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Dodgers win the bidding for Japanese pitcher Ishii
NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Dodgers won the rights to pitcher Kazuhisa Ishii on Wednesday with a bid of about $11.25 million.
The Yakult Swallows, his team in Japan's Central League, accepted the winning bid Wednesday knowing only the amount, not the identity of the bidder.
Swallows spokesman Toshiyuki Sudo, without disclosing the price, said Wednesday the team notified the Japanese commissioner's office that the offer had been accepted.
The Japanese commissioner's office then notified the major league commissioner's office in New York.
Later Wednesday, the major league commissioner's office told the Dodgers they had the highest bid. The amount was between $11.2 million and $11.3 million, a baseball official said on the condition he not be identified.
"He's performed under a lot of pressure," Dodgers general manager Danny Evans said. That mean a lot to us. I think this is where Ishii wanted to be. He's clearly a winner, a guy who's had a lot of success in Japan. He's at least a third starter."
Under an agreement between the commissioner's offices in Tokyo and New York, the Dodgers have until midnight EST Feb. 8 to work out a contract with the 28-year-old left-hander.
Selig urged to resign
NEW YORK -- The House Judiciary Committee's ranking Democrat urged Bud Selig to resign Wednesday, saying the commissioner appeared to violate major league rules in a 1995 loan from a company controlled by the owner of the Minnesota Twins.
Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan said the loan created an "irreparable conflict of interest" for Selig in his plan to fold two franchises, a proposal that most likely would include the Twins.
"In light of this disclosure and your apparent unwillingness to reveal other financial information that you assert supports your decision to eliminate two baseball teams, I regret that I must call on you to resign as commissioner of major league baseball," Conyers wrote in a letter to Selig that the congressman released.
Selig released a two-page letter to Conyers, saying he "was both stunned and disappointed to receive your letter."
"Let me be unequivocal," Selig wrote. "The suggestions made in your letter are wholly unacceptable."
Martinez arm is pain free
BOSTON -- Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez has been throwing without pain for three weeks and is expected to be ready for spring training, manager Joe Kerrigan said Wednesday.
Although Kerrigan, who was promoted from pitching coach when Jimy Williams was fired in August, has not spoken to Martinez since the end of the season, the Red Sox ace has been in touch with the team's trainer and strength coach.
Martinez was 7-1 with a 1.44 ERA on Memorial Day, but he went on the disabled list with inflammation in his rotator cuff. He returned to make two starts in August, but he clearly wasn't the same pitcher that had won three Cy Young Awards.
Three umpires sue MLB
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Three former umpires who lost their jobs as part of a 1999 mass-resignation are each suing Major League Baseball for at least $350,000.
The umpires are Ken Kaiser of New York, Dale Ford of Tennessee, and Mark Johnson of Kentucky. Their attorney, John Loss, works in Kansas City, and said that's why the suit was filed Monday in federal court here.
Wagner agrees to deal
HOUSTON -- Billy Wagner agreed Wednesday to a $27 million, three-year contract with the Houston Astros that makes him the second-highest paid reliever in baseball.
Wagner, 30, gets $8 million in each of the next three seasons. Houston has a $9 million club option for 2005 with a $3 million buyout.
Wagner, eligible for free agency after the season, has had 30 or more saves during three of his last four seasons.
-- From wire reports