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Surgery to sideline right-hander for season

Pittsburgh Pirates: Pirates right-hander John Van Benschoten will have shoulder surgery Thursday and is expected to miss the 2005 season.

Van Benschoten, a first-round draft pick in 2001, made his major
league debut by going 1-3 with a 6.91 ERA in five starts last
season.

Van Benschoten, 24, was diagnosed Wednesday with a torn
posterior labrum, an injury that normally requires 10 months to a
year of rehabilitation. He had a torn labrum and rotator cuff in
his left shoulder surgically repaired in November, but said those
injuries bothered him only when he batted.

The right-hander did not throw off a mound during the team's
recent pitching mini-camp in Bradenton, Fla., but felt discomfort
after resuming his throwing program at PNC Park. Tests then
revealed the tear.

Van Benschoten led all NCAA Division I players in home runs
during his senior season at Kent State, playing first base and
pitching. The Pirates were one of the few teams that projected him
as a pitcher rather than a position player.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: The Devil Rays on Wednesday agreed to terms on one-year contracts with three pitchers, including left-handed prospect Scott Kazmir and
right-hander Doug Waechter.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Drafted 15th overall by the New York Mets in 2002, Kazmir was acquired by the Devil Rays on July 30 in a four-player deal
involving Victor Zambrano. He made his major league debut
Aug. 23 against Seattle, tossing five scoreless innings for
the win.

Kazmir -- who turned 21 on Monday -- had his best outing against
the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 14, allowing three hits while
striking out nine in six innings to outduel three-time Cy Young
Award winner Pedro Martinez for a 5-2 victory.

The Devil Rays also agreed to terms with left-hander Chris Seddon. A fifth-round pick in 2001, Seddon went 9-10 with a 4.39 ERA in 21 starts with Double-A Montgomery after posting a 5-0 record and 0.65 ERA in seven outings with Single-A Bakersfield in 2004.

San Francisco Giants: The Scottsdale (Ariz.) City Council has voted to buy a piece of private property that could be part of a new spring training complex for the Giants.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to purchase the
14,000-square-foot Rolamech Building for $430,000.

The property is east of Scottsdale Stadium, where city officials
have been quietly working on plans to build an $18 million spring
training facility.

The city wants to build a baseball complex with two full-size
playing fields, a practice infield, batting tunnels, parking and
other structures.

Giants executives have told Scottsdale the team would relocate
in 2007, when its contract expires, unless it has upgraded
facilities comparable with other professional practice facilities.

Cleveland Indians: Outfielder Darnell McDonald agreed to
a minor league contract and was invited to spring training.

McDonald, 26, spent most of last season with Ottawa, Baltimore's Triple-A farm team, and hit .234 with seven homers and 44 RBI in 107 games. In four stints with the Orioles, he hit .156 (5-for-32) in 17 games.

McDonald was a first-round draft pick of the Orioles in 1997. He was a high school teammate of Indians backup catcher Josh Bard. McDonald's older brother, Donzell, has played professionally for 10
seasons and was invited to the Indians' training camp in 2002.

Also, the Indians hired Jason Lee as their Pacific Rim scout, a newly created position. Lee spent the past seven seasons in the same role with Atlanta, helping the Braves sign South Korean
pitchers Jung Keun Bong and Sung Ki Jung.

Seattle Mariners: Cuban infielder Yuniesky Betancourt agreed to a four-year contract with the Mariners worth $2,826,000, bolstering the team's depth at shortstop.

The 22-year-old Betancourt fled Cuba on a raft in July 2003. The
5-foot-10, 190-pound shortstop wound up in Mexico, where he has
lived since.

"Yuniesky is an athletic, offensive shortstop," Seattle
general manager Bill Bavasi said. "We view him as the equivalent
of a first- or second-round draft pick."

Earlier this month, veteran shortstop Pokey Reese joined the Mariners on a one-year contract that includes a team option for 2006.

Seattle also has promising 22-year-old Jose Lopez available, but
he's expected to return to Triple-A. Lopez played 57 games with the
Mariners last season after Rich Aurilia was traded to San Diego.

Betancourt played second base from 2001-03 with Villa Clara in
the Cuban National League. Villa Clara's starting shortstop,
Eduardo Paret, has played with the Cuban national team since 1995.

Betancourt hit .288 with 43 runs scored, four homers and 45 RBIs
for Villa Clara in 2002, then improved to .317 in 2003 with 64
runs, seven homers and 52 RBIs in 2003 before he left Cuba.

He started at shortstop for Cuba's 17- and 18-year-old national
team in the 2000 world championships at Edmonton, Canada, hitting
.523 in the tournament.

Right-hander Aaron Looper was designated for assignment to open
a roster spot. The 28-year-old Looper was 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in
eight games at Tacoma last season but spent most of the summer
rehabilitating after elbow ligament-replacement surgery on May 13.

His father is Benny Looper, Seattle's vice president for player
development, and he is a cousin of Mets right-hander Braden Looper.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels have agreed to terms with AEG
Merchandising, a division of Los Angeles-based AEG, to serve as the
team's exclusive in-stadium merchandise retailer for the next five
seasons.

"We are pleased to announce our new partnership with AEG,"
Angels president Dennis Kuhl said in a statement issued by the team. "The opportunity to present Angels merchandise at a greater number of venues and events throughout Southern California is a tremendous benefit to our fans.

"We are looking forward to working closely with AEG in order to
better market and promote Angels baseball merchandise as well as
expanding and enhancing the merchandise mix."

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.