The Cubs yesterday released veteran CF Lance Johnson, who would have been eligible to file for free agency after the World Series.

Johnson batted .260 with one home run and 21 RBI in 95 games for the Cubs this season. He spent nearly a third of the season on the disabled list with an abdominal injury.

The 36-year-old Johnson has played in 1,430 career games with the Cubs, White Sox and Mets, posting a .291 career batting average.

Johnson led the American League in hits as a member of the White Sox in 1995 and led the National League the following year with a career-high 227 hits for the Mets. He is the only player to lead the AL and NL in hits in consecutive seasons.

Johnson also leads all active players with 117 career triples and has 34 homers and 484 RBI.

The Cubs also announced that 3B Gary Gaetti and IF Chad Meyers each underwent successful knee surgery.

BURKS'S SURGERY: Giants OF Ellis Burks underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on both knees and is expected to be ready for spring training next season, the team said.

Burks, who batted .282 with 31 homers and 96 RBI in 120 games for the Giants this season, had inflamed patella tendon tissue repaired during a one-hour procedure.

FREE AGENT: Marlins knuckleballer Dennis Springer, who has pitched for five teams the past five seasons, refused an assignment to the minor leagues and exercised his right to free agency.