SEATTLE — The Rays changed the makeup of their bullpen with Thursday's acquisition of Chad Bradford and, more significantly, the look.
The veteran right-hander, acquired from Baltimore for a minor-leaguer to be named, is one of baseball's unique relievers because of an unorthodox submarine-style delivery. He nearly scrapes his knuckles on the mound as he releases the ball.
"No hitter really likes to face that," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "There's nobody who says, 'Oh good, Chad's coming in. Good, we're going to have a submariner.' Nobody likes that. You have to battle. It's a different look entirely."
One of the big differences, said Rays veteran Eric Hinske, is that "the ball actually comes up and then down, so it definitely changes your eye level."
As a result, Bradford, 33, gets a lot of ground balls, more than any other big-league reliever (with a 4.98 ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio), which should play well in front of the Rays' tidy infield defense.
"He gives us a very different look from what we currently have," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "He's an extreme ground-ball pitcher who should enjoy success pitching in front of our infield defense."
"He's a ground-ball machine," Hinske said.
Bradford is considered tough on right-handers (.265 batting average this season, .241 for his career), and is likely to be used in short stints as something of a specialist, similar to how Trever Miller faces primarily left-handers.
Bradford, 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA in 47 appearances this season, is not expected to join the Rays until Saturday, when they will have to make room on the roster. Veteran Al Reyes, who has been inconsistent since returning from his previous shoulder problem, could end up back on the disabled list.
Bradford is an 11-year veteran with a career record of 34-28 with 11 saves and a 3.31 ERA pitching for the White Sox, A's, Red Sox, Mets and Orioles.
He was available because he got through waivers and is signed through the 2009 season, making $3.5-million this season (plus a $500,000 trade assignment bonus) and next.