PORT CHARLOTTE — Manager Joe Maddon wasn't ready to say OF Jeff Salazar had made the team. He can't yet, not with executive VP Andrew Friedman exploring trade and waiver wire pickups in advance of Wednesday's 5 p.m. roster deadline.
But what Maddon could say Saturday was that Salazar was the top candidate left in camp for the final roster spot as the Rays sent OF Jesus Feliciano and INF Will Rhymes back to the minors and were unlikely to promote prospect Brandon Guyer.
"He's obviously the last man standing," Maddon said, "but it's not been decided yet."
Salazar, 31, separated himself recently with his overall play, Maddon said, including the quality of his at-bats (.258 average, 10 walks to six strikeouts), power potential, defense and arm strength. Also, he has the most major-league experience, having played in parts of four seasons.
Salazar said he wasn't assuming anything and would keep doing what he's been doing: "My mind-set won't change."
Without getting specific on alternatives, Maddon said "there's still other things in play." The Rays will open the season without OFs Sam Fuld and B.J. Upton.
Late Saturday, the Rays acquired OF Kyle Hudson from Texas (for future considerations) to provide depth at Triple A. Hudson, 25, played briefly for Baltimore last season.
BLISTERED: RHP Jeff Niemann said the bloodied blister on the tip of his right middle finger is "a small annoyance" but should not cause him to miss his first regular-season start on April 11 or 12.
The blister surfaced after his Monday start in Fort Myers and by Tuesday was swollen and "kind of infected" to where Niemann said "I couldn't really even move my finger."
It has since calmed down, and Niemann said he could get back on the mound for a bullpen session as soon as today, but there is still concern of a recurrence. Though Niemann had to skip Saturday's start, he said his prep for the season shouldn't be impacted since he was already built up to 95 pitches.
PERALTA PUMPED: RHP Joel Peralta didn't hide his emotions after a confidence-building 1-2-3 second inning, pumping his fist as he came off the mound. Peralta had been struggling mechanically and questioning whether skipping winter ball, at the Rays' request, had left him unprepared. But he made some adjustments since his last outing:
"I think I fixed some stuff I was doing wrong, so let's see how it goes from here. … My arm strength is still not there."
GAME DETAILS: The Rays got homers from Carlos Peña (his first of the spring), Evan Longoria (third) and Luke Scott (third) but played to a 7-7 tie with a squad of Boston reserves and minor-leaguers. … At 8-16-5, the Rays have their most spring ties and fifth most losses. … The four errors were the most by the Rays in any game since June 6, 2009, at Yankee Stadium. 3B Longoria made his fifth. … RHP Wade Davis, in his first outing since being moved to the bullpen, allowed five hits and a walk and threw a wild pitch in three innings (with some shaky defense behind him), though Maddon said "he threw the ball pretty darn good."
MISCELLANY: MLB Network's 30 Clubs in 30 Days package, hosted by Sean Casey, runs tonight at 9.