With Tim Raines, the Chicago White Sox think they have armed themselves with the player who could take them to the playoffs.
"Every club that has made it to the World Series in recent years has a solid leadoff man who helped get them there - Barry Larkin, Rickey Henderson, Steve Sax," White Sox general manager Ron Schueler said."They all had a leadoff player who could get on base, steal a base and get something started."
Seven-time All-Star Tim Raines was traded from the Montreal Expos to the White Sox for outfielder Ivan Calderon and pitcher Barry Jones.
The White Sox, who finished second in the AL West, nine games behind Oite Sox, said Chicago really hasn't had that type of player since Rudy Law left in 1985. Law stole a team-record 77 bases for the division championship team of 1983.
Raines, 31, had lost his leadoff position and wanted out of Montreal, where he played for 10 years. He had a career average of .301 for the Expos and averaged 63 steals a season.
"I've always taken pride in being a leadoff man," Raines said Monday from his Florida home. "Now I get my opportunity to get back."
Raines and the White Sox agreed to a $10.5 million, three-year contract, making him the 28th $3 million-a-year player. The average annual value of $3.5 million ties him with Oakland pitcher Dave Stewart for eighth place on baseball's salary list.
Expos general manager David Dombrowski said that shifting Raines to third in the order last year didn't work out. Raines hit .287 in 1990 with nine home runs and 62 RBIs as Montreal finished third in the NL East, 10 games behind Pittsburgh.
"Tim is a quality leadoff batter, but his spot is not in the middle of the order," Dombrowski said.
Dombrowski said Raines' history of injuries was a factor, especially hamstring problems that have cut his speed. Another factor was that Montreal plays on artificial turf and Chicago plays on grass.
"Here's a guy who makes a living stealing bases," Dombrowski said. "I don't think he's lost his legs by any means, but obviously he will have more of a chance to stay healthy on a grass surface than on artificial turf."
White Sox manager Jeff Torborg said he was looking forward to writing in Raines' name at the top of his lineup card.
"He is a catalyst who can do a lot of things for us," he said.
Calderon couldn't immediately be contacted. He was visiting friends on Christmas Eve in his native Puerto Rico.
"I think he'll be happy to play in Montreal," Calderon's agent, Jaime Torres, said. "He was happy in Chicago. But this is a business, and Chicago is known for not paying well."
Calderon hit .273 with 14 homers and 74 RBIs last season. In 1987, he emerged as a top power hitter with 28 home runs and 83 RBIs.
Calderon's contract could be a concern for the Expos. He was paid $925,000 in 1990 as an arbitration loser, and is eligible for free agency after the 1991 season. Torres wants a long-term contract, but Dombrowski doesn't.
"If we do end up losing him, I feel we still have obtained a quality setup guy," Dombrowski said.