Alomar Says Indians 'Lied' To Him ... Colon Looks Overpowering

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) - Finally over the shock of being traded, Roberto Alomar decided it was his turn to surprise the Cleveland Indians.

Alomar, sent to the New York Mets in an eight-player trade last December, said Wednesday that the Indians weren't up front with him before making the deal.

"They lied to me, it is as simple as that," Alomar said. "If you are a man, you should tell a man the truth to his face."

Alomar's comments came before he faced the Indians for the first time since being traded, in Wednesday's exhibition game at Chain of Lakes Park.

Alomar said he met with Indians general manager Mark Shapiro in October shortly after Cleveland was eliminated in five games by Seattle in the AL playoffs.

Shapiro told Alomar that the Indians' roster would be undergoing some major changes, and asked the 12-time All-Star about his desire to be part of the rebuilding.

"He asked if I would be happy with younger players," Alomar said. "I said yes. I knew it was going to be a young and talented team and wanted to be part of it. In the end it didn't matter."

Shapiro, who replaced John Hart as Cleveland's GM at the end of last season, said he never deceived Alomar.

"I'm sorry Robbie is hurt and feels betrayed, but you can't go back and change history," Shapiro said. "I clearly stated to him that I could not guarantee anything. People who guarantee anything in this game set themselves up to be a liar."

Shapiro said owner Larry Dolan's desire to cut payroll and the Mets' offer were key factors in completing the deal that sent Alomar and two minor leaguers to New York for outfielder Matt Lawton, reliever Jarrod Riggan and minor leaguers Alex Escobar, Billy Traber and Earl Snyder.

On Monday, Escobar tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee when he crashed into a fence making a catch at Bradenton. Escobar will have reconstructive surgery and miss the entire season.

"We would not have made the trade without getting Escobar," Shapiro said. "And if we were not cutting payroll or at least not raising it, we would not have made the trade, either."

Shapiro said he would welcome the chance to talk with Alomar.

"I called him once, but he gets a lot of calls from a lot of people and I have not talked to him," Shapiro said. "I called him when the trade was made. I wanted to tell him, instead of him hearing it from the media.

"He said he was shocked, but spoke positively. He said he enjoyed playing in Cleveland and would miss it. I have not spoken with him since."

Alomar said it did not take long for him to accept being sent to a new team.

"As soon as you put the new uniform on, that's it," he said. "I'm happy to be a Met. I had a lot of fun in Cleveland. For three years, I gave everything I had and that's why I feel good about it. The only thing I am disappointed about the way I was told."

Alomar exchanged warm greetings with several Indians and waved to fans in the stands when he emerged from the Mets' clubhouse.

"Hey there, Robo. Great to see you. How are you?" said Cleveland first baseman Jim Thome, who was the first Indians player to meet Alomar. The two hugged and chatted for a moment -- a scene that was repeated with other Indians later during pregame warmups.

At the time, Shapiro was at another field, watching Cleveland play Kansas City in a "B" game.

"I only have good things to say about Roberto Alomar," Shapiro said. "He's one of the greatest to play the game. It is an honor to still watch him play and it will be an honor to watch him go into the Hall of Fame."


WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) - Bartolo Colon pitched four overpowering innings to help the Cleveland Indians defeat the New York Mets 4-3 Wednesday.

The game marked the first time Roberto Alomar played against Cleveland since being traded to the Mets.

Alomar, the key player in an eight-player deal Dec. 11, received a warm welcome from Indians players and fans. He went 0-for-2 and was replaced after four innings.

"It was good to see Robbie," Indians first baseman Jim Thome said. "Sure, I miss him, but that is a part of baseball.

"Any team is better with a Roberto Alomar, but I think people are overreacting if they count us out. There's still a lot of real good players here, and our pitching looks to be a lot better."

Colon struck out three and allowed only a two-out single to No. 9 hitter Vance Wilson in the third.

"Colon looked real good," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said. "All the pitching is getting better, but that's what we preached all winter."

Seven consecutive Cleveland batters reached base against Pedro Astacio in a four-run third. Right fielder Jeromy Burnitz made an error, allowing one run to score, Matt Lawton walked with the bases loaded and Ellis Burks hit a two-run single.

Astacio gave up four runs and four hits in 2 1-3 innings. Five relievers combined to allow just three hits in 5 2-3 scoreless innings.

"I thought those guys threw well," Mets manager Bobby Valentine said. "Pete Walker always throws the ball with purpose. I liked him last year, and he hasn't showed anything for me to change my opinion this spring."

Walker pitched a hitless ninth, striking out one.

The Mets scored twice off Mark Wohlers. Timo Perez had an RBI single in the sixth inning and another run scored on a wild pitch by Wohlers in the seventh.

Rookie catcher Justin Huber hit a two-out homer off Paul Shuey in the ninth for the Mets.

"Shuey threw real well until that kid bumped into one," Manuel said. "I think it surprised him because he almost tripped over first base. Of course, if I had hit one that good, I would have probably done the same thing."

Notes: RHP Omar Olivares worked three scoreless innings for Cleveland in a 2-1 win over Kansas City in a morning 'B' game. OF Bruce Aven, who missed some time with sore back last week, went 3-for-5 with an RBI for the Indians. ... Mets INF Jorge Toca visited ex-teammate Alex Escobar, who sustained a season-ending knee injury Monday. "Alex was excited by his opportunity with Cleveland," Toca said. "I feel terrible about his injury. Alex said not to worry." ... Manuel said INF Mike Lansing will miss another 4-to-5 days with a sore back. Lansing has yet to appear in a spring game.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)