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Rays nab reliever Bennett

Posted Aug 1, 2009 by Tribune Sports

Updated Aug 1, 2009 at 05:17 PM


ST. PETERSBURG—The Rays have signed right-handed reliever Jeff Bennett, released Thursday by the Braves, and added him to a major league contract. He replaces righty reliever Joe Nelson, who was optioned to Triple-A Durham.

Bennett, 29, went 2-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 33 games for Atlanta before going on the DL June 25 with a fracture to his non-throwing hand. After a brief rehab assignment at Triple-A Gwinnett, he was released Thursday.

A workhorse who throws a hard sinker and slider, Bennett will primarily middle relief. His availabiity may allow the Rays to make greater use of long reliver Lance Cormier in late-game situations.

Bennett said he had other offers and chose the Rays because of manager Joe Maddon, a good clubhouse atmosphere and the face the club is still in contention for a postseason berth.

“Me and my wife prayed about it, and we really felt like this was where we needed to be,” Bennett said.

Nelson, 34, has pitched in 42 games for the Rays this season after being signed as a free agent during the off-season. He was 3-0 with three saves and a 4.02 ERA.

Additionally, the Rays have released lefty starter James Houser from Durham to make room for Bennett on the 40-man roster. The 24-year-old native of Sarasota, the Rays’ second-round pick in the 2003 draft, was 4-5 with a 5.16 ERA in 18 games (15 starts) at Durham.

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