Isringhausen, Rays trying to "figure something out"
UPDATE, 3:38: Here's one potential resolution that may be under discussion - Isringhausen is added to the 40-man roster, and starts getting his $750,000 major-league salary, but is put on the DL and stays in extended spring for a few weeks to build strength and get sharper.
That allows the Rays to keep him, and buys them time to see how closer Troy Percival holds up, to see how often they need a long reliever, and to see how much Isringhausen could be of service.
UPDATE, 2:48: Isringhausen's agent, Dan Horwits, said he and Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman have been "working through some issues today" and he expects resolution by tomorrow at the latest. "I'm optimistic we'll work something out,'' Horwits said. "Both sides want him to stay in Tampa Bay.''
Horwits also made it clear that Isringhausen won't go to the minors. "Suffice to say, Izzy is not going to accept a minor-league assignment,'' Horwits said. "Either he's going to be a Ray or he's going to be with another club.''
UPDATE, 1:05: Manager Joe Maddon confirmed the Rays are trying to work something out to keep Isringhausen, and that he will accompany the team to Philadelphia, but wouldn't say if he will be in Boston, where the Rays open the season next week.
But he made it clear the Rays want to keep Isringhausen in the organization.
"We're trying to work something out to keep him with us and possibly on the team,'' Maddon said. "Either way we want to keep him with us, there's no doubt about that. We do not want to lose him. We feel very strongly about that.''
With Isringhausen not wanting to pitch in the minors, and with the Rays wanting to have a long reliever in the bullpen, the options if Isringhausen isn't on the active roster include having him work out with the Rays, or having him stay in extended spring training for a defined amount of time.
"There's a whole bunch of different ways to get this done if in fact he doesn't make the team whereas we don't want to lose this fella,'' Maddon said. "We see him as being very valuable to our organization, we think he can help us win in 2009 so if he's not on the team from jump street we want to keep him around somehow.''
Overall, Maddon said "we're really close" to making final decisions and it was possible there could be announcements by the end of the day, and if not then by Wednesday.
"There's other things we have to do today, there's other things that potentially may happen that could impact a lot of different things,'' Maddon said. " We needed to broach the subject with (Isringhausen) today to find out exactly how he feels in regard to different options. ... We had the conversation and told him the side we were on now.''
Maddon also said the other six relievers are all expected to be on the season-opening roster, that none have any health issues that would lead to them being on the DL (and creating roster space) - Grant Balfour, J.P. Howell, Joe Nelson, Troy Percival, Brian Shouse and Dan Wheeler.
Cormier, Hammel and Niemann all said they didn't know any more about their situations, and Maddon confirmed they hadn't been talked to.
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After meeting with Rays officials in Port Charlotte this morning, RHP Jason Isringhausen indicated the team was trying to find a way to keep him.
The 36-year-old veteran wasn't told he had made the squad, but said: "We're going to be creative about something. I don't know all the particulars. You'll have to talk to them. We'll figure something out.''
Isringhausen, who came into the clubhouse this morning joking that he was glad to see his nameplate was still above his locker, said the creativity would not include an assignment to the minor leagues. He also said he would be with the Rays for the weekend exhibtions in Philadelphia.
While the team left on time for Fort Myers this morning, manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey stayed behind, and meeting with Isringhausen was part of their agenda.
The Rays are in the process of making final roster decisions, which include picking between Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, then deciding between whoever isn't selected, Isringhausen and Lance Cormier for the final spot in the bullpen. The Rays have received trade inquiries about Hammel and Niemann, which is a factor in the decision.
Isringhausen's agent indicated Monday he was confident the former All-Star closer would have other big-league opportunities if the Rays don't keep him.
- Marc Topkin and Joe Smith