Live from Las Vegas, day three
UPDATE, 5:04: Just got done with the annual managers' lunch, and Joe Maddon sounded very intrigued by the possibilities of adding to the offense, but provided no more specifics. "There's some very interesting stuff out there, and it's real,'' he said.
He also said he was not concerned about losing players to the World Baseball Classic, acknowledging the possibility that LF Carl Crawford and one of their starting pitchers, such as James Shields or Scott Kazmir, could be selected for the U.S. squad. The Rays could also see several of their foreign players selected for their teams, such as 1B Carlos Pena (Dominican Republic), INF Akinori Iwamura (Japan), RHP Grant Balfour (Australia) and C Dioner Navarro (Venezuela).
UPDATE, 2:58: There has been a press conference about the upcoming World Baseball Classic going on (and on and on ...), though they aren't naming names yet for the rosters. Davey Johnson will manage the US team, and Derek Jeter is here for the announcement so you can probably pencil him in at shortstop.
There are a couple of Tampa Bay area related connections, as the US team will be based in Clearwater at the Phillies complex and the Canadian team in Dunedin with the Blue Jays. There will be some exhibitions as well:
March 3 - Canada vs. Blue Jays
March 3 - Team USA vs. Yankees
March 4 - Canada vs. Phillies
March 4 - Team USA vs. Blue Jays
March 5 - Canada vs. Yankees
March 5 - Team USA vs. Phillies
The Rays will have a limited role, hosting Puerto Rico for a March 4 exhibition likely at night in Port Charlotte (not St. Petersburg as listed in the official release).
Other teams training in Florida:
Dominican Republic, with Marlins in Jupiter
Italy, with Mets in Port St. Lucie
Netherlands, with Pirates in Bradenton
Panama, with Astros in Kissimmee
Puerto Rico, with Red Sox in Fort Myers
Venezuela, with Tigers in Lakeland
Also Wednesday, ex-Ray Aubrey Huff won the Outstanding DH award.
UPDATE, 2:30: Rangers OF Nelson Cruz is of some interest to the Rays, but not enough that they would give up Edwin Jackson, and certainly not more, as an mlb.com report suggests. ... Also, the Rays have considered Florida OF Jeremy Hermida, but to say they "rejected" a trade with the Marlins, as the Sun-Sentinel reported, sounds a little strong. And if the Marlins truly seek, as the paper reported, two pitching prospects "likely from a group including RHPs Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, Jeremy Hellickson and Mitch Talbot," they should have rejected it, given Hermida's thus-far unimpressive numbers - .267, 44 homers, 163 RBIs in parts of four seasons.
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Most of the early morning buzz is about the Yankees' reported deal with C.C. Sabathia, which would go seven years and $161-million. It's not particularly good news for the Rays, Sabathia is 7-1, 2.44 in 11 starts against them, but not exactly a surprise either.
Otherwise, there's some Rays-related chatter in reports coming out of other teams, including possible interest in Cardinals OF Rick Ankiel and Rangers OF Nelson Cruz, and yet another mention of SS Jason Bartlett as a potential trade target, this time by Toronto.