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Twins stadium plan gets House approval

The Minnesota House approved a stadium plan Monday that could influence whether the Twins survive beyond this season.

After a winter in which owners tried to eliminate the Twins, the Legislature is poised to help with a new ballpark, which team officials say is necessary to compete financially with other clubs.

"While a new ballpark is not the only solution, it is clear there are communities that need new fields of dreams if they want a reasonable chance at success," said Rep. Harry Mares, the bill's sponsor. "The Minnesota Twins are one of those teams."

The 80-52 vote was a significant step because the House has long been considered the biggest hurdle at the Capitol. The Senate passed a stadium bill two weeks ago, and the chambers now will try to work out a compromise.

The stadium issue has confounded legislators for six years, but the tide has turned this year, partly because of the threat that the team will be folded and partly because of plans that rely less on direct public assistance.

"Eighty votes is astounding," Twins president Jerry Bell said. "But we can't lose sight that there are several more steps to be taken."

Opponents of public aid for a new stadium, outnumbered for the first time, were deflated.

"All we're doing is reinforcing that extortion works," Rep. Mike Osskopp said.

ANGELS: Former Rays right-hander Mickey Callaway was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake.

A'S: Oakland is ready to start the season without Jermaine Dye, who has yet to recover from a broken left leg sustained in the fourth game of the AL division series. The outfielder is making slow progress and hasn't been able to run hard.

MARINERS: Catcher Ben Davis has a pulled oblique muscle in his right side, but the team has no intention of putting him on the disabled list. A switch-hitter, Davis can only hit from the right side.

RANGERS: Right-handed closer Jeff Zimmerman is expected to start the season on the disabled list after tests confirmed he has tendinitis in his pitching elbow. Left-hander John Rocker is likely to be the closer for the season opener Monday at Oakland. Left-handed reliever Rich Rodriguez was acquired from the Braves for a player to be named.

RED SOX: Right-hander John Burkett, signed this winter to shore up a staff that was shaky beyond ace Pedro Martinez, will miss his next start because of soreness in his pitching shoulder.

ROYALS: Denny Matthews will sit out three or four road trips, continuing the gradual withdrawal of the popular radio play-by-play broadcaster who called the team's first game in 1969.

_ TIMES WIRES

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