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12/08/2003  6:45 PM ET 
Red Sox claim Malaska off waivers
Mark Malaska is 22-26 with two saves and a 3.35 ERA in 201 minor league appearances. (Tim Roske/AP)
BOSTON -- The Red Sox added a potential piece to their 2004 bullpen, claiming left-hander Mark Malaska off waivers from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The 25-year-old native of Youngstown, Ohio, made his Major League debut on July 17.

Following his promotion from Triple-A Durham, he pitched 16 innings over 22 appearances, going 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA and 17 strikeouts.

The Red Sox have one lefty reliever under contract for next season in Alan Embree, and another they must tender a contract to by Dec. 20 in Scott Sauerbeck.

Embree has been a fixture in the Boston pen since being acquired from San Diego in June 2002, and will again play a prominent role in '04.

However, Sauerbeck struggled mightily after being traded to Boston from Pittsburgh in July and his future in Boston is less certain.

A door could be opened for Malaska if the Sox don't offer arbitration to Sauerbeck.

Malaska certainly impressed the Devil Rays late last season.

"Malaska has done a good job of putting himself in position to compete for a job next season," Rays manager Lou Piniella said in September.

As it turns out, Malaska -- an eighth-round draft pick of the Devil Rays in '00 -- will compete for that job at Boston's Spring Training camp of Fort Myers, Fla.

He moved up quickly in the Tampa Bay system, being called up to the Major Leagues after just 15 appearances at Triple-A.

Malaska is 22-26 with two saves and a 3.35 ERA in 201 minor league appearances. The 6-foot-3, 191-pounder is spending his winter in Puerto Rico pitching for Caguas.

With Malaska in the fold, Boston's 40-man roster is now at 34.

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