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For the first time in nearly two decades, the Chicago Cubs engaged in arbitration with a player this weekend. The reason they’ve assiduously avoided arbitration hearings is because they can get nasty, so it’s usually worth paying the player just a little bit more to settle things amicably. For whatever reason, that wasn’t possible this year with shortstop Ryan Theriot, who lost in his bid for a higher salary this weekend.

So the immediate concern: will Theriot be bitter, and will it affect his play? He seems to have answered that concern immediately.

“This is going to be a great year,” an upbeat Theriot said as he reported for spring training. “It’s really exciting. I’ve really worked on gaining some strength this off-season, gaining some weight for longevity. So there are some things I improved on some things that I worked on all off-season. I’m excited to see how that works out.”

The arbitration process actually worked out well for both sides, even though Theriot “lost.” After making $500,000 last year, he’ll get $2.6 million this season instead of the $3.4 million he had sought.

All in all, there seemed to be no hard feelings on either side.

“No doubt about it,” Theriot said. “I never feel like I’m owed anything. That’s not why you play the game. You’re not owed anything. This is a privilege to be able to come in here and do this every day. There’s millions of people who would love to it.

“From that point of view, whatever you get is great. You’re happy with it, and you go out and play. You stay hungry and you continue to improve and continue to do better and try to win. Everything else kind of falls in place.”

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry had not been to a hearing since becoming GM in 2002. In fact, the Cubs had not been to arbitration since they won their case against Mark Grace in 1993.

Hendry, too, sounded a conciliatory tone after returning from Florida, where the hearing was held.

“It’s a part of the business of major-league baseball now,” Hendry said. “We certainly have never gone before since I’ve been here, and I think that speaks for itself. I don’t think we’ve ever been accused of overpaying anybody (in pre-arbitration settlements), and I think the players always felt that we came to a fair number. I always assumed, sooner or later, as a general manager, we would be going. It’s just part of the process.” Daily Herald.

Very good to hear.

Hendry also said that the hearing was not particularly contentious, so it’s possible that there really are no hard feelings.

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