Joyce to DL; Blalock, other moves pending
UPDATE, 12:22: If Blalock knows anything about his status, he's (politely) not saying: "I'm not going to comment on the situation. I'm just going to play the game today.''
DEVELOPING: The Rays acknowledged what has seemed obvious for the last week or so, that OF Matt Joyce will open the season on the DL, placed on the 15-day list backdated to March 26. Other moves are still pending, including a final decision on Hank Blalock.
Manager Joe Maddon talked this morning with Blalock, who was then seen on his cellphone and joined the team on the field late for batting practice. Blalock said Wednesday he would not go to the minor leagues. Blalock He has an out in his contract, and if the Rays don't put him on the roster by post-game Friday.
"He's going to play today, he's going to be with us tomorrow,'' Maddon said. "And we'll continue to work on that.''
The decision between Blalock and Reid Brignac may already be made, though, as Maddon also said: "We pretty much know what we've got going on on the field right now. There's still some conversations that need to be had. I promise as soon as I can I'll give it to you, but we have a pretty good idea what we want to do. Pitching wise we're still not there yet on the last spot. So position player-wise we feel pretty comfortable about everything. Not all the i's have been dotted, t's have been crossed yet. It's getting close. The pitching, that last spot, is still an open spot.''
The pitching decision is between Joaquin Benoit, Mike Ekstrom and the potential of exec VP Andrew Friedman making an acquisition.
As for the meeting with the Blalock, Maddon said: "With Hank, I don't know him a long time, but like I said before, he likes straightforwardness, bluntness, transparency, whatever you want to call it. So he and I had a really open conversation and it was very good, very informative. I like him.''
As for Joyce, his right elbow strain continues to progress slowly and since he has been unable to throw hard to the bases for the last three weeks it was obvious he wasn't going to be ready and will be placed on the 15-day DL. "We don't have a definite plan mapped out yet,'' Maddon said. "He's making some progress. ... We just want to get it to the point where he can be game-ready to throw.''
With Joyce on the DL and LHP J.P. Howell headed there, the Rays have 28 players left for the 25 spots. Another who will be going elsewhere is INF Elliot Johnson, who is out of options. That leaves Blalock and Brignac for the final position spot (assuming Sean Rodriguez is on the team, which seems obvious)