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Blue Jays Beware: Trade Upheld

The Toronto Blue Jays are stuck with Mike Sirotka's bad left shoulder.

In a 14-page decision, commissioner Bud Selig ruled Wednesday the six-player trade that sent David Wells to the Chicago White Sox for Sirotka will stand.

With Sirotka injured and unable to pitch for the foreseeable future, the Blue Jays asked that the deal be reworked or possibly even rescinded.

Instead of awarding compensation, Selig bluntly told the Blue Jays "buyer beware." As in, they should've fully checked out Sirotka before making the trade Jan. 14.

"After careful consideration of all the information before me, I uphold the transaction and deny the Toronto club's claim for relief," Selig said.

"Although there is a dispute about whether certain facts about Sirotka's condition were disclosed before the clubs agreed to the trade, the Toronto club talked directly to Sirotka about his health on the day of the trade and believed it had the opportunity to make the trade conditional," Selig said. "The Blue Jays never elected to do so."

Blue Jays president Paul Godfrey said he was "quite disappointed" by the ruling, but added there would no appeal or legal action.

Toronto general manager Gord Ash did not mention rookie White Sox GM Ken Williams by name, then said, "to me, the most important element is trust and the code of honor."

As for future deals, Ash said, "I can no longer accept anybody's word."

Said Williams: "Obviously, I'm pleased with the outcome."

"When I was engaged in conversations prior to the trade, I never imagined we'd be at point we are today," he said at the team's spring training camp in Tucson, Ariz.

The White Sox sent Sirotka, pitchers Kevin Beirne and Mike Williams and outfielder Brian Simmons to Toronto for 20-game winner Wells and pitcher Matt DeWitt.

Sirotka, 29, passed one Toronto physical, but a second test showed a possible torn labrum. Dr. James Andrews said the pitcher has a partial tear of the rotator cuff and a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Sirotka, 15-10 last season, worked out at Toronto's camp in Dunedin on Wednesday. He will be examined again Thursday, and it's uncertain whether he will pitch this season.

"The most important part to me is this: Was Mike Sirotka injured on the Blue Jays' watch or was hinjured on the White Sox's watch?" Godfrey said. "I don't think anyone disputes that."

The White Sox insisted they told Toronto everything they knew about Sirotka's shoulder before making the trade.

"We did provide them with full disclosure, and there was nothing left to provide them, in our opinion," Williams said.

Added White Sox manager Jerry Manuel: "I feel very comfortable that we did the right thing."

Toronto manager Buck Martinez, in Fort Myers for a night game against Minnesota, was not happy.

"We thought we were going to get a healthy player and then thought we're going to get some sort of compensation," he said. "We're looking at a long time before he's able to pitch."

Williams, the minor league pitcher in the deal, also has a shoulder injury. Before the commissioner's office got involved, the White Sox offered to compensate Toronto for that part of the trade.

"It's unfortunate because it looks like he's going to miss the entire season and probably looking at surgery," Martinez said.

Selig's ruling basically said the Blue Jays were responsible for checking out the health of the players it wanted to acquire. He used the Latin phrase for "buyer beware."

"The 'caveat emptor' rule, as developed in baseball, to which exceptions are exceedingly rare, is meant to decrease the potential for disputes by placing the burden on the acquiring club to seek the medical information it feels it needs," he said.

"It is my wish and expectation that disputes such as this will be rare," he said, "and that clubs will continue to deal with each other in trade matters in a forthright and professional manner."

©2001 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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