GOODYEAR, Ariz.: Albert Belle, a resident of nearby Paradise Valley, visited the Indians' training camp today for the first time since the team relocated to the Phoenix area four years ago.
At the behest of former teammates Kenny Lofton and Carlos Baerga, both of whom are here to help tutor players during training camp, plus Tribe senior vice president of public affairs, Bob DiBiasio, Belle made his first contact with his former team since he left via free agency following the 1996 season.
But when asked about mending fences with the club, Belle said, ""I think that was done along time ago.'' He added that he would be happy to visit Cleveland some time during the season.
Belle moved on to the White Sox in 1997 after Tribe General Manager John Hart -- who felt that Belle had become too much trouble -- lowballed him in negotiations. Belle agreed to a five-year, $56.87 million contract, making him the highest paid player in the game briefly.
""That was a long time ago,'' Belle said. ""The thing about free agency is that it was going to create some hard feelings. I would have liked to keep playing with those guys (in Cleveland) for another 10 years.''