It's highly unlikely that he'll open the season as Seattle's closer
That's a surprising comment. I would think he has a good shot at being named the closer opening day.
As for TB I've been a little concerned about how the saves shake out there after reading this a few weeks ago:http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/article978091.ece
Next are the seven saves he needs to become the 22nd pitcher with 300.
"That's the main reason I wanted to come back," he said.
And incumbent closer Troy Percival is a close friend who helped recruit Isringhausen to the Rays.
"He told me if you come over here, I'll get you seven," Isringhausen said.
The team was sending Percival out there with promises of reaching the 300 save milestone. If you project Percival's SV total you almost should deduct 7 right off the top. Another handful will go to Wheeler or Balfour. It also tends to throw a kink in the whole 'next in line' scenario until Izzy gets to 300.
I don't know if I'd drop the serviceable MR Balfour for Izzy's speculative return and a promise of 7 saves. I'd probably sit tight or look elsewhere for a less complicated situation. At this point I don't think you can count on Balfour to be 'next in line'.
From a couple days ago:http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20090316/ARTICLE/903161039/2193/SPORTS?Title=Isringhausen-could-give-Rays-a-little-relief
After Percival underwent back surgery in the offseason, Maddon has been cautious with the 39-year old during spring training.
Maddon plans the same approach during the regular season, so he can have Percival for the stretch run.
"I don't want to have him get out good, then be concerned about July, August and September," Maddon said.
The manager also likes mixing and matching hard-throwers Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour with the funk of J.P. Howell, Brian Shouse and Joe Nelson in the innings leading up to the ninth.
Maddon can have a fresh Percival and keep the others in the sixth, seventh and eighth inning roles with the help of one effective pitcher.
Picked up as a minor league free agent at the start of spring training, Isringhausen is a former closer, a good one, if healthy. He could spell Percival at times and permit Maddon to keep the others in the set-up roles.