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Zeile Signs to Play in L.A.
2003-08-21 08:35
by Jon Weisman

LOS ANGELES - Major League Baseball, owner of the Montreal Expos, signed veteran third baseman Todd Zeile to a contract for the remainder of the season.

It was erroneously thought that Zeile, who went 1 for 3 with a walk in his debut with his new organization Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, would spend the rest of 2003 with the Expos. However, baseball announced that the UCLA graduate had instead been signed to play for visiting teams at Dodger Stadium.

Zeile will suit up for Montreal in today's afternoon game against the Dodgers. Then, while the Expos head down to San Diego, Zeile will stay in his hometown and put on the uniform of the New York Mets for a three-game weekend series at Chavez Ravine.

"It's nice not to have to travel at this point in my career," said Zeile, who will turn 38 on Sept. 9. "And I think that with my veteran presence, I can really make a difference with this team. And that one. And the one after that."

The itinerant Zeile, who has homered for a record 10 major-league teams, added that most of the teams he plays for will have his uniform measurements already, easing the series-to-series transition.

MLB commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig likened the arrangement to that of a university inviting a visting professor to its campus for a pre-determined period. Selig noted that Zeile, who is batting .212 with six home runs this season, could serve as a goodwill ambassador for the game.

"In fact, Zeile has already picked up 'Goodwill' as his new nickname," Selig said.

Selig added that he had tried to sign Zeile last week, in time to have him play guitar with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at their Dodger Stadium concert Sunday, but that Zeile did not arrange to have his physical in time.

Zeile is familiar with Dodger Stadium, having first come home to Los Angeles in 1997 before leaving a year later in the Mike Piazza-Gary Sheffield trade, and will have more time to reacquaint with the ballpark next week. While the Dodgers make an unusually brief three-game road trip to Houston, Zeile will say in Los Angeles for informal workouts. His next game after the Mets series will be with Colorado beginning Aug. 29.

Dodger manager Jim Tracy acknowledged the challenge of facing the same player over and over again.

"Yeah, Todd Zeile," Tracy said. "How about that?"

Dodger executives have already planned seven Todd Zeile bobblehead nights - one for each opposing uniform he will wear.

Zeile's wife, Julianne McNamara (the 1984 Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics) is happy to have her hubby home.

"It had gotten to the point where he had played in so many different cities, I never knew what channel to put on to find his games," McNamara said. "Now, I'll know not to bother watching unless I hear Vin Scully's voice."

Ain't that the truth.

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