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Tampa Bay Rays search for depth, add catcher Chris Gimenez

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays added depth, if not another option, behind the plate, signing Chris Gimenez to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training.

Gimenez, 29, played in 97 big-league games over 2009-11 with the Indians and Mariners, hitting .171 with five homers and 21 RBIs. Over four seasons at Triple A, he hit .264 with a .757 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

As the Rays prepare to open spring training Monday, one of the questions is who will split time with veteran catcher Jose Molina. Jose Lobaton and Robinson Chirinos are the leading candidates. Others in camp include Stephen Vogt, Nevin Ashley, Craig Albernez and Mark Thomas.

FanFest: The Rays' annual FanFest on Saturday at Tropicana Field will feature plenty of familiar faces, including some old ones.

All current Rays — except Ben Zobrist, Joel Peralta and Hak-Ju Lee — are expected and will participate in a series of activities during the 10 a.m.-5 p.m event at Tropicana Field that features free admission and parking.

Former Rays Roberto Hernandez, Doug Waechter and Bryan Rekar are among three dozen former major-leaguers who will sign autographs (free of charge) and participate in other activities, including a Wiffle Ball game. Other attending MLB alumni include Ron LeFlore, Buck Martinez, Orestes Destrade, Dick Drago and Jose Cardenal.

Autographs from Rays players are available only with a $50 wristband, with proceeds to the Florida chapter of the ALS Association.

Other activities include clinics by Rays coaches, a "Reading with the Rays" station, the chance to run bases, have players call-a-friend, and a "high-five" area.

For details and a full schedule, go to tampabay.com/blogs/rays.

Joyce makes pitch: Outfielder Matt Joyce will throw out the first pitch at 7 tonight and present a $10,000 check to the North Brandon Little League (2915 N Kingsway Ave., Seffner).

METS: Left-hander Johan Santana, 32, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session this morning, his first big test of the spring. He had surgery on his left shoulder in September 2010 has not pitched in the majors since then.

PIRATES: Outfielder Garrett Jones lost in the final salary arbitration case of the year. He was awarded the team's offer of a $2.25 million salary rather than his request of $2.5 million. MLB teams won five of the seven arbitration cases, including the Rays over Jeff Niemann. The Marlins suffered the two losses.

Tampa Bay Rays search for depth, add catcher Chris Gimenez 02/16/12 [Last modified: Friday, February 17, 2012 12:11am]
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