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Cards on clock for Pujols deal

Albert Pujols signed autographs for $175 a pop on Sunday at the St. Louis Cardinals' Winter Warmup. The team has until the start of spring training to get the three-time NL MVP to sign a new contract.

General Manager John Mozeliak confirmed the deadline set by Pujols, but declined Saturday to characterize negotiations. The Cardinals exercised a $16 million option for next season on Pujols' contract in October.

Both sides want to keep the negotiations private. Pujols' two-hour autograph session, which raised funds for Cardinal Care, was sold out.

"Really, we don't want to sit here and handicap or guess or kind of give any type of gut feel where this thing is headed right now," Mozeliak said. "Hopefully in the near future it's something we can talk more about, but right now I'm not prepared to."

Mozeliak also declined to discuss negotiations at a fan forum, where he requested the topic not come up, saying, "I have no idea."

Although Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt expressed confidence earlier this winter that the team could keep Pujols beyond 2011, Mozeliak said: "I don't think it's going to benefit anybody for me to weigh in at this point."

The 30-year-old Pujols led the National League with 42 homers and 118 RBIs last season. He topped 400 career homers and set a franchise record with his 39th multihomer game.

"Obviously, Albert is the face of this organization and the face of this city," pitcher Chris Carpenter said. "He's the best player in baseball. You're talking about huge dollars and huge commitments."

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>Santo to get statue

CHICAGO -- When Ron Santo died last month, his funeral procession traveled by Wrigley Field and well-wishers gathered on sidewalks to cheer the former Chicago Cubs broadcaster and third baseman one last time. Now, the cozy neighborhood ballpark will feature a more permanent reminder of one of the franchise's most beloved figures.

The Cubs announced Saturday they will unveil a Santo statue outside their longtime home before their game against the Washington Nationals on Aug. 10. Players, coaches and other uniformed personnel will wear a special patch next season to pay tribute to him.

"We join our great fans in dedicating the 2011 campaign to a man who dedicated so much of himself to us," owner Tom Ricketts said in a release.

He becomes the fourth person with a statue of his likeness outside Wrigley, joining Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Harry Caray. The location is still to be determined.

A nine-time All-Star in his 15-year career, Santo hit .277 with 342 homers and 1,331 RBIs.

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