ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Newly acquired outfielder Michael Restovich was in the Devil Rays clubhouse early Friday morning, ready to hop on the bus to Viera for a game against the Washington Nationals.

The Devil Rays claimed Restovich off waivers from the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.

"I think I prepared myself for [this situation] knowing the numbers that we had there [in Minnesota] and the situation where they may need another catcher because of [catcher Joe] Mauer's knee," Restovich said. "I kind of knew there was going to be something."

He said he looks forward to what he hopes will be a good opportunity with the Devil Rays.

"It's got to be a better opportunity than it was in Minnesota. You can't get much better than that threesome."

He referred to the Twins' outfield of Shannon Stewart, Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones.

"I'm just happy to be here," Restovich said. "We'll see what happens."

Asked to evaluate what he does best, Restovich talked hitting.

"I think I can bring in some runs by driving the ball," he said. "Things like that."

Restovich added that hitting is just a part of his game.

"You want to play good defense, too," he said. "Hitting and good defense. Those are the things that I'll hopefully be able to help the team with."

Restovich said he primarily plays the corner outfield spots, but can play center field in an emergency. And he's been taking ground balls to try and add value to his resume as an outfielder who can also play first base.

After playing in Friday and Saturday's games, Restovich is likely to be placed on waivers again. If he clears, the Devil Rays would assign him to Triple-A Durham.

Johnson still on the radar: Charles Johnson remains a possibility to become the Devil Rays backup catcher, but Tampa Bay can't sign the veteran receiver until 1 p.m. Monday after he clears release waivers. The possibility another team will sign Johnson is more than remote since any team claiming him would be responsible for the $9 million salary still owed him after his trade from Colorado to Boston.

If Johnson is signed, the odd man out would likely be Kevin Cash, the current backup catcher. Cash is a career .173 hitter; entering Friday's game he was hitting .190 this spring.


This and that: The Devil Rays released Shane Halter late Thursday night. The veteran utility man was signed on Jan. 20 as a free agent. The best season of his six-plus years in the Major Leagues came during the 2001 season with Detroit, when he hit .284 with 12 home runs and 65 RBIs. ... The Devil Rays must trim their roster from 31 to 25 by midnight on Saturday. Among the bigger decisions forthcoming is who to keep in the bullpen, where Lance Carter, Seth McClung and Bobby Seay (who is out of options) look to be competing for the final two spots. ... Starting center fielder Alex Sanchez tweaked his left hamstring during the Devil Rays' game against the Nationals Friday. He will be evaluated Saturday.

Coming up: The Devil Rays will close out the 2005 exhibition season by hosting the Washington Nationals at Tropicana Field on Saturday in a 3:05 p.m. ET contest that can be heard on 1250-AM. Right-hander Rob Bell, who will be the starting pitcher against Oakland next Friday in the fourth game of the regular season, will start for the Devil Rays. He has had an excellent spring, posting a 1-0 mark with a 2.91 ERA in six official Spring Training games. Righty Esteban Loaiza will start for the Nationals. Of note to Devil Rays fans, this will likely be their first chance to see new acquisition Nick Green, the utility infielder acquired from the Braves on Thursday.