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Tampa Bay Rays claim veteran reliever Russ Springer off waivers from Athletics

SEATTLE — The Rays had interest in adding veteran Russ Springer to their bullpen anyway. After going through two extra-inning games in four days, they believed it was even more important to make a move.

The 40-year-old right-hander was claimed on waivers from Oakland, with the Rays assuming the nearly $1 million remaining on his $3.3 million contract.

He'll join a bullpen expanded — at least for the duration of this road trip — to eight. Little-used infielder Joe Dillon was designated for assignment to make roster room. Springer will be used in many situations, including late-inning, high-leverage.

"He's done a really good job against right-handed hitters this year, he's very durable, he's really been pitching well lately," manager Joe Maddon said. "I've known him for a long time. He's got a great personality. He fits into our group really well."

Springer was 0-4 with a 4.10 ERA in 48 games with Oakland but had a 1.61 ERA over 25 games since early June. He was excited to be back in a pennant race (he has been to the playoffs four times), and to be reunited with former Astros teammate/buddy Dan Wheeler and coach Jim Hickey.

"I pitch better when there's something on the line," he said. "I'm feeling good, and I'm going to have some adrenaline out there I haven't had in a while, and you can't fake that."

He was also relieved the deal was real. Oakland manager Bob Geren woke him Saturday with a call to his Kansas City hotel room telling him he was now a Ray, but when more than two hours passed with no official word, Springer began to wonder if "maybe he's punking me."

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Tampa Bay Rays claim veteran reliever Russ Springer off waivers from Athletics 08/08/09 [Last modified: Sunday, August 9, 2009 7:17am]
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