Braves Furious After Furcal Signs With L.A.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, "John Schuerholz, the Braves' president and former general manager called the dealings of Furcal's agents "despicable" and "disgusting" and said the franchise would no longer entertain signing players represented by them -- ever.

"Having been in this business for 40-some years, I've never seen anybody treated like that," Schuerholz told the Journal. "The Atlanta Braves will no longer do business with that company -- ever. I told [agent] Arn Tellem that we can't trust them to be honest and forthright. I told him that in all my years, I've never seen any [agency] act in such a despicable manner.

"It was disgusting and unprofessional. We're a proud organization, and we won't allow ourselves to be treated that way. I advised Arn Tellem that whatever players he represents, just scratch us off the list. Take the name of the Atlanta Braves off their speed dial. They can deal with the other 29 clubs, and we'll deal with the other hundred agents."

Tellem, the lead agent in the Wasserman Media Group, released a seven-point e-mail statement, saying in part: "Losing out on an all-star player like Furcal is always disappointing, and we understand the Braves' frustration with the outcome of this negotiation, but it does not change in any way the fact that we conducted ourselves with integrity and complied with all rules of Major League Baseball throughout this process."

However, Rafael Furcal was in the Dominican Republic last week, completely unaware of the controversy surrounding his dealings with the Atlanta Braves and his eventual re-signing with the Dodgers, which was finalized after he passed a physical.

"I was at my mother's house, and my agent couldn't reach me," Furcal said. "My family's phone wasn't working, and he was trying to reach me. I know late one night, I saw on the news that Rafael Furcal had agreed with Atlanta. I didn't know about that."

The Dodgers didn't know about it, either, and they kept right on negotiating with agents Paul Kinzer and Arn Tellem until the sides had agreed on a three-year, $30 million contract with a vesting, $12 million club option for 2012.

Furcal said, "I didn't do anything wrong because I wasn't in that conversation (with the Braves). I was just waiting for a call, and when my agent told me to get on a flight (to Los Angeles), that is what I did. I don't know what happened (in Atlanta)."

Because of Furcal's desire to stay with the Dodgers, his agents had told Dodgers officials from the beginning that they would be given a chance to match whatever offers the veteran shortstop received from other clubs.

In the end, that was just what happened. The offer the Braves believed Furcal would accept was almost identical to the one he did accept from the Dodgers - three years, $30 million, with a vesting option for 2012 - although it was structured somewhat differently.

Tellem released a written statement in which he said there was never an agreement between Furcal and the Braves, a fact Furcal clearly confirmed. It also said, among other things, that the Braves' desire to move Furcal to second base so Yunel Escobar could remain at shortstop was among the deciding factors, although Furcal seemed to deny that.

"For me, it would have been no problem," he said. "I have nine years in the big leagues playing shortstop, and moving to second base would have been a little tough. But if I have to do it for the team to win, I have to do it."

But now he Dodgers' infield is set with James Loney at first base, Blake DeWitt at second, Casey Blake at third and Furcal at short. All four players are under the club's control through at least 2011.

Meanwhile, because Furcal missed 125 games this season with a back injury that initially was thought to be minor and ended up requiring surgery, his contract contains an unusual clause requiring him to adhere to a core-strength training regimen prescribed by Dr. Robert Watkins, the back specialist who performed Furcal's surgery on July 3 and advised Colletti on Furcal's physical soundness early in the negotating process.

"It's not an exact science, but we talked it through, and he explained where he thought Raffy was," Colletti said. "It really came down to keeping his core strong and continue to exercise as he did from the time he was able to rehab from his surgery on. If he does that, his likelihood of having something happen is the same as (that of) somebody who never had anything happen."

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