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Minor-league signings include Richard, Bennett



UPDATE, 5:03: All eight have ties to the organization. Three - 1B Chris Richard, RHP Jeff Bennett and RHP Winston Abreu - played in the majors for the Rays last season. Four played in the minors for the Rays - RHP Joe Bateman, LHP Jason Cromer and LHP Carlos Hernandez at Triple-A Durham, RHP Richard de los Santos at Class A after recovering from shoulder surgery. The other, LHP R.J. Swindle, was claimed on waivers by the Rays but designated for assignment the next day and claimed by Cleveland.

DEVELOPING: Rays announce eight minor-league signings with spring training invites:

RHP Winston Abreu
RHP Joe Bateman
RHP Jeff Bennett
LHP Jason Cromer 
RHP Richard de los Santos
LHP Carlos Hernandez
1B Chris Richard
LHP R.J. Swindle

Here is the release from the team with details:

ST. PETERSBURG, FL—The Tampa Bay Rays have signed eight players to minor league contracts, each with an invitation to spring training: first baseman Chris Richard; right-handed pitchers Winston Abreu, Joe Bateman, Jeff Bennett and Richard De Los Santos; and left-handed pitchers Jason Cromer, Carlos Hernandez and R.J. Swindle.

Richard, 35, appeared in 13 games for the Rays and 100 games for Durham (AAA).  He hit .263 (96-for-365) for the Bulls and led the team with 24 home runs (third in the International League), 75 RBI and a .521 slugging percentage (fifth in IL).  He has hit 64 homers in three years (2007-09) with Durham to become the franchise’s Triple-A career leader.

Abreu, 32, went 3-1 with 15 saves and a 1.94 ERA in 37 appearances for Durham last season.  He appeared in five games in the majors with Tampa Bay (two games) and the Cleveland Indians (three).  While in Durham, he struck out 77 batters in 51 innings and held opponents to a .133 batting average (22-for-173).

Bateman, 29, signed with the Rays last April and went 6-2 with a 3.02 ERA, four saves and a .193 opponents’ batting average in 44 games (two starts) for Durham.  He owns a 2.92 ERA and 50 saves over eight minor league seasons.

Bennett, 29, made 11 relief appearances for the Rays last season after signing on August 1.  He pitched in 44 major league games with the Atlanta Braves and Rays, compiling a 2-4 record and 5.01 ERA.  In parts of four seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers (2004), Braves (2007-09) and Rays he has compiled a 4.30 ERA.

De Los Santos, 25, pitched in 13 games for Charlotte (A) after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.  He went 2-0 with a 0.79 ERA, converted 10 of his 11 save opportunities and limited opponents to a .145 batting average (11-for-76). 

Cromer, 29, split the 2009 season between Montgomery (AA) and Durham.  In a combined 27 starts (28 appearances), he went 11-6 with a 2.99 ERA.  He ranked third in the Rays organization in victories and ninth in ERA.  For Durham, he made 19 starts and went 7-3 with a 2.25 ERA.

Hernandez, 29, went 7-6 with a 3.29 ERA for Durham last season in 21 starts, second most on the team behind Wade Davis.  He spent parts of three seasons (2001-02, 2004) in the major leagues with the Houston Astros. 

Swindle, 26, pitched in six games for the Milwaukee Brewers last season.  He spent the majority of 2009 with Nashville (AAA), a Brewers affiliate, where he went 3-1 with a 1.03 ERA in 31 appearances.  Swindle was briefly a member of the Rays organization last August when the Rays claimed him from Milwaukee, but was designated for assignment the next day and claimed by Cleveland.  He finished the season with Indians affiliate Columbus (AAA) and made six appearances.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:52am]


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