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Tampa Bay Rays ship celebrated pinch-hitter Dan Johnson to Japan

ST. PETERSBURG — Dan Johnson made a dramatic debut with the Rays, popping out of a cab, then hitting a pinch-hit homer off Boston's Jonathan Papelbon in a key Sept. 9 game. Now he's making a quiet exit, heading to Japan to play for Yokohama.

Details are being finalized, with the Rays essentially "selling" him (receiving between $100,000 and $500,000) and Johnson signing a one-year deal with a 2010 option.

Also: Former Rays Jared Sandberg (rookie-level Princeton) and minor-leaguer Brady Williams (short-season A Hudson Valley) will get their first managing gigs, as the team announced most of its 2009 minor-league staffs. Williams grew up in Dunedin and is the son of Jimy Williams.

Braves swear off agents

ATLANTA — Braves president John Schuerholz vowed to never again do business with Rafael Furcal's agents, whom he accused of unprofessional conduct.

Schuerholz and general manager Frank Wren were quoted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as saying the Wasserman Media Group negotiated dishonestly by taking Atlanta's signed terms of agreement sheet for Furcal to the Dodgers, who then reached an agreement Wednesday to re-sign the shortstop for three years and at least $30-million.

Wren, from St. Petersburg, believed the request by agent Paul Kinzer for a term sheet signed by the Braves meant an agreement had been reached. Kinzer's agency also includes Arn Tellem.

"It was disgusting and unprofessional," Schuerholz told the newspaper. "I advised Arn Tellem that whatever players he represents, just scratch us off the list. "

The players association is likely to maintain that a team cannot boycott players based on agents.

Tellem defended Kinzer in a statement: "There was never an agreement reached between Rafael Furcal and the Atlanta Braves. The Braves were fully aware that Furcal was not prepared to make a decision but had requested an opportunity to sleep on it before deciding."

Teixeira talks: After going to Texas on Thursday and hearing that better offers were made for first baseman Mark Teixeira than the Red Sox's reported bid of at least $170-million over eight years, Boston owner John Henry e-mailed the Associated Press that the team was stepping away from the table. Friday, the team brass refused to talk about whether it was part of a negotiating ploy because agent Scott Boras was after $195-million.

Angels: Outfielder Juan Rivera, 30, agreed to a $12.75-million, three-year deal. The Rays had shown interest in Rivera, who hit .246 with 12 homers in 89 games for the Angels.

Yankees: Pitcher CC Sabathia, who signed a seven-year, $161-million deal this week, will receive $9.5-million before he throws his first official pitch. Before opening day, he will have received $6-million of a $9-million signing bonus, plus $3.5-million of next year's salary.

Tampa Bay Rays ship celebrated pinch-hitter Dan Johnson to Japan 12/19/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 19, 2008 11:47pm]
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