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Weary of waiting, Coleman goes home

Frustrated that no big-league team signed him, Vince Coleman left the Cardinals' Triple-A Memphis team and returned to his home in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Coleman, who hit .316 at Memphis after being near .400 for a while, capsulized his immediate future: "I never announced my retirement. I just took a vacation."

Coleman, 36, was invited to spring training this season. He did well but was dropped late in camp when manager Tony La Russa decided to keep Brian Hunter. Coleman then reached an agreement with GM Walt Jocketty that he would go to Memphis but that if another team wanted him, he would be free to go.

Arizona, Seattle and San Francisco looked at Coleman, but no team offered him a contract.

"What really hurt me was that I played as well as I could," he said. "I was playing great down there, and I was focused for a long period of time. Then I just got unfocused because all those teams wouldn't pull the trigger."

TRADE: The Padres acquired LHP Ben VanRyn from the Cubs for RHP Don Wengert.

BRAVES: With longtime closer Mark Wohlers sidelined at least two weeks, his role falls to a group of middle relievers that includes two refugees from independent leagues.

"I don't think there will be any more pressure on us," said Kerry Ligtenberg, who pitched in the Prairie League three years ago. "Maybe some people will make a big deal out of it, but we're going to do the same things we've always done."

Manager Bobby Cox is planning a closer-by-committee approach that likely will include Ligtenberg, Mike Cather and Alan Embree.

BREWERS: Milwaukee placed RHP Jose Mercedes on the 15-day DL with a strained rotator cuff in his pitching shoulder.

MARLINS: Chris Hammond, part of the first rotation in team history, will rejoin Florida and start Thursday against the Dodgers.

METS: New York placed C Tim Spehr on the 15-day DL with a broken bone in his left wrist. The team recalled Todd Pratt from Triple-A Norfolk. New York has approached the White Sox about a trade for 3B Robin Ventura, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Sox told the Mets they aren't interested in trading Ventura and tried to interest them in Albert Belle, the paper said. 3B Edgardo Alfonzo recently joined C Todd Hundley and LF Bernard Gilkey on the DL.

PADRES: 3B Ken Caminiti was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained left quadriceps muscle, retroactive to Saturday. The Padres purchased the contract of 1B Eddie Williams from Triple-A Las Vegas and transferred LHP Ed Vosberg from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.

PHILLIES: Philadelphia optioned RHP Garrett Stephenson to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

_ TIMES WIRES

YER OUTTA HERE! Home plate umpire Jim McKean hollers over 2B umpire Jim Joyce at White Sox manager Jerry Manuel and 1B Frank Thomas after throwing them out of Monday's game.

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