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Published: Saturday, 12/1/2007

Rogers says Tigers were the only choice

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Rogers Rogers
DUANE BURLESON / AP Enlarge

DETROIT - Kenny Rogers knew all along where he wanted to be.

The 43-year-old left-hander ended his free agency yesterday when he agreed to a one-year deal that will keep him with the Detroit Tigers for a third season.

"There was really never any other choice but Detroit," said Rogers, who represented himself in contract negotiations. "The possibilities of playing somewhere else didn't appeal to me at all."

Rogers' deal is thought to be worth about $8 million, possibly with performance bonuses.

"He brings us that veteran presence we wanted to have in our rotation," Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said.

Rogers asked the team to be patient with him as he represented himself in negotiations. He decided not to allow agent Scott Boras to shop his services to the highest bidder.

"It's been a process where Kenny and I have spoken probably a dozen times over the last couple of weeks," Dombrowski said. "It was great that we were able to meet at a point where it worked for everybody."

Detroit also agreed to a one-year contract with right-hander Francisco Cruceta and designated outfielder Timo Perez and first baseman Chris Shelton for assignment.

Rogers was 3-4 with a 4.43 ERA in an injury-shortened 2007 season for the Tigers after helping them reach the 2006 World Series.

He was limited to 11 starts last season after surgery to remove a blood clot from his left shoulder and repair arteries. He went back on the disabled list later in the year with an elbow inflammation.

For the first time since 2001, Rogers did not win at least 13 games. But he said his health shouldn't be a factor in 2008. Rogers said doctors have told him everything should heal properly.

"Physically, last year was no doubt very frustrating in a lot of ways," Rogers said. "After the season I had everything checked out to see where I stood for my own physical well being. I wanted to know what I was dealing with."

Some questioned Detroit's decision to give Rogers a $16 million, two-year contract before the 2006 season, but he and the team were validated. He put together a third straight season with an All-Star appearance and a Gold Glove award, helping the Tigers reach the World Series for the first time since 1984.

After going 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA during the regular season, Rogers held the New York Yankees, Oakland and St. Louis without a run in October. He became the first pitcher to have three scoreless starts in one postseason since Christy Mathewson in 1905.

But just when talk subsided about him pushing two cameramen in 2005 - a videotaped tirade that led to a suspension while he was with Texas - Rogers was at the center of another dispute.

Cameras showed a brown substance on his left hand in the first inning of Game 2 of the World Series, and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa brought it to the umpires' attention. Rogers' hand was clean when he came out for the second inning, and he went on to pitch shutout ball in Detroit's only win in the series.

Over 19 seasons, Rogers is 210-143 with a 4.19 ERA and is a four-time all-star and five-time Gold Glove winner.

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - Cleveland Indians reliever Juan Lara showed some improvement but remained in critical condition, nearly a week after his car crashed in the Dominican Republic.

"Juan has showed mild improvement from the lung trauma he suffered in the accident," said Dashira Martinez, spokesman for Santo Domingo's Plaza de la Salud hospital.

His condition has not changed otherwise, Martinez said.

The 26-year-old left-hander suffered a fractured spine, severe brain trauma, two broken ribs, and a punctured lung in the crash Saturday night.

Two others were killed when they crashed into Lara's vehicle.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Troy Percival thinks the Tampa Bay Rays have a bright future and wants to do everything he can to help the young team realize its potential.

Spurning suitors that included the New York Yankees, the 38-year-old reliever agreed to an $8 million, two-year contract with Tampa Bay, which needed to upgrade one of the worst bullpens in the major leagues.

Percival, who came out of retirement to go 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 34 appearances for St. Louis in 2007, will have a chance to earn another $4 million-plus in bonuses.

He said he had comparable offers from other teams and may have even been able to get more money, but he likes Tampa Bay's nucleus of young talent and thinks longtime friend Joe Maddon is the right manager to get the Rays out of the AL East cellar.

"You see an organization that's trying to do everything right, and I wanted to be a part of it," Percival said after slipping on a Rays' jersey at Tropicana Field during a news conference.



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