PORT CHARLOTTE — Among the standard story lines of spring training — players coming back from injury, looking to do better, trying to win a job, changing positions — it can be easy to lose sight of the human side of things.
And then you have the story of OF Jon Weber.
Ten years in the minors, including parts of four in the independent leagues. Thirty-one years old and still playing like a kid trying to impress. Seven of the past eight winters in places such as Mexico, Columbia and Venezuela, which actually beats working construction like he had been to supplement his income. A wife (who teaches special ed) and two cute children at home in California he barely gets to see.
And all for the hope that at some point he gets to spend one day in the major leagues.
"You'd see a grown man cry," Weber said. "You would. All the dreams, the blood, the sweat, the tears, the traveling. All the agony I put my wife and my kids through being gone 10½ months a year.
"It would all pay off with one game. It really would. I could walk away from this game saying, 'All right, I did it.' "
Weber is having a solid spring, but his chances don't look good to make the roster. Even if B.J. Upton isn't ready to start the season and with Fernando Perez sidelined, the Rays are more likely to turn to Justin Ruggiano rather than add Weber to the 40-man roster. Mostly likely he's headed back to Triple-A Durham, where he'll fill in wherever needed around the prospects and just hope that with hard work and the right attitude, one day he gets the call.
"That would be the ending of all endings," Weber said. "That would be the final chapter."
RAYS RUMBLINGS: In an interview with raysindex.com, principal owner Stuart Sternberg said the Rays can be "viable" with a $60 million payroll but not "consistently successful." … If the Rays are going to trade pitching, this is the week talks usually start to get heated. … Evan Longoria shares a pretty rigorous-looking eight-week workout plan with Men's Fitness magazine/mensfitness.com. … The Rays dropped from first to third in Baseball Prospectus' organizational rankings. … Ex-Ray Delmon Young's Wednesday for the Twins? He homered and grounded into four double plays, which would have tied the major-league record. … The Rays will have to decide soon whether to put Perez and/or RHP Chad Bradford on the 60-day DL, which sidelines them until early June but creates 40-man roster space. … The Reds have been using ex-Ray Jonny Gomes at first base, and liking it.
WILD BOAR RUMBLINGS: Charlotte County Sheriffs were called to the complex Monday by security, and here are excerpts from the report: "9:41 — Wild pig is inside fenced area … 9:45 — Very large hog … 10:01 — (Animal Control) will not respond advised they should leave the fence open and the pig will leave on his own … 10:11 — Hog is out of the gated area now." … Clubhouse staffer Brandon "Tank" Richesin had his own encounter when taking out the trash but managed to avoid the boar. His estimate of the size? "Big enough." … Just saying, but rather than Stone Crabs maybe they should have named the new Class A affiliate the Wild Boars.