JUPITER, Fla. • It was long enough ago to fit an entire career, and yet Darren Oliver remembers well that afternoon in Tampa that the Cardinals took him to arbitration.

“Sitting there in a new suit, thinking, ‘What?’” he said. “Something I’ll never forget.”

For the first time since seeing Oliver across the table at an arbitration hearing in 1999, the Cardinals went back into the room this past week to face Michael Wacha and determine the fourth-year starter’s salary. It was the first time in 18 years that the Cardinals have gone before an arbiter to determine a player’s salary, and the club recognized it was developing a reputation for settling before arguing.
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