Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:58 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 7:25 pm
PHOENIX -- Maybe Albert Pujols knew there was a designated hitter in the American League. But did anyone tell him you get to bat every inning in the Junior Circuit?
Forgive him if he begins to think that's the case after his first Cactus League game. He christened the Angels' portion of his career with a 2 for 3 afternoon against the beleaguered Athletics, including saying hello with an RBI double in the first.
"That was fun," Pujols said after being removed from the game in the fourth with the Angels leading 9-0. "Hopefully, we get to do a lot of that this year."
The Angels' two high-priced free agents each debuted on an overcast Monday afternoon. C.J. Wilson, who signed a five-year, $77.5 million deal during the offseason, worked two scoreless innings, facing eight batters.
Pujols chopped a hanging curve for the double in the first against Oakland starter Brad Peacock, scorched a line single to left in the second and flied to right in the third. He saw nine pitches.
"He comes up in the first inning and knocks in a runner," Wilson said of Pujols. "We all were looking at each other in the dugout like, 'Oh yeah. That's what Albert does.'"
Pujols admitted to some pre-game jitters. He said in a typical season, he gets nervous three times: Before his first spring training at-bat, before his first regular-season at-bat and before his first postseason at-bat.
That last part is what the Angels are banking on: Pujols' Cardinals only missed the playoffs four times during his 11 seasons in St. Louis. Anything short of a run deep into October -- and, arguably, a World Series title -- will be a disappointment for the 2012 Angels.
Pujols, who signed a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Angels last winter, easily has been the focal point of the Angels during their first two weeks of camp. Not just from the fans' perspective, but from inside the clubhouse as well.
"It's cool, man," right fielder Torii Hunter said. "Pujols has been blending in just fine. Vernon Wells and I hit with him, and we're picking up a lot."
One thing that has impressed them early is that Pujols is as interested as learning from his new teammates as they are from him.
"He's not afraid to ask questions," Hunter said. "A guy like that, who has achieved so much, you'd think pride would set in and he wouldn't ask anybody for any advice. But he does. He's that humble.
"He has two World Series rings, three MVPs and he still wants to learn. I love that."
One thing Angels manager Mike Scioscia has learned about Pujols through various conversations up to and early in spring training is, Pujols likes to work in the spring, especially early.
"He historically feels like he wants his at-bats on the higher side in the spring rather than on the lower side," Scioscia said.
Pujols finished with 65 plate appearances last spring with the Cardinals (.288, three homers and 14 RBI). Look for a similar workload this spring (though for a time it appeared as if he might reach that total on Monday alone).
As for Wilson, he tinkered with his mechanics over the winter and is looking to incorporate a changeup as an important weapon this summer.
"For me, the changeup is a priority," said Wilson, who faced eight batters, walking one. "So I can add efficiency to my repertoire."
Though he worked a career-high 223 1/3 innings last season, he essentially was out of gas in October.
He figures if he can throw fewer pitches -- "you're looking at one more out a game, one less walk, one more ground ball" -- both he and the Angels will benefit.
The focus on that will come in time. But for now, the Angels remain giddy over the one-time St. Louis icon joining them. And for his part, Pujols senses the respect from even veterans like Hunter and Wells.
"It's what you have built," Pujols said. "It's something I learned in St. Louis 11 years ago. I had great teammates, and I took advantage of the veteran guys."
He ticked off a whole flurry of names, including Woody Williams, Matt Morris, Placido Polanco and Mark McGwire.
"They taught me how to play the game the right way."
Posted on: February 26, 2012 12:18 am
Edited on: February 26, 2012 2:39 pm
PHOENIX -- If they don't all gather around their television sets Sunday evening, the Oakland A's will nonetheless be keeping one eye toward Los Angeles as they root for Moneyball to win Best Picture and Billy Beane, er, Brad Pitt to win Best Actor at the Academy Awards.
"I think we need to pull for it," A's second baseman Jemile Weeks said Saturday morning. "The movie got some good feedback. There's some credit due, I guess."
