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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 22, 2002

Agbayani traded to Rockies

By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer

Benny Agbayani said he was "kind of shocked" by his trade to Colorado.

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It will no longer be Benny and the Mets.

The New York Mets traded Hawai'i outfielder Benny Agbayani to the Colorado Rockies in a three-team, 11-player deal yesterday.

Despite winter-long rumors of a trade, Agbayani still was surprised that he was traded.

"I was kind of shocked," admitted Agbayani, 30. "Rumors kept on going. ... But I'm pretty excited."

The Mets, the organization Agbayani has belonged to since they drafted him in the 30th round in 1993 out of Hawai'i Pacific University, also dealt third baseman Todd Zeile to Colorado, and sent pitcher Glendon Rusch to Milwaukee for power-hitting outfielder Jeromy Burnitz, pitcher Jeff D'Amico, infielder Lou Collier, outfielder Mark Sweeney and cash. The Mets also received minor leaguers Ross Gload and Craig House from the Rockies.

The Brewers also got outfielder Alex Ochoa, a former Honolulu Shark of the old Hawai'i Winter Baseball League, from Colorado, and received infielder Lenny Harris from the Mets.

"At least I know there's a team that wanted me," Agbayani said of the trade.

"I'll miss New York. It's a new start for me in Colorado."

Agbayani left last night for Arizona for week-long batting instruction with Mets hitting coach Tom Robson. Although he is no longer a Met, Agbayani said he made a commitment to work with Robson and intended to keep it.

Agbayani said he will go to Colorado to meet team officials before returning home to prepare for spring training. The Rockies train in Tucson, Ariz.; the Mets train in Florida.

Agbayani has fond memories of Colorado's Coors Field. On May 12, 1999, the day the Mets purchased his contract from Triple-A Norfolk (Va.), Agbayani started in left field, batting 2 for 4 with his first career home run, a solo shot off reliever Jerry DiPoto in the eighth inning.

"I just love playing there," Agbayani said of Coors Field.

Coors Field is statistically the best major-league stadium for hitting home runs.

Agbayani said his agent told him the Rockies have him pegged to play left field. The Rockies outfield consists of Larry Walker in right and Juan Pierre in center. Todd Hollandsworth was listed as the starting left fielder before the trade.

Agbayani's mother, Faith, of 'Aiea, was philosophical of the trade.

"At least he's getting closer to home," she said of the geographical difference. "I'm just happy he has a team to play for. He'll do fine."

Faith Agbayani said it might be easier for her and husband, Benny Sr., to visit their son, who starred in football, soccer and baseball at St. Louis School.

Injuries limited Agbayani's playing time this past season. He batted .277 in 91 games with six home runs and 27 RBIs. Agbayani said he is healthy now.

He became a Met fan favorite with his playoff heroics in 2000 when he hit a game-winning homer in a playoff game against the San Francisco Giants and drove in the winning run in a victory against the Yankees in the World Series.

In four seasons with the Mets, Agbayani, who grew up in 'Aiea, was a career .282 hitter with 35 home runs and 123 RBIs.

Last month, Agbayani and the Mets avoided salary arbitration when they agreed to a $600,000, one-year contract.

The Mets completed an offseason overhaul of their offense, getting the slugging outfielder they had been seeking. Burnitz will fit into a lineup with newcomers Roberto Alomar, Mo Vaughn and Roger Cedeno.

Agbayani was one of just three Hawai'i players in the major leagues last season. The others were relief pitcher Mike Fetters (Iolani School and the Pittsburgh Pirates) and third baseman Chris Truby (Damien and Houston Astros).

Earlier, the Mets were considering trading Agbayani to the Yomiuri Giants of the Japan league. But Yomiuri decided it needed a pitcher instead of another position player.