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Tampa Bay Rays close to signing pitcher Roberto Hernandez

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays are working to complete a deal to sign right-hander Roberto Hernandez (not that one), a move that would add depth to their rotation and/or bullpen and another player with an interesting past to their clubhouse.

Hernandez, 32, previously pitched for the Indians and formerly was known as Fausto Carmona before being caught in January in his native Dominican Republic falsifying his identity .

He is looking to re-establish his career after missing most of last season with visa issues after the scandal. He didn't make his debut for the Indians until Aug. 12, going 0-3 with a 7.53 ERA, then was shut down with an ankle injury. The Indians declined a $6 million option.

Hernandez — who was 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA in 2007 (and fourth in the Cy Young voting), and an All-Star in 2010 (13-14, 3.77) — could emerge as a back-of-the-rotation option for the Rays in the absence of traded James Shields and Wade Davis. Or he could end up in the bullpen, where his ability to get ground balls could make him an effective weapon.

The deal may not be completed and announced for several days.

NOTE: Manager Joe Maddon completed three days of serving meals at Salvation Army shelters Wednesday and headed to Pennsylvania for a weekend of fundraising events for his Hazleton Integration Project.

Shields introduced

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Manager Ned Yost and the Royals hope their recent acquisitions from the Rays can bring a winning franchise to a city in dire need of one.

Former All-Star James Shields and fellow right-hander Wade Davis arrived in Kansas City for physicals after a trade that sent the Royals' top prospect, Wil Myers, and three other minor-leaguers to Tampa Bay. They're ready to join a new-look rotation the club believes can revive a franchise that hasn't had a winning season since 2003 and hasn't made the postseason since 1985.

"I'm up for any challenge, there's no doubt," Shields said. "But my goal here, as well as Wade's, is we're going to try to feed off each other."

Shields, 30, is expected to be the Royals' opening day starter after seven years as a stalwart in the Rays rotation. He has topped 200 innings each of the past six seasons.

"These two guys have winning flowing in their veins," Yost said. "They're going to be a huge addition not only to our pitching staff but our whole team."

Davis, who started 64 games for Tampa Bay from 2009-11, was sent to the bullpen last season and flourished. He is slated to return to the rotation next season.

"It's awesome to get the opportunity. Last year was a good learning experience for me," Davis said. "It's just a little overwhelming the past couple days, but sitting back and thinking about it, it's a really exciting thing for me to be part of."

METS: Third baseman David Wright will have to wait until 2025 to receive all the money from his $138 million, eight-year contract with the Mets. The deal includes $15.5 million in salary that is being deferred without interest.

YANKEES: Closer Mariano Rivera, coming back from right knee surgery, expects to be ready by opening day. "I don't see why not," said Rivera, 43. "We have at least three months, four months to that point. I'll be ready."

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.

Tampa Bay Rays close to signing pitcher Roberto Hernandez 12/12/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 11:14pm]
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