The Tampa Bay Rays have signed six players to minor league contracts, each with an invitation to major league spring training: outfielder Rich Thompson, infielder Mike Fontenot, right-handed pitcher Matt Buschmann, infielder Shawn O’Malley, right-handed pitcher Will Inman and first baseman Nick Weglarz.
Thompson, 33, returns to the Rays organization after playing 23 games in the majors last year with Tampa Bay. He was acquired by the Rays on May 16 from the Philadelphia Phillies and made his debut later that night—eight years and 24 days after his last major league game on April 22, 2004 with the Kansas City Royals. He had played 915 minor league games in between major league appearances. On May 17, he became the oldest American League position player to get his first major league hit since Minnie Mendoza (36 years, 167 days) of the Minnesota Twins on May 2, 1970. Overall, he appeared in 23 games with the Rays in 2012, including 12 as a pinch runner, and went six-for-eight in stolen base attempts. He has played 13 seasons in the minor leagues and owns a career .281 average with 37 home runs, 482 RBI and 464 stolen bases in 1,452 games.
Fontenot (FAHN-ten-oh), 32, spent 2012 in the Phillies organization, including 47 games at the major league level where he hit .289 (28-for-97) as a second baseman and third baseman. The utility infielder is a career .265 hitter and has played parts of seven seasons in the majors with the Chicago Cubs (2005, 2007-10), San Francisco Giants (2010-11) and Phillies (2012).
Buschmann, 28, re-signed with the Rays after spending the 2012 season in the organization. The right-hander split the year between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham and went a combined 7-8 with a 3.98 ERA (151.1-IP, 67-ER) in 26 appearances (24 starts). Over seven minor league seasons, he has compiled a 52-47 record with a career 4.27 ERA.
O’Malley, 24, also re-signed after spending seven seasons with the Rays, who selected him in the fifth round of the 2006 June Draft. In 2012, he combined to hit .240 (81-for-337) with 18 stolen bases at Montgomery and Durham. For his career, he has hit .246 with 147 stolen bases.
Inman, 25, pitched for Triple-A Pawtucket in the Boston Red Sox system last year and went 1-3 with a 2.23 ERA (48.1-IP, 12-ER) in 35 relief appearances. He has pitched at the Triple-A level in each of the last four seasons and has spent time with the Red Sox (2012), San Diego Padres (2007-11) and Milwaukee Brewers (2005-07) organizations. For his career, he has a 48-48 record with a 3.67 ERA and has averaged more than a strikeout per inning pitched (830.1-IP, 845-SO).
Weglarz, 24, hit .239 (88-for-368) with 14 home runs, 58 RBI and 58 walks in 109 games at Double-A Akron in the Cleveland Indians organization last year. He was drafted by the Indians in the third round of the 2005 June Draft and has hit .252 with 82 homers and a .375 on-base percentage over eight minor league seasons.