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Four area players sign baseball deals

Four area players agreed to major league baseball contracts during the weekend. Mark Gipner, who played for Dunedin High and was selected in the fourth round by the New York Yankees in the amateur baseball draft last week, will report to the Yankees' Gulf Coast (Rookie) League team in Tampa on Wednesday.

Gipner said he signed for about $60,000, and that staying close to home was a consideration.

"It worked out real well for me," said Gipner, a Times' all-county first-team selection as a catcher.

Gipner, who had a baseball scholarship at St. Petersburg Junior College, was surprised by his selection in the fourth round and wasn't worried about the money.

"The Yankees have been more than fair with me," Gipner said.

Brian Williard of Dixie Hollins said he had signed a baseball contract with the California Angels; he expected the deal would be finished Monday night.

Williard, who was drafted in the sixth round last week, agreed to $40,800 as a signing bonus and will report to the Angels' rookie club in Mesa, Ariz. Williard said he expected to leave for Arizona either late Monday or early today.

"Personally, I think I was worth more than $40,000," Williard said. "But I guess it was fair to good money considering the round I was drafted in. Now, I just have to get my mind right and go do what I do best."

Dennis Slininger of Largo High also said Monday that he was planning to sign with St. Louis today or Wednesday. Slininger was drafted in the ninth round last week.

"I'm ready to sign and I'm looking forward to playing ball," Slininger said.

Eckerd pitcher Jim Mecir signed last Friday with the Seattle Mariners and reported to the Mariners' rookie team in Tempe, Ariz.

Trevor Mallory of Lakewood, the highest area pick in the draft, said he expects to sign today.

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