PORT CHARLOTTE – Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon announced this morning that pitcher Erik Bedard has been released.
The move saved the team $100,000 since today is the deadline when a handful of players on minor league contracts would have received that amount in a bonus if they were still with the team but not added to the 25-man roster or major league disabled list. Bedard was one of those players.
Bedard, a left-hander signed on the eve of camp, was informed Saturday that he was not going to make the rotation and was free to look for an opportunity with another team.
“However,” Maddon said, “that does not preclude the potential for him to come back to us at some point.”
Maddon said he would like for Bedard to sign another minor league deal and open the season at Triple-A Durham. Maddon said the organization could use as much pitching depth as possible, especially in the wake of Durham right-hander Alex Colome’s 50-game suspension under baseball’s drug program.
“We can always use that depth, absolutely,” Maddon said. “Stuff happens, man, and can happen very quickly.”
Bedard, a 10-year veteran who pitched last season in Houston, was 2-2 in five games (three starts) this spring. He allowed 13 runs on 25 hits in 17 innings.
Because of Bedard’s long career, Maddon said he understands why the pitcher would search for a major league job rather than return to the minors. Maddon said he felt Bedard showed this spring he can still pitch at the major league level, and with the number of teams looking for starting pitching, it is possible Bedard could land with another team.
“If it doesn’t work out, then he would have to make his choice,” Maddon said. “I would like to believe that if it doesn’t work out, based on our relationship that we built, that he would want to come back to us,because we would really like to have him back. But when it comes to it, a veteran player like that, we really support him. It’s all about him and his family first. I’m hoping he gets another job on the major league level, but if not, that he would come back to us would be great.”