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Rays sign RHP Jeff Bennett; release LHP James Houser

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August

Update 4:28 p.m. Manager Joe Maddon said he's heard some good things about newly-acquired RHP Jeff Bennett, whom he describes as a slider-sinker guy who can draw ground balls, and pitcher who is durable and a workhorse.

For now, Bennett will slot into the middle relief role, until Maddon can see what they've got in him.

Bennett said he was excited for a fresh start with the Rays, saying he picked them over some other teams due to what he's heard about Maddon, the clubhouse atmosphere and the fact the Rays are still in a playoff race.

Bennett said he's 100-percent healthy, too. He had fractured his left (non-throwing) hand punching a wall near the dugout during a loss to the Yankees. Bennett said he actually popped the bone back into place and pitched another inning before eventually landing on the DL. He told reporters at the time he was "ashamed" of the incident, and later asked for his release, which was granted.

Bennett called landing with the Rays a "blessing," and is more than willing to be put in different roles in the bullpen, similar to the way he was used in Atlanta in 2008, when he posted career highs in games (72), innings (97.1) with 68 strikeouts.

"I want to pitch everyday - I like the fact that I was able to throw three or four times a week," Bennett said. "And that's what I'm hoping to do here, and win."

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The Rays have signed RHP reliever Jeff Bennett, who has arrived here at the Trop and will be available out of the bullpen tonight.

To make room on the 40-man roster, LHP James Houser was released.

Bennett, 29, was recently released by the Braves, where he went 2-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 33 games this season before heading on the disabled list June 25 witha  fracture to his non-throwing left hand, which required surgery.

Following a brief rehab assignment with Gwinnett (AAA) he was released on July 30. He has pitched with the Braves each of the past three seasons.

Bennett replaces RHP Joe Nelson, who was optioned to Triple-A Durham after Friday night's game.

-- JOE SMITH

joesmith@sptimes.com

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:49am]

    

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