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MCCLUNG DEALT FOR IMMEDIATE HELP

Seth McClung's era is over.

The Devil Rays gave up on McClung's potential and acknowledged the reality, trading the talented but inconsistent right-hander to Milwaukee for Grant Balfour, whom they hope can immediately help their beleaguered bullpen.

McClung, who had been at Triple-A Durham all season after being unexpectedly optioned at the end of the spring, spoke kindly of his time with the Rays.

"I'm grateful for everything they did for me, including the opportunity to go to another organization," he said from Durham. "I've got nothing negative to say. They put me in the big leagues."

Balfour, 29, missed nearly all of 2005 and 2006 after elbow and shoulder surgery. This season, he was 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA, five saves and 47 strikeouts in 32 innings at Triple A but 0-2 with a 20.25 ERA in three games for the Brewers and had been designated for assignment.

"We feel like he's healthy and is capable of helping us out at the major-league level," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "He's got good command, strikes out a lot of guys and competes extremely well."

The Rays will make room on the roster today for Balfour, who is 5-3 with a 5.22 ERA for his career, likely by dropping RHP Jae Kuk Ryu.

McClung, 17-24 with a 6.27 ERA in parts of three adventurous seasons with the Rays, will join Triple-A Nashville.

"He's got the type of arm where a second organization can get lucky with him and he can go on and have a lot of success, and we're rooting for him," Friedman said.

RIGGANS OUT FOR YEAR: It was expected the Rays would active veteran C Josh Paul and designate for assignment Raul Casanova. What was news was that Shawn Riggans, their top catching prospect, is out for the season after undergoing right elbow surgery.

Riggans had elbow problems all year, playing just three games for the Rays, and Dr. Koco Eaton on Friday removed a "loose body" - either a bone chip or piece of cartilage. Riggans, 27, will be recovered by spring training but lost what could have been an opportunity for regular big-league time.

"It's another setback for him," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's a great kid. I know a lot of people around here really like him a lot. We just have to get him healthy and on the field for a consistent period of time. This was the year he may have had the chance to really get an opportunity."

The Rays have 10 days to trade, release or pass Casanova through waivers. Casanova, who hit .250 with six homers (seventh most on the team), said he was "a little brokenhearted" to go but would return to Durham if he doesn't get a major-league job elsewhere.

MISCELLANY: Trade rumors continue to swirl about INF Ty Wigginton, including the New York Post saying the Rays were "moving closer" to dealing him to the Yankees for Scott Proctor, but nothing appears imminent. ... The Mariners are interested in RHPs Al Reyes and Edwin Jackson. ... The Rays were talking about calling up Durham OF/1B Chris Richard, but he strained a hamstring Friday. ... New father LHP Casey Fossum rejoined the bullpen.

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