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GOMES BACK HOME WITH A'S

Jonny Gomes has returned home.

The Athletics and the former Rays outfielder/DH finalized a $1 million, one-year contract Thursday after reaching a preliminary agreement last week.

"Everybody's really excited. It's kind of ironic telling the family ... starting my pro career in Tampa, it's about as far away you can get from home, people say, 'Oh, you do play,'" said Gomes, who is from nearby Petaluma. "I'm getting tons of positive feedback."

Gomes, 31, hit .209 with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs last year for Cincinnati and Washington in his ninth major-league season. He will provide outfield depth for rebuilding Oakland, which hasn't had a winning record or made the playoffs since being swept in the 2006 American League Championship Series by Detroit.

"I'm not rebuilding. That's how I keep explaining it," Gomes said. "My role is how it is every single year: When my number's called, I want to be ready."

Pulling on the green and gold at FanFest this weekend will mean a lot to Gomes, who loved the San Francisco Bay area sports teams growing up but especially the A's. "I was wearing a whole lot of A's gear growing up. Don't know how you couldn't with the Bash Brothers and Rickey Henderson," he said.

The team cleared room on its 40-man roster by designating infielder Adrian Cardenas for assignment.

* * *

Keppinger deal could come today for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG - The Rays were expected to announce today a one-year deal with free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger.

Keppinger, 31, who had his physical exam Thursday, will provide depth and an additional right-handed bat. He plays primarily second and shortstop, and also has experience at first and third and in the outfield.

The Rays will have to make room on the 40-man roster for Keppinger, a veteran of seven big-league seasons.

Also:

- Sun Sports will televise four Rays spring training games: March 15, 18, 25 and 31.

- Manager Joe Maddon is featured in a taped roundtable discussion at 9 tonight on the MLB Network.

- Baseball America's Prospect Handbook rankings of the Rays' top prospects starts with left-handed pitcher Matt Moore, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, right-handed pitcher Chris Archer, right-handed pitcher Taylor Guerrieri and right-handed pitcher Alex Colome. Outfielder Josh Sale, the club's 2010 top draft pick, is not in the top 32.

Fielder happy to be back: Prince Fielder stood smiling and recalled his earliest memories of old Tiger Stadium. He would hang out at the ballpark where his father, Cecil, hit many massive home runs.

"For me, it was always Sparky saying I was going to pinch-hit. And I really believed him," Fielder said, referring to former manager Sparky Anderson. "I'm just glad I get to come back."

The Tigers introduced Fielder after finalizing a $214 million, nine-year free agent contract with the first baseman.

Fielder was born in 1984, the last time Detroit won the World Series. After luring him back to Michigan with the fourth-largest deal in baseball history, the Tigers are hoping Fielder will help usher in a new championship era for the Motor City.

"This is awesome," he said. "It's kind of a dream come true."

Indians: Pitcher Fausto Carmona was placed on baseball's restricted list after his arrest on using a false identity. He was arrested last week in the Dominican Republic on charges he falsified his name and birth date. ... Reliever Dan Wheeler, 34, signed a minor-league deal. Wheeler, a former Ray who pitched in 37 games for Boston last season, will be in spring training camp with a chance to win a spot on the major-league roster.

Nationals: Reliever Brad Lidge agreed to a one-year deal. Last season the right-hander threw only 19-1/3 innings for the Phillies due to elbow and shoulder problems in his right arm.

Red Sox: Outfielder Cody Ross signed a one-year deal, the team confirmed, reportedly for $3 million.

Yankees: Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda finalized his $10 million, one-year deal. Also, left-hander Boone Logan signed a one-year deal for $1.875 million, the club's final salary arbitration case.

Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.

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