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Alex Rodriguez, who began the season batting ninth for Seattle and became the top hitter in the majors at age 21, was voted The Associated Press major league player of the year today.

Rodriguez hit .358 with 36 home runs and 123 RBIs in his first full year in the big leagues. He set modern-day marks for shortstops in hits (215), extra-base hits (91) and runs scored (141).

"It was a very humbling year," he said. "All they asked me to do was hit .240, hit 10 home runs and drive in 40. But I still need to improve."

On Wednesday, Tony La Russa, who brought his intense style to a new league and led the St. Louis Cardinals to the NL Central championship, won the Associated Press manager of the year.

Rogers needs surgery

NEW YORK -- Pitiful playoff pitching performances suggested an injury was plaguing New York Yankee left-hander Kenny Rogers. Make that injuries.

In addition to an already-diagnosed partial muscle tear in his left shoulder, further examinations found a bone spur in his left elbow. Surgery is needed to correct both problems, but no date has been set for the procedures.

Owners to meet Wednesday

NEW YORK -- Ending nearly a week of uncertainty, baseball owners scheduled a meeting next Wednesday in the Chicago area to consider the proposed labor deal.

Management negotiator Randy Levine and union head Donald Fehr completed the five-year agreement last Thursday, and players already have given the union's executive board authority to ratify the contract. It must be approved by at least 21 of the 28 teams.

Around the big leagues

The Philadelphia Phillies named Terry Francona their new manager to replace Jim Fregosi.

Sparky Anderson is among the top candidates to manage the Angels.

Left-handed reliever Scott Radinsky, 28, signed a two-year, $1.8 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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