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Johnson still with Diamondbacks

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

HOUSTON – Randy Johnson was one of the last players to leave the visitors clubhouse yesterday, slowly gathering his luggage before boarding a bus headed for the airport.

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ flight was destined for Denver. Where the Big Unit goes from there is anyone’s guess.

“You guys heard anything?” Diamondbacks manager Al Pedrique asked a few reporters before Arizona’s 6-4 win over Houston. “My phone hasn’t rang yet.”

As tomorrow’s trade deadline approaches, Pedrique has spent lots of time waiting for a call that he hopes never comes: the one bringing news of a trade that sends Johnson from the team with which he’s played six years and was co-MVP of its World Series win over the Yankees in 2001.

Johnson is scheduled to start against Colorado tonight. Pedrique is optimistic that his 6-foot-10 ace will still be with the team at game time.

“He’s starting (today) and batting ninth,” Pedrique said,

The five-time Cy Young Award winner has been the subject of numerous trade rumors as Arizona continues its march to the worst record in baseball.

The New York Yankees are the clear front-runners to make a deal for Johnson, but they lack the minor league prospects that Arizona is believed to want in return and may have to find a third team to make it work. Anaheim, Boston and Los Angeles are other possible candidates.

Ex-Dorado out for year

CLEVELAND – Indians left-hander Jason Stanford had Tommy John surgery yesterday to rebuild the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow.

The Canyon del Oro High School grad will miss the rest of this season and could also miss all of next season.

Stanford made two starts this season for the Indians, going 0-1 before he went on the disabled list April 20.

Stanford, who made the Indians’ starting rotation in spring training, has been sidelined since April. He was supposed to make a minor league rehab appearance July 23, but he had it scrapped when he experienced pain after throwing a simulated game earlier last week.

Stanford will be the third young Indians’ pitcher to undergo ligament replacement surgery in 11 months, following left-handers Billy Traber and Brian Tallet.

Wrigley decision due today

CHICAGO – City officials said yesterday they needed more information from the Chicago Cubs before deciding whether it’s safe to play a game at Wrigley Field today.

Yesterday, workers at the stadium continued putting up netting to protect fans from falling chunks of concrete.

Chicago buildings commissioner Stan Kaderbek said in a statement that he had met with team officials and asked for clarification on a safety inspection report the Cubs submitted to the city.

“If the items needing clarifications have been addressed, and we anticipate they will be, we will concur that it’s safe to play at Wrigley Field,” Kaderbek said.

The Cubs are scheduled to host the Philadelphia Phillies this afternoon.

The city can prevent the game at the 90-year-old ballpark if the netting isn’t fully installed or if the city concludes the netting doesn’t adequately protect fans.

There have been three reports of falling concrete at the stadium since June. No injuries have been reported.

A-Rod, others suspended

NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez and Jason Varitek were suspended for four games each and fined $2,000 for their roles in a bench-clearing brawl between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox last weekend.

Bob Watson, major league baseball’s vice president of on-field operations, punished six other players for the fight. They include Yankees pitcher Tanyon Sturtze and Red Sox outfielders Gabe Kapler and Trot Nixon, who were suspended for three games and fined $1,000.

Yankees outfielder and ex-Arizona Wildcat Kenny Lofton, Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz were fined $500 each.

Rodriguez, the Yankees’ All-Star third baseman, and Sturtze are appealing their suspensions. Varitek, Kapler and Nixon also plan to appeal, Red Sox spokesman Glenn Geffner said.

“I thought it was too much, four games,” Rodriguez said last night. “I was surprised it was that harsh.”

PHOTO CAPTION: The Associated Press

Arizona pitcher Randy Johnson watches the game against the Astros. As baseball’s trade deadline closes in this week, the struggling D’backs could unload their star pitcher.

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