"If [Pitt] brings Angelina Jolie up on stage, that would be cool," quipped Jonny Gomes. "If not, I think it's all for the birds."
On a serious note, Gomes said that "Billy and Brad are both way ahead of the curve in what they do."
Most of the Athletics attended the red carpet opening of Moneyball last September. Gomes, who played for the Reds last year, saw the movie on his own. Impressive thing is, a group who could be awfully critical about areas where the movie was exaggerated, corny or just plain wrong mostly loved it. Credit director Bennett Miller with getting so much of the baseball part right.
"I think it would be pretty cool to see a movie made about our organization and our GM win," catcher Kurt Suzuki said. "You talk about the Oscars, you're definitely aware of what a prestigious award it is.
"It definitely would be cool if Moneyball won. It's a great movie. You've got Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, some front-line actors. It's pretty cool."
Beane is in Los Angeles this weekend to attend the Oscars.
Alas, he didn't bring any of the A's with him.
"No, I've got work to do," Suzuki said, chuckling.
"Apparently, he's a fan of Honorable Mention," Braden said in mock outrage. "I feel like I could have added to his chances, him and Brad Pitt.
"But it's exciting to see."
I've seen seven of the nine movies up for Best Picture, all but The Artist and War Horse (and it's my shortcoming that I failed to catch up with The Artist). My amateur film critic ranking of the seven I saw:
1. Hugo. Totally and unexpectedly charming. You feel like this is real, old-time movie-making. I normally am strongly anti 3-D, figuring it's just a scam to soak more money out of our pockets, but I even loved that aspect of this film.
2. The Help. Terrific acting and a meaningful story. I know it's taken a beating by some over sort of a sanitized racial story, but if it helps further the conversation in that area, it has value.
3. The Descendents. Some laughs, some moving moments and some really good acting. George Clooney is always good, though as a friend of mine says, he always seems to be playing George Clooney. But as the widowed father of two daughters who sometimes seems beleaguered and overmatched, he's perfect and the film really captures life's messy family relations and small moments.
4. Midnight in Paris. Wonderful time-travel of a film back to 1920s Paris. Though my pal Jim Caple is steamed that Corey Stoll did not get a Supporting Actor nomination for his outstanding work as Ernest Hemingway. And Jim is right.
5. Moneyball. Much better than I thought it would be. Really well done, and I don't mean to diss it by ranking it fifth. But enjoyable as it was, it's not a Best Picture. That said, Pitt really nails Beane, just a terrific job of acting. And one of the best, most underrated parts is Kerris Dorsey, the 13-year-old actress who plays Beane's daughter, singing Lenka's The Show -- "I'm just a little bit caught in the middle. ..." Absolutely perfect.
6. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Cannot believe I saw a movie tied to 9/11 and felt very little emotion. But I did. This was an absolute clunker, thoroughly mawkish and ham-handed. Embarrassing for the Oscars that it's anywhere near Best Picture category.
7. Tree of Life. Either I'm not smart enough to understand it, or it was utterly dreadful. I'll volunteer the former. Some people think it was brilliant and spiritual. I'm not an action-movie guy, I prefer quieter films that tell a story. But this lost me even before the dinosaurs appeared. And what was that about?
Sunblock Day? Great day, 79 degrees, got out for a much-needed long run. But the cooldown is coming to the desert. By Tuesday, the predicted high is only 61.
Likes: Friend Bill Chuck in his Billy-Ball blog notes that the only Oscar in the Hall of Fame is Oscar Charleston, who was inducted by the Negro League Committee in 1976. ... Also according to Chuck's research, infielder Oscar Grimes and pitcher Oscar Judd are the only two Oscar All-Stars in history. ... According to my own research, the greatest Oscar afro ever belonged to Oscar Gamble. ... The Jukebox of Dy-no-mite on the Sirius/XM '70s channel. Pure cheese, but fun. ... Thai Elephant in Tempe.
Dislikes: Arizona not having a helmet law for motorcyclists. I don't ride a bike, but I do not exactly want to see some biker's head explode like a pumpkin on the freeway, either. I was driving the other day for a time next to a bald-headed biker, and just imagining what could happen gave me the chills.
Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I'm just a little bit caught in the middle
"Life is a maze and love is a riddle
"I don't know where to go, can't do it alone
"I've tried and I don't know why
"I'm just a little girl lost in the moment
"I'm so scared but I don't show it
"I can't figure it out, it's bringing me down
"I know I've got to let it go and just enjoy the show"
-- Lenka, The Show
Posted on: February 25, 2012 4:14 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 6:13 pm
PHOENIX -- Athletics left-hander Brett Anderson was not joking when he fired off this tweet Friday evening: "Manny just asked if I was the video coordinator ... our relationship can only go up from here."
Anderson was dead serious ... and the result was gut-bustingly funny.
Starter Dallas Braden, between belly laughs, confirmed the exchange between Anderson and Manny Ramirez on Saturday morning.
"I was in the room when Manny asked Brett if he could get him some video," Braden said. "I died laughing."
Braden thought it was so funny that he ran toward the clubhouse to tell the rest of the Athletics, taking a short cut through the trainer's room so he could break the news. But he said Anderson still beat him to it.
"It was funny," Braden said. "It was hilarious. You always wonder when you get a new teammate what the interaction will be.
"Not only is Brett Anderson a pretty decent left-handed pitcher, now he's Manny's video guy."
Anderson, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is not expected to rejoin Oakland's rotation before August, is 21-23 with a 3.66 ERA in 62 career starts.
"We left a baseball card of Brett in Manny's locker today," Braden said. "To remind him that while Brett may be queuing up video for Manny, he'll also be pitching every fifth day."
Posted on: September 21, 2011 6:04 pm
I wrote a 9/11 rembrance column on President Bush's first pitch at the World Series, and then you wrote. And you wrote. And you were so touching, I wanted to share some of your thoughts. So if you don't mind, I'm going to roll the tape here, stand aside and skip my usual replies. ...
Re.: Bush walked out alone -- with a whole country beside him
The article you wrote on President Bush's first pitch after 9/11 was phenomenal. You powerfully evoked all of the emotions I felt that night watching him tell our country and our enemy that we can handle any pressure or obstacle. Thanks for that.
FROM: Robert B.
You captured the moment. I'm a 64-year-old, life-time Red Sox fan who was proud to be an American that night ... and every day since!
FROM: Brian S.
Bush walked out alone -- awesome article, simply awesome. Nice work.
FROM: Ruth L.
FROM: Kevin F.
I loved your article about President George W. Bush's first pitch before Game 3 at Yankee Stadium. The perfect strike symbolism didn't escape me at the time and it resonates 10 years later. Thank you for reminding me what a moving and inspiring moment it was. And Jeter is one funny you-know-what.
FROM: Steve O.
I have tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat.
Based on how Obama threw the pitch at the All-Star Game (in St. Louis in 2009), let's be glad he wasn't out there trying to throw the ball.
FROM: Neal J.
As we look back, we see that Bush had one singular response to the horrific attack, to start a meaningless war and to pitch a baseball. He and his pals are laughing all the way to the bank.
FROM: Joe L.
Thanks for such a well-delivered, poignant article. It is a good brick in the wall of remembrance. Evil can take away a lot what is precious, including the lives of the innocent, but it cannot touch our freedom. Thank God for all the strong and the brave who still stand up for it.
FROM: Mark H.
It moved me to tears thinking back about that night. In some ways, I wish we could go back to that feeling where we were a true United States.
Damn right it was a strike. Thank you for this article. It reminded me how important it was to do what he did. We forget how he helped bring unity as a leader. No matter what anyone says, we had never been through a moment like that before Pearl Harbor, then 9/11. Nobody can talk about how it was to be in that position but him.
FROM: Ian M.
An absolutely awesome column. That pitch for me ranks one step higher than Kirk Gibson's HR in the 1988 World Series. A single first pitch that gave the nation a sense of strength and unity. Unbelievable!
The best article I've read on this, or any other, site. Beautifully written, Mr. Miller.
