Blalock could join Rays today
Though the Rays can't confirm anything at this point, it appears that Hank Blalock will be joining the team at Tropicana Field today when they face the Mariners.
Blalock, a two-time All-Star, had no big-league offers when he signed with the Rays during spring training, and agreed — at first reluctantly — to go to Durham. Blalock accepted an assignment to Triple-A Durham, where he is hitting .349 with 24 RBIs, four home runs and a .405 on-base percentage. Agent Scott Boras told Times baseball writer Marc Topkin Tuesday that Blalock would activate the out clause in his Triple-A contract within the next week, forcing the Rays to either promote him or allow him to become a free agent.
Blalock, 29, a left-handed hitter, could DH for the Rays if he's called up, and has also spent time at third and first. Whether that would mean the end of the DH Pat Burrell era remains to be seen. Burrell, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal before last season to help the Rays against left-handed pitching, has been a disappointment, and hasn't improved much on last year (he's hitting. 202). Another option would be to send down utility man Sean Rodriguez, but he provides the Rays with a lot of options and versatilty that the club covets.
Burrell, who is making $9 million, is hitting just .053 (1 for 19) against lefties, and .246 against righties. Manager Joe Maddon said last night Willy Aybar will start today against Mariners lefty Jason Vargas, but maintained his defense - and confidence - in Burrell.
“Pat is the first guy here every day,” Maddon said. “I came here today about 2 o’clock, and he was already getting his work done. Pat, really, he’s a tirelness worker,. It’s unfortunate. Obvioujsly. you’d like to have him hitting for a higher average right now. But, listen, this guy is a pro. He works.”