Indians sign reliever Chris Ray to minor-league contract

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Cleveland has added some bullpen depth by signing right-hander Chris Ray to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Ray saved 33 games for the Orioles as a 24-year-old rookie in 2004, but injuries soon derailed his career and he’s bounced around a lot since then, pitching for the Orioles, Rangers, Giants, and Mariners during the past three seasons.

He’s still just 30 years old, but Ray hasn’t been effective in the majors since undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery in 2007. He has a 5.13 ERA and 92/60 K/BB ratio in 132 post-surgery innings, but there’s no risk involved in a minor-league deal and Ray still averaged an impressive 94 miles per hour with his fastball last season.

If nothing else he should raise the level of beer quality in Cleveland if he makes the team.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.