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Tampa Bay Rays may try to bring back Wheeler, Aybar for less

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays declined options on reliever Dan Wheeler and infielder/DH Willy Aybar on Wednesday, but they could end up keeping both.

The Rays gave Wheeler, 32, a $1 million buyout rather than a $4 million salary but could look to re-sign him at a lower number. Wheeler, 2-4 with a 3.35 ERA and three saves in 64 games in 2010, is the sixth reliever who pitched significant innings for the Rays last season to become a free agent.

"I was a little surprised, but at the same time I wasn't because I understand where they're coming from since they're going to cut salary," Wheeler said. "We talked about keeping the lines of communication open, and I could still be a Ray next year. The way I look at it, I have 30 teams to talk to."

Aybar, 27, who got a $275,000 buyout rather than a $2.2 million salary, remains under the Rays' control and is eligible for arbitration. The decision seems to indicate that the Rays project Aybar's salary would be lower through arbitration. He hit .230 with six homers and 43 RBIs in 100 games, 62 as the DH.

Also, infielder Elliot Johnson was put back on the 40-man roster after a strong season at Triple-A Durham, hitting .319 with 11 homers and 56 RBIs.

Sparky Anderson, 76, ailing with dementia

Former Tigers and Reds manager Sparky Anderson was placed in hospice care at his Thousand Oaks, Calif., home for complications resulting from dementia.

"It's the type of ailment that takes a toll over time," said family spokesperson Dan Ewald, who was in California with Anderson about three weeks ago.

Anderson, 76, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000 after winning 2,194 games as a manager, third most ever at the time and now sixth on the career list. He led Cincinnati's Big Red Machine to World Series wins in 1975-76 and Detroit to a World Series title in 1984.

OBITUARY: Clyde King, whose career as a player, coach, manager and front-office man spanned six decades, died Tuesday in Goldsboro, N.C. He was 86. Mr. King pitched with the Dodgers and the Reds during a seven-year career. He managed the Giants in 1969 and part of 1970, the Braves for parts of 1974-75 and the Yankees for the final 62 games of 1982.

CUBS: Voters in Mesa, Ariz., approved funding for construction of a new spring training facility. The city will provide up to $99 million to construct the complex. … Ryne Sandberg will not return as manager of Triple-A Iowa next season. … Third baseman Aramis Ramirez exercised his $14.6 million player option.

METS: The team exercised its $11 million option on shortstop Jose Reyes. … Ticket prices for the 2011 season will be cut by an average of 14 percent, and season-ticket holders and groups will get another 10 percent off.

RANGERS: The AL champions plan to talk today with manager Ron Washington about an expected new contract. … The team did not exercise its $9 million option for DH Vladimir Guerrero but might bring him back next season. General manager Jon Daniels said he has already spoken to Guerrero and his agent.

REDS: The team exercised its $11 million option on right-hander and former Hernando High standout Bronson Arroyo but declined a $12.75 million option on right-hander Aaron Harang.

RED SOX: Third baseman Adrian Beltre declined a $10 million player option.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Rays may try to bring back Wheeler, Aybar for less 11/03/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 9:31pm]

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