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Baseball Vets Head To Japan

With the start of spring training less than a week away, Tony Fernandez and Reggie Jefferson signed with the Seibu Lions in Japan, and Roger Cedeno and Paul Byrd settled their salary arbitration cases.

Fernandez, hitting .400 as late as June 29 last year, will get $2.75 million and the chance to earn $800,000 in performance bonuses. Jefferson will get $1.5 million and the opportunity to earn $700,000 in performance bonuses.

The contracts were agreed to in January, Lions spokesman Shiro Yuzawa said Tuesday in Tokyo.

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Fernandez wound up batting .328 for the Toronto Blue Jays with six homers and 75 RBIs. The 37-year-old infielder, who finished with the eighth-highest batting average in the American League, became a free agent after the season but attracted little interest.

Jefferson hit .277 in 206 at-bats last season for Boston, appearing in 83 games, all as a designated hitter. He has a .300 career average.

Cedeno, acquired by Houston from the New York Mets on Dec. 23 along with pitchers Octavio Dotel and Kyle Kessel for left-hander Mike Hampton and outfielder Derek Bell, gets a $2.4 million, one-year contract, up from $487,500 last season. Cedeno hit .313 and was second in the majors with 66 steals last year.

Byrd agreed with the Philadelphia Phillies on a one-year contract worth $1,885,000 more than six times his $297,500 salary last season. He went 15-11 with a 4.60 ERA in 32 starts last season, becoming a first-time All-Star.

Twenty players remain in arbitration, with hearings scheduled through Feb. 18.

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