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Well-traveled Bradford happy to join Rays

SEATTLE — Getting here was a bit of a hassle, but new RH reliever Chad Bradford was thrilled to make the trip from last place to first by joining the Rays. Even better was getting the win in his first appearance.

Having returned to Baltimore with the Orioles after Wednesday's game in Anaheim, Bradford had flown home to Mississippi for Thursday's off day (and hadn't even gotten to his house in Jackson) when he got the news that he had been traded. So he flew back to Baltimore on Friday to pack his stuff, then flew to Seattle on Saturday and joined the Rays just before batting practice.

"I spent a few days in the air," he said.

Bradford said he was caught off-guard by the news because the trading deadline had passed — the Rays claimed him on waivers to make the deal — but was excited by the opportunity.

"To be on a first-place team is unbelievable," Bradford said. "All of a sudden one day you're not and one day you are. It kinda lights a fire under you because you're ready to get out there and get after it."

Bradford, a submarine-style thrower since high school, will be used primarily against right-handed hitters and in situations where the Rays need a ground ball: He leads all relievers by getting nearly five ground-ball outs to every flyout, and he rarely gives up home runs, or extra-base hits.

Manager Joe Maddon said he will have to get a handle on exactly how, and how often, Bradford can be used, but he has some initial ideas.

"Primarily right now probably more righties than lefties, although I'm not afraid of a lefty, to start an inning is fine but also to get a ground ball in an inning to get out of it," Maddon said. "It's a nice weapon to have."

Because most of the other Rays relievers allow more fly-ball outs, Bradford will add what pitching coach Jim Hickey called "a nice contrast." His presence could also allow Maddon to use Grant Balfour in later game situations.

The Rays are clearly convinced Bradford can help, since they committed nearly $6-million to get him. He is due about $1-million in salary the rest of this season, gets a $500,000 trade assignment bonus and is signed for next season at $3.5-million. Plus, they're responsible for the remaining $641,000 due RHP Al Reyes, who was designated for assignment to make room, unless he gets claimed on waivers or traded.

FOR EVERY ACTION: Reyes led the team with 26 saves last season but battled injuries and inconsistency much of this season. Reyes said he expected the move and wished the team well. Maddon said Reyes would be missed and appreciated for what he did, telling him, "Last year we were not very good and we would have been horrid had he not been here."

HAIRY MOMENTS: Eric Hinske had his head just about shaved Saturday, saying he does it about once a year and hopes it changes his luck at the plate. Rocco Baldelli trimmed the bushy beard he has been wearing, but he won't shave it off until he's activated.

MINOR MATTERS: Sale of the Class A Vero Beach team to Cal Ripken's group has been completed, and approval is expected soon from the Florida State League for relocation next season to Port Charlotte, the team's new spring base. … Double-A Montgomery LHP David Price and 3B Chris Nowak were named the top minor-leaguers for July. Price was 4-0, 2.08 in six starts; Nowak, who also won in June, hit .357 with six homers in 24 RBIs in 26 games.

MISCELLANY: Backup C Shawn Riggans, who hasn't been behind the plate since being hit in the chest by a pitch Aug. 3, is expected to start today. … The Palma Ceia Little League girls softball team, which is playing in the World Series in Kirkland, Wash., attended the game. … Carl Crawford extended his hitting streak to 11 games. … Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 15 games.

Well-traveled Bradford happy to join Rays 08/09/08 [Last modified: Sunday, August 10, 2008 1:05pm]
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