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Tampa Bay Signs No. 1 Draft Pick

June 05, 1999|From Associated Press

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays didn't want to spend all summer negotiating with Josh Hamilton. They offered him a $3.65-million signing bonus and the No. 1 pick accepted Friday.

The signing bonus is the largest ever given to a drafted amateur player who signed with the team that selected him.

"With those parameters, it went very quickly," Devil Ray General Manager Chuck LaMar said after the North Carolina high school outfielder agreed to a minor-league contract with a bonus payable over the next 19 months. Because some of the money is deferred with interest, Hamilton will receive a total of $3.96 million in payments.

The signing came only two days after Tampa Bay selected Hamilton with the first overall pick, and two days before the 6-foot-4, 210-pound slugger graduates from Athens Drive High in Raleigh, N.C.

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Mike Figga has absolutely no reservations about leaving the defending World Series champions to join the last-place Baltimore Orioles.

That's because the Figga, claimed on waivers Thursday from the New York Yankees, finally has a shot at getting some playing time as the backup to catcher Charles Johnson.

Figga was with the Yankees from the start of the season but made only two appearances, both on defense, while playing behind Joe Girardi and Jorge Posada. He was designated for assignment May 25 after New York called up former Oriole outfielder Tony Tarasco from the minor leagues.

"It's a good thing. I hope I get a chance to prove I can play at this level," Figga said Friday before the Orioles faced the Philadelphia Phillies.

"In New York, I didn't have a chance. It was a bad situation, playing behind Joe and Jorgie. I understood why, but it was tough."

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Jaret Wright of the Cleveland Indians isn't going to the bullpen or the minors any time soon.

Indian Manager Mike Hargrove said the embattled Wright, who is 0-3 with a 12.79 earned-run average over his last four starts, will be allowed to work through his pitching problems in Cleveland.

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The Yankees put relief pitcher Jeff Nelson back on the disabled list because of an elbow problem and made three other roster moves before starting a three-game series against the New York Mets.

The Yankees optioned reliever Greg McCarthy to triple-A Columbus, and recalled pitcher Todd Erdos and infielder Clay Bellinger from their top minor-league affiliate.

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Boston Red Sox pitcher Mark Portugal, who strongly considered retirement so he could spend more time with his three children, decided to remain with the team.

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Massachusetts' attorney general has found no wrongdoing in Red Sox Chief Executive John Harrington's financial stewardship of the team's charitable foundations.

The state looked into the matter after a March report in the Boston Herald that said Harrington made large contributions from the foundation he oversees to charities with whom he and another trustee, William Gutfarb, had personal connections.

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