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Former Tampa Bay Rays reliever Trever Miller finalizes deal with Cardinals

ST. PETERSBURG — Lefty reliever Trever Miller really wanted to stay with the Rays, so much so that he made one last pitch Tuesday before agreeing to a revised one-year contract with the Cardinals.

"I'm definitely sad to leave the Rays," said Miller, who lives in Land O'Lakes. "I did everything in my power to get something going. In (the Rays') defense, they simply weren't ready. Going to the World Series, things just got pushed back for them. … The timing just wasn't right."

For the Rays, who Nov. 3 declined Miller's $2-million option and instead paid a $400,000 buyout, it appeared to be more a matter of priority as they seek to first address needs for a designated hitter and rightfielder, and see what they cost. Miller had a 4.15 ERA in 68 appearances last season.

Miller, 35, received a low base salary with St. Louis but can make $2-million if he reaches all appearance-based incentives. He had originally agreed to a two-year deal, but the Cardinals revised the offer when their doctors saw what they considered a tear in his labrum. Miller, who considers it a nonissue and speculated he pitched through it for several seasons, then made his final attempt to stay with the Rays, but he had to give the Cardinals an answer Tuesday night.

Having grown up in Louisville watching Cardinals minor-leaguers, Miller said he had always hoped to play in St. Louis and is excited to play for manager Tony La Russa.

HUNSICKER STAYS: Senior vice president Gerry Hunsicker, the well-respected executive rumored annually to be a candidate for open general manager jobs, has agreed to a new multiyear pact to remain with the Rays.

MORE RAYS: Tuesday's decompression surgery to relieve nerve pressure in closer Troy Percival's back "went well," the team said. Percival, 39, was up, walking and on a schedule to start throwing off the mound in early March and be ready for opening day. … Fox Sports says the Yankees have joined the Red Sox and Phillies with interest in free agent outfielder Rocco Baldelli.

Pedroia gets new deal

BOSTON — Dustin Pedroia has a rookie of the year award, an MVP award, a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger and a World Series ring. Now he has a big-bucks contract befitting one of the game's most decorated young players.

The Red Sox second baseman who earned $457,000 last season while being named the American League's most valuable player agreed Wednesday to a $40.5-million, six-year contract that could keep him in Boston through at least 2014.

"I wanted to be here a long time," Pedroia, 25, said at a Fenway Park news conference. "Hopefully in the next six years we can win some championships."

Heading into his third year in the majors, the second baseman has joined Cal Ripken and Ryan Howard as the only players to follow a rookie award with an MVP. Pedroia led the AL with 213 hits, 118 runs and 54 doubles while batting .326 with a .376 on-base percentage and a .493 slugging percentage. He added 17 home runs, 83 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 21 attempts.

He is the first AL second baseman to win the MVP award since Nellie Fox in 1959. And the Red Sox have reached the postseason in both his seasons.

"He embodies just about everything we look for in a Red Sox player, and that makes this a great day for the organization," general manager Theo Epstein said. "Dustin plays hard, first and foremost, all the time. He plays to win. He plays for his teammates, not himself.

"What's not to like? If we had 25 guys like him, we'd be in good shape. I don't think we'd be the Red Sox right now without Dustin Pedroia."

HAMPTON JOINS ASTROS: Oft-injured left-handed pitcher Mike Hampton, a former Crystal River High standout, finalized a one-year, $2-million deal with Houston, hoping to resurrect his career in the place where he became a prominent big-leaguer.

"Some of my fondest memories came in an Astros uniform," he said. "So it's a chance to return to some of those glory days."

After six seasons with the Astros, Hampton was traded to the Mets and went 15-10 with a 3.14 ERA in 2000 before signing a $121-million, eight-year deal with Colorado.

Since then, he has gone 56-52, 4.81 in 147 starts for the Rockies and Braves, who acquired him after the 2002 season.

GIANTS: Right-handed reliever Bobby Howry agreed to a $2.75-million, one-year deal. Howry, 35, has a 3.68 ERA in 668 games over 11 seasons but is coming off a down year, when he posted a 5.35 ERA in 72 games for the Cubs.

MARINERS: Free agent Russell Branyan, a former Ray, agreed to a $1.4-million, one-year contract. The left-handed hitter batted .250 with a .342 on-base percentage and a .583 slugging percentage in 132 at-bats with the Brewers last season. … Rick Adair was named pitching coach and John Wetteland bullpen coach.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Former Tampa Bay Rays reliever Trever Miller finalizes deal with Cardinals 12/03/08 [Last modified: Thursday, December 4, 2008 1:19pm]

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