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Arbitrator awards Sierra $5-million

A day after David Cone set a salary arbitration record, Ruben Sierra shattered it when he was awarded the largest single-season contract in baseball history.

The Texas Rangers outfielder was given a $5-million salary by arbitrator William Rentfro, who chose Sierra's figure instead of the team's $3.8-million offer.

"Arbitration is what arbitration is," Rangers president Tom Schieffer said. "It's kind of a sophisticated form of coin-flipping."

Sierra's salary tops the $4.25-million awarded to Cone, the New York Mets right-hander who also is eligible for free agency following this season. Sierra becomes the third-highest paid player in 1992 behind Mets outfielder Bobby Bonilla ($6.1-million) and New York Yankees outfielder Danny Tartabull ($5.3-million).

"We think the arbitrator's ruling was fair in light of the recent contracts awarded to players like Bobby Bonilla, Danny Tartabull and Barry Bonds," said Rick Shapiro, a lawyer who prepared the arbitration case for Sierra's side.

Meanwhile, Houston outfielder Steve Finley agreed at $1.12-million, more than triple his $300,000 salary last season. Texas first baseman Rafael Palmeiro went before arbitrator Gil Vernon on Wednesday, seeking $3.85-million instead of the Rangers' $2.35-million offer. And Cincinnati pitcher Greg Swindell went before an arbitrator asking for $3,675,000. The Reds are offering $2.5-million.

Owners lead players 10-7 in cases decided by arbitrators, with three cases remaining.

Yankees deny report

on management shuffle

TAMPA _ Reports that Daniel McCarthy was about to be pushed out as acting managing general partner of the New York Yankees were denied by officials of the team and the commissioner's office.

There was a meeting of the Yankees partners Wednesday, but officials denied a report by the Madison Square Garden Network that had Barry Halper replacing McCarthy, who has yet to be confirmed by baseball owners.

"It was a meeting of the partners about the status of the team and had nothing to do with McCarthy's status as managing general partner," Yankees spokesman Jeff Idleson said.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported in today's editions that a person with knowledge of the meeting speculated that the team may be preparing to trade for a high-priced player, possibly Texas outfielder Ruben Sierra or Pittsburgh outfielder Barry Bonds.

Around the majors

White Sox: Bo Jackson showed up early this week at the Sarasota camp to get a jump on spring training and prove he can play despite a serious hip injury.

Mets: Dwight Gooden started work early at the spring training facility in Port St. Lucie and reported no problems after throwing about three-dozen pitches. Gooden is coming back from rotator cuff surgery.

Yankees: Third baseman Charlie Hayes was traded to the Yankees by Philadelphia, completing the Jan.

8 deal that sent pitcher Darrin Chapin to the Phillies. Hayes hit .230 last season with 12 homers and 53 RBI in 460 at-bats.