Mets narrow search for manager to four

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Terry Collins, Bob Melvin, Wally Backman and Chip Hale were scheduled for second interviews for New York Mets manager at this week's general managers' meetings.

Melvin was the first for his callback, on Wednesday afternoon, followed by Hale on Wednesday night and Backman and Collins Thursday, assistant general manager John Ricco announced.

Collins and Melvin each managed twice previously in the major leagues. Backman and Hale have no big league managerial experience but have both managed in the minors. Backman managed South Georgia, of the independent South Coast League, in 2007. The Aiken Foxhounds were also a member of the league that year.

TIGERS: Reliever Joaquin Benoit and Detroit reached a preliminary agreement on a $16.5 million, three-year contract.

The right-hander was 1-2 with a 1.34 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 60q innings this year.

BLUE JAYS: Toronto acquired speedy outfielder Rajai Davis from Oakland for minor leaguer right-handers Trystan Magnuson and Daniel Farquhar.

MARLINS: All-Star catcher John Buck and Florida finalized an $18 million, three-year contract.

Rangers: AL champion Texas will be the first major league team to play in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Rangers will play an exhibition against Coastal Carolina on March 29 at the home of their new high Class-A team.

COURTS: A defense expert says former major league ballplayer Jim Leyritz was not drunk when he was involved in a Florida car crash that killed a 30-year-old woman.

Toxicologist Dr. Stefan Rose testified Wednesday that Leyritz had a blood-alcohol level under Florida's 0.08 percent limit when the 2007 crash occurred. Rose said Leyritz's alcohol level rose to 0.14 percent hours after the crash because he had a vodka shot minutes earlier.


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