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Friday, May 15, 1998

Swaim happy with off-season turnout

PECOS, May 15 -- There probably aren't many new head
football coaches in Texas in the same position Pecos Eagles'
coach Dan Swaim is in.

Swaim was selected earlier this year to replace Mike Belew
as the Eagles' head coach, after serving as an assistant to
Belew for the past two seasons. Pecos went 4-6 both times,
but were winless in District 4-4A play this past fall.

But thanks to the bi-annual realignment by the University
Interscholastic League, the Eagles have been liberated from
the always tough 4-4A. Swaim now finds his team as the
favorite to win the District 2-4A title come November, and
-- as of now -- with more players planning to participate at
the high school level than did so a year ago.

While nothing is guaranteed as far as either the players or
playoffs go, as off-season workouts come to an end today,
Swaim said, "We've got about 40 right now in off-season on
the varsity level, and we had 134 sign up for next year."

Keeping the numbers up, and getting the players out to
practice, has been a problem in recent years for both Belew
and his predecessor, Felix Urias. However, Swaim said he
thinks that will change.

"For the most part, it looks like the kids signed up are a
good group of kids. They should be real reliable showing up
this summer," he said.

The new district the Eagles will be in next fall should help
the overall attitude as well. Instead of facing Andrews, Big
Spring, Fort Stockton, Sweetwater and San Angelo Lake View,
Pecos will play Clint, Fabens, El Paso Mountain View,
Canutillo and San Elizario this fall as part of their new
District 2-4A.

The first three are new arrivals from Class 3A, while
neither San Elizario nor Canutillo have reached the playoffs
since moving up from Class 3A earlier this decade. That
bodes well for Pecos ending their 23-year absence from
post-season play come November, though Swaim pointed out the
Eagles will have a number of holes to fill.

"Skill position-wise, we look real good. All our running
backs, quarterbacks and secondary people have experience.
Where we're hurting is on the offensive line, where we lost
everyone but John (Gutierrez)," he said. "But I think we'll
be all right. The one we have have worked hard during the
offensive drills."

What playoff teams the Eagles do face will come from the 3A
level during the pre-district portion of their schedule, as
well as their preseason scrimmages against Monahans and
Greenwood, followed by the season opener at Ratliff Stadium
in Odessa against Denver City.

It will be Pecos' first game in Odessa since Ector High
School closed after the 1981 season, and their first-ever
game at Ratliff, which opened in 1982 and was where Swaim
played while at Permian High School.

"It will be good for the kids to start the year under the
lights up there. They're excited about it, and I'm looking
forward to that," he said. "I'm excited about going home to
coach, and the majority of the coaching staff also played

Swaim added that while the initial 1998 schedule published
in Wednesday's Enterprise listed that game as a 7:30 p.m.
start, it will begin at 8 p.m. instead. He also said the
Eagles' Oct. 9 game against Fabens is tentatively set as
Pecos' 1998 homecoming game.

Greers' two-run hit lifts Rangers in 13th

NEW YORK, May 15 (AP) -- Rusty Greer's three huge hits
included two homers, but the biggest of the bunch might have
been a simple single.

Greer drove in six runs, hitting a three-run homer in the
eighth, a game-tying single in the ninth and a two-run shot
in the 13th as the Texas Rangers overcame a five-run deficit
and beat the New York Yankees 7-5 Thursday night.

His two-out base hit came off closer Mariano Rivera, who had
gotten Greer out in the ninth the night before.

``Last night I got jammed. I wanted to clear my mind of the
at-bat before and get a good swing,'' said Greer, who hit
Rivera's first pitch to left.

The Yankees had been 22-0 this year when leading after eight

``Rusty got the big hits, especially the one big hit in the
ninth inning,'' Rangers manager Johnny Oates said. ``Rusty
had a very nice ballgame to say the least.''

The Yankees lost for just the fourth time in 29 games, and
Rivera blew a save chance for only the second time in 10

``He (Rivera) hadn't given up a run all year, so I thought
we should play for one rather than two,'' said Oates, who
chose to sacrifice Luis Alicea to second after a leadoff
single, essentially playing for the tie despite being on the

Thanks to Greer, who connected off Willie Banks (1-1) in the
13th, Texas eventually did win for only the fourth time in
its last 20 games at Yankee Stadium since 1994. Greer has
driven in the winning run in the Rangers' last at-bat 13
times in the last three seasons.

New York, 11-2 at home this season, led 5-0 in the eighth
inning before the bullpen faltered, with Mike Stanton
allowing a three-run homer to Greer, who matched his career
high for RBIs.

``It was a situation where I made a bad pitch and he made me
pay for it,'' said Stanton, who played with Texas for part
of 1996. ``I look at it as my loss. They're a very dangerous
team. I know those guys.''

Hideki Irabu, making his first home start this season,
allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings, lowering his
ERA to 1.11.

New York had been 22-0 when scoring at least four runs.
``You can't do it every night,'' said Yankees manager Joe

After Greer's homer off Stanton, Jeff Nelson gave up a
double to Juan Gonzalez and consecutive bloop singles to
Will Clark and Ivan Rodriguez that pulled Texas to 5-4.

