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Tampa Bay Rays' signing of reliever Kyle Farnsworth now official

Kyle Farnsworth, a middle reliever for most of his 12-year career, went 3-2 with a 3.34 ERA over 642/3 innings for the Braves and Royals last season.

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Kyle Farnsworth, a middle reliever for most of his 12-year career, went 3-2 with a 3.34 ERA over 642/3 innings for the Braves and Royals last season.

ST. PETERSBURG — Having your reputation, including ESPN The Magazine's label as "the baddest man in baseball," precede you isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're a late-inning reliever.

But the Rays' newest, Kyle Farnsworth, shared a little secret after Saturday's announcement that his signing was official: "I'm just a big old teddy bear. I turn it on and off."

Farnsworth, 34, chose the Rays because of their recent success and proximity to his home in the Disney-area community of Celebration. The right-hander will make about $2.65 million this season with either a 2012 option for about $3.3 million or a $550,000 buyout.

The Rays chose him because of his experience, improved performance and an expanded arsenal — with the addition of a sinker and cutter to his 95 mph fastball they believe can make him successful in the AL East, more so than during his 2006-08 stint with the Yankees.

And, executive vice president Andrew Friedman said, "an intimidation factor" that will help their entire bullpen.

"When the hitter isn't as comfortable at the plate as they would be towards another pitcher, that always works (to your advantage)," said Farnsworth, a chiseled 6 feet 4, 230 pounds.

"Any kind of advantage I can get, I'll take."

Farnsworth split last season between Kansas City and Atlanta, going 3-2 with a 3.34 ERA over 642/3 innings. He has spent the bulk of his 12-year career in middle relief with only 27 saves in 713 appearances.

The Rays are looking to add another late-inning reliever (with lefty Brian Fuentes most appealing). But Farnsworth said he'll do whatever's needed: "I'm going to … pitch whatever inning (manager Joe Maddon) has me pitch, whether it's the sixth inning, seventh, eighth or ninth."

Pujols sets deadline

ST. LOUIS — Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak confirmed star first baseman Albert Pujols has set a deadline of the start of spring training to sign a new deal or he will become a free agent after the season. Mozeliak declined to characterize the talks, and both sides previously said they want to keep them private.

"We don't want to sit here and handicap or guess or kind of give any type of gut feel where this thing is headed right now," he said.

Pujols, 30, set to make $16 million this season, was unavailable for comment.

Cubs: A statue of former star and broadcaster Ron Santo, who died in December, will be unveiled outside Wrigley Field on Aug. 10. Wrigley's other statues are of former players Ernie Banks and Billy Williams and broadcaster Harry Caray.

Royals: Lefty Bruce Chen, the team leader in wins last season while going 12-7 with a 4.17 ERA in 33 games (23 starts), re-signed for one year and $2 million.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Rays' signing of reliever Kyle Farnsworth now official 01/15/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 15, 2011 9:37pm]

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