Rays first baseman James Loney. (Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Times)
Rays first baseman James Loney. (Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Times)

Guyer RF
Kiermaier CF
Rivera C
Souza DH
Francisco 1B
Butler LF
Beck 2B
Elmore 3B Robertson SS
Miller P

Rays 3/31/15 Starting Lineup vs. Baltimore

DeJesus RF
Jaso LF
Cabrera SS
Longoria 3B
Loney 1B
Jennings CF
Forsythe 2B
Brown DH
Wilson C
Teaford P

— What was initially hinted came to fruition, LHP Scott Diamond signed a Minor League contract with the Rays, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.

Diamond will serve as depth for the Rays staff and hope to get a big league opportunity at some point this season. The lefty posted a strong 2012 season, working to a 3.54 ERA/4.7 K9/1.6 BB9/53.4% GB%. He, however, regressed in 2013, slashing 5.43 ERA/3.6 K9/2.5 BB9/46.9% GB% percent in 131 innings of work.

— Prospect Daniel Robertson is starting at SS in place of Alexi Casilla against Boston. The reason for the lineup change? Casilla has been released. The Rays had to decide today on Casilla due to the $100,000 payment as an XXB free agent, though he could still end up being re-signed.

— Drew Smyly (shoulder tendinitis) threw a strong bullpen session on Sunday and will throw live batting practice Wednesday and Saturday before advancing to rehab games.

— Alex Cobb played catch for the second time on Monday with no issues.

— Alex Colome, Matt Moore and Jake McGee are slated to throw bullpen sessions today (Tuesday).

— Per Marc Topkin, given the potential of external options, Rays manager Kevin Cash said the team will hold off announcing the order and other pitchers on the rotation until weeks end. Cash also said Alex Colome won’t be ready when the Rays need their fifth starter on April 14. Likewise Drew Smyly and Alex Cobb are slated for later April returns.

— The latest Tampa Bay Rays stadium search proposal appears dead, writes Stephen Nohlgren (Tampa Bay Times). Despite the efforts of council member Charlie Gerdes, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman decided he doesn’t have enough votes to hammer out an agreement on the updated Memorandum of Understanding that would allow the team to explore potential stadium sites in Pinellas and Hillsborough.

Kriseman threw in the towel for the moment, indicating a lack of support on the part of key council members Bill Dudley, Wengay Newton and Jim Kennedy:

Unless the council changes its mind and is willing to move forward with this, the Rays do not have permission to look outside the city limits. And for the purposes of (the Trop acreage), the really big piece of this, the city is really stuck. We either don’t do redevelopment until the Rays leave in 2027 or we have to turn over half the proceeds.

As it stands, the will not vote on a revised Rays deal until after a proposed workshop, tentatively scheduled for late April.

“Without knowing for sure if it’s going to pass I think the right thing to do is have a workshop,” Gerdes said.

Waiting for a workshop could mean the city will have to wait until baseball season is over before getting back to the negotiating table with the Rays. Opening day is less than a week away:

Once they start playing, their plates are going to be full with baseball stuff and so getting them to perhaps look at whatever changes or issues come out of this workshop could be difficult, Gerdes told Janelle Irwin (Saintpetersblog).

Yet Gerdes remains hopeful that a deal can be reached during the season,

It comes down to whether we want to have another under-the-microscope vote or do we want to have a discussion?

Stu Sternberg released a statement Monday afternoon,

We appreciate the time and attention that Mayor Kriseman, Chairman Gerdes and the rest of the City Council have dedicated to this issue. We have spent many months working towards an agreement, so it is disappointing not to be able to move forward cooperatively with St. Petersburg.

The outcome, while disappointing, isn’t surprising. An official vote was never scheduled, leaving many to believe the situation wouldn’t resolve prior to the arbitrary April 6 deadline set by Mayor Kriseman. Noah Pransky (Shadow of the Stadium blog) gave credence to that idea Friday, writing, “The more likely scenario is the issue gets tabled for a while so Kriseman can continue to work behind-the-scenes to cut deals for the votes he needs.”

To be clear, pumping the brakes now may lead to a far better outcome — after all, the deal isn’t dead. Contrast that with the expected outcome by a council who would be rushing to meet an arbitrary deadline. Gerdes and Kriseman needed more time to get the other council members on board — time that could be used use to work through some of the finer points of contention, like an increase of compensation to the city should the Rays leave the confines of Tropicana Field prior to 2027.

As it stands, Kriseman can’t afford another “no” vote; pumping the brakes now defends against that. And while the Rays prefer to avoid stadium discussions during the season, if Kriseman happened to forge a deal in May, the Rays would undoubtedly be happy to sit down to the negotiating table.

With 13 seasons left on the current contract, the St. Petersburg City Council isn’t under grave pressure to cut a deal it doesn’t like. As Pransky opines, If you believe that 81 baseball games a year are good for a community, St Pete in no rush to lose them.

Whatever the case, while the Rays made recent concessions to the city, it’s still up to Sternberg and company to make the deal happen.

Looking forward to the fall, “no” votes Wengay Newton and Bill Dudley will be replaced because of term limits, while “no” vote Steve Kornell must run for re-election. A deal will be made one way or another, with or without the current members of the city council. 


— On a Stadium Saga related side note, Noah Pransky ponders the question, What happens if this stalemate continues for another five years? Here’s a hint, it took the Twins well over 10 years to get a new stadium, and this is even after MLB threatened to take the Twins away from Minneapolis in 2002.


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