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Tampa Bay Rays win arbitration case against pitcher Jeff Niemann

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays say they don't like going to arbitration hearings, but they definitely have the routine down.

Friday's ruling that they prevailed over right-hander Jeff Niemann extended their record to 5-0 under executive vice president Andrew Friedman and 6-0 overall.

Niemann, who was 11-7 with a 4.06 ERA in 23 games last season and spent six weeks on the disabled list with a back strain, will make $2.75 million this season. He sought $3.2 million.

The Rays went to a hearing with Niemann when the sides couldn't resolve "philosophical" differences by the Jan. 17 deadline to exchange figures. The Rays settled in time with their five other arbitration-eligible players: centerfielder B.J. Upton ($7 million), left-handers David Price ($4.35 million) and J.P. Howell ($1.35 million), and right-handers Joel Peralta ($2.175 million) and Burke Badenhop ($1.075 million).

"We're happy to have this process behind us so we can focus all of our attention on getting ready for the season," Friedman said.

Niemann did not respond to messages seeking comment; he said after the Jan. 17 end of negotiations he would withhold comment until there was a resolution. The Rays have an excess of starters, with either Niemann or Wade Davis considered most likely to go if the team makes a trade.

Also:

• Catcher Jose Lobaton said the right shoulder impingement that sidelined him in winter ball has cleared, he's throwing at a distance of 120 feet and expects to be ready for the Feb. 21 start of spring training. Catcher Robinson Chirinos, who was sidelined with a fractured bone in his right hand, is also expected to be ready.

• Reliever Josh Lueke, acquired in a trade from Seattle, joined the players who have been working out at Tropicana Field in advance of spring training's start.

• Former Ray Casey Kotchman finalized a one-year deal with the Indians for $3 million plus up to $1.75 million in incentives and will be their primary first baseman.

• First baseman Dan Johnson, whose dramatic home run on the final night of the regular season last year helped the Rays reach the playoffs, agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox. Johnson hit a tying two-out, two-strike homer in the ninth against the Yankees, and Evan Longoria's 12th-inning homer won the game and the American League wild-card berth for the Rays. Johnson is a .235 hitter with 53 homers and 188 RBIs in six seasons with Oakland and the Rays.

Around the majors

Garza, Cubs settle: Right-hander Matt Garza agreed to a $9.5 million, one-year contract with the Cubs just before the start of a salary arbitration hearing in St. Petersburg. The agreement was $725,000 below the midpoint between the $12.5 million the pitcher asked for and the $7.95 million the Cubs offered. Garza, 28, was acquired from Tampa Bay in January 2011 and went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA in his first season with the Cubs, when he made $5.95 million.

Giants fan beating: The Dodgers asked a bankruptcy judge to disallow claims against the team filed by Bryan Stow, the Giants fan nearly beaten to death outside Dodger Stadium last spring. "The Stow claim is, when stripped to its core, based on the faulty premise that a landowner is an insurer of the safety of persons on its property," the Dodgers said in their motion.

giants: Newly re-signed ace Tim Lincecum revealed his reason for taking a shorter deal that keeps him with the club through 2013. He wants to keep his options open because he has "never been a guy who could make a plan four years from now."

Brewers: Just ahead of their arbitration hearing, pitcher Shaun Marcum and the team agreed to a one-year deal worth $7.725 million, the midpoint of the figures exchanged.

marlins: All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, who signed a $106 million, six-year contract in December, had his dreadlocks trimmed during a nationally televised haircut on the MLB Network. The Marlins have a rule prohibiting hair below the helmet line. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida planned to auction the cut hair on eBay.

Yankees: Reliever Joba Chamberlain started throwing off a half mound in Tampa as part of rehab after elbow ligament replacement surgery.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Rays win arbitration case against pitcher Jeff Niemann 02/03/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 3, 2012 10:20pm]
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