Originally created 06/18/04

Hidalgo shipped to Mets

HOUSTON - Hoping to help their sagging offense, the New York Mets acquired right fielder Richard Hidalgo from the Houston Astros on Thursday for right-handers David Weathers and Jeremy Griffiths.

Hidalgo has put up big numbers in the past, but he was in the midst of a disappointing season with the Astros. He recently lost his starting job to Jason Lane, and soon after went to general manager Gerry Hunsicker and asked to be traded.

"We're pleased to have him," Mets manager Art Howe said. "I know what he can do. He's a run-producer, an outstanding right fielder. He hasn't played on a regular basis.

"He'll get that opportunity here. It's a fresh start for him. I know he's a good middle-of-the-order hitter."

Weathers adds an experienced middle reliever to Houston's bullpen, which is in desperate need of help there. The Mets also get $4 million from the Astros as part of the deal to offset the difference in salaries.

The 28-year-old Hidalgo is batting .256 with four homers and 30 RBI, a huge drop-off from last year's .309 average with 28 home runs and 88 RBI. He was voted the Astros' MVP in 2003.

PHILLIES: First-round draft pick Greg Golson agreed to a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday.

Golson, a high school outfielder from Austin, Texas, will receive a $1.475 million bonus, plus a college scholarship.

He was selected with the 21st overall pick in last week's amateur draft.

Golson, a right-handed hitter, batted .487 with four homers, 26 RBI, 32 runs and 20 stolen bases for John B. Connally High School this past season.

He will report to Philadelphia's Gulf Coast League team in Clearwater, Fla., next week.

EXPOS: A group trying to buy the Montreal Expos and move them to Norfolk, Va., says it already has commitments for more than 5,000 season tickets and 75 luxury boxes.

The Norfolk Baseball Company is three weeks into a sales drive to show that the area can support a major league team.

Businesses and organizations, including Fortune 500 companies Smithfield Foods Inc. and Norfolk Southern Corp., have pledged $1,000 apiece to reserve luxury suites, said William Somerindyke Jr., co-founder and CEO of the Norfolk Baseball Company.

The stadium plans call for at least 60 luxury boxes, and 35,000 to 38,000 seats.

Downtown Washington and northern Virginia appear to be the leading contenders for the Expos. Other candidates are Las Vegas; Monterrey, Mexico; Portland, Ore.; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

ANGELS: All-Star reliever Brendan Donnelly was activated from the disabled list Thursday by the Anaheim Angels.

Donnelly had missed the entire season after breaking his nose in 20 places in a spring training accident.

He was injured March 9 while shagging flies during batting practice, and doctors said he lost half the blood in his body.


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