Originally created 02/03/01


Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees neared agreement Friday on a 10-year contract worth just under $190 million.

While the Yankees wouldn't comment publicly on the talks, the progress was reported by a baseball official familiar with the negotiations who spoke on the condition he not be identified.

"We're getting there," said

Casey Close, the agent for the All-Star shortstop.

The sides had been scheduled for a salary arbitration hearing Monday in Phoenix but decided Friday to postpone it.

Depending on how much of the money is in the latter years of the contract or is deferred, the total value probably will wind up between $185 million and $189 million, the official said.

For Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, it would be his longest deal since December 1980, when he agreed to a 10-year contract with Dave Winfield that turned about to be worth about $18.3 million.

Jeter's contract, if finalized, would be the second-highest in sports history, trailing only the $252 million, 10-year deal agreed to in December between Texas and shortstop Alex Rodriguez, Jeter's good friend.

In Chicago, however, Sammy Sosa and the Cubs have been unable to work out a contract extension Sosa thinks he deserves.

Sosa reportedly wants a six-year extension beyond 2001. His current four-year, $42.5 million deal expires after this season. According to reports, the club has offered a four-year deal for approximately $69 million.

Atlanta Braves individual home game tickets for the 2001 season that begins April 3 against the New York Mets go on sale at 9 a.m. Friday.

Fans can purchase tickets through Ticketmaster Charge-by-Phone, www.ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster Ticket Centers or at Turner Field. Individual outside Atlanta also can call (800) 326-4000 to order tickets.

HOCKEY: Wayne Gretzky failed to win an Olympic gold medal for Canada in 1998. He hopes to succeed in 2002 as executive director of the Canadian national team. The Great One will help select the players going to Salt Lake City.

"It's a great job with a lot of tough decisions because there are a lot of great Canadian players," Gretzky told the Salt Lake Tribune. "It will be tough to pick the right 20 to mesh and commit to each other."

Defenseman Andrei Skopintsev, sent down for conditioning purposes, was among four players assigned Friday by the Atlanta Thrashers to Orlando of the IHL.

Also going to Orlando are forwards [Jarrod Skalde, Herbert Vasiljev and Darcy Hordichuk.

Skopintsev missed 16 games after sustaining a lower abdominal strain against the New York Rangers on Dec. 28. He was activated from injured reserve Feb. 1, and remains on the active roster until his conditioning assignment ends.


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