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Heating up the "stove" By: Scott Puffer

With about 28 days until spring training and 60 days until opening day, the Tampa Bay Rays are giving us something to talk about. The Rays announced Wednesday that they have signed three players adding one to the 40-man roster,and giving the other two minor league contracts with invitations to spring training. Mike Ekstrom was claimed off waivers from the Padres and added to the 40-man roster and catcher Alvin Colina and left-handed pitcher Heath Phillips were signed and are invited to join the Rays in spring training.

In 2009 Ekstrom (26yrs old) pitched in 12 games over two stints with the Padres. He spent the remainder of the season with Triple-A Portland, where he went 4-2 with a 1.73 ERA in 42 appearances (one start). The Oregon native was selected by San Diego in the 12th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. He is also a four-time All-Star over six Minor League seasons and was the Padres' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2006.

Alvin Colina the 28 year old catcher has played parts of 11 seasons in the Minor Leagues,and appeared in two games for the Colorado Rockies in 2006. He hit .262 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs in 67 games with the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves in 2009.

Heath Phillips,27 was a member of the Rays' organization briefly in 2008, when he appeared in nine games (three starts) for Triple-A Durham. He was selected by the White Sox in the 10th round of the 2000 Draft,and pitched six games in relief for Chicago in 2007. This past season he went 8-7 with a 4.99 ERA in 27 appearances with Triple-A Omaha in the Royals' organization.