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A’s may have to ship some big names out

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DALLAS — The clock seems to be ticking in Oakland, where the Athletics are in danger of falling too far out of the wild-card hunt to enable general manager Billy Beane to keep the team together.

It is presumed that potential free agents Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Jason Isringhausen are most likely to be traded if the team is broken up, since the financially strapped club can't afford to re-sign them all.

"We definitely need to get better," Damon told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Because if we don't, a few of us are going to have to start packing our bags."

Isringhausen, an inexpensive closer, seems most likely to be dealt. A poor season could be lowering Damon's price tag back within Oakland's range. Trading Giambi, the team's best and most popular player, would be a public-relations disaster that Beane says is not a lock.

DON'T ROCK THE BOAT, BABY: Cleveland's front office wisely consulted with several minority core players before finalizing last week's trade for controversial closer John Rocker. Though relievers Steve Karsay and Steve Reed were among the Indians' most liked players, the personnel consulted gave their blessing to the deal.

"If he comes in here ready to win and ready to do his job for our team, he will be accepted," Omar Vizquel said.

ROGER THE DODGER? New York Yankees right-hander Roger Clemens ignited a mini-furor by saying he hoped his manager Joe Torre would leave him off the American League All-Star team because he would rather spend the break resting with his family in Houston.

But Clemens entered the weekend leading the AL in wins and winning percentage with his 10-1 record and was second in strikeouts and eighth in earned-run average.