Haynes claimed on waivers; Balfour out, other moves

28

March

Update 5:17 It was an unusual way to handle it, but the Rays eventually announced after Friday's game that eight players who had been in camp on minor-league deals did not make the team:
INF Chris Richard
RHP Scott Munter
INF Andy Cannizaro
C Mike Difelice
OF John Rodriguez
OF Jon Weber
C Josh Paul
RHP Grant Balfour

What the Rays won't say until after Saturday's game is the specifics of each move, though based on interviews Richard, Weber, Cannizaro and Rodriguez are all going to Durham. Munter seems likely to join them. The buzz in the locker room was that Difelice was also going to Durham and that Paul may have been released. Balfour earlier said he had been designated for assignment.

The moves leave the Rays with 29 players: Two, relievers Chad Orvella and Kurt Birkins, are likely headed to the DL; and another is reliever Juan Salas, whom the Rays actually expect to report shortly to camp after a six-week visa delay in the Dominican Republic but is headed to the minors.

That leaves 26 players for the final 25 spots, and the appearance that the decision is between INF/OF Joel Guzman and INF / OF Eric Hinske. Also factoring in is the health of 3B Willy Aybar (which if he was limited or out could make Guzman more valuable since he can also play third) and OF/DH Cliff Floyd (which if he were out could make Hinske more valuable since he is a more accomplished hitter).



Update, 2:38
The Rays filled their outfield void by claiming Nathan Haynes off waivers from the Angels. To make room on the 40-man roster, they placed OF Rocco Baldelli on the 60-day disabled list.
Haynes, 28, made his big-league debut for the Angels last May after nearly a decade in the minors. Haynes hits lefthanded, and hit .267 with one RBI in 45 games of reserve duty last season (going 3-for-5 against the Rays). He is a career .281 minor-league hitter, steals a lot more bases (254) than hits home runs (34), and tends to get on-base a lot. Haynes hit .265 in 19 games this spring. He has tremendous speed and can play all three outfield spots.
Haynes was out of options, and it appears the Angels - having decided to keep Reggie Willits - were hoping to sneak Haynes through waivers.
Haynes' acquisition could mean trouble for Eric Hinske, who looked to have the fifth outfielder job. Or it could be an indication the Rays are concerned about the availability of Cliff Floyd, who has been slowed by some seemingly minor injury issues.
Haynes is a product of perseverance, having signed with an independent league team in 2006 after missing most of 2004 and 2005 with a tear in his left hip.Overall, he has had eight - yes, eight! - surgeries: three knee, three hernia, one for torn ligaments in his left thumb and another for the tear in his left hip.
Also, he is the nephew of the Pointer Sisters signing group, and the son of 1980 Olympic Trials triple-jumper John Haynes.
By being placed on the 60-day DL, Baldelli won't be eligible to play until June.

Update, 2:35 The injury issues apparently are concerning because now the Rays are saying they won't announce their final roster until after Saturday's spring finale.

The Rays appear to have decided on their final bullpen slot as Grant Balfour was told before Friday's game he will be designated for assignment, which seems to mean Scott Dohmann made the team.
Balfour said he hoped to be picked up on waivers by another team, but would be open to going to Triple-A Durham if he isn't claimed. (A player designated for assignment is taken off the 40-man roster and the team has to be traded, released or passed through waivers within.).

Balfour had the better spring of the two - with a 3.00 ERA in 10 games (allowing only four runs) even after a rough outing Thursday - but the Rays apparently felt more comfortable with Dohmann, who had an 8.74 spring ERA, allowing 16 hits and four walks in 11 1/3 innings, but pitched well for them in the second half last season.

"I thought I threw the ball pretty good but at the end of the day it makes no difference - I'm out of here,'' Balfour said. "That's the way it goes. ... They made a business decision and that's what they went with. ... They know who they want from the get-go, probably. I don't know what they wanted to do. I could have maybe given up no runs and still not made this team. I don't know. It's disappointing.''

The Rays were in the process of making other cuts before the game so team officials have not been available for comment. Manager Joe Maddon said earlier Friday that they hoped to make 95 percent or even 100 percent of their moves by the end of the day to get down to the 25-man limit in advance of the 3 p.m. Sunday deadline.

The sense during the week has been that the bench jobs will go to INFs Elliot Johnson and Joel Guzman, OF Eric Hinske and C Shawn Riggans.

The Rays, though, have some injury concerns with two potential starters - 3B Willy Aybar and DH Cliff Floyd - which could impact their final decisions.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:34am]

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