Rays set roster; Blalock will go to Durham
UPDATE, 6:46: Hank Blalock couldn't find a big-league job elsewhere by the Sunday deadline so he told the Rays he will report to Triple-A Durham. Blalock, 29, still has an out clause, in which he can notify the Rays and they have 48 hours to either put him on the big-league roster or allow him to become a free agent.
DEVELOPING: While still awaiting word on whether INF Hank Blalock will join Triple-A Durham, the Rays submitted their 25-man opening day roster by MLB's 3 p.m deadline, and it looks exactly as expected.
Technically, the Rays got down to the limit by putting LHP J.P. Howell on the 15-day DL and reassigning Blalock and RHP Joaquin Benoit to the minor leagues. Benoit stayed in Durham after Saturday's exhibition; Blalock had the opportunity to seek a major-league job elsewhere with the understanding he'd go to Triple-A if he didn't find one.
Also, the Rays made it official that INF Elliot Johnson cleared waivers and was given an outright assignment to Triple-A Durham.
And some minor-league roster matters courtesy of Stacy Long of the Montgomery Advertiser, who was the last writer left in Port Charlotte: LHP Jake McGee was assigned to Double-A Montgomery along with C Nevin Ashley, whom manager Joe Maddon took a liking to; Tim Beckham is on the active roster for Class A Charlotte but will miss at least the opener due to his sore wrist; older brother Jeremy Beckham was released, along with OF Jason Corder and RHP Austin Hinkle; INF Matt Sweeney (acquired in the Kazmir trade) was kept at Class A; the rehab list includes RHP Alex Cobb (oblique)
LHP Jason Cromer (elbow), RHP Woods Fines, INF J.J. Furminiak (heel), OF Desmond Jennings (wrist), RHP Will Kline (labrum), LHP R.J. Swindle (oblique).
Here is the Rays 2010 opening day roster:
Pitchers (12): RH Grant Balfour, LH Randy Choate, RH Lance Cormier, RH Wade Davis, RH Mike Ekstrom, RH Matt Garza, RH Jeff Niemann, LH David Price, RH James Shields, RH Andy Sonnanstine, RH Rafael Soriano, RH Dan Wheeler
Catchers (2): Dioner Navarro, Kelly Shoppach
Infielders (7): Willy Aybar, Jason Bartlett, Reid Brignac, Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, Sean Rodriguez, Ben Zobrist
Outfielders (4): Pat Burrell, Carl Crawford, Gabe Kapler, B.J. Upton
Disabled List (2): LHP J.P. Howell, OF Matt Joyce