Merrill Kelly stands to begin the season at Triple-A Durham after the Rays released Erik Bedard today.
The Bulls had two pitching spots open up with Bedard's release and Alex Colome's suspension Monday. Kelly was considered on the bubble.
Bedard, a nine-year major league veteran, was a free-agent signing who had been contending for its fifth starter spot and who could opt out of his contract. That seemed likely when Jake Odorizzi won the fifth starter's role.
Kelly began last year with the Biscuits and moved up to the Bulls for what was expected to be a short stay. Kelly made the most of it, finishing 8-4 with a 3.19 ERA at Durham. He had been 5-6 with a 4.15 ERA for Montgomery.
Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters that Bedard could return to the Rays and go to Durham if other major league teams aren't interested.