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Agent: Rodney extension story result of a "misunderstanding" with writer

Fernando Rodney's agent said inaccurate reports of a contract extension with the Rays were the result of a "misunderstanding" between the closer and a reporter from the Dominican Republic newspaper that published the story.

Dan Lozano, of MVP Sports Group, said he spoke Thursday with Rodney and that Rodney apparently was misquoted in the interview with El Dia, which reported Wednesday he was set to get a two-year extension. That was news to both the Rays and to Lozano as there have been no discussions about a new deal.

Lozano did say he and Rodney, who joined his agency this off-season, have "talked numerous times" about his future. Rodney will be a free agent after the season, and though he has said he would like to stay with Tampa Bay, though he could be in line for a significant raise, with a $2.5-milltion salary this season after making $1.75-million last year, when he saved 48 games and posted a reliever record 0.60 ERA.


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Lakeland woman Rays finalist for MLB Fan Cave

Lakeland's Stephanie Katz is the lone Rays representative among 50 finalists competing for spots in MLB's Fan Cave in New York. Voting to cut the field to 30 is being held through Feb. 13 on Katz, 22, whose Twitter name is @skittykatz, made the cut based on this video:

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UPDATE: Report of Rodney extension inaccurate

UPDATE, 8:47: Or not. There has been no dialogue between the Rays and Rodney on a new deal, much less an offer on the verge of being agreed upon. Either there is some miscommunication between Rodney and his reps, or Rodney was misquoted in the Dominican report.

DEVELOPING: Closer Fernando Rodney told a Dominican newspaper he is about to sign a two-year contract extension with the Rays.

According to El Dia, Rodney, who is set to make $2.5-million this season, was just waiting for a call from his agent for official word on the new pact, which would cover the 2004-15 seasons.

"Everything is ready,'' Rodney is quoted as saying in Spanish.

Rodney, who will be 36 in March, is pitching for Escogido in the Carribbean Series that starts Friday in Mexico.

He is coming off one of the best seasons by a closer in history, saving 48 games with a reliever record 0.60 ERA.

During the off-season, Rodney switched agents and is now represented by Dan Lozano.

Rodney is also quoted as saying the extension "will be two years, although we are always looking for a three-year contract.''

The Rays typically don't discuss the status of any contract negotiations. A message for Lozan o was not immediately returned.


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Video: Shields pops in as Rays load truck

Rays home clubhouse/equipment manager Chris Westmoreland was talking about what goes into packing up for the move to Port Charlotte for spring training when a familiar face - RHP James Shields, who was at the Trop to say come goodbyes - popped into the media scrum.



Full Story Myers No. 4 prospect, 5 Rays in top 56

It's the season for prospect lists, and came out with its top 100 tonight. Much like Baseball America, it noted the quality of the game's top four prospects, and ranked Rays OF Wil Myers fourth, behind Texas INF Jurickson Profar, Baltimore RHP Dylan Bundy and St. Louis OF Oscar Taveras.

Overall, the Rays had 5 players in the top 56:

4. Wil Myers, of
44. Taylor Guerrieri, rhp
45. Jake Odorizzi, rhp
46. Chris Archer, rhp
56. Hak-Ju Lee, ss



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Rays No. 4 organization by talent per Baseball America

The Rays moved back up to their usual spot near the top of Baseball America's organizational talent rankings, listed fourth in the new edition of the Prospect Handbook.

After dropping to 11th last year, the Rays moved back up in part due to the trade with Kansas City that netted them four top 30 prospects, including No. 1 Wil Myers. Also, No. 5 RHP Jake Odorizzi, No. 15 LHP Mike Montgomery, No. 26 3B Patrick Leonard. 

Wrote the BA editors, "After years of banner drafts, they haven't fared as well in recent years. But their system remains strong thanks to trades for Wil Myers, Chris Archer, Hak-Je Lee and Jake Odorizzi.''

The teams ranked ahead of the Rays are the Cardinals, Mariners and Rangers.

The Rays had been in the top four each year since 2007, including first in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

While BA will publish its overall prospect rankings next month, Myers was fourth on the individual rankings of the four BA editors behind, in some order, Texas' Jurickson Profar, Baltimore's Dylan Bundy and St. Louis' Oscar Taveras. …

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Video: Price on his off-season - and check out the outfit

Rays ace David Price talked Monday about his off-season, going to LA to make commercial appearances for MLB2K video games, and to New York to pick up his Cy Young Award at the BBWAA banquet. And make sure to check out the outfit he worked out in at the Trop.


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UPDATE: INF Kelly Johnson excited about signing on

UPDATE, 5:08: Johnson said he was excited to join the Rays and that while he has spent most of his time at second base, he was eager to help out however he can. "I'm open to anything,'' said. His reason for picking the Rays? "Opportunity,'' Johnson said. "It's always a good team, they're fun to watch, they're the type of team when you're on the other side you don't like playing them. I'm excited to be a part of it. ... I'm pumped.''

Johnson got a major-league deal, and it will be come official after his physical on Tuesday. The Rays will have to take three players off their 40-man roster this week, as they also have to add Kyle Farsnworth and Luke Scott, whose deals also should be official soon.

Johnson, 30, had 16 homers and 55 RBIs last season for the Jays, but batted only .225. The year before, he hit a combined .221 with 21 homers and 58 RBIs for the D-backs and Jays. He was traded in August for Aaron Hill and John McDonald. Johnson began his career with the Braves. …

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Big Game's biggest games? Best memories?

