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Blalock inks Minors deal with Rays

Blalock inks Minors deal with Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Hank Blalock became a member of the Rays' organization on Monday.

The Rays have confirmed that a deal is done that will be worth $925,000, plus $350,000 in incentives with an opt-out if he is not in the Major Leagues; he is expected to be in camp on Tuesday.

Blalock missed much of the 2007 and '08 seasons due to injuries, but displayed power during his return to the Rangers in 2009, when he hit .234 with 25 home runs and 66 RBIs while playing first base and designated hitter.

Blalock's signing gives the Rays options for the short-term and the long-term. For the short-term, he provides insurance for the DH slot currently occupied by Pat Burrell, who is penciled in to be the team's DH for the coming season. Burrell had a disappointing season in 2009, when he hit just .221 with 14 home runs and 64 RBIs, leaving the door open for a change.

Should Burrell get off to a poor start in 2010, the veteran slugger Blalock could be the answer at DH if the Rays do in fact decide to make a change.

Blalock is just 29, which could bodes well for the long term. Current Rays first baseman Carlos Pena is in the final year of his contract with the Rays. If the Rays are unable to sign him after the 2010 season, Blalock could provide an option for first base.

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

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