It’s time for another edition of This Week in Rays Baseball, recapping the news and moves from the past week.
- It’s been a tough week for the Rays, at least on the field. Tampa Bay dropped six of their last seven games, with only six games left until opening day. However the majority of those losses came in the late innings when the regulars were pulled in lieu of the non roster invites or minor leaguers. That is to say, the majority of the Rays regulars have looked good. Two of the six remaining spring training games — Monday against the Pirates, and Wednesday against the Blue Jays — will take place in Port Charlotte, while the remaining four will take place on the road, including a Saturday exhibition game against the Tigers at the Trop.
- The Rays made more cuts, whittling the roster down to 31. The Rays reassigned Dane De La Rosa, Kirby Yates, Leslie Anderson, Cole Figueroa, Rich Thompson, Wil Myers, Juan Sandoval, Will Inman and Brandon Martin to minor league camp. They also optioned OF Brandon Guyer and P Josh Lueke to Triple-A Durham. Finally, recent acquisition Jack Cust and first baseman Nick Weglarz were released from their contracts.
- Speaking of cuts, Rays beat writer Marc Topkin wrote, “Tuesday is the deadline to either put RHP Jamey Wright on the 25-man roster (where he’d make $1 million) or the disabled list, release him or pay him a $100,000 retention bonus to keep him in the minors (with a June 1 opt-out). Same for RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo, who is recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery and thus is likely headed to the DL, the Rays holding a 2014 option for $2 million plus incentives. … Though the season opener isn’t until April 2, the Rays have to set their 25-man roster March 31.” Rays skipper Joe Maddon all but confirmed that Jamey Wright will be on the opening day roster in a pre-game scrum prior to Sunday’s Rays/Yankees matchup.
- We learned that Sam Fuld isn’t expected to play in any big-league exhibition games until the Rays are certain that he will be ready for the season. This could impact the back-dating of a possible stint on the DL. The question begs, if Fuld isn’t back in the lineup by April 2nd, who could fill his spot on the roster? It would be reasonable to assume that either Leslie Anderson or Brandon Guyer could temporarily fill Fuld’s spot. Marc Topkin asserts that Guyer would probably fill in for Fuld since he’s on the 40-man roster and Anderson is not.
- Rays closer Fernando Rodney returned to camp Thursday after being named to the All-World Baseball Classic team. According to Bill Chastain of MLB.com, “Rays manager Joe Maddon said the team plans to work him back into the swing of things gradually, noting that he won’t pitch in an actual exhibition game for five or six days.” Jose Molina and Ben Zobrist also returned to camp this week, though Molina saw all of three at-bats in the WBC. “J-Mo, we’ve just to get working,” Maddon said. “Knowing him, he’s going to be fine, I just don’t know how sharp (he will be) maybe offensively, that’s the part. Defensively it shouldn’t be that big of a concern.” Jose Molina got some playing time both Thursday, Friday, and Sunday following his stint with team Puerto Rico in the WBC.
Joe Maddon noted that the roster is all but certain,
“You could almost say 90 percent looks as you would think, as you would expect,” manager Joe Maddon said Sunday.”
- The Rays still need to figure out who the fifth starter may be and what the rotation will look like, what the pen will look like, and who the extra outfielders and catchers will be. Rays beat writer Marc Topkin tackled that very subject in this piece.
- David Price feels like something is missing, saying,
“I feel fine. I feel good out there, and my stuff is good and good in the bullpen,” Price said. “I really feel like last year it took me to my first start. That’s when everything clicked for me. I’m still kind of waiting for that now… This last week I feel like I’ve hit a wall in spring training,” he said. “I get out there on the mound, I just feel like blah.”
Price was encouraged to have gotten out of some jams Saturday, but was frustrated he wasn’t more efficient. With one more spring outing to go, Price is confident he’ll be ready by opening day.
- NPR posted an interview with Tom Dunkel, author of “Color Blind: The Forgotten Team That Broke Baseball’s Color Line.” Dunkel spoke on the subject of a Bismarck, ND semi-professional baseball team that was integrated a full 10 years prior to Jackie Robinson joining the Brooklyn Dodgers, ending racial segregation in the major leagues. The interview is well worth your time!
- Finally, we’re still shamelessly self promoting our Instagram and Flickr accounts. They are conveniently located, along with the rest of the tabs, in the top right-hand corner. Follow us, as we continue our campaign for social media/internet domination.