Blalock not on team; Brignac, Rodriguez are
UPDATE, 10:12: RHP Mike Ekstrom was picked for the final bullpen spot over Joaquin Benoit, who will got to Triple-A Durham.
UPDATE, 5:14: Blalock said he hopes to get a major-league offer somewhere but would like to stay with the Rays. "For me the right attitude to have is to focus on what I think is best for myself, and what that is is the way I feel, I'm still 29 years old, I feel good, I feel like I can be a very productive big-league player for a long time, and just knowing and feeling that I'm going to continue to play.''
As for his change in position from saying Wednesday he wouldn't go to the minor leagues and now agreeing to go to Triple-A Durham if he has nothing else: "The reason that I would go play in Durham if no other team wants to pick me up right now, the reason I would go play there is because I love baseball and I'm going to continue to play, and not going to do that would be quitting. And that's not an option for me - I changed my mind about that.''
UPDATE, 3:43: Blalock has until Sunday morning to find another big-league opportunity, if not he'll play at Durham for the "foreseeable future," Rays Andrew Friedman said. Also, Friedman said he "doesn't expect" outside help for bullpen spot, and decision between Benoit and Ekstrom could still come tonight.
DEVELOPING: INF Reid Brignac made the team, Hank Blalock will assess his other major league options for a few days as the Rays made further roster decisions. Blalock could end up at Triple-A Durham if he doesn't find a better opportunity. Brignac could end up in the opening day lineup at second as he is playing tonight.
Manager Joe Maddon said he was impressed with how Blalock, a two-time All-Star, played this spring and said he "fits our culture well." He pointed out how injuries occur throughout the course of the year, so having Blalock available could be valuable.
"I really think he’s going to have a big year, and we want it to be with us," Maddon said. "So we feel very fortunate that he will go back if this doesn’t work out for him otherwise, because we believe he’s going to make an impact with us at some point."
Maddon said Brignac and Sean Rodriguez had spring trainings that were "about about as good as you can get" and earned their spots.
"None of what (Rodriguez) did in this camp surprised me or any of us," Maddon said. "That's pretty much as advertised...The guy I really enjoyed has been Reid. Reid is the one that's really surprised me in a sense. His improved approach at the plate has really been attractive, really attractive. I think he's come a long way in a month."
Maddon said the final bullpen spot has not been decided yet.