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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Delgado, Marlins set sights on Atlanta

Associated Press

Carlos Delgado and the Florida Marlins finalized their $52 million, four-year contract Thursday, a move that could change the balance of power in the National League East.

Delgado, who hit at least 30 home runs each of the past eight seasons with Toronto, passed his physical Wednesday and was introduced at a news conference.

“I want to put myself on a team that has a chance to win, and that’s the Florida Marlins,” Delgado said. “I can’t wait to meet the guys.”

His addition is a boost to the Marlins, who are trying to put together a financing package for a new ballpark. Florida is trying to end Atlanta’s record streak of 13 consecutive division titles.

“I still think (Atlanta is) the team to beat,” Marlins manager Jack McKeon said. “They find a way to come up with the players.”

Larkin may end career

Barry Larkin’s loyalty is nudging him toward retirement.

The All-Star shortstop would like to play another season, but can’t commit himself to play for anyone other than his hometown team. He has spent his entire career with the Cincinnati Reds, who rejected his overtures to return for a 20th season.

Larkin said he has turned down offers to start for several other teams because he can’t envision himself playing for anyone but the Reds.

Several teams are still interested in Larkin as a reserve, giving him a chance to help develop younger players. But Larkin, 40, sounds as if he’s going to retire, and says he’s “pretty close” to a final decision.

Larkin batted .289 in 111 games last season and was chosen for his 12th All-Star team.

Clearing the bases

All-Star outfielder Lance Berkman, expected to miss the start of the season after hurting his knee playing flag football, avoided salary arbitration when he agreed to a $10.5 million, one-year contract with Houston. … Japanese infielder Tadahito Iguchi passed a physical as he and the Chicago White Sox completed their $4.95 million, two-year contract. … Former N.L. Rookie of the Year Hideo Nomo agreed to a minor league contract with Tampa Bay after going 3-11 in 18 starts for Los Angeles in 2004. … Milwaukee outfielder Brady Clark agreed to a $1.15 million, one-year contract and avoided salary arbitration. … Infielder George Arias, who previously played for Anaheim and San Diego, agreed to a minor league contract with Washington after spending the last five seasons in Japan. … Arizona reliever Mike Koplove agreed to a $2 million, two-year contract. … Utility player Damian Rolls agreed to a minor league contract with the New York Yankees after spending five seasons with Tampa Bay. … Magglio Ordonez’s agent made a counteroffer to Detroit, which impressed the free-agent outfielder when they met earlier this week. Ordonez made $14 million last year with the White Sox. … Backup catcher Josh Paul avoided arbitration with Anaheim by agreeing to a $450,000, one-year contract that gives him the chance to earn an additional $75,000 if he plays in 90 games. … Former Colorado pitcher Denny Neagle pleaded innocent to a solicitation charge stemming from allegations that he offered a woman $40 for sex. Neagle’s lawyer, Harvey Steinberg, filed the plea in Jefferson County District Court in Golden, Colo. Neagle was not present.

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