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Gary Sheffield appears more interested in Tampa Bay Rays than they in him

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Joe Maddon said his Friday dinner with Gary Sheffield included plenty of good conversation but no expression of interest from the team toward signing the free agent DH/outfielder.

"Very informative, but that's it," Maddon said. "I wanted to get to know him better, get a sense of what he's thinking. Who knows, down the road it may help us."

Sheffield, the 42-year-old Tampa native looking to play again after sitting out last season, made it sound a bit more advanced in several radio interviews.

Monday night, he told MLB Network Radio: "I had a meeting with the Rays, and they're going to get back to me, and it's out there now that they're talking to me and hopefully something comes about."

Then Tuesday on the Prime Time show on Tampa's ESPN 1040, according to a Twitter post from host Tom Krasniqi, Sheffield said Maddon "wants" him and "it's up to the front office now."

The Rays are seeking to add several bats after losing Carl Crawford and Carlos Peña but would seem likely to consider other options before Sheffield.

Also:

• The promotion of former big-leaguer Neil Allen from pitching coach at Class A Charlotte to Triple-A Durham and the hiring of Steve Watson to replace him with the Stone Crabs were the only changes to the minor-league coaching staffs. (See tampabay.com/blogs/rays for the complete lists.)

• Cliff Lee's decision to sign with the Phillies will create more interest in the Rays starters, with Matt Garza already the subject of considerable trade speculation (Rangers, Cubs), but they haven't changed their position of not looking to make a deal and maintaining their depth.

• Left-hander Cesar Ramos, one of the Padres pitchers in the stalled Jason Bartlett trade, told San Diego media he is healthy and his placement on the disabled list by his Mexican League team was procedural as he returned home. That would indicate the issue may have to do with the other pitcher, RHP Adam Russell, since it's not on Bartlett's end.

• Catcher Dioner Navarro, non-tendered after a bad season capped by his refusal to stay with the team when left off the playoff roster, signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Dodgers, where he will compete for the backup job.

Philly a draw for Lee

NEW YORK — At some point, it seems, Cliff Lee figured it wasn't about the money anymore.

Baseball's hottest free agent could have had $150 million and a spot on the biggest stage in the game with its most successful team, the Yankees.

Instead, the star pitcher picked the Phillies, who will give him $120 million guaranteed over the next five seasons.

Apparently, he felt he had all he needed. Lee and his family liked Philadelphia. Plus, his wife had complained that New York fans were rude and spat at the Rangers' wives during the AL Championship Series this fall.

"Players seem to like living here," Phillies chairman Bill Giles said. "There's nice housing, and not as expensive as some other places if you want to buy or rent. The schools are good. I think our front office and manager and coaches have a good reputation around baseball right now as being good people."

Lee joins defending NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in what looks to be an imposing rotation.

A'S: Free agent DH Hideki Matsui, 36, finalized a one-year contract after he passed a physical. The sides had agreed to terms during the weekend.

YANKEES: Closer Mariano Rivera, 41, finalized a $30 million, two-year contract. Also, catcher Russell Martin, 27, agreed to a one-year contract. Terms were not available.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Gary Sheffield appears more interested in Tampa Bay Rays than they in him 12/14/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 12:23am]
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