Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Ruggiano declines assignment to Durham, opts for free agency
Posted Jan 30, 2012 by Roger Mooney
Updated Jan 30, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Justin Ruggiano cleared waivers Monday and declined an assignment to Triple A Durham, opting instead for free agency.
“I think I served my time there,” Ruggiano said. “I think it’s time for some fresh eyes to see me if I ever have a chance at a big league career.”
The 29-year-old outfielder came to the Rays from the Dodgers organization in July 2006 as the player to be named later in the trade involving Toby Hall and Dioner Navarro.
He appeared with the Rays in parts of four of the past five seasons, batting a combined .226 with six home runs and 23 RBIs in 98 games with the big club. Ruggiano was recalled in September 2010 but did not see any action.
He is Durham’s all-time hits (531) and RBIs (300) leader.
Ruggiano was DFA’d last February when the Rays signed Johnny Damon, cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Durham, where he began the 2011 season. He was recalled May 20 and spent the rest of the season on the major league roster, playing in 46 games. He hit .271 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in the games he started.
Accepting this assignment would have meant another Opening Day with the Bulls.
“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Ruggiano said. “It was definitely a fun group to be around up and down the organization.”