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Departed Jonny Gomes appreciates time with Tampa Bay Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Outfielder Jonny Gomes was disappointed to hear he was being let go by the Rays but wanted to thank the team for the opportunity that changed, and might have saved, his life.

"If it wasn't for the Rays, I'd probably be in Iraq right now," Gomes said Saturday. "Back in '01, I had two contracts in front of me, one to go play for the Rays as an 18th-round draft pick and one to go into the Marines.

"So I may owe the Rays my life. I'm one of the few people who leaves the Rays with a smile."

Gomes, 28, has been working out in Arizona and undergoing testing to improve his vision, through contacts or laser surgery. Plus, he is getting married in February. He hopes to sign a major-league deal elsewhere but said if not, he would be open to rejoining the Rays on a minor-league one.

"All I want to do is play baseball," he said. "Obviously, I want to be in the big leagues, but I'm open to anything."

Also, the Rays found some potential relief candidates among the other 35 players not tendered contracts.

They already had reached out Saturday to agents for right-handers Joe Nelson, who was 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 59 games for the Marlins, and Scott Proctor, who was 2-0 with a 6.05 ERA in 41 games for the Dodgers. Seven teams contacted Proctor's agent by 9 a.m. Saturday.

Among other possibilities is lefty Wil Ledezma, formerly of Arizona.

Indians: Kerry Wood passed a physical and competed a two-year, $20.5-million deal. Wood, 31, saved 34 games last season, his first as the Cubs' closer.

Rockies: Reliever Alan Embree, 38, agreed to a one-year deal. He went 2-5 with a 4.96 ERA in 70 games for Oakland last season.

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Departed Jonny Gomes appreciates time with Tampa Bay Rays 12/13/08 [Last modified: Friday, December 19, 2008 9:40am]

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