Balfour back in the bigs
Reliever Grant Balfour, one of the final cuts in spring training, was excited to be back with the Rays Friday, expecting to play a role in the team's strong bullpen.
Balfour was virtually unhittable in his stint for Triple-A Durham, going 8-for-8 in save chances with an ERA of .38 in 23.2 innings. Manager Joe Maddon said he could envision Balfour in a number of roles in the bullpen, from a one, or two inning guy to, potentially, closing games.
Another bit of pre-game news, OF Rocco Baldelli is scheduled to play Saturday in another extended spring game. Baldelli, who's been on the DL with a rare mitochondrial disorder, will get five at-bats in a DH role. There's still no timetable for his return.
3B Evan Longoria took some reps in infield practice at shortstop, where he'll serve as backup to Jason Bartlett.
As for the lineups, should be a pretty good pitching matchup with James Shields and Jose Contreras...Only a few switches in the Rays order, with Eric Hinske in RF and Cliff Floyd back at DH.
-- JOE SMITH