Sunday, June 17, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays continue competition for final two roster spots

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Rays decided Thursday they were not ready to make the final decisions on setting their 25-man roster for Sunday's opener.

With 27 healthy players left in camp, they basically have four competing for the final two spots — OF Mikie Mahtook, LHP Dana Eveland, RHPs Andrew Bellatti and Danny Farquhar.

So that means there are two levels to the decision, which doesn't have to made official until noon Sunday.

One is whether they want to carry Mahtook as a fifth bench player, then pick one of the relievers as the seventh man in the bullpen. The other would be to choose two of the relievers and go with eight. (These six appear set: LHPs Xavier Cedeno and Enny Romero; RHPs Alex Colome, Steve Geltz, Erasmo Ramirez and Ryan Webb).

"We're trying to get ahead and talk to some of these guys who, I hate to say on the bubble, but that decisions are being made about them and just tell them to be patient and that there are still more decisions to be made,'' manager Kevin Cash said. "We're trying to be mindful and respectful of their situation, because they've made it tough on us."

Eveland thought he was in position to force a decision with an opt-out clause that took effect today based on conversations with agent Page Odle, but there was an apparent miscommunication, and that is not the case until next week. Eveland, 32, said he is hoping to stay anyway.

By waiting, the Rays also can see if a better relief option becomes available off waivers or in trade as other teams cut down.

ROUGH DAY: No. 3 starter RHP Jake Odorizzi put a bad finish on a good spring Thursday. He worked only into the second inning against the Pirates, allowing 10 of 13 batters to reach base, and giving up eight runs on six hits (including two long homers), three walks and a hit batter. "I just didn't have any stuff, plain and simple,'' Odorizzi said. "Fastball wasn't good, curveball same way, split same way. I'm not really too worried about it, to be honest. It's not like I had my good stuff and I got hit around. I had my crappy stuff, for lack of a better word. But you know the good thing is it gets erased in a couple of days and we start new.''

LONGO RESTING: It seems like an odd time for a four-day break from live pitching, but 3B Evan Longoria insisted the reason he hasn't played this week was to be rested for the season. He has been working out and might play today in Lakeland. "There's nothing wrong,'' he said. "Just trying to rest up. I feel fine. … I'm looking forward to the season.''

ONLY THE LONEY: Cash didn't want to comment yet on the decision to cut ties with 1B James Loney, who was told Wednesday he wouldn't be on the team and would be traded or released by Sunday's deadline. "It wasn't a decision,'' Cash said. "It was more or less just expressing to J-Lo that these are our intentions, barring an injury. That was basically it. We wanted to do justice to him for being the guy he's been in this organization and just maybe give him a heads-up on some future plans.'' And why they came to that conclusion? "I'd rather just wait until something becomes official,'' he said.

GAME DETAILS: The Rays (12-12-1) made it interesting after falling behind 5-0 in the first and 10-1 in the second, closing to within 10-7 before losing to Pittsburgh 13-8. … SS prospect Daniel Robertson made several impressive plays filling in at third for Longoria.

MISCELLANY: The Rays broke camp and will work out of the Trop starting today. … OF Steven Souza Jr. on Thursday in Tampa hosted the Bowl For Kids' Sake fundraiser for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.

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