Avila edged Ted Williams, Minosa for hit crown

Cleveland Indians: Bobby Avila, a three-time All-Star who won
the American League batting title in 1954, died Tuesday of
complications from diabetes and a lung ailment. He was 78.

Avila, known in his homeland as "Beto," died in a private
clinic in the Gulf Coast city of Veracruz, the government news
agency Notimex and the Televisa TV network reported.

He played second base for the Cleveland Indians from 1949 to
1958 and also was with the Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Braves and
Boston Red Sox during 11 seasons in the big leagues.

Avila batted .341 to edge out Ted Williams and Minnie Minoso for
the AL batting title and help Cleveland win the pennant in 1954. He
was the first Latino to win the batting crown. He played in the
All-Star game in 1952, 1954 and 1955.

Avila played in more than 1,300 games, finishing with a career
batting average of .281 with 80 homers and 457 RBIs. After his
major league career, Avila played in 1960 for Mexico City's Tigers.
He batted .333 and set a record with 125 RBIs in his final season.

New York Yankees: Owner George Steinbrenner summoned his top executives to Florida for meetings Tuesday, less than a week after New York became the first major-league team to waste a 3-0 lead in a postseason series.

Five Yankees vice presidents met among themselves during the afternoon at the team's spring training complex in Tampa. Steinbrenner and his top baseball officials also met for several
hours Tuesday night.
New York is expected to pursue outfielder Carlos Beltran after
he becomes a free agent and to add pitchers. Former Yankees minor
leaguer Eric Milton, and Florida right-hander Carl Pavano are among
those available.

In addition, the Yankees could resume talks with Arizona about acquiring left-hander Randy Johnson.

After winning the first three games of the AL Championship Series, the Yankees were three outs from winning their 40th AL pennant. They wound up losing the series in seven games to the Red Sox.

At the afternoon session were vice presidents Mark Newman, Damon Oppenheimer, Lin Garrett, Billy Connors and Gordon Blakeley along with advance scout Chuck Cottier and pro scout Bill Emslie.

Oakland Athletics: Rene Lachemann was hired as bench coach for next season, replacing Chris Speier.

The team also announced that the other five members of the coaching staff -- third-base coach Ron Washington, first-base coach Brad Fischer, pitching coach Curt Young, bullpen coach Bob Geren and hitting coach Dave Hudgens -- will return next season.

Speier's contract was not renewed. He took a job with the Cubs as their third-base coach.

This is Lachemann's second stint with the A's. He spent two seasons as first-base coach and four as third-base coach for Tony La Russa from 1987-92. He spent the last two seasons as bench coach for Bob Melvin in Seattle.

Lachemann has been in professional baseball for 40 years, including managerial stints in Seattle (1981-83), Milwaukee (1984) and Florida (1993-96).

Bonds named player of year by TSN: Barry Bonds was selected the Sporting News player of the year Tuesday behind a record number of ballots cast by 552 major-league players.

Bonds, who surpassed 700 home runs, finished with the most walks in a season (232) and won his second batting title (.362). He received 169½ votes, way ahead of runner-up Adrian Beltre of the Dodgers (116).

"I am extremely thrilled to be the recipient of the Sporting News Player of the Year Award," said Bonds, who finished second to the Cardinals' Albert Pujols in 2003.

In other awards given away by TSN, Braves manager Bobby Cox was named NL manager of the year for the third consecutive season and a record seventh time.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Rangers skipper Buck Showalter tied for the AL manager of the year award with four votes each of a possible 14. Gardenhire led the Twins to their third straight Central title, while Showalter overcame the loss of Alex Rodriguez and a shaky pitching staff to mold the Rangers into a contender for the AL West crown.

Other award winners in the AL included Twins left-hander Johan Santana (pitcher), Athletics shortstop Bobby Crosby (rookie), Paul Konerko of the White Sox (comeback) and Yankees closer Mariano Rivera (reliever).

Other award winners in the NL included Giants right-hander Jason Schmidt (pitcher), Pirates outfielder Jason Bay (rookie), Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter (comeback) and Dodgers closer Eric Gagne (reliever).

Kuhn undergoes heart surgery: Former baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn underwent open-heart surgery this week. Kuhn had a valve replaced during Monday's operation, spokesman Bob Wirz said.

"He's expected to have a fine recovery," Wirz said.

Kuhn, who lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., was baseball commissioner from 1969-84. He turns 78 on Thursday.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.