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Notes: Loretta loses arbitration case

Notes: Loretta loses arbitration case

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Mark Loretta, one of the few free agents in recent history to have his salary determined by an arbitration panel, said even though he lost his case against the Astros, he bears no ill feelings against the organization.

"I went in there thinking there's nothing they could say that was going to hurt my feelings," Loretta said. "And they didn't. They were very objective. I really think it could have gone either way."

Loretta asked for $4.9 million, while the club offered $2.75 million. He made $2.5 million after signing as a free agent in 2007, but he earned an extra $1 million in performance bonuses.

Loretta attended the hearing, which took place Monday morning in St. Petersburg. The arbitration panel issued a ruling less than 24 hours later, siding with the Astros.

"We're happy we won it," general manager Ed Wade said. "We're happy the process is over. The goal is to get negotiated settlements, but the arbitration mechanism is there for a reason. I'm happy we prevailed, but now it's time to focus on baseball."

Loretta, respected by peers and front offices for his professionalism, emphasized that he has no plans to make an issue out of his salary dispute with the team.

"I thought [the hearing] was very fair and I wasn't offended in any way," he said.

Clean slate: Toward the end of the workday on Tuesday, Lance Berkman and Jose Valverde had not formally met, but the teammates both expressed a "water under the bridge" approach to a small offseason controversy.

Berkman had mentioned to a reporter that Valverde's animated antics on the mound rubbed opposing players the wrong way. This sparked a largely media-driven firestorm that attempted to pit Berkman against the new Houston closer.

In reality, however, neither player harbors any ill will. Valverde said he did not take offense to anything Berkman said.

"He played with [Brad] Lidge for a long time," the closer said. "I think that's what happened there. Lance is a good guy. There are no problems."

Berkman said he regrets making the comments.

"I've always been a guy that, when asked a question, I'll be as honest as I can about it," he said. "That doesn't guarantee that you'll use good judgment all the time. If I had to do it all over again, I would have just kept my opinion to myself.

"I really didn't see that as a big deal. What I said certainly doesn't reflect on him as a human being. It's just the way you go about playing the game."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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