Blalock: No plans to go to minors
UPDATE, 12:15: Manager Joe Maddon said, no surprise, it will be a difficult decision. Though Blalock is hitting just .219 with 1 homer and 4 RBIs for the spring, Maddon said he has looked better. "We just have to conclude the discussions and try to figure out what we want to do,'' Maddon said. "But he’s done everything he could to make the team. He’s had a good spring I think."
Maddon also said Blalock's refusal to go the minors would not impact their decision: "Something like that would not cause us to make a decision or reverse a decision that we may have made otherwise. That would just be unfortunate. But when it comes down to making a decision like that, because a player says he would not choose to do something then you don't do something you didn't want to do originally. So that should not be part of the final decision I would think.''
DEVELOPING: If the Rays want to keep Hank Blalock, they’re going to have to act soon.
Blalock said this morning he wants very much to stay with the Rays, but also said he has no plans to go first to Triple-A Durham if the Rays don’t put him on their 25-man roster to start the season.
“I don’t have any plans on playing minor-league baseball this year,’’ Blalock said. “At this time in my life, if there’s no major-league opportunities for me then I’ll find something else to do.’’
Blalock, 29, signed a minor-league contract with the Rays with an out clause that goes into effect starting Thursday, with the Rays having until after Friday’s exhibition to put him on the roster. If they decline, he could become a free agent and sign elsewhere.
He made it sound this morning like he plans to exercise that clause, saying he considered the matter to be in the Rays' hands. “I feel like the team has to make a decision with me,’’ he said.
The Rays have been deciding between Blalock and Reid Brignac for their final roster spot, and one theory was that if they only needed short-term help with OF Matt Joyce on the DL they might pick Brignac and keep Blalock at Triple-A, knowing that once they called him up they would lose him if they took him off the roster.
If they decide to take Blalock from the start, they may not have much playing time for him unless he platoons with Pat Burrell at DH. And they would have another, possibly tougher, decision to make when Joyce is healthy or if they decide need more roster flexibility than having two primary DHs.
Blalock has made a solid impression on manager Joe Maddon, and Blalock said the feeling is mutual.
“I love it here,’’ Blalock said. “I like the way I’ve been treated, I like my teammates, I like the staff. I’d like to be part of helping the Rays win the World Series. I hope they keep me. … This is where I want to stay.’’