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Tampa Bay Rays seeking infield, bullpen depth

ST. PETERSBURG — Spring training opens in five weeks, and while the Rays are satisfied with the squad they've assembled, they're considering further additions.

Manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday they are still looking for depth and more options at second base and in the bullpen. "Primarily at those two spots," he said. "You may still find somebody you really want to bring in to compete in some way."

The Rays haven't decided if Ben Zobrist will play second, rightfield or both. If he ends up in right all or part of the time, they have only inexperienced options at second: newcomer Sean Rodriguez, converted shortstop Reid Brignac and long-time minor-leaguer Elliot Johnson.

Though closer Rafael Soriano was acquired in trade, there has been interest in adding another experienced reliever.

Maddon, attending the winter development program for top prospects at the Trop, also said the battle between catchers Dioner Navarro and Kelly Shoppach "is an open competition in a sense" but he expects both will "play a lot."

Also, he got a good report from first baseman Carlos Peña, who said his broken fingers have healed and he should be ready for the start of camp, and hasn't spoken yet with Pat Burrell.

MAKING THEM PAY: The Marlins have reached an agreement with the players' union to increase spending in the wake of complaints that their payroll has been so small as to violate baseball's revenue sharing provisions. It was unclear how much of the revenue sharing the team has invested in payroll or how much its payroll might increase. Teams have repeatedly refused to open their books for public examination.

Though Florida has been competitive in the NL East the past two seasons and has a stadium heavily funded by public money set to open in 2012, its payroll has been baseball's lowest three of the past four years.

ASTROS: Right-hander Brett Myers finalized a one-year deal that guarantees $5.1 million.

INDIANS: Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek signed a minor-league contract.

PIRATES: Outfielder Ryan Church reached a preliminary agreement on a $1.5 million, one-year guaranteed contract.

JURISPRUDENCE: Nikolai Bonds, 20, son of Barry Bonds, pleaded not guilty in Redwood City, Calif., to five misdemeanor charges related to a fight with his mother, Sun Bonds.

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

Tampa Bay Rays seeking infield, bullpen depth 01/13/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 10:03am]
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