Rays give up on hurt reliever Mori

Team doesn't receive anything in return for $2-million investment.

Published January 19, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - The Devil Rays' first foray into the Far East didn't work out well.

The Rays released injured reliever Shinji Mori on Thursday, getting nothing for their investment of more than $2-million.

The Rays trumpeted Mori's signing in January 2006 and projected him to be a key part of their bullpen, but he was sidelined before pitching in even a major-league exhibition game.

Mori, 32, was bothered by shoulder problems most of spring training, then sustained what the team said was a season-ending torn labrum while throwing a pitch in a March 20 minor-league exhibition.

Mori and the Rays agreed to an unconventional plan to rehabilitate the injury without surgery, hoping he could return this season. Mori improved enough to resume throwing lightly, but manager Joe Maddon said last month that he would not be ready by spring training.

The decision to release Mori is an indication the Rays didn't think he would be pitching in games any time soon.

The Rays paid a reported $750,000 to the Seibu Lions for the right to sign Mori, then guaranteed him $1.4-million - a two-year deal for $1.2-million, plus a $200,000 buyout or a combined 2008-09 option for $2-million.

In signing Mori, the Rays said they would pursue other foreign players. Last month, they signed Japanese infielder Akinori Iwamura, committing more than $12-million.

Releasing Mori opens a spot on the 40-man roster. The Rays have had talks with pitchers Scott Dohmann and ex-Ray Victor Zambrano, but their agents said nothing was imminent.

NOW ANNOUNCING ... : The Rays are seeking an "energetic, engaging, fan-friendly voice personality" to be the public address announcer. The team wants candidates to submit voice samples on a CD and a list of past performances by Feb. 2 to: PA Announcer Auditions, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, One Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg, FL 33705. Ten finalists will perform in a live audition Feb. 16.

Bill Couch, the PA voice during the first nine seasons, was fired last month.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com or 727 893-8801.