10 players you forgot were Rays

December 1st, 2021

It's no secret that the Rays aren't considered big spenders on the free-agent market. Despite the financial restrictions, the organization still has been able to add some marquee names, albeit most of them coming toward the end of their respective careers. Adding a veteran presence to the clubhouse has been something Tampa Bay has done a lot in the past, which has resulted in some interesting acquisitions by the team.

Here we look at 10 players who found most of their success for other clubs before joining the Rays (or Devil Rays) -- some of whom you might've forgotten they ever donned Tampa Bay uniforms.

Hideo Nomo, 2005
Nomo played most of his career with the Dodgers, but the Japanese pitcher ultimately ended his career with Tampa Bay. Nomo, who was 36 years old at the time, started 19 games and finished with a 7.24 ERA in 100 2/3 innings.

Most importantly for Nomo, however, was the fact that he notched his 200th career win in a June 15 game over the Brewers. The starting catcher for Nomo that day was current Rays manager Kevin Cash.

Hideki Matsui, 2012
Matsui hit 12 career home runs at Tropicana Field, but 10 of them came as a member of the Yankees, which is where he found most his success. The Japanese slugger won a World Series as a member of the Yanks in 2009 and spent seven seasons wearing pinstripes before joining the Angels in '10.

After one-year stints with the Angels and the Athletics, the former World Series MVP was looking to continue his playing career and the Rays ended up taking a flyer on the then-38-year-old. Godzilla hit just .147 in 34 games for Tampa Bay before the club released him Aug. 1, ending his career in the Majors.

Manny Ramirez, 2011
Manny was looking for a place to be Manny, and the Rays signed him to a one-year deal in 2011. Doing most of the damage as a member of the Red Sox, Ramirez hit 41 home runs against the Rays -- he only hit more against the Yankees (55) and Blue Jays (54) -- but his stint with Tampa Bay didn't exactly go as planned.

Manny only appeared in five games for the Rays and got just one base hit in 17 at-bats before deciding to retire on April 8, 2011. Ramirez ultimately tried to make a Major League comeback, but his last official game came as a member of the Rays.

Johnny Damon, 2011
Damon played a key role on the 2011 Rays team that made the playoffs, so he's not completely forgotten. But eight years later, most people couldn't tell you that Damon played for the Rays, much less for that '11 team. While most of his success came as a member of the Yankees and Red Sox, his .261/.326/.418 slash line during his age-37 season was pretty solid, too.

Heath Bell, 2014
One of the best closers during his prime -- 132 saves in a three-year span -- Bell saw his career end as a member of the Rays. Tampa Bay acquired Bell in a three-team deal with Arizona and Cincinnati. The Rays received Bell and cash considerations during the deal that sent Minor League outfielder Todd Glaesmann to the D-backs. The move was made to help the Rays in the bullpen, but after 17 1/3 innings pitched and a 7.27 ERA, Bell was released in May 2014. Bell signed deals with the Yankees and Nationals afterward, but he never pitched in another Major League game.

Jason Isringhausen, 2009
After a stellar career with the Cardinals, Isringhausen was looking for a new team and eventually signed a Minor League deal with the Rays. Unfortunately for Isringhausen and Tampa Bay, his stint with the club lasted just a couple of months. He appeared in just nine games before undergoing his third Tommy John surgery.

Isringhausen pitched well in his short time with the Rays, finishing with a 2.25 ERA. Despite odds stacked against him, Isringhausen was able to make it back to the Majors in 2011 as a member of the Mets.

Grady Sizemore, 2015
Sizemore was one of the best center fielders in baseball with Cleveland before knee and back injuries derailed his career. After being released by the Phillies, the Rays took a flyer on Sizemore and signed him to a midseason deal. Sizemore appeared in 58 games with Tampa Bay and performed well, finishing with a .746 OPS, his highest since his last All-Star season in Cleveland. Tampa Bay was his last stop, as his career ended at the age of 32.

Julio Franco, 1999
This is the shortest stint of anyone on the list. Franco made just one appearance -- which resulted in a strikeout -- with the Devil Rays in 1999 before returning to Asia to play in South Korea. If the Rays are still in the market for a right-handed hitter, I'm sure Franco, who is now 60 years old, would jump at the idea of making a Major League comeback.

Ozzie Guillen, 2000
While Guillen is mostly remembered for his time as the manager of the White Sox, he also served as a pretty good shortstop for the South Siders during his playing career. Guillen played 13 seasons for the White Sox and was named an All-Star three times. After his time with Chicago was over, he had short stints with the Orioles and Braves before ending his career as a member of the Devil Rays. Guillen was 36 at the time and mostly a reserve, but hit two home runs for Tampa Bay.

Roberto Alomar, 2005
Alomar never played in an official Major League game with the Rays, but that was the plan heading into the 2005 season. Alomar, who was 37 years old at the time, was looking for a chance to play second base every day and Tampa Bay signed him to a one-year deal.

But after struggling during Spring Training, Alomar decided to retire from professional baseball due to problems with his knee and vision. His retirement opened the door for prospect Jorge Cantu to serve as the team's second baseman.