SEATTLE The first-place Tampa Bay Rays acquired reliever Chad Bradford from Baltimore on Thursday, bolstering their bullpen with a proven postseason pitcher.
The Rays claimed the submarining right-hander on waivers, then got him from the Orioles in a trade for a player to be named.
"A very interesting acquisition," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said before his surprising team opened a road trip at Seattle. "No hitter says, 'Oh good, we have a sinkerballer coming in.'
"It's a different weapon that we haven't had."
The 33-year-old Bradford is 3-3 with a 2.45 ERA this year. The durable reliever has made 47 appearances and thrown 40 1/3 innings.
Even better for a team expecting to make the playoffs for the first time: He has a 0.00 ERA in 17 postseason games spanning 15 1/3 innings no active reliever has pitched more innings in the playoffs without giving up a run.
Bradford has reached the playoffs with the Chicago White Sox, Oakland, Boston and the New York Mets.
"This guy's a groundball pitcher. He's durable. He's been very successful in the postseason. And I've heard he's a great guy," Maddon said. "He doesn't give up home runs very often. He gives up singles. Doesn't walk people."
Bradford signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the Orioles in November 2006. He has overcome lower back surgery that limited him to 31 games in 2005 and is 34-28 with 11 saves and a 3.31 ERA in 11 seasons.
Tampa Bay began the day with a three-game lead over Boston in the AL East. The Rays expect to have Bradford on Saturday for the third game of this four-game series with the Mariners. Maddon said the team will probably move a pitcher off its roster at that point to make room for Bradford.
That would be yet another move that doesn't involve the return of Rocco Baldelli. The AL's rookie leader in hits in 2003, who has played in just 35 games the last two seasons, has been out all year with chronic muscle fatigue. But he has been cleared medically to play again and has already completed a rehabilitation assignment.
Baldelli is with the team in Seattle and did his usual conditioning workout for his legs in a pool before Thursday's game.
"I've just been on standby the last couple of days," said Baldelli, who with a bushy beard covering prominent cheek bones looks little like the 200-pounder he was before his diagnosis.
When asked if he was anxious to return, Baldelli said, "I was anxious a long time ago."
Maddon said other injuries have kept the team from activating Baldelli. Now, the Rays are waiting for shortstop Jason Bartlett to be fully recovered from getting hit by a pitch on his right index finger Sunday.
"Rocco's on hold until J.B.'s well," Maddon said.
MATSUI BEGINS RUNNING: New York Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui began a running program Thursday for his sore left knee, and injured pitcher Joba Chamberlain will join him at the team's spring training facility. After hitting 10 home runs on 58 pitches during his second consecutive day of batting practice on the field, Matsui ran about 90 feet six times in the outfield. "I was able to run and I didn't have any problems after that," he said through a translator. "So, in that sense, I'm pretty satisfied." Also headed to Tampa is Chamberlain, on the 15-day disabled list with rotator cuff tendinitis in his pitching shoulder. New York manager Joe Girardi said the right-hander will do exercises and receive treatment in Florida.
DODGERS SET TO ACTIVATE PENNY: Brad Penny is expected to come off the 15-day disabled list to start the Los Angeles Dodgers' game at San Francisco on Friday night. Manager Joe Torre said the right-hander likely would be limited to around 90 pitches. "We're certainly going to look at it early in the game," Torre said after the Dodgers' 4-1 win at St. Louis on Thursday. "I think we'll know early how good he feels about himself. With his ability and his experience, he could certainly give us a little lift."
TRIBUTE FOR CARAY: Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Braves chairman Terry McGuirk and Skip Caray's longtime broadcast partner Pete Van Wieren are among those scheduled to speak at a tribute to Caray at Turner Field on Tuesday. Caray, 68, died Sunday. He was the son of well-known Cubs Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Caray and a member of the Braves broadcast team for 33 years.
Caray's last game in the broadcast booth was July 31. He called in sick last Friday. Various health problems had limited Caray to calling only home games this season.
One of Caray's sons, TBS broadcaster Chip Caray, also is scheduled to speak. Another of Caray's longtime Braves broadcast partners, Joe Simpson, will lead the event. The Braves also are planning to honor Caray before Tuesday night's game against the Chicago Cubs.
RANGERS' MURPHY ON DL: The Texas Rangers placed outfielder David Murphy on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a sprained right knee. Murphy, who leads AL rookies with 74 RBIs and 114 hits, is expected to miss two to four weeks. An MRI on his injured knee revealed a sprained posterior cruciate ligament.
Texas also purchased the contract of outfielder Jason Ellison from Triple-A Oklahoma before its game against the New York Yankees and transferred left-hander A.J. Murray to the 60-day disabled list. Murray has been out since June 4 with a strained left rotator cuff.