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Reliever eager for key role@

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 22, 2014 at 9:33 pm •  Published: April 22, 2014
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By JOE SMITH,

c.2012 Tampa Bay Times@

ST. PETERSBURG — Manager Joe Maddon said it'd take the first month of the season before he could sort out his bullpen.

On Tuesday, he added another potentially key piece to the puzzle.

RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo, 32, was activated from the disabled list, excited to finally get a chance to return to the big leagues. Oviedo, who missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery, started this season on the DL because of a visa-related delayed arrival to spring training.

"We really think he's going to be a very influential part of the back end of our bullpen," Maddon said.

Oviedo said his arm feels great. He said he reached 94 mph during his seven-game rehab assignment for Triple-A Durham, and he's ready to make his first appearance in the majors since Sept.??21, 2011.

"It's been a while," Oviedo said through an interpreter. "But I'm really happy, thank God I'm still able to do this and be here to pitch in the big leagues. My arm feels good, that's the most important. I'm just really thankful to be here."

Maddon said the Rays plan to "break him in easily." But Oviedo, who converted 92 saves for the Marlins from 2009-11, will eventually be used in high-leverage, late-inning situations.

"I still believe there will kind of be an adrenaline adjustment that he's also going to have to undergo," Maddon said. "I don't want to expect too much out of him too soon. Let him get out there, get his feet on the ground."

SUPER SAM: Twins OF Sam Fuld, a Ray from 2011-13, said it was "strange" Tuesday to be a visitor at Tropicana Field for the first time.

"Nothing but great memories here," Fuld said. "Guys like playing here, it's tough to go."

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