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Spring Training 2004

Urbina signs with Tigers

By Wire services
Published March 27, 2004

Free-agent closer Ugueth Urbina and the Tigers reached agreement on a $3.5-million, one-year deal Friday that reunited him with former Florida catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

Cut loose by the Marlins after they won the World Series, Urbina took his time signing with a new team. Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Minnesota and San Francisco were among several clubs that talked to him, and he also attracted interest in Japan.

Urbina will get $3-million this season. There is a club option for $4-million in 2005 with a $500,000 buyout. He made about $4.5-million last year.

Urbina worked out with the Tigers this week while manager Alan Trammell watched. Detroit set an AL record with 119 losses last season, and no reliever on the staff had more than five saves.

On Thursday, the Tigers sent Matt Anderson back to Triple-A Toledo. The top pick in the 1997 draft and once projected as Detroit's closer of the future, the hard-throwing right-hander has been limited to a total of 35 games the last two years because of shoulder trouble.

Urbina's friendship with Rodriguez was a deciding factor in settling on Detroit.

"Pudge has called me several times. He called three days ago. He said, "I really want you to play with me,' " Urbina said this week.

ASTROS: Reliever Dave Veres was released, ending his bid to rejoin the team for which he was a bullpen mainstay in 1995.

BRAVES: They traded two pitching prospects for right-hander Chris Reitsma, who filled every role on the Reds staff but never found his niche.

He'll have one in Atlanta, which made two trades in less than a day to upgrade a bullpen that was a major concern. Reitsma, 26, took over as the Reds closer after Scott Williamson was traded in July and demonstrated he can finish games.

"He was an absolutely outstanding pitcher in the role he took on last year," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. "We tried hard to get him last year for our pennant run and again this winter. Our people evaluated him as one of the top guys in the business in the role he's now doing."

For now, he'll set up for John Smoltz, who has 100 saves the past two seasons but is coming off his fourth elbow operation.

CARDINALS: Tony Womack, 34, acquired Sunday from Boston, had two hits in his debut and reached base four times in the 3-0 win over Detroit.

CUBS: They reduced their roster to 33 by sending six nonroster players to their minor-league camp: catchers Casey Kopitzke and Fernando Lunar, outfielders Calvin Murray and Trenidad Hubbard, infielder Bill Selby and RHP Jamey Wright.

EXPOS: They optioned right-hander Seung Song to Triple-A Edmonton, one of four cuts the Expos made.

They also optioned outfielder Val Pascucci to Edmonton, and reassigned right-hander Jeff Farnsworth and infielder Julius Matos to the team's minor-league camp.

GIANTS: Left-hander Scott Eyre injured his hip in the eighth. He completed the inning before leaving. "Coming off the mound he was in real pain," coach Felipe Alou said. "He fell off the mound awkwardly on one pitch." He was scheduled to see a spine specialist and get an MRI exam today to determine the extent of the injury.

MARLINS: They cut three right-handers from their crowded bullpen, optioning Michael Neu to Triple-A Albuquerque, and reassigning Toby Borland and Scott Sanders to minor-league camp.

The team also released outfielder Armando Rios and reassigned catcher Ryan Jorgensen and infielder Jason Wood to minor-league camp.

The moves leave 36 players in camp with less than two weeks until the April 6 opener against the Expos.

PIRATES: After learning he'll start the April 5 opener, right-hander Kip Wells responded with his best outing this spring, but the Red Sox rallied against Pittsburgh's unsettled bullpen for a 5-1 victory. Wells, who entered 0-2 with a 12.60 ERA, allowed two hits and an earned run, walked three and struck out two in five innings. By comparison, he yielded 14 runs in 10 innings over his first three exhibition starts.

ROYALS: First baseman Mike Sweeney was a late scratch from the lineup with tightness in his lower back.

[Last modified March 27, 2004, 02:10:29]


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