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Tampa Bay Rays add former Cardinal Adam Kennedy

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays added some low-risk infield insurance on the eve of today's first full-squad workout, agreeing with former Angels star second baseman Adam Kennedy on minor-league contract after he was released by St. Louis.

Kennedy, 33, provides an intriguing option if starter Akinori Iwamura or a backup were injured, and comes cheaply as the Cardinals are responsible for all but the major-league minimum $400,000 of his $4 million salary.

"We talk a lot about depth, and I think this move fits perfectly in line with that," executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "He's a tremendous defender, he does a lot of things well and we're anxious to watch him play on a daily basis. …

''Right now he's on the outside looking in. I think it would take an injury at this point, but you never know, and we're going into it with an open mind."

With Iwamura involved in the World Baseball Classic potentially until late March, Kennedy will have an opportunity to play second base, and may get a look at other positions.

He starred for the Angels when Rays manager Joe Maddon was a coach, but has had a rough time since signing a three-year, $10 million deal in St. Louis. He hit .217 while limited to 87 games in 2007, bounced back to hit .280 in 115 games last season, but requested a trade in August because of diminished playing time. He eventually fell out of favor with manager Tony La Russa.

The rift was deep enough that though the Cardinals owed him the $4 million and don't have an experienced replacement, they cut him loose last week. "I don't know what to say," Kennedy told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I obviously did something to p--- Tony off, whatever it is. Whatever."

Friedman said the Rays didn't know what happened but are not concerned. "Joe's got a history with him, speaks extremely highly of him as a teammate and a competitor, and feels he'll add a lot to our group in the clubhouse," he said. Kennedy was flying from California on Tuesday night and is expected to report today.

SPRING CAMPERS: OF Carl Crawford, 1B Carlos Pena and minor-league invitee INF Ray Olmedo were the only players who hadn't checked in by Tuesday afternoon. Maddon said all three are expected for this morning's workout. INFs Ben Zobrist and Morgan Ensberg and OF Jon Weber reported Tuesday.

CALL TO ORDER: Having shared some thoughts Sunday with the pitchers and catchers, Maddon will deliver an extended version before today's full-squad workout.

"I want to impact the way we think, because I believe that's what's going to get us back where we were last year," he said. "It's how we think. Because how you think is going to affect what you do, obviously. It's all about, and I keep talking about it, the humility and the gratitude and the self-discipline.

"If we're able to keep our eye on that, and control the controllable aspects, we'll play well again this year. If we let it get away from us, then you have to start trying to rein it in at a later time, and it becomes more difficult."

LIVE FROM TAMPA: A handful of Rays lingered in the clubhouse and caught at least some of Alex Rodriguez's news conference. RHP Matt Garza sounded like he's heard enough of the issue: "It happened in '03, he apologized for it, it's over. I know he's a huge sports figure, but I don't see them cracking down on people who do stuff in '03 and get called up right now. Drug use and stuff, people get slapped on the wrist and they ruin a guy's image."

MISCELLANY: After Thursday's Welcome to Charlotte County parade, the team plans a pig roast for the players, which Maddon promised to be "quite entertaining." … The Rays continue waiting for medical test results to finalize Willy Aybar's two-year deal with a 2011 option.

Tampa Bay Rays add former Cardinal Adam Kennedy 02/17/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 18, 2009 7:50am]
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