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Friday, June 6, 2003
Yankees send Thames to Rangers for Sierra

Sports Ticker

Marcus Thames
Thames

Ruben Sierra
Sierra

CHICAGO -- The New York Yankees acquired Ruben Sierra in a trade Friday with Texas, a much-needed left-handed bat but also a player who once called manager Joe Torre "a liar."

The Yankees sent minor league outfielder Marcus Thames to the Rangers.

The 37-year-old Sierra, a switch-hitter, is batting .258 with three home runs and 12 RBI. His salary this season is $600,000, more than affordable for the team with the majors' highest payroll.

"I miss him. I like Ruben," said Rangers manager Buck Showalter, the former Yankees manager. "It was tough to let him go. But it's a good move for him. He gets to go to the biggest stage in New York and show everyone what kind of player he is."

Sierra, a four-time All-Star, was traded from Oakland to the Yankees for Danny Tartabull in the middle of the 1995 season. Sierra played 96 games for the Yankees in 1996 in their first season under Torre, and complained that the manager had not been truthful with him about his playing time.

Friday, June 6
Pardon me if I'm underwhelmed by the Yankees' acquisition of Ruben Sierra.

Sure, he's been good enough to play in the major leagues for 17 seasons, and he's going to clear 2,000 hits sometime in the next month or two. But is there any reason to think he's really going to help the Yankees? A good benchmark for OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) is 800. Do you know how many times Sierra has posted an 800+ OPS in his 17 seasons?

Three. And only once since 1991. Sierra's been living off his reputation for more than a decade, and it must be his reputation that's got him back in Yankee pinstripes for the third time.

Because it's certainly not his performance.

  • Chat wrap: Rob Neyer
  • In his first book, "Chasing the Dream," Torre called Sierra "the toughest guy I ever had to manage. As much as I tried to talk to him about the team concept of baseball, he just never did get it."

    Torre said Friday that he and Sierra sat down at spring training a couple of years ago and patched up their differences.

    "We talked, and he said he's learned a lot since he last left the Yankees," he said before New York played the Chicago Cubs.

    "He gives us an experienced left-handed bat off the bench. He's had some good years since he left the Yankees," Torre said. "He's a little more mature."

    Sierra was traded to Detroit in a deal that included Cecil Fielder on July 31, 1996.

    The Yankees are leading the AL East but are banged up, and they hope the outfielder-designated hitter can provide it. All-Star center fielder Bernie Williams expects to start walking without crutches early next week as he continues his rehab from knee surgery. He isn't expected to return until next month.

    Thames, who hit a home run off Arizona ace Randy Johnson last year in his first major league at-bat, was pulled out of the lineup for Triple-A Columbus on Wednesday. He did not play for the Clippers on Thursday night, either.

    New York also is uncertain when first baseman-designated hitter Nick Johnson will return. He was hitting .308 with five home runs and 18 RBI, and leading the AL in walks when he suffered a stress fracture in his right hand.

    Johnson, expected to miss four-to-six weeks after getting hurt May 14, had a bone scan Thursday. But he did not have a timetable for when he might return.

    "I really don't know,'' said Johnson, who is still wearing a cast. "It's not healing quickly. I just have to wait until it heals."

    In addition, the Rangers recalled outfielder Kevin Mench from Oklahoma. Mench, who will be in uniform for Friday's game against Montreal in Puerto Rico, was batting .267 with four home runs and 21 RBI in 29 games since being optioned to Oklahoma on May 2.

    ``I think it was a good trade,'' Showalter said. ``Marcus is a great athlete who can play all three outfield positions. He has great makeup. He's a quality kid.''