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Talk of a trade irks Garciaparra

Shortstop vents on radio program

Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra returned from his Hawaiian honeymoon to his California home last night but not before calling WEEI radio to speak about his desire to remain in Boston and his dismay over the Red Sox' attempt to deal for Texas shortstop Alex Rodriguez.

Garciaparra is miffed that the Sox did not give him a courtesy call to inform him of their interest in Rodriguez.

"I'm calling because there's been a lot of speculation and questions," said Garciaparra, speaking on Dale Arnold and Bob Neumeier's midday show. "I'm scratching my head about where it all is coming from. Is it speculation from my words or actions? I never said publicly that I wanted to leave Boston. My actions have been to go on the field and give my all every day. I enjoy having my foundation in Boston and giving clinics. I have another in January, a hitting clinic, coming up. We just purchased a new home there in Boston. Do any of those actions say I want to leave?"

Garciaparra's comments came a day after his agent, Arn Tellem, told the Globe that the Red Sox' pursuit of Rodriguez is "a slap in the face" to his client.

Asked by the radio hosts if that was the case, Garciaparra said, "The best way to answer that is to ask you guys if you wake up one day and start reading your station is interviewing people to take your spot, to replace you. How would you feel about that? How would I take it? Am I right?

"To hear from your employers, you know, that they're even thinking about doing this after all the stuff that you've done that you've given both on and off the field and what you've embraced, it leaves you scratching your head and has people wondering.

"If you're a fan, and maybe a young fan of the Sox or of me, and reading that and wondering, `Why are we getting rid of him?' First they read it's because he's unhappy. Then they read, no, he's not unhappy. So why are they doing it? I'm scratching my head the same way."

Garciaparra is in the final year of his contract and will make $11.5 million in 2004. According to three industry sources, the Red Sox made substantial offers for an extension to Garciaparra in spring training and again after the playoffs that were rebuffed by Tellem, who sought approximately $60 million over four years.

The Sox, according to one of those sources, point to the Seattle Mariners' offer over the weekend to Oakland A's free agent shortstop Miguel Tejada, the AL MVP in 2002, of approximately $8 million a year as an indication of how much Tellem might have misjudged the marketplace this winter.

Asked on the radio show if the speculation about his future was media-driven, Garciaparra said, "They never asked me if I wanted to leave. I never said I wanted to leave. They might be judging basically on my expression. I will tell people this. I admit I don't make their life [in the media] easy, but I respect every single one of them.

"But my job is to play for the wonderful fans and my teammates. They can speculate I'm unhappy. My face shows it a lot of times because I'm either disappointed with the way I'm playing or the team is playing."

Asked if he wants to re-sign with Boston, he said, "Absolutely. I've said that all along. I've gone out, day in and day out, put on the uniform and shown respect for the uniform. It's the only uniform I've known since I became a professional baseball player and the only one I want to know. It fits pretty comfortably. It feels good every time I go out there, and I know what it represents." According to baseball sources, the Sox need to finalize a trade for Garciaparra before they can make the A-Rod/Ramirez deal.Red Sox owner John W. Henry reportedly has already had a preliminary discussion with Rodriguez, and there reportedly was to be a second meeting upcoming to discuss a restructuring of Rodriguez's mammoth contract. However, Rodriguez told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in yesterday's editions that he was unaware of a second meeting. The Sox brass also denied such a meeting. Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, has been in Puerto Rico trying to make a deal for catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who is a free agent. Henry, in a Red Sox delegation that includes executives Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino, and Tom Werner, was expected to leave yesterday for the Dominican Republic, where the team is opening a new baseball academy.

In response to reports about meetings between Henry and Rodriguez, Rangers owner Tom Hicks told the Star-Telegram, "I think everything got so overpublicized. I think both teams are kind of sitting back and doing other things. As I said all along, I don't think anything will happen. I think Alex will be our shortstop."

As to whether there would be future talks, Hicks said, "Yeah, probably. But nothing's imminent."

A Rangers official said this weekend that Rodriguez "would welcome a deal to Boston, but he wouldn't be upset if he stayed here, either," and said of a reported falling-out with manager Buck Showalter, "That's been overstated."

A close friend of Garciaparra's said last night the shortstop did the radio interview because he wanted to "set the record straight" on his true feelings about playing in Boston. He wanted people to hear it rather than just read it. The friend added, "In all the years I've known Nomar, he's never expressed his desire to leave Boston." Asked on WEEI whether he could remain with the Sox if they acquired Rodriguez, Garciaparra said, "I can't comment on that now because once again, I'm sitting here scratching my head because the Red Sox haven't told me anything. They haven't told me what their intentions are. All I can do is read like everyone else. "I'm not unhappy. That's not the case. I always loved playing there and appreciated the way the fans have taken to me. I've always said and thought the best way to repay the people who watched and supported us every day was to prepare myself to play the best I can every day." . . .

The Red Sox claimed lefthanded reliever Mark Malaska off waivers from Tampa Bay yesterday. In his first year in the majors, Malaska was 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 22 outings. He started the season at Double A Orlando, then made 15 appearances at Triple A Durham. Malaska, 25, reached the majors in July. He had a 1.38 ERA in his last 17 appearances . . . Former Sox catcher Bill Haselman is expected to sign a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles.

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