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Rays sign catcher Joe Oliver

Minor-league deal will get 33-year-old into camp.

By MARC TOPKIN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 4, 1999


ST. PETERSBURG -- The Devil Rays added another experienced veteran to their spring training roster, signing catcher Joe Oliver to a minor-league contract.

Oliver, 33, has played parts of 10 seasons in the major leagues with a career .248 average. He was a regular with the Reds in the early 1990s, then moved to Milwaukee and back to Cincinnati in a reduced role. Oliver split 1998 between Detroit and Seattle, hitting .225 in 79 games.

"I'm just going to go to spring training and show them what I can do," Oliver said. "I definitely want to show them I have some baseball left in me."

Oliver, a product of Orlando, said he relished the opportunity to play close to home and also to play for Rays manager Larry Rothschild, who was one of his coaches in Cincinnati.

Oliver was released by Detroit last season, then signed with the Mariners and finished the year in Seattle.

The Rays have 73 players invited to camp, the same number as last season.

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