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Mathis wins arbitration case with Angels

Mathis wins arbitration case with Angels

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TEMPE, Ariz. -- Catcher Jeff Mathis had reason to celebrate on Friday after winning his arbitration case with the Angels and earning an $850,000 raise to $1.3 million for the 2010 season.

The decision handed down by arbitrators in Tampa, Fla., was worth $600,000 to Mathis, the difference between what he requested and the $700,000 offered by the club.

"I'm happy this is over with and I can get down to work," Mathis said by phone. "Naturally, I feel good about winning. I think we presented a good case with some numbers that showed that I've made some contributions to our success, especially defensively."

The Angels were represented at the Florida hearing by general manager Tony Reagins. It was the second case handled by Reagins, who presided over a victory two years ago when closer Francisco Rodriguez received $10 million.

"It's not an easy process, whether you win or lose," Reagins said, having returned to Angels camp at Tempe Diablo Stadium. "You hope everybody involved puts it behind them. Whatever the result is, you live with it and take care of business on the field.

"That's what it's about -- performing on the field and giving us a chance to win."

Mathis, 26, has excelled defensively since arriving to share the catching duties with Mike Napoli in 2007.

While Napoli, signed for $3.6 million to avoid an arbitration hearing, has put up impressive power numbers, Mathis' most favorable statistics involve his defense.

The pitching staff's ERA with Mathis behind the plate in 2009 was 3.99, up from 3.65 in 2008. In 234 career starts, the team's pitchers have a 3.95 ERA with Mathis catching.

Napoli had a 4.86 catcher's ERA in 2009 and 4.45 in '08. In Napoli's 300 career starts, Angels pitchers have a 4.34 ERA. Both catchers have thrown out 23 percent of attempted basestealers in their careers.

The Angels were 46-32 in games started by Mathis in 2009 compared to 51-33 in Napoli's starts.

Mathis, 26, batted .211 with five homers and 28 RBIs in 84 games for the Angels in 2009. He's a .200 career hitter in 749 at-bats with 20 homers and 99 RBIs.

He erupted in postseason play in 2009, batting .583 against the Red Sox and Yankees with five doubles in 12 at-bats with a 1.000 slugging percentage. In 20 career postseason at-bats, Mathis is batting .450 with a .700 slugging percentage.

A first-round pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft, Mathis signed out of Marianna (Fla.) High School, turning down a scholarship offer to play football at Florida State University.

Lyle Spencer 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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