Cust inks Minor League deal

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Tampa Bay announced early on Sunday morning it had signed veteran outfielder/designated hitter Jack Cust to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League camp.

Cust, 34, took part in Sunday's first full-squad workout. He has 10 years of Major League experience, but last played in the big leagues in 2011 for the Mariners. He has a career .242 batting average with 105 home runs and 323 RBIs in 670 Major League games. Cust is a left-handed hitter and has played right field, left field and DH in stints with the A's, Orioles, D-backs, Rockies, Padres and Mariners.

When asked about why he signed with the Rays, Cust noted that he had admired the Rays for years from the opposing dugout.

"Joe [Maddon] and his staff, what they do here is just amazing," Cust said. "You hear only great things about the organization. It's somewhere that I always thought to myself that, 'It would be cool to play over there.' Just an easy, free game that they play."

Cust split time between Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Yankees) and Triple-A Las Vegas (Toronto) in 2012, hitting .243 with 20 home runs and 72 RBIs in 114 games. He noted that his swing had been in disarray last season, but he feels like he's gotten everything back in order.

"This offseason, I had a lot of time to work on it," Cust said. "I worked with my brother a lot. Just kind of fixed some mechanical things that were going on that weren't allowing me to do what I do. I feel like I've got my swing to the point where I can make adjustments on the fly from pitch to pitch, whereas that was kind of hard for me to do the last couple of years. Physically, I always feel pretty good."

Cust said he had not yet talked to the Rays regarding their plans for him.

"For me, this is something where I feel like I'm in a good spot and a good situation," Cust said. "Physically and mentally, I feel good. I've got nothing to lose. I've played the game a long time."

Maddon elaborated on what the Rays were thinking about when they signed Cust.

"It's primarily about his bat, power-wise," Maddon said. "This guy knows how to look over an at-bat. He's going to strike out a little bit. But he does a lot of other things that impact a team offensively in a positive way."

If Cust does not make the team, he will be a candidate for the Triple-A Durham roster.