Strasburg might start in minors
VIERA, Fla. — Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman dropped another strong hint yesterday 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 March 9 against Detroit 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. "When everything counts, records count and statistics count, regular season is just a different animal with a guy to go out there with the adrenaline throwing on both sides and the other team is trying to get you."
BIG DEAL FOR UPTON
A person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press that the Arizona Diamondbacks and All-Star outfielder Justin Upton are closing in on a six-year contract.
The deal would be worth just over $50 million, the person said yesterday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the contract has not been finalized.
Upton, 22, made his first All-Star game last season, when he hit .300 with 26 homers and 86 RBIs. The Diamondbacks made Upton the No. 1 pick overall in the 2005 amateur draft. His older brother B.J. was the second pick overall in 2002.
Dodgers: Manny Ramirez is on the Los Angeles Dodgers' final roster for an upcoming three-game exhibition series in Taiwan, not that it guarantees the veteran will make the trip. The Dodgers will play three games against Taiwan all-star teams March 12-14.
Royals: Right-hander Luke Hochevar, the overall No. 1 draft pick of the 2006 amateur draft, has agreed to a one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals that will pay him $1.76 million in the major leagues. The deal includes a salary of $772,500 if Hochevar is in the minors, but he is out of options. He was coming off a $5.3 million, four-year contract that included a $3.5 million signing bonus.