Rays designate Pat Burrell for assignment; promote Hank Blalock

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Pat Burrell headshot.jpgThe Rays have designated designated hitter Pat Burrell for assignment in order to make room for Hank Blalock, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Burrell, 33, has been a tremendous failure since signing a two-year, $16 million contract with the club in January of 2009, posting a pathetic .218/.311/.361 batting line and just 16 homers over 572 plate appearances. He was batting 202/.292/.333 with two homers and 13 RBI over his first 84 at-bats this season.

The Rays did their best to trade Burrell during the offseason, including protracted talks with the Cubs involving Milton Bradley, however a trade never materialized. Now they’ll pay him $9 million this season just to go away.

Blalock, 29, was batting .349/.405/.505 with four home runs and 24 RBI with Triple-A Durham. Earlier this week, his agent Scott Boras told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that his client planned to use an opt-clause in his contract if he wasn’t promoted to the major league roster. Now that Burrell is out of the way, Blalock figures to be the primary designated hitter and backup first baseman for the struggling Carlos Pena.

Hanley Ramirez is not actually under federal and state investigation

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On Friday, it was reported that free agent Hanley Ramirez was under federal and state investigation, though no one knew for what, exactly. Michele McPhee of ABC News said, “Obviously I know absolutely nothing about sports or Hanley Ramirez’s stats, but what I do know is crime. And there has been some reports about a FaceTime phone call that was made between a man during a car stop. After that car stop, police recovered a significant amount of drugs. And during that car stop, the suspect claimed that one of the items found in the vehicle belonged to Hanley Ramirez and then FaceTimed [Ramirez] in front of police. And that car stop coordinated with the timing of his release from the Red Sox.”

The suspect was reportedly transporting 435 grams of fentanyl and a “large amount” of crack cocaine. But it turns out that Ramirez’s name only got mentioned because the suspect was hoping to avoid arrest. Ramirez is not actually under investigation, Shelley Murphy and Evan Allen of the Boston Globe report.

The attorney of the suspect said that his client grew up in the Dominican Republic with Ramirez and used the former Red Sox DH’s name “to get the cops off his back, which didn’t work.” During the traffic stop, a trooper asked permission to open a brown cardboard box found in the rear cargo area of the suspect’s jeep. The suspect said the box contained books, shipped to him by Ramirez’s mother to deliver to Ramirez in Boston. The suspect FaceTimed Ramirez to back up his story, but Ramirez said he wasn’t aware that the suspect was on his way to visit. Ramirez gave permission to the trooper to open the box. He did, and found a gift bag with two kilograms of fentanyl. The suspect was arrested on drug trafficking charges.

Ramirez, 34, hit a disappointing .254/.313/.395 with six home runs and 29 RBI in 195 plate appearances for the Red Sox before being designated for assignment on May 25 and released on June 1. The Red Sox maintain that Ramirez’s release had nothing to do with anything off-the-field.