Likes: Where the Yankees stand on things was exhibited again when Derek Jeter said after the team clinched a playoff spot in the first game of a doubleheader Wednesday that there would be no celebrating. To the Yankees, it's about the AL East title -- and the World Series. ... Oakland giving manager Bob Melvin a three-year contract. He'll help the Athletics. ... Looking forward to seeing Moneyball. I'm sure I'll have some issues with it, but my I hear its very well done and the writing is snappy -- which is no surprise, with Aaron Sorkin writing the script. ... If you're on I-94 driving between Chicago and Milwaukee, pull off the freeway for lunch at the Mars Cheese Castle. Great cheese, lots of free samples, terrific deli and, hey ... bottom line is, you can tell everyone you've been to the Mars Cheese Castle. ... Both Gino's East and Giordano's deep dish pizza in Chicago. ... Bob Seger on iTunes. ... Glad to see Hawaii Five-O back for a new season. Fun show. ... Here We Rest, the disc from Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit that was released in the spring, is fantastic. You should check it out.
Dislikes: That is one ugly new logo for the Florida Marlins. ... The massive conference re-alignment/expansion scramble. All of these colleges should be ashamed of themselves, throwing traditional rivalries away like used napkins to flee for big paydays. ... Rough start for the Falcons of Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central. They're 1-2 so far, with, hopefully, a win on deck against Milan this week.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"I've been stuck here in this town, if you call it that, a year or two
"I never do what I'm supposed to do. I don't even need a name anymore,
"No one calls it out, kind of vanishes away
"No one gives a damn about the things I give a damn about
"The liberties that we can't do without seem to disappear like ghost in the air
"We don't even care, Until it vanishes away"
-- Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Alabama Pines
Posted on: August 21, 2011 7:36 pm
Late August, and if you're looking for stretch-run drama, well, you'd better go find a good book. May I recommend David Halberstam's Summer of '49? Great book chronicling an epic Red Sox-Yankees pennant race. Sigh.
There's still time for things to change, of course, but as we sit here today (unless, of course, you're standing), there is less than a four-game difference in only one of eight potential playoff races. (I'm dismissing the half-game separating the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East because both clubs have all but formally qualified for October: The Red Sox own a 7 1/2-game margin over Tampa Bay in the AL wild-card chase).
No, after Detroit's beat-down of Cleveland, the only real drama heading into this week is in the NL West, where the Giants have pulled back to within 1 1/2 games of Arizona. The Diamondbacks were and are a nice story, but not quite so much after getting swept in Atlanta.
Anyway, for all of this, I blame California.
The Not-So-Golden State right now is playing harball at a level ranging from head-shakingly bad to maddeningly sporadic and is in danger of being shut out of postseason baseball for the first time since 1999:
-- The World Series champion Giants, playing catch-up with Arizona, currently rank 29th in the majors in runs scored and seemingly have more players on the disabled list than on the active roster. Carlos Beltran, hello?
-- The Dodgers' back-to-back NLCS appearances in 2008-2009 currently are tied up in divorce/bankruptcy court.
-- The Padres' 90-win season of a year ago has turned to dust.
-- The only way the Athletics will see October is in Moneyball -- literally. The movie opens Sept. 23.
-- The Angels were nearly extinguished by Texas last week before rising from the ashes with a four-game winning streak that has moved them back to within four games of the Rangers.
Starting in 2000, the Angels have made the playoffs six times, the Athletics five, the Giants and Dodgers four each and the Padres twice.
Now? The Giants are clawing and the Angels have regained a faint pulse. Those two right now are a couple of the last hopes to goose a stretch-run that is threatening to boost football's television ratings even more.
