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01/30/08 6:10 PM EST

Mets claim Lugo off waivers from A's

Reliever latest right-hander added to spring bullpen mix

NEW YORK -- An already crowded bullpen just found its newest member.

The Mets on Wednesday claimed right-handed reliever Ruddy Lugo off waivers from the Athletics, adding him to a bullpen mix that was already primed to produce the team's fiercest roster competition in Spring Training.

Lugo, 27, finished 6-0 with a 5.40 ERA in time split between the A's and Rays.

There's reason to believe there's still plenty of life in his right arm, largely because of what he's recently achieved on the field. Two summers ago, he led the Rays with 85 innings out of the bullpen as a rookie, posting a 3.81 ERA and limiting opposing batters to a .240 average.

Yet that success ceased during April of last season, when he allowed at least one run in six of his seven outings. Though he recovered with four scoreless innings to begin May, the Rays optioned him to Triple-A, then designated him for assignment.

"Every time you go down, it's disappointing," he said after the move. "I'm trying to be a man about it."

Two days later, the A's plucked him off waivers and added him to their own bullpen. Lugo gave them 27 appearances and a 4.30 ERA, but they, too, designated him for assignment last week.

Lugo's greatest problem over his first two big league seasons has been control. While he doesn't strike out many -- just 5.5 per nine innings for his career -- he's walked batters at an almost comparable rate. And oddly enough for a right-hander, he's proven most effective against left-handed batters, holding them to a .224 average.

Hot Stove

A Brooklyn native, Lugo is the younger brother of Red Sox shortstop Julio Lugo.

He'll join a bullpen that's already stocked with right-handers, including incumbents Aaron Heilman and Jorge Sosa, free-agent acquisition Matt Wise and rehabbing setup man Duaner Sanchez. Those four, along with a slew of youngsters -- and now Lugo -- should all factor into the Spring Training mix.

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