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Cruz Went Cyber-Surfing To Learn Of Trade

Sun., Aug. 3, 1997, midnight

Jose Cruz Jr., who hoped to stick in Seattle’s outfield, found out a day early that he’d been traded. Turned out, however, that he heard wrong.

Cruz was traded Thursday night to the Toronto Blue Jays for relievers Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric. Even before that, there were lots of rumors the Mariners might move him for bullpen help, as Cruz discovered quite easily.

“I couldn’t sleep last night, I paced in my room like I was on death row,” he said Thursday.

“I even went on-line - and the first place I went, somebody said ‘Jose Cruz was just traded to Chicago for Roberto Hernandez.’ I went ‘Wow!’ and I had to call everybody I knew to find out if it was true.”

Canseco tunes in

The Oakland Athletics’ clubhouse was buzzing with trade rumors the other night at Yankee Stadium. One had Mark McGwire going to St. Louis while another had Jose Canseco headed down the corridor to the Yankees.

Everyone had one eye on the TV and an ear to the radio awaiting any news.

Canseco had just entertained a group of reporters with tales of playing right field in Yankee Stadium when he heard his name mentioned on a New York sports talk radio station over the clubhouse stereo.

Clutching a cellular phone in one hand, Canseco moved closer to hear better.

“It was interesting that Jose Canseco didn’t play last night,” the radio report said.

When he heard that, Canseco raised his eyebrows and began making faces as the broadcaster continued.

“I didn’t know that,” he said when it was reported that he’d fouled a ball off his foot the previous day.

Before the game, Canseco recounted nights where he’d been hit with whiskey bottles, subway tokens, coins and baseballs by Yankees fans.

On this visit, though, he got off easy.

“Just a little teddy bear,” he said afterward, “and that can’t hurt anybody.”

Torres packs it in at 25

The up-and-down, curious career of pitcher Salomon Torres is finished, for now.

Torres worked four innings Thursday night for Ottawa, the Triple-A affiliate of the Montreal Expos, then left the game and announced his retirement. He cited personal reasons for his departure.

Torres, 25, was once one of the promising young pitchers in baseball. A hard thrower - with just enough wildness to be effective - he moved quickly through the minors.

He reached the majors with the Giants in 1993, joining a first-place team in late August and winning his big-league debut. But on the last day of the season, with San Francisco needing a win to tie Atlanta for the N.L. West title and force a playoff, he started against Los Angeles and was hit hard in a devastating defeat.

Torres never seemed quite the same after that loss.

The next season, he left the Giants for three days in June, apparently because he was having a difficult time blending his lifestyle as a professional baseball player with his life as a devout member of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Torres was traded by the Giants to Seattle in May 1995 for future All-Star Shawn Estes and a minor leaguer. The Mariners gave up on him last April and he was claimed on waivers by Montreal, but was unable to recapture his potential.

From pigskins to horsehides

Roger Staubach built a Hall of Fame career throwing footballs for the Dallas Cowboys. His son is spending time these days catching baseballs at the New York Yankees’ camp at Tampa, Fla.

Jeff Staubach is working out with the Gulf Coast League Yankees. He’s not under contract, though Yankees owner George Steinbrenner often allows those with sports and celebrity connections - and athletic ability - to be around his clubs.

This week, the younger Staubach had an interesting assignment. He was catching Hideki Irabu, a couple of days after the Japanese pitcher was demoted to the minors.

Pirates GM moonlighting

Pirates general manager Cam Bonifay may have started another career during Pittsburgh’s recent road trip: radioman.

Bonifay spent three innings in the broadcast booth during the second game of the Giants-Pirates doubleheader on Sunday, filling in while former pitcher Bob Walk took a break during 8-1/2 hours of baseball. Bonifay showed a rarely seen sense of humor and even described some of the on-field action.

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