The Florida Marlins have met with Las Vegas officials about a possible move, saying negotiations for a new ballpark in Miami have lasted longer than the team anticipated. Bruce Rubin, a spokesman...

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MIAMI — The Florida Marlins have met with Las Vegas officials about a possible move, saying negotiations for a new ballpark in Miami have lasted longer than the team anticipated.

Bruce Rubin, a spokesman for Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, said Marlins officials met with Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman and others for about 90 minutes Wednesday.

“These were social discussions, a get-to-know-each-other meeting,” Rubin said. “Simply, Vegas wants a baseball team and the Marlins are a baseball team. It was decided that the two sides should get together.”

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He said the Marlins are negotiating with Miami city and Miami-Dade County officials over a proposal to build a 38,000-seat, retractable-roof ballpark next to the Orange Bowl. The Marlins currently play in Pro Player Stadium, which was built for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

Miami mayor Manny Diaz said the Marlins actions were “in very poor taste” and a breach of trust because the city had been negotiating in good faith.

“Shocked, disturbed, disappointed, disgusted,” Diaz said when asked for his reaction.

The Marlins say South Florida’s wet and hot summers hurt attendance and that they need a covered stadium to be financially viable. The Marlins have offered to pay $192 million of the projected $420 million cost, with the government paying the rest. One of the holdups is over who would be responsible for overruns.

Despite winning the World Series in 1997 and 2003, the Marlins’ attendance is still among the lowest in the major leagues.


Berra wouldn’t take Giambi back


WOOD-RIDGE, N.J. — While manager Joe Torre repeatedly dodged questions on whether he thinks Jason Giambi will return to the New York Yankees, Hall of Famer Yogi Berra readily voiced his opinion.

“I don’t think so,” Berra said when asked whether he would permit Giambi to play for the Yankees next year.

Berra said steroids are dangerous both for players and the fans who look up to them.

“They could die from that stuff,” he said.

According to a report last week, Giambi told a federal grand jury in December 2003 that he had used steroids. The Yankees have been researching whether they can void the contract of the first baseman, who has been hobbled by injuries the past two seasons and is owed $82 million over the deal’s final four years.

Speaking at a news conference to announce a new minor-league ballpark, Torre repeatedly was asked about Giambi, the 2000 AL MVP with Oakland.

“As far as where he’s going to be playing, I don’t want to comment on it,” Torre said. “You never know what’s going to happen. I wish Jason well whatever happens.”

Notes

• The District of Columbia has reopened talks with Major League Baseball on the proposed $531 million ballpark agreement for the Expos, and a council official predicted the plan could gain addition votes toward approval if the city saves money in a revised contract.

Neil Allen was hired as the Yankees’ bullpen coach. Allen spent the past two seasons as the pitching coach at Class AAA Columbus. He is considered one of the top candidates to replace current Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre when he retires after the 2005 season.

• Pitcher Roger Clemens is leaning toward retirement. Fortunately for the Houston Astros, he’s still making up his mind. “If I had to decide today, I’d say I’m not playing,” Clemens said. “But I’m not saying that. My wife and family want me to wait until after I take a vacation before I make a decision.”

• Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz will not play this winter with the Escogido Lions in his native Dominican Republic because of a nagging injury in his right shoulder.