Rays to add Isringhausen to roster
Veteran closer coming off surgery, will be moved to DL
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Jason Isringhausen will remain with the Rays.
On Wednesday, the Rays and Isringhausen came to a mutual decision that will see the Rays select the veteran closer from Triple-A Durham's roster and placed on the 40-man roster, which takes the final spot on the Rays' 40-man roster. Isringhausen will then be moved to the disabled list on Sunday, along with Fernando Perez, B.J. Upton and Chad Bradford.
On Feb. 20, Isringhausen, 36, signed a Minor League deal with an invitation to the Rays' Major League camp. He is a veteran of 13 Major League seasons, including the past seven with the Cardinals. In 2008 he endured two trips to the disabled list, which limited him to 42 appearances and 12 saves, his lowest total since converting to closer in 1999. His season ended on Aug. 16 due to right elbow tendinitis and a partial tear of his flexor tendon, which was repaired in a Sept. 12 procedure. He also missed 26 games with a right hand laceration.
Isringhausen is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA while pitching in six games for the Rays this spring.
"I had elbow surgery and I've only had six innings since elbow surgery," Isringhausen said. "And we all agreed that I needed a few more innings to get to where I want to be with my mechanics and my arm strength. So, this is the right thing to do. And this is the right situation for me. I love the team. I love the guys. I love the management and the GM and everything; kind of a no-brainer for me."
Isringhausen said he could have moved to another organization and pitched in the Major Leagues immediately.
"I could have, but that's not the same situation," Isringhausen said. "I want to pitch with these guys. I want to help these guys win as much as I can. Because I think it's a special group of guys. Groups of guys like this don't come around very often. And that's pretty much the bottom line. I'm not worried about the rest of it. The rest of it will take care of itself. When it's time to come off the DL, things usually take care of themselves in the big leagues and we'll figure out something then."
Isringhausen will rehab in St. Petersburg and when he needs to pitch, he'll likely pitch for the Class A Charlotte Crabs of the Florida State League.
"I feel healthy, but I know I can get sharper," Isringhausen said. "And to pitch in the American League East, you have to be as sharp as you can be. I don't want to go out there half-stepping. As you saw last year, every single game means a game in the American League East. So I want to make sure I'm where I need to be to contribute to the Rays in 09."
Isringhausen will be eligible to come off the DL on April 12.
"[The rehab] won't be a couple of months unless there's some kind of setback, which I don't foresee," Isringhausen said. "A couple to a few weeks maybe. ... I think this is the right decision for everybody and this is what we're going to do."
Rays manager Joe Maddon called keeping Isringhausen in the organization "really big."
"We know how this season always unfolds," Maddon said. "Things happen. You get a guy like this, he's still coming back. He's getting healthier every time he goes out there. We know that he just needs a little more time. It's a big boost for us. At some point he's going to be very influential in our season. And we're just very pleased that he chose to do this."
Isringhausen has compiled 293 career saves, sixth highest among active players and 22nd on the all-time list. Since 2000, his 284 saves rank tied for third (with Billy Wagner) among Major League pitchers, trailing only Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman. He is also the all-time Cardinals leader with 217 saves.
Isringhausen was selected to the National League All-Star team in 2005 and the American League squad in 2000. He has pitched in five postseasons with St. Louis and Oakland and reached the World Series in 2004. In 23 career postseason appearances, he is 4-5 with 11 saves and a 2.36 ERA; he saved a career-high 47 games in 2004, tied for the National League lead.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.