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The controversy surrounding the Mike Sirotka deal between Toronto and the Chicago White Sox is growing.

Sirotka, the left-hander acquired by the Blue Jays in the offseason trade, said Monday he was injured in his final start last season. A second player Toronto received in that deal reportedly has a more severe injury than previously diagnosed.

The 29-year old Sirotka -- part of the package the White Sox sent to Toronto for 20-game winner David Wells -- said the injury happened between the end of the 2000 regular season and a postseason tour of Japan.

"I told the Sox (about the shoulder pain) in early January and I went up to see the doctors," Sirotka said. "They examined me very quickly and gave me a cortisone shot. I was traded about 10 days later. It's unusual to have a cortisone shot without even being in season, but they were not concerned about it."

If that's true, the implication is the Sox may have wanted Sirotka to appear healthier than he really was so he could pass a physical immediately after a trade.

Sirotka said Sox doctors declined to take a magnetic resonance imaging test. His first MRI, given by a Toronto team doctor, found minor shoulder damage. A second one, conducted by another team doctor, discovered a torn labrum and a tear in the rotator cuff. Those injuries could sideline him in 2001. Sirotka's left shoulder was to be examined by Dr. James Andrews today in Birmingham, Ala.

"I don't know if you can blame (someone) for either not being truthful or not knowing how serious it was, but the bottom line is I was hurt before the trade," Sirotka told the Toronto Sun.

If the dire prognosis is confirmed, Blue Jays general manager Gord Ash is expected to ask commissioner Bud Selig's office for compensation or a reversal of the deal.

Making matters worse, Mike Williams, 23, a minor league pitcher who was part of the package for Wells, has a worse injury to his right shoulder injury than previously thought. The Sun reported that the White Sox have offered to replace Williams with another minor league pitcher.

Toronto acquired Sirotka, Williams, outfielder Brian Simmons and reliever Kevin Bierne from the White Sox for 20-game winner Wells and minor league pitcher Matt DeWitt on Jan. 14.

White Sox general manager Ken Williams has said the Sox will not compensate the Blue Jays because of Sirotka's injury.

Knoblauch ready to go

TAMPA, Fla. -- Chuck Knoblauch's pain couldn't be eased last year, not even by playing for his fourth World Series winner.

"I, again, had fun winning the World Series," he said Monday after working out at the Yankees' minor league complex. "For me, personally, it was sort of a semi-nightmare type of year with injuries, the questions and things like that.

"Being on the DL for the first time in 10 years, all that together, I was ready for it to be over and get away. I needed to get away."

Knoblauch injured his right elbow, battled throwing problems (he had 15 errors in the first half of the season) and had to deal with criticism from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

The four-time All-Star reported to spring training more than a month early, on Jan. 15, and already is in shape as pitchers, catchers and injured players get ready to report Wednesday.

"The big thing," Knoblauch said, "was wanting to come down here early and have a whole new positive outlook. Not hoping it's going to be a good year, but knowing it's going to be a good year, and starting out on the right foot."

Millwood, Osuna await decisions

Pitchers Kevin Millwood and Antonio Osuna took their salary cases before arbitrators Monday, while Steve Parris and Mike James agreed to contracts.

Millwood, 10-13 with a 4.66 ERA for Atlanta last season after going 18-7 in 1999, asked arbitrators Richard Bloch, Stephen Goldberg and Alan Symonette for a raise from $420,000 to $3.9 million. Atlanta countered at $3.1 million.

Osuna, 3-6 with a 3.74 ERA in 46 relief appearances for Los Angeles, asked Symonette, Jack Clarke and I.B. Helburn for a raise from $971,045 to $1.85 million. The Dodgers offered Osuna $1.3 million.

Decisions on both cases are expected today.

Parris, whose 17 losses were tied for second-most in the major leagues, got a $6.05 million, two-year contract from the Toronto Blue Jays.

James agreed just before the scheduled start of his hearing in Phoenix to a one-year contract worth $1,525,000.

Phillies' Person hogtied

TAMPA, Fla. -- Robert Person was hogtied by police, who said the enraged Philadelphia Phillies pitcher tried to kick out the windows of a cruiser after his arrest Sunday in city's nightclub district.

Person, who on Friday signed a contract for nearly $3 million, was arrested when he refused an order to walk away from a fight, police said. He was released Monday after paying $1,000 bail.

The pitcher struggled so hard that for his own safety officers bound his hands and feet with nylon cord for the trip to jail, according to police reports.

Person spent four hours in the Hillsborough County Jail. He faces misdemeanor charges of obstructing or opposing an officer without violence and giving a false name.

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