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Rays Sign Jeff Bennett To 25-Man Roster; Release James Houser

The Rays have signed 29-year-old, RHP Jeff Bennett today and added him to the 25-man roster. This move corresponds with the optioning of Joe Nelson to the minors. Sorry R.J. no Andy Sonnanstine for you. Bennett was recently released by the Atlanta Braves after going 2-4 with a 3.18 ERA/4.58 FIP in 33 games. Bennett landed on the DL on June 25th with a broken hand that required surgery. After completing his rehab assignment, the Braves granted his release.

He throws a fast ball/slider combo with his fastball averaging a solid 92 mph. His slider is around 84 mph, but he can get it up to 87 on occasion. Bennett has used a curveball and a changeup in the past, but has seemingly scrapped those pitches in 2009. He does get his fair share of groundballs as evidenced by his 55% career GB rate and has done a good job of keeping the ball in the park over the last two seasons (7 HR in 130+ innings.) He doesn't strike out many (6.26 K/9 career) and walks have given him a problem (4.05 BB/9 career). To clear the room for Bennett on the 40-man, the Rays released LHP James Houser, who has struggled in the minors this season.

A note on Bennett's dispute with the Braves:

The Braves didn’t announce it at the time, but they suspended his pay beginning June 25. He filed a grievance with the players association and continued his rehab, including two recent minor-league appearances.

When the grievance was heard, the Braves were directed to either “cure the default” by giving him his back pay for the period he was suspended, or allow him to become a free agent. Braves media-relations director Brad Hainje said Bennett requested the team release him from his contract, which they did.