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Deep in the heart of Texas: Karsay a Ranger

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He is being groomed to help the Rangers' damaged bullpen. The 12-year veteran appeared in only six games with the Yankees, posting a 6.00 ERA, but the Rangers, decimated by injuries to pitchers Frank Francisco and Carlos Almanzar, thought highly enough of Karsay, a middle reliever to sign him. The Cubs, Cardinals, Giants and Rangers reportedly all took hard looks at Karsay before the Rangers picked him up Sunday. Karsay joined the Rangers in Chicago on Monday and is expected to be sent down to Double-A ball for some seasoning, according to MLB.com. As is their custom, the Yankees will eat a lot of money on the Karsay deal. He was signed to a $5 million salary through 2005 and his contract included a $6.5 million option for 2006 with a $1.25 million buyout, according to SI.com. Texas is paying him the league minimum.The 33-year-old Karsay appeared in just seven games for the Yankees in 2004 after missing the entire 2003 season because of right-shoulder surgery. The Yankees signed him as a free agent to a four-year contract with a club option for a fifth year on Dec. 7, 2001. His best year for the Yankees came in 2002 when he went 6-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 78 appearances, but the injury to his shoulder hindered his productivity.For his career, Karsay, a well-traveled player, was 31-38 with a 3.89 ERA and 41 saves in 10 seasons with the Oakland A's (1993-94, 1997), Cleveland Indians (1998-2001), Atlanta Braves (2001) and the Yankees (2002-05).There had been talk when Karsay was first released that he might join the Mets this season.Rich Aurilia, a former shortstop from St. John's, didn't make the trip to Shea with his Cincinnati Reds Monday. Aurilia strained his left hamstring running out a ground ball in a game against San Diego on May 10 and was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 11. Aurilia, a 10-year veteran of the major leagues, graduated from Xaverian HS in Brooklyn in 1989 and was an All-Big East selection at St. John's in 1992. John Franco, another former St. John's alum, is 0-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 games this year with the Houston Astros. Franco, who was inducted into the St. John's University Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, ranks second on the all-time saves list with 424 career saves, behind Lee Smith's 478. Franco holds the Major League record for saves by a left-hander. Former Cardozo star Pete Munro is currently pitching for the Columbus Clippers, the Yankees AAA minor league affiliate. Munro is 3-3 with a 4.27 ERA in eight games this season after a career that began in 1999 with Toronto and later Houston.Queens product Jim Mecir is pitching for the Florida Marlins and is 1-0 with an ERA of 6.08 in 16 games this year. Mecir was born with one club foot and had two operations before he was 10 that left his right leg an inch shorter than his left. In 2003, he received the Tony Conigliaro Award for a Major League player who has overcome adversity. The award was named after the former Red Sox player who nearly lost his sight when he was beamed with a pitch. C.J. Nitkowski, the last St. John's player selected in the first round, is tearing it up with the Indianapolis Indians, the Pittsburgh Pirates AAA affiliate. Nitkowski, who spent much of last season as a situational reliever with the Yankees, is 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA with two saves in 16 appearances in Indianapolis.Nitkowski was signed to a minor league contract by the Pirates on April 22.Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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