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Rekar hopes to settle, but he's ready to battle

By JOHN ROMANO

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 15, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Bryan Rekar is not necessarily looking forward to an arbitration showdown with the Rays next week, but the right-hander said he is willing to go the distance if necessary.

The Rays never have had a case go to arbitration.

"It's the first time, as a player, you have any bargaining power," Rekar said after a workout at the Raymond Naimoli spring training complex this week. "What I don't like is all of the negativity that surrounds it. It's always better to reach an agreement before it gets to that point, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way." Rekar, 28, is seeking a $1.75-million salary in arbitration, and the Rays have offered $1.2-million. Rekar, the franchise leader in innings pitched with 3542/3, went 7-10 with a 4.41 ERA last season. He is expected to challenge for a spot in the rotation and also is a candidate for a long-reliever job.

Rekar's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in Arizona, and he expects to attend. In past years, the Rays have avoided the arbitration process, in part because of the potential for acrimony. Teams essentially build their cases by emphasizing a player's shortcomings.

"I feel like it's important for me to be there," Rekar said. "It's something I'd like to witness, to see what goes on."

Last month, general manager Chuck LaMar suggested this might be the year the Rays have their first arbitration case. Tampa Bay was 12 hours from a hearing for Albie Lopez last week when they came to terms at the midpoint between what the pitcher was seeking and the club was offering.

Rekar said he would be amenable to a similar compromise, but he felt relatively confident about his chances of winning at arbitration.

"Over the years, cases have been gone pretty close to 50-50 (between players and management)," Rekar said. "I've heard some positive things about my chances from other people."

JAMES AGREES: Right-hander Delvin James, who went 8-12 with a 3.98 between Class A St. Petersburg and Double-A Orlando last season, agreed to a one-year contract with the Rays on Wednesday. Tampa Bay has 15 unsigned players on the 40-man roster.

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