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Little to interview for Baltimore job

Grady Little, informed Monday that he would not be asked to manage the Red Sox next season, is scheduled to be in Baltimore today to interview to be the manager of the Orioles. Mike Hargrove was let go at the end of the season.

Little will be the eighth man to interview for the job. He follows Yankees first base coach Lee Mazzilli, who interviewed yesterday, and A's bench coach Terry Francona, who met with Baltimore management Tuesday and also is mentioned as a leading candidate to succeed Little in Boston.

Little, whose managing career began in 1980 in the Orioles' system, is scheduled to meet with Orioles vice presidents Mike Flanagan and Jim Beattie today. Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, the former Orioles' first baseman, is considered a front-runner.

Thomas ends doubts

White Sox slugger Frank Thomas will exercise a $6 million contract option for next season rather than test the free agent market for a second straight year. "After weighing our options, we felt the best decision for Frank was to return to the White Sox," said Thomas's agent Arn Tellem. "I know Frank would like nothing better than to help the White Sox win a World Series title." Thomas hit .267, his highest average since 2000, with 42 homers and 105 RBIs this season . . . The Devil Rays won't exercise the $2.5 million contract option on first baseman Travis Lee but will still attempt to sign him for the 2004 season. Lee batted .275 with 19 home runs and 70 RBIs in 145 games last season . . . Reliever Paul Quantrill, who led major league pitchers with 89 appearances last season, exercised his right to void the final year of his contract with the Dodgers and filed for free agency . . . The World Series champion Florida Marlins would become the Miami Marlins under terms of an agreement that would give the team $73 million of Miami-Dade County money to help build a new stadium, according to the club's website. The Marlins outlined a plan Tuesday that includes the county money to help build a new, $325 million baseball-only stadium. The agreement also calls for the team to contribute $137 million toward the retractable-roof stadium . . . The Pirates will cut ticket prices next season for nearly 30 percent of PNC Park's 37,898 seats. The Pirates are lowering prices by $1 for outfield reserved seats, some left-field bleacher seats, and upper-deck seats in right and left field. A section of seats called outfield boxes will also cost less than before. The Pirates also are offering $3 off every seat for season ticket-holders, meaning every season ticket will cost at least $243 less.

Material from Associated Press was used in this report.

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