THE NEWBERG REPORT — JANUARY 15, 2007

The Rangers have invited four non-roster minor leaguers to big league camp: righthanders Thomas Diamond and Eric Hurley, catcher Kevin Richardson, and first baseman Nate Gold. They join the following NRI’s signed this winter: righthanders Willie Eyre, Franklyn German, and Mike Wood, lefthander Scott Rice, catcher Salomon Manriquez, and utility candidates Jerry Hairson Jr., Ramon Vazquez, and Matt Kata.

The Rangers agreed to terms Monday with righthander Joaquin Benoit on a one-year, $1.05 million contract, avoiding arbitration. Texas is expected to exchange arbitration figures with its three remaining cases on Tuesday, righthanders Akinori Otsuka and Rick Bauer and outfielder Brad Wilkerson, though the two sides in each case could reach an agreement before then — or afterwards, in advance of a February hearing.

Outfielder Sammy Sosa was in Arlington on Monday, working out for the Rangers at Ameriquest Field (presumably in the cages) before meeting with GM Jon Daniels over dinner. Would almost certainly be a non-roster invite if Texas does offer him a deal. No harm in kicking the tires, I guess. Sosa’s just one more guy that Jason Botts should be able to beat out in camp.

The organization has released four minor leaguers: catcher Alberto Martinez, infielder Joey Hooft, outfielder Joe Napoli, and lefthander Patrick Ford.

And I was wrong the other day when I said trade acquisition Chris Stewart was the only candidate for backup catcher duties who has options. While Guillermo Quiroz is in fact out of options, Miguel Ojeda has one left.

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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