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Saturday, February 5, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Baseball -- Did Gant Break His Contract, Too?

Seattle Times News Services

ATLANTA - When Ron Gant suffered a broken leg while riding a dirt bike Thursday, the star outfielder also may have broken the terms of his new $5.5 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.

Surgery lasting approximately 2 1/2 hours was needed to repair compound fractures to Gant's tibia and fibula bones in his lower right leg. Dr. Joe Chandler, the Braves' orthopedist, said Gant will need at least three months to recover from the injury. That timetable would keep Gant out of the Braves' lineup at least until May. The season opens April 3.

Chandler said Gant was too groggy and in too much pain yesterday to give any details about Thursday's accident. All that is known is that Gant was riding dirt bikes with two friends on an offroad track in Cherokee County north of Atlanta when the accident occurred.

Gant signed his one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Braves last week. Should Gant's recovery and rehabilitation period stretch longer than three months, the Braves may have the option of seeking compensation from Gant or voiding the contract. Yesterday, however, Braves assistant general manager Dean Taylor said "our primary consideration is for Ron Gant's health."

Gonzalez a `cornerstone'

ARLINGTON, Texas - The Texas Rangers met the high cost for stability, signing home-run champion Juan Gonzalez to a contract worth $45.45 million if he remains with the team for the full seven seasons and into the next century.

With the signing, the Rangers have committed up to $75.45 million this winter to keep intact for at least five years the main engines of their offense: Nos. 3 and 4 hitters Will Clark and Gonzalez.

"We wanted to do this contract so we can go to our fans and say, `This is the cornerstone of our club for a long, long time to come,"' team president Tom Schieffer said.

The first five years of Gonzalez's contract are guaranteed at a total salary of $30.7 million. The Rangers hold options for the final two seasons at a total salary of $14.75 million.

Tigers sign Gibson

DETROIT - Kirk Gibson believes he still has something to offer a baseball team. The Detroit Tigers think so, too.

The Detroit Tigers agreed to a one-year contract with veteran Kirk Gibson, 36, assuring themselves of the outfielder's fiery leadership both on and off the field. The deal was rumored to be worth $1.5 million.

Gibson will be used primarily as a designated hitter, but he also can play in the outfield if the need arises.

Notes

-- Catcher Joe Oliver won his arbitration case against Cincinnati when arbitrator Reginald Alleyne awarded him $2.5 million instead of $1.85 million.

Oliver made $1.2 million in 1993, when he hit .239 with 14 homers and 75 RBI.

-- Kansas City settled with three players, including two who had just hours to go before their arbitration hearings.

Right-hander Kevin Appier agreed at $3.8 million, a raise of $1.8 million. Outfielder Felix Jose agreed at $1.95 million, a raise of $425,000. Catcher Mike Macfarlane settled at $2.6 million, more than double his $1,175,000 salary in 1993.

-- Pitcher Omar Olivares and St. Louis agreed to $762,500, more than four times his $190,000 salary last season.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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