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Decision day: Kennedy among those sent down



UPDATE, 2:36: The Rays are exploring all options to decide on the final two spots on their pitching staff, and the Rockies could be a part of that. The Denver Post has the Rox eyeing  Hammel and ex-Ray/current Cub Chad Gaudin in potential deals.
According to the Post, Hammel "is a prime target for the Rockies because he's a big arm and young. But to get him, Colorado will have to make step up in a trade given interest from other teams."

UPDATE, 12:14: The other decisions regarding the roster could be made by the end of the day tonight. Or not.

That includes the fifth starter's spot, which, in turn, affects the long relief spot. And the final outfield spot.

It sounds like the Rays have some kind of deal, or a number, brewing and if they make the right trade then everything would click into place.

As it stands at this moment, Jason Hammel and Jeff Niemann are still in a too-close-to-call competition for the No. 5 starter's spot, with the non-starters then theoretically in competition with Lance Cormier for the long relief spot.
The Rays continue to say the final outfield spot is between Matt Joyce and Justin Ruggiano, though with Joyce hitting lefthanded and at least four of the first six games against righthanded starters he seems to be the likely choice. 

The Rays officially won't reassign the other six players to minor-league camp until after Saturday's exhibition in Philadelphia.

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UPDATE, 10:14: Unofficially, the Rays have reassigned six more players to minor-league camp, including veteran INF Adam Kennedy. Also heading to Triple-A Durham are 1B Chris Richard, INF Ray Olmedo, OFs Jon Weber and Ray Sadler, and C Michel Hernandez.

Kennedy going down would seem to increase the likelihood that OF Matt Joyce will get the final roster spot (at least until B.J. Upton comes off the DL), though the Rays have said OF Justin Ruggiano is also a possibility. And there remains a chance they could sign Gary Sheffield.

Kennedy, who was released by St. Louis before the start of spring training, said he expected the move and "would have been more of a surprise" if he had made the team, and was very appreciative of the opportunity he got with the Rays. "It's been more than I expected the whole spring,'' said Kennedy, 33. "I can't argue with the at-bats Joe (Maddon) gave me, and the time on the field. It was a real productive spring, everything I could have hoped for given the circumstance.''

Kennedy, who hit .302 (16-for-53) in 21 games, said he will go to Durham and play with no deadline, as some veterans in his situation have requested, to be called up or released. "No real game plan, just go and play,'' he said. "Just staying sharp, and having fun playing.''

Kennedy said he didn't know if he play second base regularly or continue to be used in a utility role as he has much of the spring.

The six reassigned players are expected to accompany the Rays to Philadelphia for the weekend exhibitions, and then, assuming no injuries, trades or other issues, head to Durham for the Triple-A season.

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The Rays are expected to make most - though we'll go ahead and guess not ALL - of their roster decsions by the end of today, as the play their last game in Port Charlotte and break camp before heading to Philadelphia for Friday and Saturday exhibitions.

The first wave of news is expected around 11, as executive VP Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon will address the media.

RHP Jason Isringhausen is here and putting on his uniform, which we'll take a sign that the deal was worked out to keep him in the organization. As we suggested yesterday, he may be added to the 40-man roster, then put on the disabled list so he can keep working out, in extended spring training and/or with the Rays, for a few weeks to build arm strength and finetune command.

That buys the Rays time to see how their current group of relievers are doing, and to further assess Isringhausen.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:45am]


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