Colangelo fires back at Walker for comments D-Backs consider action, warn agent about 'slander'

By Don Ketchum

The Arizona Republic

Nov. 27, 2002

The Matt Williams-Larry Walker trade has been doused, but there still are a few red embers glowing in the eyes of Diamondbacks managing general partner Jerry Colangelo.

Colangelo is steamed at Walker's agent, Pat Rooney, to the point where Colangelo is considering legal action.

"The Diamondbacks, and myself personally, have a real problem with what was stated as it pertains to our financial situation and our ability or inability to pay," Colangelo said. "This has no basis but impacts our credibility . . . it could be considered slander.

"His agent has been put on notice. We are more than displeased, and we are considering taking (legal) action."

Walker balked at the Diamondbacks' request to defer approximately $6 million of his $12.5 million salary in each of the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Walker said the decision was based on information from his agent that the Diamondbacks would have difficulty following through on the deferred payments because the team also will make deferred payments to other players.

"The research we did on the Diamondbacks in talking with many people is, they're not doing well financially," Walker told the Rocky Mountain News.

"Yes, they just won a World Series (in 2001) and that helped them. But they've got 10 or 12 players with deferred money. The thing I'm worried about is this deferred money these people have to pay in 10 years, 20 years. What's going to happen then? We really couldn't get any answers on that."

The Rocky Mountain News obtained a statement of apology from Rooney on Monday, but Colangelo said Tuesday he had seen no such apology.

"There is an inherent risk with deferred salaries, not with any one particular club," the statement read. "If for any reason Larry's remarks were disparaging to the Diamondbacks, we apologize. We do not have any internal knowledge of any financial vulnerability of the Diamondbacks and are sorry for any comments associated with that. We didn't mean to do any harm to the image of the Diamondbacks."

Colangelo said: "That's what happens when you get in hot water. You start dancing backwards."

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