Jeff Niemann signs one-year deal with Rays to avoid arbitration

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Tampa Bay and Jeff Niemann have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3 million deal, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Niemann was arbitration eligible for the second time after earning $2.75 million last season and gets only a small bump in salary because he missed most of the year with a broken fibula followed by shoulder problems.

He’s expected to be fully healthy for spring training and will be back in the middle of the Rays’ rotation, where the 30-year-old right-hander has a 4.06 ERA and 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 92 career starts.

Ichiro wore a fake mustache to sneak into the Mariners’ dugout

Associated Press
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Ichiro Suzuki is now a Mariners employee and, as such, he’s not allowed to sit in the dugout during a game. That’s for coaches and players only.

He knows that, too. Indeed, on the day Ichiro announced his sorta-retirement, he talked about how it was going to be hard not to be down on the field with the other players. He even made a ridiculous joke about how, “[he] can’t say for certain that maybe [he] won’t put on a beard and glasses and be like Bobby Valentine and be in the dugout.”

In related news, this mysterious stranger was seen by an Associated Press photographer in the Mariners dugout during the first couple of innings of the M’s-Yankees game:

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

No beard, but I guess that joke was not very ridiculous after all. Either way, by the end of the second inning — poof — he was gone.

Obviously, when something interesting like this happens you mustache an expert for their opinion on the matter. To that end, the Associated Press reached Bobby Valentine, who famously did the same thing after an ejection way back in 1999, for comment:

“He was perfect. I never would have known it was him.”

Valentine was suspended for two games and fined $5,000. I’m assuming Ichiro won’t get hit quite as hard given that he wasn’t defying an umpire’s authority, but even if he does have to pay a fine, he’ll likely do so willingly.