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Rays deal to take a while

By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 9, 2004

ST. PETERSBURG - First-round pick Jeff Niemann isn't likely to pitch in the big leagues for the Rays this summer. He might not pitch at all this season.

Though initial talks with Niemann's family have been positive, general manager Chuck LaMar said negotiations probably will drag on throughout the summer. Niemann is likely to get about $3-million.

"We see no problem in eventually signing Mr. Niemann, but to say this is going to happen quickly, we're not even pursuing this negotiation right now," LaMar said. "This is going to take most of the summer if not all of the summer."

The situation is not unique to the Rays. LaMar said except for teams that cut predraft deals, most top picks in recent years have not signed quickly and don't play in the minor leagues their first summer. That was the case with each of the Rays' past three first-round picks: Dewon Brazelton, B.J. Upton and Delmon Young.

"If we got him out early, great, but our expectation is that we sign him and let him come to instructional league or the Arizona Fall League and get him ready to pitch next season," LaMar said.

EVERS READY: The Rays' 35th-round pick has a familiar name. Bill Evers Jr. is the son of Triple-A manager Bill Evers.

The younger Evers, a product of River Ridge High, started pitching regularly this season at Eckerd College and threw a seven-inning no-hitter against Rollins. His selection was no favor.

"He earned the right," scouting/player development director Cam Bonifay said. "This is a young man still developing as a pitcher and still developing physically."

OVERALL: Of their 50 selections, the Rays took 24 pitchers, 18 who pitched collegiately. They took 14 infielders (six first basemen), nine outfielders and three catchers.

"I was pleased," Bonifay said. "We thought with the quality of the pitching and the depth of the pitching, it might be a pitching year. And I think it turned out to be that way."

[Last modified June 9, 2004, 01:00:39]

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