ST. PETERSBURG — After extensive debate, the Rays decided they would rather have an extra arm in their bullpen to open the season than an extra player on their bench.
As a result, LHP Dana Eveland and RHP Danny Farquhar got the final two spots on the 25-man roster the team will submit today, while OF Mikie Mahtook, along with RHP Andrew Bellatti, was optioned to Triple-A Durham.
"It was the product of what felt like thousands of conversations that we had toward the end of spring, just trying to figure out the proper roster construction for opening day knowing it's going to be somewhat fluid," baseball operations president Matt Silverman said Saturday.
"We decided to go with the additional reliever to strengthen our pen and give us a little bit more length in the pen. We felt that was more important than the extra position player, especially given the versatility of the other position players on our roster."
With eight off days in the season's first 47, the Rays felt comfortable beginning the year with only four starters, planning to make a callup for the two times in April they need a fifth. As a result, they shifted No. 5 starter RHP Erasmo Ramirez to help out a bullpen left shorthanded by the absence of injured closer RHP Brad Boxberger, who is eyeing a mid May return.
But knowing they will go with a mix-and-match approach, they opted to protect themselves by adding Farquhar, an offseason acquisition with some closing experience who could have been sent to Triple A, and Eveland, a versatile veteran who was on a minor-league deal and could have chosen to go elsewhere otherwise.
"Adding Eveland gives us an eighth reliever and just the ability to cover more innings and make sure that our pen is rested and prepared for the next game," Silverman said.
The Rays also have to take formal action today with 1B James Loney, who will be either traded or released. Silverman said they would wait to comment then.
ADDING DEPTH: The Rays filled the need for some experienced catching depth at Triple-A Durham in acquiring Carlos Corporan from the Yankees for cash considerations.
Corporan, 32, has played parts of six seasons in the majors with the Brewers, Astros and Rangers. In putting Hank Conger on the big-league roster and releasing Rene Rivera, the Rays' only other catcher with big-league time was Luke Maile, who made nine starts last September.
ARCHED UP: RHP Chris Archer said the experience of starting opening day last year makes it easier to deal with the pomp and circumstance today.
He is excited about facing Blue Jays RHP Marcus Stroman, a friend and also an African-American, having chatted with him about it Friday.
"It's really cool," Archer said. "We're both pretty young. We're both minorities in the game — last year I think there was only 7.8 percent black American baseball players — and for two of them to be starting pitchers on the same day against each other, it's pretty special. … So there's a lot of things that make it cool, and the little bond that we have is definitely one of them."
BY THE RULES: Silverman said they were "not surprised" to see Rule 5 draftees OFs Tyler Goeddel (Phillies) and Joey Rickard (Orioles) make the opening day rosters.
"We had identified them as the two likeliest of our players to be selected and thought they had the opportunities to stick," he said. "It's the nature of the game that we have a talented and deep minor-league system. We have a number of prospects and we can't protect them all, and we have to accept that on occasion we're going to have a couple of these guys potentially slip through."
The story is not complete, as the players have to stay in the majors or on the DL all season or be offered back to the Rays. Goeddel, a member of that 2011 draft haul, has a better shot with the rebuilding Phillies than Rickard with the potentially contending Orioles. They were available to be taken because the Rays didn't put them on their 40-man roster.
MISCELLANY: Former Ray Eduardo Perez, plus controversial commentator Curt Schilling and Dave Flemming, will work the game for ESPN2. … This is the first Sunday opener in Rays history and the second to be nationally televised, also 2004 from Japan. … Commissioner Rob Manfred will meet with media before today's game.