PITTSBURGH - Jim Rooker has done a little bit of everything during the years.
He pitched in the major leagues for 13 seasons from 1968-80, including an eight-year run with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since his playing career ended, Rooker has served a broadcaster, restaurant owner and even made a run, albeit unsuccessful, for Congress.
The 67-year-old Rooker never expected to add children's book author to his resume. Yet, he has written three books about baseball geared to kids and has another one in the works.
The books are titled ''Kitt The Mitt,'' ''Matt The Bat,'' and ''Paul The Ball.'' All are themed toward children developing friendships, having fun and enjoying baseball.
Rooker now splits his time between homes in Jacksonville, Fla., and Ambridge, Pa., while his grandchildren live in the Pittsburgh area. It was during one of those absences from the grandkids that Rooker got the idea to start writing books.
''I was flying back to Jacksonville from Pittsburgh one day and it really hit me how much I miss my grandchildren,'' Rooker said. ''I started thinking of a way that I might be able to give something to them that would be really lasting. I don't know why exactly it popped into my head, but I thought I'd try to write a book. It's been a very rewarding experience.''
The books are $9.99 each and can be purchased online at mascotbooks.com. The publishing company is also working out details on making the books available at retail outlets.
With three books already in his catalogue, Rooker is now working on a fourth. Its title will be ''Fletcher The Catcher.''
''I've really enjoyed doing this,'' Rooker said. ''I just hope kids have as much fun reading these books as I've had writing them.''
Freddy Sanchez has not given San Francisco the boost it was counting on for a pennant push after acquiring the second baseman from the Pirates in a July 30 trade for pitching prospect Tim Alderson.
Sanchez had played in just 25 games for the Giants coming into the weekend as he has been hampered by knee and shoulder problems, hitting .284 with one home run and seven RBI. He will also not reach the 620 plate appearances needed to trigger the $8.1-million option in his contract for next season.
Furthermore, Sanchez tore cartilage in his left knee this week when he caught his spikes in the grass while making an off-balance relay throw. He plans to undergo surgery at the end of the season and will go into the free-agent market as damaged goods.
Sanchez's knee was bothering him before the trade.
''I know at the time we made the trade everybody was all in, including the medical team, that we could keep him on the field,'' Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. ''The biggest thing with Freddy is he hasn't been on the field with other things, including the shoulder.
''I think what's been worse is the sporadic amount of time being ready and then not ready then having to play a stretch like he did and do something freaky. That was a freak thing when he caught his spike.''
Bye Bye Bobby
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox announced this past week that e will retire at the end of next season. His legacy will be leading the Braves to a major-league record 14 straight division titles from 1991-2005.
After winning the first two titles in 1991 and 1992, Cox led the Braves past the Pirates in the National League Championship Series each year. Jim Leyland was the Pirates manager in those series, but got revenge when he guided Florida past the Braves in 1997 NLCS.
''He's certainly one of the great managers of all time and one of the great guys of all time,'' Leyland said of Cox. ''I had some great moments with Bobby Cox in the playoffs. We're 10-10 against each other in the postseason. We had some great games, some memorable games.
''It's an honor to have managed against him. He's one of those guys who's not very friendly when you come to play them. He just gives you a courteous hello. He's a little more casual in spring training, but he's all business. I've always respected that about him. He's one of the all-time greats, a Hall of Fame manager.''
The Cleveland Indians were 61-91 coming into the weekend, a stunningly bad record for a team that most experts expected to contend for the American League Central title this season. It has been such a bad year that it seems certain club chairman Paul Dolan will order GM Mark Shapiro to fire manager Eric Wedge.
''This is a business,'' Wedge said. ''I understand that.''
If the ax falls on Wedge, Boston pitching coach and former Indians farm director John Farrell figures to be the leading candidate to replace him. Farrell pitched for the Indians in the 1980s. Another possibility is former Indians manager Mike Hargrove, who still has ties to the Cleveland area as he lives in Richfield.