© 2009 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

02/20/09 8:03 PM EST

Rays ink Isringhausen to Minors deal

Club nabs pitcher off market, will insert him into 'pen competition

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Rays' bullpen competition got more intense Friday night when they signed Jason Isringhausen to a Minor League deal. Isringhausen will be in camp Saturday.

Isringhausen, 36, went 1-5 with a 5.70 ERA and 12 saves with the Cardinals in 2008, one year after going 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA and 32 saves.

Isringhausen underwent his second hip surgery in two years after the 2006 season and came back strong in '07. In 63 games, he posted a 4-0 record with a 2.48 ERA and 32 saves while walking only 28, striking out 54 and giving up just four home runs.

Last season, Isringhausen experienced lingering right elbow tendinitis along with a torn tendon, and he appeared headed for retirement. Tampa Bay will monitor the veteran righty early, but he has been throwing bullpen sessions and should pitch in Spring Training games.

If Isringhausen is healthy, he could compete for the Rays' closer job, or at the very least, he would provide depth in case Troy Percival can't make a full recovery -- or is delayed -- from offseason back surgery.

Isringhausen has a 45-49 career mark with a 3.61 ERA and 293 saves, with batters hitting only .239 against him.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.