Now, with colleague Danny Knobler hopefully somewhere with his feet up and an ice-cold lemonade nearby ... on to this week's 3 to Watch:
1. Time was, the Red Sox looked loaded and dangerous. Aw, truth be told, they still mostly look that way, but with Clay Buchholz out until mid-September, Daisuke Matsuzaka done for the season and Kevin Youkilis, J.D. Drew, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury all hurting, they're vulnerable. The pitching situation in particular is why they acquired Erik Bedard at the July 31 deadline, and it is Bedard who takes the ball in the series opener of Red Sox at Rangers, Monday night (8:05 ET) at the Ballpark in Arlington. It's an intriguing four-game series for a few reasons, not the least of which is because, if the season ended today, these two teams would face each other in the first round of the AL playoffs. One thing to watch between now and then, though: The Rangers' schedule down the stretch is more difficult than the Angels, with seven games against the Red Sox, six against Tampa Bay and three against Cleveland (the Angels have two against the White Sox and three against the Yankees, but they also get Baltimore again).
2. Speaking of tough schedules, what Manny Acta's Cleveland Indians are facing is pure torture, and the Indians did not get off to a good start in Detroit over the weekend, where Cleveland was swept. Thanks to early rainouts, the Indians are in the midst of playing 45 games in 44 days. They've got two home doubleheaders -- White Sox and Twins -- the final full week of the season. Before that, though, Seattle pulls into town on Monday, and Cleveland dives into its double-dips with Mariners at Indians, Tuesday afternoon and evening (1:05 and 7:05 ET) at Progressive Field. It doesn't get any easier with rookie second baseman Jason Kipnis (hamstring) on the disabled list and with slugger Travis Hafner nursing a right foot strain (he left Sunday's game in Detroit and the Indians will know more Monday).
3. Two teams struggling mightily to tighten a couple of AL races hook up for a quick two-game series, and by the time Chicago rookie Zach Stewart is finished facing Los Angeles' Jered Weaver in the finale of White Sox at Angels, Wednesday night (10:05 ET) at Angel Stadium, we'll have a better idea of whether Ozzie Guillen's club is in or out in the AL Central, and whether the Angels are serious players in an AL West race that right now is Texas' to lose. The White Sox took two of three from the Rangers and are five games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. Thanks to the Sox, the Angels were able to gain a couple of games back on Texas to pull to within four in the AL West. Considering that Texas pushed the Angels to six back last week and was one out away from seizing an eight-game lead on the Angels last Thursday night, Mike Scioscia's club is living large.
Tags: Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Indians, David Halberstam, David Ortiz, Erik Bedard, J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jason Kipnis, Jered Weaver, Kevin Youkilis, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Mike Scioscia, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Travis Hafner
Posted on: April 25, 2011 6:43 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 9:04 pm
Major league clubs are scoring the fewest runs per game since 1992, and the drought out west is particularly to blame.
The Angels were shut out Saturday and Sunday by Boston and take a 19-inning scoreless streak into Monday night's series opener against Oakland. No wonder Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter were among those taking early batting practice in Anaheim at 3 Monday afternoon.
The Mariners rank 12th after, in 2010, scoring the fewest runs during a season (513) of any team in the designated-hitter era (since 1972).
Over in the NL, the Padres were shut out in back-to-back games last Thursday and Friday by the Phillies and have scored the fewest runs in the league. If you want to know how feeble to Padres' sticks are, just check in with tonight's starter, Dustin Moseley: The Padres have not scored one single run during the 25 2/3 innings Moseley has been on the mound this season. He's 0-3 with a 1.40 ERA.
The Padres hitters' 186 strikeouts is the most in the majors. Already in games in 2011, the Phillies' Roy Halladay has fanned 14 Padres and the Giants' Tim Lincecum 13. Brad Hawpe has whiffed 22 times in 51 at-bats.
As for the Angels and Athletics, who are set to open a three-game series in Anaheim tonight, the Angels, having been shut out in each of their past two games, have only been blanked three times in a row once in club history. That happened in June, 1978. They've never been shut out three in a row at home.
"Right now, particularly guys we've been counting on to hit in the middle of the lineup, guys are struggling," Angels manager Mike Scioscia says. "We have a few 3 for 30s -- Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Howie Kendrick ... we've got a pretty strong grouping in the middle that has been struggling for probably the last 10 games collectively.
