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Mays set to make last start with 51s

His statistics don’t reflect it, but 51s right-hander Joe Mays said he’s armed and ready to help a big league ballclub.

But unless the Los Angeles Dodgers promote the veteran hurler today, Mays will be looking to help another team.

The 31-year-old former All-Star plans to exercise an escape clause in his contract, allowing him to become a free agent, after he starts today’s 10:30 a.m. game between Las Vegas (17-20) and New Orleans (18-21) at Cashman Field.

“Pretty much my last couple starts have been tryouts for some of the other teams,” said Mays, 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA in seven starts. “I have struggled in my last couple outings, but my arm feels good, I feel healthy and I think I can help a major league ball team.

“It’s just a matter of which one am I going to be helping. I want nothing more than to be a Dodger.”

With Los Angeles playing well and leading its division, though, it appears Mays will be plying his trade elsewhere.

“I think he’s done a miraculous job,” 51s pitching coach Ken Howell said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked of him and he’s probably deserving of an opportunity (with Los Angeles), but that staff up there is hard to break. They’re pitching well.

“But he’s pitched well enough for me. I’d be really shocked if somebody in the major leagues didn’t pick him up.”

Mays went 17-13 with a 3.16 ERA for the Minnesota Twins in 2001 and won a playoff game in 2002, but missed the entire 2004 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

He went 6-10 with a 5.65 ERA for the Twins in 2005 and finished last season with a combined 0-5 mark and 8.70 ERA for the Kansas City Royals and Cincinnati Reds.

Mays said he would prefer to play for a National League team on the East Coast to be closer to his wife and their two young children. He said possible interested teams include the Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees.

“A lot of teams that had some early injuries could use somebody to come in and attack the strike zone,” he said. “There are a few teams out there that can use a pitcher with some experience. Hopefully I can fill one of those spots.

“It just seems like it’s been forever since I’ve been up in the big leagues.”

Howell said there definitely should be some takers.

“As bad as a team like the Yankees and everybody else needs pitching, he’s the kind of guy who can come in and fill a gap for you, and you get him at a great bargain price with good experience,” Howell said. “He knows how to pitch around the plate. He’s got a good power sinker and he keeps the ball down in the strike zone.”

Mays said all he needs is a chance to flash his previous All-Star form.

“I think I definitely can be that pitcher. It’s just a matter of getting an opportunity to prove it at the highest level,” he said. “This is probably the best I’ve felt in the past three years. I feel like my stuff’s there. It’s a matter of executing.”

• NOTES — Right-hander Miguel Pinango was sent down to Ogden (rookie ball) and left-hander Matt Riley was summoned to Las Vegas.

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