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DUNEDIN, Fla. Jason Terry Jersey . -- Alex Anthopoulos spoke volumes with what he didnt say on right-hander Ervin Santana. The Blue Jays had been in the mix for the former Kansas City Royal with several Toronto players making a public plea to sign the 33-year-old former all-star. But Santana, a Dominican who counts several Jays as friends, elected instead to sign with the injury-ravaged Atlanta Braves. "I probably dont want to comment on how close I felt we got or didnt get," the Blue Jays general manager said Wednesday. Anthopoulos deflected many questions on Santana, leaving the impression he was not happy with the way the process had gone. Asked if he felt used, he said "No, no. But (thats) probably the only thing Im going to say." Money and terms apparently werent factors in Santanas decision to sign with Atlanta. "He had a strong desire to pitch in the NL and there was no way to compete with that," said Anthopoulos, who is also Torontos senior vice-president of baseball operations. Was that always the case, he was asked? "Very good question," Anthopoulos replied, before suggesting it was better directed at the pitchers camp. However the Jays GM did say he was told "recently" of that strong NL interest. Such hints aside, Anthopoulos was clearly looking to take the high road, "Obviously its done. He made his decision. Hes in Atlanta. Great signing for them. I wish him the best. Sorry it didnt work out with us." Certainly the NL East, home to the .sub-500 Miami Marlins, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies last season, might seem more hospitable than the thorny AL East. Especially when Santana is eligible for free agency again after this season. Santana has spent his entire career in the American League, with eight seasons as a Los Angeles Angel before being traded to the Royals in 2013. His career record is 105-90 with a 4.19 ERA. He became a free agent after turning down a US$14.1-million qualifying one-year offer from the Royals. Its the same deal he accepted from the Braves and likely in the same ballpark as the Jays offer. Minnesota reportedly tendered a three-year offer but at a lesser annual rate. Unlike last off-season, the Jays have been quiet in player acquisitions. So the Santana snub stands front and centre. Anthopoulos said everyone in the organization wanted Santana to become a Jay. "I think we all feel we did everything we could," he added. With Josh Johnson gone and question-marks over J.A. Happ and Ricky Romero, the Jays have been looking to bolster a starting rotation that features R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow. Asked about the paucity of additions, Anthopoulos instead pointed to the healthy return of players like outfielder Melky Cabrera and pitcher Drew Hutchison. "We think Drews got a chance to be outstanding and hes put himself in a great position to make this club. I think if he does make this club, hes got a chance to have a tremendous year." Anthopoulos acknowledged the questions from fans and other observers. "All that being said, I can understand skepticism that comes with the job, the performance we had on the field last year. I think we will show how good we are when we break (spring training). I think the guys that we have tremendous upside but we would have loved to add someone just to have depth." "We werent going to force a deal and do things we really didnt believe in just to make a splash," he added. The GM said the Jays were "extremely close" to landing another starting pitcher in a trade only to see it not happen. He did not provide any other details. Bottom line, he says, the Jays like their talent but know it lacks seasoning in some quarters. So the search continues for that experience. NOTES -- Happ, whose spring training progress has been delayed by back problems, threw a side session Tuesday and "everything felt good," according to manager John Gibbons. Closer Casey Janssen, who has had soreness in his shoulder, was scheduled to throw a side session Wednesday. Dustin McGowan is also back after losing eight pounds to the same stomach bug that hit fellow pitcher Sergio Santos. Milwaukee Bucks Store . -- The Chiefs have signed seven players to reserve/future contracts, including running back Joe McKnight, a former fourth-round pick of the New York Jets. Milwaukee Bucks Pro Shop .com) - Lloyd Sam struck in stoppage time on Wednesday as Red Bull New York hung on for a crucial 1-0 win over Atlantic Cup rivals D.NEW YORK -- Jason Spezza has requested a trade, and Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray says hell try to make that happen. "I dont want to trade the guy, really, and I know I wont get the value, in all likelihood that I should get for him," Murray said Wednesday after the NHL general managers meeting. "But I think that Jason feels maybe theres a change that he would like to have happen, and if thats the case well try to do what we can." Spezza, who replaced Daniel Alfredsson as Ottawas captain, has one year left on his contract at a salary of US$4 million and cap hit of $7 million. The 30-year-old centre has a modified no-trade clause that allows him to submit a list of 10 teams he would not accept a trade to. Murray said that a few teams have alreaddy asked about Spezza, even though Wednesdays meeting was too busy to advance many talks. Cheap Bucks Jerseys. . He expects trade chatter to pick up in the next few weeks leading up to the draft, which runs June 27 and 28 in Philadelphia. If the Senators do trade Spezza as has been speculated for some time, it would likely not be for just prospects and/or draft picks. "Obviously Id like to win a hockey game next year, so getting a player back that can play in the league, that has played in the league, would be important," Murray said. Spezza led all Senators forwards in scoring last season with 23 goals and 43 assists. In 686 career NHL games, the native of Mississauga, Ont., has 687 points. Ottawa went 37-31-14 and finished five points out of a playoff spot this season. ' ' '
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