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LHP Moss joins Rays

The Devil Rays made another small investment Thursday that could have a large payoff, adding left-hander Damian Moss as a potential member of the rotation.

Moss, who won 12 games for the Braves as a rookie in 2002, signed a one-year deal that guarantees him $850,000, a $500,000 salary and a $350,000 signing bonus.

Moss, who made $1.55-million last season, is expected to compete strongly for a rotation spot, allowing the Rays the option of two left-handers if Mark Hendrickson also wins a job. Jeremi Gonzalez and Victor Zambrano are the top holdovers, with Doug Waechter, Paul Abbott and Dewon Brazelton among the leading candidates.

Moss, 27, was named to the rookie All-Star team after going 12-6 with a 3.42 ERA for the 2002 Braves. But he was traded to the Giants before the 2003 season, then to the Orioles during the season, and struggled in both places, going a combined 10-12 with a 5.16 ERA. Moss, 27, is a native of Australia who signed with the Braves when Rays general manager Chuck LaMar was in Atlanta.

To make room on the 40-man roster, pitcher Rob Bell was designated for assignment, giving the Rays 10 days to trade, release or pass him through waivers.

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The Rays settled their final arbitration-eligible negotiation, splitting the difference and signing infielder/outfielder Damian Rolls to a one-year $800,000 contract. Rolls requested $900,000; the Rays offered $700,000.

Right-hander Todd Ritchie, 32, signed a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training. Ritchie is recovering from shoulder surgery that limited him to five games last season for Milwaukee. He has also pitched for the Twins, Pirates and White Sox and has a 43-52 record and a 4.66 ERA in 180 big-league games (118 starts). The Rays have 60 players invited to camp.

CY RE-SIGNS: AL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay agreed to a $42-million, four-year contract with the Blue Jays. The right-hander, 22-7 with a 3.25 ERA last season, would have been eligible for free agency after the 2005 season.

SCOUTS WATCH CUBANS: Pitcher Maels Rodriguez and second baseman Yobal Duenas, who fled Cuba in October, worked out for major-league scouts in El Salvador. Rodriguez, 24, was one of the best right-handers in Cuba, and Duenas, 31, was a top basestealer.

EL DUQUE TRIES OUT: Orlando Hernandez worked out in front of scouts for about 20 teams, and the free-agent pitcher said he's nearing full recovery from shoulder surgery. El Duque, who missed all of last season, threw 35 pitches at the University of Miami.

ASTROS: Right-hander Tim Redding was named the No. 5 starter, joining a rotation that includes right-handers Roger Clemens, Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller and left-hander Andy Pettitte.

CARDINALS: Former St. Louis first baseman Will Clark will help the team as a guest instructor during spring training.

D'BACKS: Left-hander Jim Parque agreed to a minor-league contract and was invited to spring training. Parque went 1-1 with an 11.94 ERA in five starts last season with the Rays, who released him Sept. 12.

DODGERS: Right-hander Hideo Nomo is the owner of a new team. The Nomo Baseball Club will be based in his hometown of Osaka and will begin play this spring in Japan's semiprofessional league.

MARINERS: Right-hander Freddy Garcia is recovering after operations to repair two ruptured eardrums and is expected to be ready when pitchers report for spring training Feb. 20.

MARLINS: Right-hander A.J. Burnett took another step in his recovery from reconstructive elbow surgery when he threw off a mound for the first time since being sidelined nine months ago. The team is to visit President Bush at the White House today, more than three months after winning its second World Series.

METS: The team won the right to register its logo in the U.K. after a challenge by the country's weather service, the Met Office, was dismissed.

WHITE SOX: As expected, Japanese career saves leader Shingo Takatsu finalized a $1-million, one-year contract.

YANKEES: Former pitcher Tommy John, a 288-game winner, was hired to manage the Staten Island Yankees of the New York-Penn League.

_ Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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