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Hank Blalock's agent says client wants Rays to promote him or let him become free agent

Hank Blalock was a two-time All-Star with four 20-homer seasons when he signed a minor-league deal with the Rays.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Hank Blalock was a two-time All-Star with four 20-homer seasons when he signed a minor-league deal with the Rays.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — If the Rays were considering Hank Blalock as a potential replacement for struggling DH Pat Burrell, they may have to decide soon.

Agent Scott Boras indicated Tuesday that Blalock would activate the out clause in his Triple-A contract within the next week, forcing the Rays to either promote him to the big-league team or allow him to become a free agent and sign elsewhere.

"I would imagine that we'll probably know something about Hank in the next seven days," Boras said at Angel Stadium before Tuesday's game. "The time has come."

Blalock, 29, has been sizzling at Durham, with an International League-leading .366 average plus four homers, 23 RBIs (in 24 games) and a .959 OPS, while playing third base regularly.

Blalock had no big-league offers when he signed with the Rays during spring training, and agreed — at first reluctantly — to go to Durham. With several teams, specifically Seattle, struggling offensively, interest in Blalock may be increasing.

"The thought many teams had about players have come to fruition as we expected in the first five-six weeks," Boras said. "I think a lot of people understand Hank's a better choice for them, so we'll see. Obviously the first hurdle is that Tampa Bay has to make their decision."

Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman was in Durham Tuesday on a pre-planned visit. He declined comment, as he often does on potential player moves. The Rays also could seek to trade Blalock if they didn't plan to call him up.

Burrell, making $9 million, is hitting .221 and plays part time, against right-handed starters.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

Hank Blalock's agent says client wants Rays to promote him or let him become free agent 05/11/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 8:49am]
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