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Tampa Bay Rays' bullpen reconstruction is taking shape

Piece by piece, the annual reconstruction of the Rays' bullpen is taking shape.

With last week's moves to bring back LHP J.P. Howell and bring in RHP Burke Badenhop to join returning RHPs Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta and Brandon Gomes and LHP Jake McGee, the foundation would appear to be in place.

The Rays are looking for another reliever, ideally but not necessarily one with high-leverage experience. But they believe they could fill the remaining spot internally from a group that includes RHP Josh Lueke (acquired from Seattle), LHP Cesar Ramos, RHP Dane De La Rosa, nonroster invitee RHP Jhonny Nunez and potentially a starter who doesn't make the rotation.

"We've added a couple names to the mix, and it's possible we add one or two more," executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "But we're comfortable with the composition right now in terms of the way the guys complement one another and the different looks (manager) Joe (Maddon) will have access to.''

Badenhop adds an interesting element. He is a ground-ball specialist, much like Chad Bradford was in 2008, though with a delivery that is more traditional but, Maddon said, still "a little funky."

One key will be the continued development of Gomes and McGee, who had impressive rookie seasons. "You don't know how they'll do their second year out,'' Maddon said.

Another is Howell's improvement in his second year post-shoulder surgery. The Rays expect more consistency in his delivery, which will lead to better control and improved results. "I think he's going to be fine," Maddon said.

Howell — whom the Rays debated cutting loose — is excited by the opportunity to prove them right to keep him.

"I'm pumped to run with the Rays," he said in a text message. "The core is an amazing group of people from front office to the clubbies. It's hard to find people and places such as this! I feel lucky to be around all this positive energy."

WINTER WONDER: OF Todd Glaesmann, who spent 2011 at Class A Bowling Green, will play for the World team in Wednesday's Australian Baseball League All-Star Game. He hit .310 in 22 games.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Badenhop doesn't just pitch; the magna cum laude business graduate of Bowling Green wrote the foreword for a friend's financial planning book and has dabbled with movie scripts. … LHP David Price was the surprised top vote-getter in an online St. Petersburg Times poll asking which starter should be traded; he had 33 percent of 1,600-plus votes as of Saturday evening. Price posted on Twitter: "lol whaaaatttt???" … Maddon caps a week of charity events in the Tampa Bay area and his hometown, Hazleton, Pa., on Monday by dropping the puck at the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins hockey game. … Maddon has big plans to expand his Thanksmas program, from serving meals to the needy to opening shelters. … The Rays are bringing their advertising work in house, saying that after a six-year relationship with the Tampa firm PyperPaul + Kenney they have the skills and knowledge to handle it themselves and aren't doing it for cost savings. … Also on the business side, the Rays gave about 50 pre-programmed iPad2s to key sponsors, allowing for real-time interactions. … Friedman's selection to Major League Baseball's new International Talent Committee could be significant given the Rays' exposure in Latin America and interest in changes to the draft process. … New pre-/postgame radio host Neil Solondz (SO-lahnz) will bring an air of professionalism and deep knowledge of players to the shows. … After joining the Rays as a pro scout, former big-leaguer Rico Brogna may give up his duties at Connecticut's Notre Dame-Fairfield High, where he is head football coach.

Tampa Bay Rays' bullpen reconstruction is taking shape 12/17/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 17, 2011 8:32pm]
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