Sunday, January 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Elliot Johnson deserves fond farewell

The farewells of veterans B.J. Upton and James Shields naturally got much more attention, but Elliot Johnson deserves at least a long goodbye.

Johnson, 29, had 11 seasons in the Rays organization — just more than Upton, just fewer than Shields — and he earned every one of them. Unlike the other two, Johnson was never a prospect. He wasn't drafted. Never touted. Spent most of his time in the minors. Didn't have the benefit of being comfortable.

"I'm kind of this organization's baby," Johnson said. "I was a great example of great scouting and great player development, not being drafted and making it to the big leagues."

Johnson was designated for assignment Tuesday, leaving him in limbo for up to 10 days as the Rays decide whether to trade or release him, or put him through waivers. In any event, his time with the Rays is likely over.

Johnson, his wife and son spent this offseason in the bay area. They had their spring rental lined up in Port Charlotte. They had a place for the season set. As of Saturday, everything was still on hold.

"It's unfortunate, but it's part of the business," Johnson said. "This is the only place I've ever known. But if there's an opportunity to play in the big leagues somewhere, that's where I'd like to be."

PRICE CHECK: You could understand if there were some "amens" and high fives from David Price's camp with word of a five-year extension for Mariners ace Felix Hernandez that gives him a seven-year, $175 million contract. And that Hernandez got it two years from free agency, which is where Price will be after this season.

Price had a pretty good reaction himself, posting on Twitter: "Monopoly money?? That isn't real … "

Among the fallout is speculation about which pitcher will get the first $200 million deal: Clayton Kershaw from the Dodgers, Justin Verlander from the Tigers or Price — from whichever team he would get traded to, because it would be shocking to see the Rays do such a deal.

Price, meanwhile, filmed a national TV/Internet commercial for ADT Security with his dog, Astro. And he is in Los Angeles for the Cartoon Network's Hall of Games award show, nominated in the "In It to Win It" category with the Ravens' Joe Flacco, Kings Stanley Cup playoff MVP Jonathan Quick and the Heat's Dwyane Wade. The show airs at 7 p.m. Monday.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Equipment/home clubhouse manager Chris Westmoreland planned to not issue Nos. 2, 33 and 39 in deference to Upton, Shields and J.P. Howell, but when new INF Kelly Johnson requested 2, Westmoreland called Upton and said the now-Braves CF was fine with it. … INF Reid Brignac and RHP Dane De La Rosa, also designated for assignment last week, are still in limbo, too. … RHP Alex Cobb made Tom Verducci's SI.com list of pitchers "at risk" based on their increased workload. … Longoria is said to be running again at his normal gait, with no signs of the hamstring issue that limited him last season. … OF Wil Myers was ranked the No. 4 prospect in Keith Law's ESPN.com top 100; RHP Taylor Guerrieri was 47, RHP Chris Archer 53, RHP Jake Odorizzi 68, SS Hak-Ju Lee 78 (down from 12), RHP Alex Colome 81. … Henry O!, the documentary about blind Spanish radio analyst Enrique Oliu, will be shown this weekend at the Houston Disabilities Film Festival. … Ex-Rays C Toby Hall had another hit golf event benefiting the Miracle League through his foundation. … Saturday's FanFest highlights include players reading to kids and giving high fives, coaches doing clinics and Joe Maddon's charity lunch.

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