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Rays sign 4 to minor league contracts with invites to spring training

Posted Jan 22, 2013 by Roger Mooney

Updated Jan 22, 2013 at 07:35 PM

The Rays signed outfielder Shelley Duncan and right-handed pitchers Jamey Wright, Juan Carlos Oviedo and Juan Sandoval to minor league contracts with invites to spring training.

Wright, 38, is a veteran of 17 major league seasons who can add an experienced arm to the bullpen if he makes the team.

Duncan could give the Rays the power bat they’ve been looking for this offseason, or he could add depth at Triple A Durham. Rays fans might remember Duncan for hard slide into Akinori Iwamura that started bench-clearing brawl between Yankees and Rays in spring 2008.

Oviedo, the former Leo Nuñez, underwent Tommy John surgery in September and will miss most of 2013. His contract includes a club option for 2014.

Here is a breakdown on each, per the release by the Rays …

Wright, 38, is a 17-year major league veteran who has a 4.89 ERA over 592 career appearances (246 starts).  In 2012, he went 5-3 with a 3.72 ERA (67.2-IP, 28-ER) in 66 relief outings for the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The right-hander transitioned to a full-time role in the bullpen in 2008 and has compiled a 4.15 ERA in 357.2 innings pitched since then, the second-most relief innings in the majors in that span behind only Carlos Marmol (368.1).

He also ranks third among active pitchers in pickoffs with 61, trailing only lefthanders Andy Pettitte (102) and Mark Buehrle (89).

Wright was originally a first-round selection by the Colorado Rockies in the 1993 June Draft and has spent time in the majors with nine different teams: the Rockies (1996-99, 2004-05), Milwaukee Brewers (2000-02), St. Louis Cardinals (2002), Kansas City Royals (2003, 2009), San Francisco Giants (2006), Texas Rangers (2007-08), Cleveland Indians (2010), Seattle Mariners (2010-11) and Dodgers (2012).

Duncan, 33, spent the 2012 season with the Indians and hit .203 (47-for-232) with 11 home runs, 10 doubles and 31 RBI in 81 games.  Over the last three seasons with Cleveland (2010-12), he has totaled 33 home runs, 37 doubles and 114 RBI in 242 games.

The right-handed hitting outfielder also played parts of three seasons in the majors with the New York Yankees (2007-09).  He is the son of former Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan and brother of former major league outfielder Chris Duncan.

Oviedo, 30, spent 2012 with the Miami Marlins organization but did not pitch in the majors. He spent the first three and a half months of the season on the restricted list and then underwent Tommy John surgery in September after injuring his right elbow in a rehab assignment with Triple-A New Orleans. He will spend most of this season rehabbing from the surgery.

Oviedo logged 92 saves from 2009-11 as the Marlins closer and has a career 4.34 ERA over seven major league seasons with the Royals (2005-08) and Marlins. Oviedo’s contract with the Rays includes a club option for 2014.

Sandoval, who turned 32 on January 13, split the 2012 season with Mexico and Oaxaca in the Mexican League, combining to go 7-3 with a 2.97 ERA (69.2-IP, 23-ER) in 67 relief appearances.  He has played the last two seasons in the Mexican League and is a veteran of 10 minor league seasons.  The Dominican native originally signed with Seattle in 2002 and has spent time in the Mariners (2002-07), Brewers (2008-09) and Philadelphia Phillies (2010) organizations.

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