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Former Tampa Bay Rays draft pick Chris Bootcheck signs in bid to join bullpen

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays tried to get Chris Bootcheck in 1997 when he was a promising high school pitching prospect and they took a flyer with a 17th-round draft pick.

Bootcheck passed then to attend Auburn and made the most of it, getting drafted in the first round three years later by the Angels and signing for $1.8 million. But Bootcheck never really made it, spending only one full season (2007) in the majors as a middle reliever and last season in Japan.

And now, at age 32, he ended up with the Rays after all, signing a minor-league deal Sunday to join the spring competition for a bullpen spot.

While Bootcheck's most recent stay in the majors didn't look good — an 11.08 ERA in 13 appearances for the Pirates in 2009 — he put together some interesting numbers that year at Triple A, going 3-2, 3.37 with 20 saves in 40 appearances, striking out 55 while walking seven in 422/3 innings.

With Bootcheck (who will wear No. 78) the Rays have 31 pitchers and 61 players overall on their spring roster.

CANCER SCARE: Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher, 45, who was the Rays' pitching coach in 2006, is recovering after surgery to remove a cancerous module on his thyroid.

PUJOLS TALKS: First baseman Albert Pujols rejected the Cardinals' latest contract proposal, USA Today reported.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Former Tampa Bay Rays draft pick Chris Bootcheck signs in bid to join bullpen 02/13/11 [Last modified: Sunday, February 13, 2011 9:01pm]

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