Dislikes: Jose Contreras to the DL. Just when he was in the process of reinventing himself yet again. What a job he's done as a closer. Though for you pitch count aficionados, there's this: Contreras was DL'd after throwing 81 pitches over a five-day span. And the Phils allowed Cole Hamels to throw 126 pitches on Friday and Roy Halladay to throw 130 on Sunday. It was, though, only against the Padres. So it wasn't like every pitch was taxing.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"To workers I'm just another drone
-- Bob Seger, Feel Like a Number
Posted on: December 9, 2010 7:23 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2010 7:25 pm
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If I hear one more plastic Christmas song over the irritating speakers here at the Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort before heading to the Mouse City Airport for the trip home, I'm going to. ...
Sorry, lost my head there for a moment.
What I meant to say was, a couple of quick parting thoughts as the Winter Meetings wrap up. ...
IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN
White Sox: In U.S. Cellular Field, the country-strong Adam Dunn might hit 75 homers (OK, so I exaggerate, but just a bit). In the returning Paul Konerko, the White Sox have their soul back. Another nicely done job by the ultra-aggressive general manager Kenny Williams, his right-hand man Rick Hahn and, yes, owner Jerry Reinsdorf in arranging the funding to bring in both Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko.
Diamondbacks: Turn new GM Kevin Towers loose for his first winter meetings in charge of the D-backs, and already Arizona's bullpen -- historically bad in 2010 -- is better. The Snakes signed J.J. Putz to close and acquired Daniel Hernandez and Kam Mickolio from the Orioles. And clearly, that's just the start.
Rays: The mass exodus has begun for the poor Rays. Left fielder Carl Crawford signed with Boston (seven years, $142 million), first baseman Carlos Pena with the Cubs (one year, $10 million), set-up man Joaquin Benoit with Detroit (three years, $16.5 million), shortstop Jason Bartlett was traded to San Diego and free agent closer Rafael Soriano is on deck to leave.
Of the eight pitchers who threw the most relief innings for manager Joe Maddon last year, seven of them are free agents. And of the total number of relief innings pitched, those seven accounted for 78 percent of those innings. Yikes.
Orioles: Not only did AL East-rival Boston become exponentially better, but the Orioles were stonewalled every which way they turned looking to acquire a first baseman (Pena, Dunn, Konerko). Then outfielder Luke Scott showed up at the winter meetings and shot his mouth off in a Yahoo Sports interview that started about his deer hunting and wound up with Scott saying he thought President Obama was born outside of the United States and that Obama "does not represent America. Nor does he represent anything what our forefathers stood for." The Orioles rushed to put out a news release distancing the club from Scott's comments. Not exactly your typical winter meetings strategy. On the other hand, the Orioles finally got a shortstop by acquiring J.J. Hardy from the Twins, and a third baseman by acquiring Mark Reynolds from the Diamondbacks.
Athletics: Reminiscent of Baltimore back in the day when then-GM Syd Thrift became so flustered at failing to land impact free agents that he said if was as he were trying to spend Confederate money. It was like that for Oakland when free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre essentially ignored a five-year, $64 million offer until the A's pulled it. Oakland also lost designated hitter Jack Cust, who signed with Seattle. The A's are desperate for offense. They likely will wind up with free agent DH Hideki Matsui, who is earnest and hard-working but can't play much anymore, or Vladimir Guerrero if he doesn’t return to Texas.
Posted on: December 8, 2010 4:27 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 4:40 pm
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Talks for free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre heated up Wednesday with several clubs scheduling meetings with Beltre's agent, Scott Boras for the afternoon and evening.
Among others, the Los Angeles Angels, quiet so far this winter, finally made a move into the Beltre conversations, according to CBSSports.com sources. The Rangers also are believed to be interested. Another AL West club, Oakland, made a significant offer last week of five years and at least $64 million according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, but pulled the offer on Sunday when Beltre didn't bite.
After reestablishing himself in Boston last season on a one-year deal, Beltre is looking for a multi-year deal with a winning club.
Beltre, a two-time Gold Glove winner, batted .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI for the Red Sox in 2010. He compiled a .365 on-base percentage and ranked fifth in the AL with a .919 OPS.
Currently, there is enough interest in Beltre that there is a chance he could sign before the conclusion of the winter meetings here on Thursday.