Big Cat one homer shy of 400

New York Mets: Andres Galarraga agreed to a minor league
contract with the Mets and would get a $600,000, one-year deal if
he is added to the major league rosters.

The 43-year-old first baseman, who has 399 homers, spent the final month of the season with the Angels and went 3-for-10 with one homer and two RBIs in seven games. He batted .304 (31-for-102) for Triple-A Salt Lake of the Pacific Coast League with four homers and 19 RBI.

"I've seen firsthand how Andres can influence and instruct young players," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. "His health is not an issue, and I look forward to seeing him play in
the spring."

Galarraga missed the 1999 season after he was diagnosed with
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, then hit .302 with 28 home runs and 100 RBI with Atlanta in 2000. The disease reoccurred in November 2003.

"The first reason why I want to come back is for my family and
friends who supported me through my cancer," Galarraga said.
"Maybe others can use it as motivation that they can beat it, too.
Also, I'm only one home run from 400 and that record would be nice."

A five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove, Galarraga has a
.288 career average and 1,425 RBIs.

New York also agreed to minor league contracts with
right-handers Scott Strickland, Grant Roberts and Juan Padilla;
catchers Ramon Castro and Andy Dominique; infielder Marlon
Anderson; utilityman Luis Garcia; and outfielders Gerald Williams
and Kerry Robinson.

Strickland, removed from the Mets' major league roster Monday,
would get a $650,000, one-year deal if he is added to the major
league team. Anderson also would get $650,000.

Pittsburgh Pirates: Doug Strange was hired as assistant
general manager.

Strange, 40, replaces Roy Smith, who left to take a similar job
with the Dodgers. Strange, a scout and a special assistant to general manager Dave Littlefield since he joined the Pirates in 2002, was a switch-hitting infielder who spent nine seasons in the major leagues with six teams, including the Pirates.

After finishing his playing career with Pittsburgh in 1998, he worked as a scout for the Marlins for two years before joining the Pirates' front-office.