J. Upton nears big D'backs deal

The Diamondbacks reached an agreement with rightfielder Justin Upton on a six-year contract, ESPN.com reported.

The deal is worth approximately $51 million, according to the Web site, and is expected to be announced today. It would be the second-largest contract in franchise history behind the four-year $53.4 million deal that left-hander Randy Johnson signed in 1999.

The contract would cover all three years in which Upton, 22, would be eligible for salary arbitration, as well as his first two years of eligibility for free agency. Without a new deal, Upton would have been eligible for arbitration after this season.

Upton, the younger brother of Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton, was the first overall pick in the 2005 draft and is coming off a breakout season. He batted .300 with a .366 on-base percentage and a .532 slugging percentage in 138 games, stole 20 bases in 25 opportunities and made his first All-Star appearance.

CAUTIOUS WITH STRASBURG: Nationals manager Jim Riggleman dropped another strong hint that right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the top pick in June's amateur draft, is destined to start the season in the minor leagues.

"It's just more challenging to pitch in Double A or Triple A in April than it is in spring training in March. We get a better read," Riggleman said.

Strasburg is slated to make his first spring training start at Space Coast Stadium on Tuesday against the Tigers in a game that will be televised live in Washington.

"Spring training is great, but even as opposed to Double-A or Triple-A pitching, it's just not the same," Riggleman said.

BELTRAN, FEDS TALK: Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran said he talked to federal investigators last week about a Canadian doctor accused of selling an unapproved drug. Beltran said he went to Toronto to consult with Dr. Anthony Galea while he was sidelined last summer with a painful bone bruise on his right knee. He said he's not worried about the investigation because he didn't do anything wrong. Investigators talked to Mets shortstop Jose Reyes last week, and Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said Monday he had been contacted about the probe.

SPRING OPENER: Right-hander Tommy Hanson pitched two scoreless innings for the Braves, but the Mets spoiled the last spring training opener for Atlanta manager Bobby Cox with a 4-2 victory in Port St. Lucie. Former Rays prospect Jason Pridie, Jesus Feliciano and Ruben Tejada each drove in a run in the fifth for New York.

ASTROS: All-Star first baseman Lance Berkman is likely to miss Thursday's spring training opener after bruising his left knee. Berkman complained of soreness and swelling in his knee after Monday's workout.

DODGERS: Leftfielder Manny Ramirez was on the team's final roster for a three-game exhibition series in Taiwan, not that it guarantees he will make the trip. Los Angeles will face Taiwan all-star teams March 12-14.

RANGERS: Outfielder Josh Hamilton, the former Rays prospect, was scratched from an intrasquad game for the second straight day because of a bruised left shoulder. Manager Ron Washington said there's no timetable for his return.

ROCKIES: Closer Huston Street had inflammation in his right shoulder, a condition he called normal for this point in spring training and one he said is improving. Street, who converted 35 of 37 save opportunities last season, has thrown four times this spring, three bullpen sessions and 10 minutes of live batting practice Friday.

ROYALS: Right-hander Luke Hochevar, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2006 amateur draft, agreed to a one-year, $1.7 million contract.

J. Upton nears big D'backs deal 03/02/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 2, 2010 9:59pm]

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