(Chris Ray makes an errant throw on a dribbler by Willie Bloomquist in a 2005 game at Safeco Field. Seattle Times staff photo by Dean Rutz).
The Mariners added more bullpen depth today by signing former Orioles closer Chris Ray to a minor-league contract and inviting him to spring training. He becomes the 20th non-roster player (and 11th pitcher) to get invited to camp.
With David Aardsma likely to be still recovering from hip surgery at the outset of the season, and a lot of youthful bullpen options beyond Brandon League, Ray appears to have a decent shot of making the team.
Ray, 29, saved 33 games (in 38 attempts) for the Orioles in 2006, and 18 more in 2007 before arm troubles de-railed him. He underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in August of 2007 and has spent time on the disabled list in each of the last four seasons. Ray missed the entire 2008 season but returned to appear in 46 games for the Orioles in 2009 (0-4, 7.27 earned-run average).
Last year, Ray was a combined 5-0 with a 3.72 ERA in 63 games for the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants — the World Series opponents. Ray began the season with the Rangers, going 2-0 with a 3.41 ERA in 35 games. On July 1, the Rangers traded Ray to the Giants, where he went 3-0 with a 4.13 ERA in 28 games. Ray didn’t appear in the postseason for the Giants.
Arbitration eligible, Ray was not tendered a contract by the Giants following the season, making him a free agent. I haven’t been able to track down whether Ray got a World Series ring from both teams (or a post-season payout from both). It’s possible, as this story points out.