asked. But that isn't like me to be trying to get other grown men fired up. They know what they've got to do."

A Spring Training Interview with Mike Piazza

After a Spring Training game on Thursday, March 22 against the Kansas City Royals, Baseball Digest Daily writer Scott Edelman caught up with Oakland A’s designated hitter/catcher Mike Piazza in the visiting clubhouse at Surprise Stadium in Arizona.  After a 2006 rebound season with San Diego, in which he batted .283 with 22 home runs and 68 rbi in 126 games, Piazza signed a one-year, $8.5 million contract with the Oakland A’s.  Early results appear to be promising – as of March 25, Piazza has a spring batting average of .395 with 3 home runs and 15 rbi in 16 games. 

One of the more interesting observations prior to the interview was watching the younger players on the team interact with Piazza as he was at his locker.  It was obvious that they idolize him.  One player made a joke that could be heard throughout the locker room, but his eyes were fixed on Piazza waiting to see if the baseball legend would laugh – when Piazza laughed louder than anyone it was apparent it made his teammate’s day.  Another young player passed behind Piazza quietly singing a heavy metal song.  Piazza spun around and started screaming out the song and the two of them finished out the verse in high volume, smiling face to face.  On that afternoon, the future Hall of Famer certainly lived up to his reputation as a very friendly, approachable character who is also a great person and teammate.

Burrell eager to produce again

Just because Pat Burrell plays left field for the Phillies doesn't mean he's out in left field.

He hears the talk and would be lying if he said he wasn't sensitive to it.

On the other hand, he knows how to deal with it by now. More importantly, he believes he is in for a much better season than the last, in which his 29 home runs and 95 RBIs were considered by many observers to be failing numbers due to his .222 average with runners in scoring position.

"That's the one thing that I take pride in that I didn't do well last season," Burrell said before Saturday's spring-training game against the Reds in Sarasota. "Yesterday, I had an at-bat with Chase (Utley) on second base and two outs (and drove him home). Those are things you want to do."

Piazza connects with new teammates, duties

PHOENIX — Mike Piazza and Nick Swisher have found their handshake, and it's quite a change from the jive Swisher and Frank Thomas would use to celebrate.

"The slide and the Roman," Piazza said, demonstrating how they slide their hands and grab each other's forearms. "For my Italian-American heritage."

Piazza sure appears to have his stroke down as the Athletics' new designated hitter — not to mention a comfort level with his teammates who really like him.

Sox pay to retain Cora

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The simplest way to determine the value the Red Sox place on Alex Cora is to look at how they’re paying him.

A little more than two weeks after the end of the last World Series, before he even could get a sniff of what he was worth on the open market, the Sox signed Cora to a two-year, $4 million deal. He can earn an additional $1 million per year, depending on how many games he plays — $250,000 extra starting with 110 games, with an additional quarter-million at every 10-game increment up to 140 games.

Cora, a 31-year-old backup infielder, is being paid an average salary this season that is higher than the median salary of all but eight teams last season. The median salary of 17 teams last season was under $1 million. Mark Loretta, who started at second for the Sox last season, got only a one-year, $2.5 million deal from the Astros, who plan to use him in a utility role. Ronnie Belliard, who played second base for the world champion Cardinals, signed a minor league deal with the Nationals ($750,000). Miguel Cairo, the Yankees’ backup second baseman, is getting the same money in a big-league deal with the Bombers. Damion Easley is making a tick more ($850,000) from the Mets.

Piazza shines; Wang tweaks hamstring

Mike Piazza knows he can't escape comparisons with the Big Hurt.

Piazza, who's replacing Frank Thomas as designated hitter for the Oakland Athletics this year, balks at the expectations that he can equal Thomas' outstanding 39-homer comeback campaign of 2006. But so far this spring, his bat is making it hard for fans not to see the similarities.

Piazza, slated to be the designated hitter in Oakland, homered for the second straight game Friday, connecting for a three-run shot in the first inning against his former team in the Athletics' 8-7 victory over the San Diego Padres. He also hit a sharp single to left in the fifth.

“Mike has been on everything at the plate,” manager Bob Geren said in Phoenix.

A Look at Last Week's Top Stories

- Jerry Jones Will Introduce Michael Irvin in Canton
- DJ Williams Update
- Savage says no talk of no Winslow
- James Jones' struggles from 3-point range continue
- Thomas expected McGahee trade
- William Joseph Update
- Duane Starks Update
- Joel Rodriguez Update
- NFL Network Feature Path to the Draft - Jon Beason
- Winslow: ''I'm good, very good''
- Brock Berlin Works Out with Cowboys
- Burress, Shockey miss voluntary program
- McGahee gets number 23
- Huff gives Orioles' lineup flexibility - Former Miami star can play several positions.
- Rams Sign Mike Rumph
- Notebook: Niners have the leverage with Gore
- Kiper's Latest Mock Draft