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Rays

Bullpen may find relief elsewhere

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Published:   |   Updated: July 11, 2013 at 10:37 PM
ST. PETERSBURG -

Given their seasonsSoriano, who had 45 saves during the regular season and one in the ALDS, will be the top closer on the market. Benoit, who returned from missing all of 2009 because of shoulder surgery, proved himself healthy and durable. Balfour returned to his 2008 form. Given his opportunity, Choate proved he is one of the best left-handed specialists in the game.

"I wouldn't be opposed to being back here. (Manager) Joe (Maddon) puts me in situations to help me be successful," Choate said. "He obviously has a lot of confidence in me. He throws me out there all the time. Can't complain with that."

Choate found the most success of his career in Tampa Bay. He had a career-high and American League-high 85 appearances this season.

Balfour, despite missing a month because of an intercostal strain, pitched in 57 games and had a 2.28 ERA, the eighth-best among AL relievers.

"It was a good year, definitely a good year," he said. "It would have topped it off if we were still playing, that's for sure. I'd love to still be playing. But looking back, looking on my season, I'm very happy. I couldn't have asked for anything more."

Balfour, who made $2.05 million this season, said he wants to cash in on his 2010 performance and would like to do it with Tampa Bay.

"Oh yeah, I'd definitely like to come back," he said. "I like it here. I enjoy it here. This is a business now. We'll see. If they come up with something good, I'm always going to listen."

Wheeler wants to return

Dan Wheeler, a fixture in the Rays bullpen since he was traded back to his old team at the 2007 trade deadline, will be back next season if the club picks up his $4 million option. If not, the Rays owe him a $1 million buyout.

"Obviously I'd love to play with this team for the next 10 years. I think we can do something special, but that's probably not going to happen," he said. "That's not something I can control. I love playing here, but if that's not the case I'll move forward. That's part of being a reliever in major league baseball."

Coaches to return in 2011

Maddon had yet to meet with vice president of baseball Andrew Friedman on Wednesday, but he said he expects the members of his coaching staff to return next year.

Bench coach Dave Martinez's name is expected to be mentioned as a candidate for a few of the managerial jobs that have come open or could come open during the next few days. But since Martinez is under contract, any team wishing to interview him would need permission from the Rays.

"If someone wants to interview me, great," Martinez said. "Would I welcome that? Yeah. But the way I look at it is I'm a Ray. I'm under contract through next year."

Odds and ends

This was the first postseason series in major-league history where the road team won each game. ... The Rangers pitchers set an ALDS record with 55 strikeouts during the five-game series. ... Rangers pitchers compiled a 2.40 ERA that included a 1.15 ERA by the starters. ... Including the postseason, the Rays lost their final six games against lefty starters. Three of those losses were shutouts. Prior to that, the Rays were 36-17 against lefties. ... The Rays are 10-11 in postseason games and 2-2 in postseason series. ... Jason Bartlett and John Jaso, the Rays' two leadoff hitters in the ALDS, went a combined 4-for-5 in their first at-bats, but failed to score a run. ... the Rays were outscored 16-2 in three games at the Trop. ... Elvis Andrus, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler each hit safely in all five games of the ALDS. ... The Rays hit .215 as a team. ... Bartlett led the Rays with a .400 average.

Roger Mooney

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