Loney agrees to $4.8M, Avoids Arbitration

The Dodgers signed James Loney, their last pending arbitration case, agreeing on a one-year, $4.875 million contract a week before the club was scheduled to go to a hearing with the first baseman. RHP Juan Rincon signed a minor league contract and Fernando Valenzuela has been inducted into the Dominican Baseball Hall of Fame.

Loney and the Dodgers settled on a figure $100,000 below the midpoint between the arbitration numbers filed by Loney ($5.25 million) and by the club ($4.7 million). He will received a raise of $1.775 million from his 2010 salary of $3.1 million.

Loney shattered his previous career high with 41 doubles and also drove in 88 runs but many are calling it his most disappointing season. shatter his previous career high with 41 doubles and also drove in 88 runs. He finished with a .267 with 10 home runs, hitting .309 at the All-Star break, but batting just .211 thereafter.

Loney has never hit more than 15 home runs in any of his five major league seasons, but neither the front office, former manager Joe Torre, nor incoming manager Don Mattingly have made any secret of their belief that Loney can and should hit for more power.

The left-handed batter has worked this winter with hitting coach Jeff Pentland on developing that power, particularly to right and right-center field.

This is the fourth consecutive winter that the Dodgers have agreed to terms with all of their arbitration-eligible players without going to a hearing with any of them. Loney, who was arbitration-eligible for the second time, had been scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 18.

Dodgers Sign RHP Juan Rincon
The Dodgers added another veteran pitcher to their stockpile, inking RHP Juan Rincon to a minor league contract. They did not, however, include an invitation to major league spring training, nor does it include any guarantee.

"He does have some pedigree, and that's not a bad thing," said DeJon Watson, the Dodgers' assistant general manager for player development who negotiated the deal with Rincon. "This is a one-month look. We have seen his numbers, but we had good reports on him, so we'll bring him into camp and see where he is."

At one time a dominating reliever, Rincon, 32, spent the first 7 1/2 seasons of his major league career with Minnesota and became a key setup man in their bullpen, making at least 75 appearances each year from 2004-06. His best season came in 2004, when he allowed just 52 hits and struck out 106 batters over 82 innings and posted a career-best ERA of 2.63 in a career-high 77 games.

But his numbers began to fade in 2007, when his ERA soared to 5.13. The Twins released him midway through the 2008 season, and since then, he has logged time with the Indians, Tigers and Rockies.

Rincon made only two big league appearances for the Rockies last season, and spent the rest of the year posting an ugly 7.88 ERA for their Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs. Rincon walked 37 batters in 45.2 innings, a clear sign he was struggling with his mechanics.

He then turned things around a bit, posted a 5.22 ERA in seven games -- with only 14 walks in 29.1 innings -- for Cardenales de Lara in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Valenzuela Inducated into Domminican Hall
The Dodgers Spanish-language broadcaster Fernando Valenzuela was inducted into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame at Casa de Campo in La Romana, Dominican Republic. The induction ceremony was held February 12 at the Altos de Chavon Amphitheater in La Romana. Dr. Leonel Fernandez Reyna, the President of the Dominican Republic, will present the awards.

Valenzuela will be inducted as a member of the 2011 class, the second in the organization's history. He will be honored alongside Cuban pitcher Luís Tiant, Nicaraguan pitcher Dennis Martínez, Panamanian catcher Manny Sanguillén, Puerto Rican designated hitter Edgar Martínez, Dominican outfielder Rico Carty and Venezuelan first baseman Andrés Galarraga. Last year, Hall of Fame Spanish-language broadcaster Jaime Jarrín was inducted in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame's inaugural class.

  "I'm happy to make my first trip to the Dominican Republic, a country that has a long history with the Dodgers and where the club has placed a lot of importance in baseball development through Campo Las Palmas," said Valenzuela. "I'm even more pleased that I'm here for such a grand occasion. It's an honor to represent the Dodgers in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame."

  Inductees in the Veteran's category are Adolfo Luque, Chile Gómez, Héctor López, Horacio Martínez and Vidal López. Other special honors will be awarded to Yankee third baseman Alex Rodríguez in acknowledgement of his 600th career home run mark and the Steinbrenner family are recipients of the Tommy Lasorda Award, an honor given by the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame to non-Latinos that advance Latin-American interests in the game.

  Dodger prospects from the Dodgers' training facility Campo Las Palmas played against the New York Yankees prospects in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame Cup at the Francisco A. Micheli Stadium in La Romana. A statue of Valenzuela was unveiled in La Romana as part of the "Paseo de los Inmortales del Salón de la Fama del Béisbol Latino," on Friday, February 11.

  Dodgers Senior Advisor, Latin America Scouting and Campo Las Palmas pioneer Ralph Avila was instrumental in planning the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame.

  Valenzuela enters his ninth season as a Spanish-language broadcaster for the Dodgers. He was recently awarded the Foreign Language Broadcaster of the Year award for the second time by the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.

The 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of Valenzuela's emergency start on Opening Day and the subsequent Dodgers' World Championship in 1981. To commemorate "Fernandomania" the Dodgers will have a Fernando Valenzuela fleece blanket night on April 19 (vs. ATL) and a Bobblehead giveaway of the legendary lefty on July 26 (vs. COL).  

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