Pinch-hitter Alicea singled off Rivera leading off the
ninth, was sacrificed to second and scored on Greer's

Dan Patterson (1-1), the sixth of seven Texas pitchers,
allowed one hit in two innings, and former Yankee John
Wetteland, the MVP of the 1996 World Series, pitched the
13th for his 11th save in 11 chances.

Rangers starter Darren Oliver allowed five runs and eight
hits in 5 1-3 innings. Paul O'Neill's two-run single gave
New York the lead in the third, and Chad Curtis opened the
fourth with his fourth homer. Scott Brosius hit a two-run
single in the sixth off Alan Levine.

Irabu gave up Mark McLemore's double in the first and Kevin
Elster's infield single in the second before retiring 15 of
the next 17 batters, including 12 in a row at one point. He
struck out five and walked three, leaving with a 5-0 lead
after 112 pitches.

``I was tired and my pitch count was up pretty high,'' Irabu
said through an interpreter. ``I really don't think about my
luck being good and bad.''

Irabu walked McLemore leading off the third but McLemore was
thrown out stealing. He did not allow another runner until
Rodriguez singled with one out in the seventh.

Piazza used as lure to hook Marlins' last stars

LOS ANGELES, May 15 (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are on
the verge of trading slugging catcher Mike Piazza to the
Florida Marlins as part of a seven-player deal, The
Associated Press learned today.

The only thing holding up the deal is Marlins outfielder
Gary Sheffield's approval. If Sheffield agrees to the trade,
he will join the Dodgers along with third baseman Bobby
Bonilla, catcher Charles Johnson, outfielder Jim Eisenreich
and a player to be named later.

In addition to Piazza, the Marlins will receive third
baseman Todd Zeile.

``There has been no announcement and no deal has been made
at this time,'' Dodgers director of public relations Derrick
Hall told the AP early today. ``That's all we can say.''

Sheffield's agent, Jim Neader, told MSNBC on Thursday night,
``We won't say anything until we talk about it with that

The Marlins, who have made major cost-cutting moves
following their World Series victory last fall, scratched
Sheffield, Bonilla and Johnson from the lineup Thursday
night at Cincinnati, with manager Jim Leyland saying that he
was meeting with general manager Dave Dombrowski.

``I'll talk with Dave, and there will be an announcement,''
Leyland said.

Thursday night's 11-8 loss was the fifth straight for the
Marlins, whose 13-28 record matched their 1995 start as the
worst in franchise history.

Piazza, 29, had one the greatest offensive years for a
catcher in baseball history last year, hitting .362 with 40
homers and 124 RBIs. In the final year of a two-year, $15
million contract, Piazza is eligible for free agency at the
end of the season.

The five-time All-Star is hitting .282 this year with nine
homers and 30 RBIs.

Piazza, whose 1998 salary is $8 million, broke off
negotiations for a long-term deal with the Dodgers last
month. The team reportedly offered him a six-year deal worth
over $80 million. It's believed Piazza and agent Dan Lozano
want a seven-year deal worth over $100 million.

Right now, Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez is baseball's
highest-paid player, having signed a six-year, $75 million
contract last winter.

The Dodgers dropped to 19-21 Thursday night with a 4-0 home
loss to Philadelphia, managing only four hits.

Zeile, 32, is in the second-year of a three-year, $9 million

Sheffield, 29, is earning $10 million this season, the first
year of six-year, $61 million contract. The subject of trade
rumors since the World Series, he is hitting .272 with six
homers and 28 RBIs.

The New York Mets and Marlins talked about a deal shortly
after the World Series, but Sheffield's contract and a
no-trade clause were obstacles.

Bonilla, 35, is earning $6 million this year, Johnson, 26,
is making $3 million, and Eisenreich, 39, is earning $1.4

Bonilla, slowed following offseason surgery on his left
Achilles' tendon, is hitting .278 with four homers and 15

Johnson, a Gold Glove catcher, is hitting .221 with seven
homers and 23 RBIs. Eisenreich, a left-handed hitting spare
outfielder and top pinch-hitter who has been especially
effective against the Dodgers in his career, is hitting .250
with one homer and seven RBIs.

Zeile is hitting .253 with seven homers and 27 RBIs.

Piazza, Zeile, Eric Karros and Raul Mondesi gave the Dodgers
four players with over 30 homers last season. But Los
Angeles has been without a left-handed power hitter for
several years. Bonilla is a switch-hitter who would fill
that void, and Eisenreich would add a proven left-handed bat
as well, although he isn't a power hitter.

The Dodgers have gone with a mixture of unproven young
players and castoffs in left and center field this season.
Assuming the deal goes through, Sheffield would add
stability as a veteran left fielder who has hit for average
and power in his career.

Piazza, a 62nd-round draft choice of the Dodgers whose
father was a boyhood friend of former Los Angeles manager
Tom Lasorda, has been one of baseball's finest hitters since
becoming a full-time big-leaguer in 1993, when he won the NL
Rookie of the Year award. But Johnson is considered a much
better receiver.
The deal will no doubt be a blow to Zeile, who grew up in
the area and made it clear when he signed with the Dodgers
before the 1997 season that he was overjoyed to be coming

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