We asked James "Big Game" Shields to list his five biggest games with the Rays, which are below. Now it's your turn - tell us what you think were his biggest games, or your best memories of him. Or send him your best wishes in a post below.

My best memory of Shields isn't necessarily of a particular game - though there were some impressive ones - but how well and professional he handled himself after games, especially tough losses. He is as competitive as they come, and cared as much as anyone who has been in the Rays clubhouse, and when he took a tough loss or the Rays dropped a rough game, he was practically seething, but he was always at his locker, and always willing to answer the questions. But once in awhile when there was a question he didn't like or it was off-base, he'd pause before answering and shoot "that look" - and for anyone who was there, that's something you always remember.

Big Game's biggest games:

James Shields ranks his biggest games:

1. 2008 World Series, Game 2, vs. Phillies

5⅔ innings, 7 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 104 pitches, Win …

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Video: James Shields says goodbye to Tampa Bay

Pitcher James Shields wanted to say goodbye to Tampa Bay fans and teammates, so we shot this video of him.



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MLB statement: Status quo not sustainable

 MLB issued this statement this afternoon:

“The Commissioner has had conversations with Stuart Sternberg and is disappointed with the current situation in the Tampa Bay market. 
The status quo is simply not sustainable. The Rays have been a model organization, averaging nearly 92 wins per year since 2008 and participating in the Postseason three times, including their inaugural World Series in 2008. 
Their .565 winning percentage over the last five years is second among all American League Clubs and third in all of Major League Baseball.  Last year, the 30 Major League Clubs averaged nearly 2.5 million in total attendance; the Rays, who finished with a 90-72 record, drew 1,559,681, which ranked last in the game. 
The Club is an eager contributor to worthy causes in the Tampa and St. Petersburg communities
and takes pride in meeting the social responsibilities that come with being a Major League franchise.  We are hopeful that the market will respond in kind to a Club that has done a marvelous job on and off the field.”


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Rays set to re-sign DH Luke Scott

The Rays are set to re-sign DH Luke Scott, the Times has learned.

Scott spent last season with the Rays, and though they declined his $6-million option, both sides have maintained contact and mutual interest in a return. The Rays already paid Scott a $1-million buyout.

No terms are available yet, and the deal may not be official until next week as Scott would need to take a physical and the Rays would have to clear space on the 40-man roster.

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Farnsworth set to return

The Rays completed a deal to bring back reliever Kyle Farnsworth.

The veteran right-hander, who spent the last two seasons in their bullpen, has been considering a return for weeks and finally made a decision. According to ESPN and Fox Sports, he will get a reduced salary of around $1.5-million, and can earn another $1.5-million in incentives.

The Rays have not confirmed or announced the deal. One reason is that the deal pending a physical, which is a potential issue given his elbow problems last season. The other is that their 40-man roster is full so they will have to make a move to create room to add Farnsworth.

Farnsworth, 36, spent the last two seasons with the Rays, going a combined 6-7, 2.76 with 25 saves in 97 appearances.

After a tremendous 2011 season (5-1, 2.18 ERA) where he emerged as the Rays closer, Farnsworth was sidelined the first part of 2012 with an elbow injury. He returned in late June and made 34 appearances, going 1-6, 4.00 and regaining form as he went. He also enjoyed playing for the Rays because he could commute from his Disney-area home.

He made $3.3-million last season, up from $2.6-million in 2011. …

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Uptons reunited in Atlanta

UPDATE, 2:48: The trade has been announced officially, and Justin posted this on his Twitter account:

Bittersweet day for me. So happy to get the chance to play with my brother in Atlanta but will miss the city and the fans here in Phoenix.

DEVELOPING: B.J. Upton and Justin Upton talked of playing together some day, and they will now have that chance in Atlanta.

The Braves this morning completed a trade with Arizona to acquire Justin after previously signing B.J., the former Rays CF, as a free-agent.

According to several reports, the Braves gave up a package of P Randall Delgado, INF Martin Prado and minor leaguers Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury and Zeke Spruill for Upton and 3B Chris Johnson.

Though the Rays were not belived to be seeking Upton, the move could affect them in two ways: Arizona is now unlikely to trade OF Jason Kubel, whom the Rays likely did have interest in; and the market for top remaining free-agent Michael Bourn was further reduced, which could expedite free agent signings. …

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Minor-league staffs have different look

UPDATE, 3:57: Farm director Mitch Lukevics said the changes were primarily made to reward the young managers with promotions, and that Morrison, a 60-year-old former major-leaguer, was open to working with the entry-level players after four years at Charlotte.

"We are excited about our 2013 staff,'' Lukevics said. "We have a couple of young managers that have earned the opportunity to manage at the next level.  Morrison, who can manage at any level, will guide our youngest players in the GCL. Danny Sheaffer brings great experience to our organization. Danny has been a manager at every level, a coordinator; and as a major-league player has played at every position except for pitcher and shortstop. We are proud of the continuity of our staff.''

DEVELOPING: The Rays have kept most of the names the same but shuffled their minor-league coaching staffs:

Among the changes in Thursday's announcement:

Paul Hoover, who re-joined the organization last year after retiring as a player, moves from managing the Gulf Coast League team to minor-league catching coordinator, replacing Jamie Nelson, who joins the big-league staff. …

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