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Tigers, Maroth nearing two-year, $5.25M deal

DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers and pitcher Mike Maroth are
nearing an agreement on a two-year contract worth about $5.25
million.

Maroth was 14-14 with a 4.74 ERA last season, two years after
being the first pitcher since 1980 to lose 20 games in one season.
The Tigers are counting on the left-hander to be in their rotation,
perhaps behind Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman and ahead of Nate Robertson and one of their prospects.
If the team and Maroth complete the deal -- which would pay him
about $2.3 million this season and $2.95 million in 2007 -- they
would avoid arbitration.
"We've had conversations, but I can't say more at this point,"
Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday night.
Maroth, and his agent, Lonnie Cooper, did not return telephone
messages Tuesday.
The 28-year-old Maroth has improved his total number of
victories in each season -- from six to nine to 11 to 14. Last year,
he had 115 strikeouts and 51 walks over 209 innings.
"We've got guys who show more flashes of brilliance, but nobody
is as steady and consistent as Mike," former Tigers pitching coach
Bob Cluck said last season. "He showed that he's not a loser. I
think eventually, he'll be a 20-game winner and an All-Star.
"He reminds me of Doug Drabek, who won the Cy Young when I was
with him in Houston."
Maroth gained a measure of notoriety with a 9-21 record in 2003,
when the Tigers lost an AL-record 119 games. He handled the
scrutiny well during that miserable season and bounced back the
next year with an 11-13 record and a 4.31 ERA.
"The 21-loss thing is probably always going to be mentioned
next to my name, but I'm glad the focus is off of that," Maroth
said last year.
Boston selected Maroth in the third round of the 1998 amateur
draft, and traded him one year later to Detroit for Bryce Florie.