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Major League notebook

Associated Press
The baseball notebook …
SAN FRANCISCO ó Randy Johnson is still weighing his decision about whether to pitch again in 2010 or retire after 22 major league seasons.
Agent Alan Nero, speaking from the winter meetings in Indianapolis, said he expects to know in the coming weeks whether the 46-year-old Johnson will return for another year.
“It depends whether he still has the fire and whether he wants to compete and how he feels,” Nero said in a phone interview. “He’s enjoying his family. In the past he was always so motivated to get back out there. Now, it gets to a point he’s going to make some decisions, and I can’t speak for him.”
On June 4 at Washington, Johnson became the 24th pitcher in major league history to win 300 games, doing so in his first season for the San Francisco Giants.
But the five-time Cy Young Award winner later missed more than two months with a strained left shoulder that also had a tear in the rotator cuff. He returned in late September as a reliever.
BRAVES
ATLANTA ó The Atlanta Braves’ surplus of late-inning relievers forced the team to part ways with outfielder Ryan Church on Tuesday.
Church was designated for assignment by the Braves to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for reliever Rafael Soriano, who made a surprise decision a day earlier to accept salary arbitration.
The Braves last week signed closer Billy Wagner and setup man Takashi Saito. The expectation was Soriano and Mike Gonzalez would decline salary arbitration offers and become free agents.
Instead, Soriano is still with the Braves. The right-hander can’t be traded before June 16 without his consent.
The team added about $10 million in payroll with Wagner and Saito, and Soriano could gain a raise from $6.1 million to more than $7 million.
PENNY’S DEAL
INDIANAPOLIS ó The St. Louis Cardinals have completed their deal for free-agent pitcher Brad Penny.
Penny joined the NL Central champions Tuesday after passing a physical. His one-year contract is for $7.5 million, with about $1.5 million more available in performance bonuses.
Penny went a combined 11-9 with a 4.88 ERA in 30 starts for Boston and San Francisco last season.
SABATHIA AWARD
OKLAHOMA CITY ó New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia will be presented the Warren Spahn Award at a gala Jan. 26 in Oklahoma City.
Sabathia was chosen as the recipient of the award, given annually to baseball’s top left-handed pitcher, after winning a tiebreaker with Wandy Rodriguez of the Houston Astros.
LARUSSA-MCGWIRE
INDIANAPOLIS ó Tony La Russa is confident Mark McGwire will do fine as the Cardinals’ hitting coach. Among the reasons the St. Louis manager is certain: Big Mac has already started his new job.
“I think it’s going to work,” La Russa asserted Tuesday at the baseball winter meetings.
A day earlier, former Cardinals manager and newly elected Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog said he thought McGwire might change his mind and back out. Herzog wondered whether McGwire would want to deal with questions about steroids.
“I know how seriously he considered it,” La Russa said. “I think he has demonstrated to some of us that he has a lot to offer as a hitting coach.”
La Russa said he’s spoken regularly to McGwire and gets no sense the former slugger is having second thoughts. McGwire has been talking to St. Louis hitters.
“I know the conversations I’ve had with him,” La Russa said. “We’ll be lucky to have him.”
GAMMONS
BRISTOL, Conn. ó Peter Gammons is leaving ESPN after the winter meetings to join MLB Network.
Gammons’ departure from ESPN was announced Tuesday and MLB Network could announce his hiring as early as today.

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