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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ The Tampa Bay Devil Rays placed pitcher Wilson Alvarez on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday because of left elbow tendinitis.

Alvarez reported elbow tenderness after going just 2 1-3 innings Sunday against Seattle in what team officials now call his final start for the Devil Rays.

The left-hander is in the final season of a $35 million, five-year contract. He missed the past two seasons with a left rotator cuff injury and is 17-25 with Tampa Bay.

GM Chuck LaMar said Alvarez, who started the Devil Rays first game in 1998, is scheduled to start a rehab program Thursday at the team's minor league complex. LaMar said if Alvarez does return this season, he will work from the bullpen.

``Whether he pitches for the Devil Rays or not health-wise is yet to be seen,'' LaMar said. ``I don't think he wants to retire. If he's going to pitch for this club the rest of the year, it will be out of the bullpen.''

LaMar admitted the signing of Alvarez was a financial mistake.

``If he would have come in here and pitched great, it all looks very well,'' LaMar said. ``But he came in here and did not pitch great, and then got hurt. We've been strapped with that contract ever since, and it's been extremely tough financially because of it.''

The Devil Rays are expected to call up a minor league pitcher Thursday to replace Alvarez and start Saturday's game at Toronto. Candidates include former New York Yankees farmhand Luis De Los Santos, who is at Triple-A Durham.