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Rays pick up Reyes’ 2008 option

Posted Nov 14, 2007 by Marc Lancaster

Updated Nov 14, 2007 at 05:26 PM

As expected, the Rays today picked up reliever Al Reyes’ $2.3 million option for 2008 and declined 1B/OF/DH Greg Norton’s $1 million option, making him a free agent.

There was never any doubt that the Rays would bring back Reyes, who returned from Tommy John surgery to hold down the back end of the Rays’ bullpen almost singlehandedly for much of the season. Aside from a brief stint on the DL around the All-Star break, Reyes was healthy throughout the year and the Rays know that at the very least he can be a very capable setup man for them, depending on what they do with the rest of their bullpen (see previous item).

“Al pitched very well for us in 2007 and we’re thrilled to have him back for another year,” Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said in an e-mail. “Not only did he perform well on the field, but he was an important veteran influence on our young pitching staff and had a great demeanor in pressure situations. We’re looking forward to him playing a key role for us again in ‘08.”

Norton’s 2007 was a disappointment all the way around. Coming on the heels of a 2006 campaign in which he hit .296 with 17 homers, Norton opened the season on the DL (allowing Carlos Pena to step in and begin his monster season) and ended up playing in only 75 games, hitting .243 with four homers. He had elbow surgery immediately after the season ended but is expected to be healthy for spring training. There is a chance he could re-sign with the Rays at a reduced rate.

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