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Tribe inks two to Minor League deals

Tribe inks two to Minor League deals

CLEVELAND -- The Indians are sending a couple more veteran big leaguers to Triple-A Buffalo as depth options. Reliever Juan Rincon and infielder Tony Graffanino were signed to Minor League contracts Tuesday.

Rincon, 29, was released by the Twins on June 12 after compiling a 2-2 record and 6.11 ERA in 28 innings. He was a reliable setup man from 2003-06, putting together a 2.93 ERA in that timeframe. He made more than 70 appearances in the 2004, '05 and '06 seasons, and his 81 holds from 2004-07 were the second most in the American League in that four-year span.

But Rincon, who will report to Buffalo in the next few days, has a 5.44 ERA over the last two years. He was suspended for 10 days during the 2005 season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

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"He's struggled the last year and a half or so," manager Eric Wedge said. "Hopefully we can get him over here and prepared to pitch, so he can get up here and help us."

Graffanino, who just turned 35, is coming off two knee surgeries and is not ready for game activity. Initially, he'll be working out with the Bisons, with his expected return-to-play date not yet announced.

"We'll check him out physically, get him back into playing shape, then go from there," Wedge said.

Graffanino has played 12 seasons with six teams -- the Braves, Rays, White Sox, Royals, Red Sox and Brewers. He owns a career Major League average of .267 with 58 homers and 301 RBIs. He played in 86 games for the Brewers last year, batting .238 with nine homers and 30 RBIs, before suffering a season-ending right knee injury in August. He had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in August and surgery to repair a torn ACL in December.

Last week, the Indians signed infielder Morgan Ensberg, who has played in 731 games for the Astros, Padres and Yankees, to a Minor League deal and sent him to Buffalo.

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

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