Nady Ponders Return To Cal





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The Major League Baseball draft ended over three months ago and along with it, the lives of college players across the nation either took a dramatic turn for the better or a drastic turn for the worse.

For Cal third baseman Xavier Nady the results seemed to be somewhere in the gray area, in between pure excitement and utter disappointment.

Picked as the Preseason National Player of the Year prior to the 2000 campaign, Nady was at one point projected to be the first overall draft pick by Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.

But, despite the preseaon hoopla, Nady did not go first in the draft. In fact, he didn't even go in the first round.

Nady was scooped up by the San Diego Padres as the 49th pick in the second round, just five picks behind fellow Bears teammate Mike Tonis, who has signed with the Kansas City Royals.

Nady, who was expected to sign earlier this week, seems to be pushing the deadline to either sign with the Padres or reject their offer and return to Cal for his senior season.

"(Nady) has imposed a self-decided timeline," Bears baseball coach David Esquer said. "If he doesn't sign with the Padres by Friday he'll come back to Cal."

Nady's agent, Scott Boras, who is responsible for eight other players in this year's draft, has earned the reputation of being an incredibly tough negotiator.

In 1997, Boras demanded an $11 million contract from the Philadelphia Phillies for his client J. D. Drew. The Phillies refused to sign Drew, which sent him into the draft for the second time, where he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals for $7 million.

The cutthroat deal not only brought much criticism from Philadelphia and the baseball community, but the stigma the deal created seems to have followed Boras and the players he represents into this year's draft.

"Scott is a really tough negotiator," Esquer said. "And more than that, he compiles so many facts to back up his demands, that he is incredibly prepared heading into negotiations. Both Xavier and the Padres don't want to rush anything."

As of yesterday only three of Boras' clients had secured contracts. One of the factors possibly holding up the negotiating process is Nady's request for a major league contract. The contract would require that the Padres put Nady on the 40-man roster and would limit the amount of time that Nady can spend in the minor leagues.

"I don't know if the major league contract is what is holding things up," Esquer said. "It obviously would provide more insurance for him as a player, the salary is an added benefit, but I don't know how important that is to X."

Both Nady and Boras were unavailable for comment yesterday.

Esquer noted that former Stanford outfielder Joe Borchard, who recently signed a $5.3 million deal with the Chicago White Sox, is proof enough that Nady's holdout is valid.

"I definitely support X in what he decides to do," Esquer said. "The coaching staff at Cal doesn't think that X is worth a penny less than Joe."

If Nady does decide to return to Cal, the Bears will welcome back one of the most prolific players in Cal history. When Nady left for the draft, he left behind school records for career home runs (57), RBIs (191), total bases (479) and slugging percentage (.729).

Aside from the slew of school records, Nady was the 1998 National Freshman of the Year, a three time All-Pac-10 selection and a member of Team USA twice.

"If X returns to Cal it's unfortunate for him and for the Padres," Esquer said. "I mean, it would be great for our program and for me, but X is ready to move on to that next level and he's really giving (the Padres) every opportunity to help him get there."

Considering the Bears subpar season last year - Cal did not make it to the postseason after finishing 25-28 overall and 11-13 in the Pac-10 - the squad would definitely benefit from Nady's golden bat in the upcoming season.

"If he returns it isn't going to negatively affect any aspect of our program," Esquer said. "The only possible effect is a positive one."

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