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.