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Tampa Bay Rays close to deal with Felipe Lopez

ST. PETERSBURG — As the Rays decide whom to take off their 40-man roster to make room for Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, they are set to add veteran middle infielder Felipe Lopez on a minor-league deal, possibly today.

Lopez, 30, hit .310 for Arizona and Milwaukee in 2009 but struggled last season with St. Louis and Boston.

Candidates to be taken off the 40-man roster would seem to include 1B/OF Leslie Anderson, RHPs Rob Delaney and Mike Ekstrom, C Jose Lobaton and OFs Sam Fuld and Justin Ruggiano.

Executive VP Andrew Friedman said he was "still focused" on adding an established reliever but didn't sound hopeful of a deal before the Feb. 16 start of spring training.

NAME GAME: Damon and Ramirez T-shirts and jerseys will be available at the team Tampa store (400 N Tampa St.), Champs Sports and other retail outlets by the end of the week.

ORDER UP: Manager Joe Maddon is still deciding on a batting order, and may be for a while, unsettled on whether to hit Damon first or second and whether to have Ramirez in front of or behind Evan Longoria.

NUMBERS GAME: Ramirez went back to No. 24 and Damon took 22. 1B Casey Kotchman, signed to a minor-league deal, gets Carlos Peña's No. 23.

Tampa Bay Rays close to deal with Felipe Lopez 02/01/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 9:52pm]

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