Sun, Nov 23, 2003 - Page 22 News List

Tampa Bay Devil Rays acquire Tino Martinez


Tampa native Tino Martinez was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Devil Rays on Friday for a minor league pitching prospect.

St. Louis gets pitcher Evan Rust and a player to be named.

Martinez is owed US$7.5 million next season under the US$21 million, three-year deal he agreed to with the Cardinals in December 2001, and his contract contains an US$8 million option for 2005 with a US$1 million buyout.

St. Louis will pay US$7 million of the remaining US$8.5 million Martinez is guaranteed, a baseball official said on the condition of anonymity.

The 36-year-old Martinez, a former University of Tampa star and a 14-year major league veteran, has slumped badly in recent years. In 138 games last season, the first baseman hit .273 with 15 homers and 69 RBIs. He had 71 strikeouts and 53 walks

Martinez, a career .273 hitter, played six seasons with the Seattle Mariners and six seasons with the Yankees, winning four World Series titles in New York.

Martinez, his wife Maria, and their three children, ages 7 to 11, live in Tampa, where Martinez helped lead Tampa Catholic High School to the Florida state title in 1982. At the University of Tampa, Martinez was a three-time Division II All-American.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said the trade could lead to a position shift.

"Does this deal mean that Albert Pujols will be moved to first base? That's a possibility," La Russa said.

"One of the things we are trying to do is improve our table-setters at the top of the lineup. Because first base is a position primarily reserved for run-producers, we feel that we have a better chance of finding a leadoff hitter to play the outfield rather than first base."

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