Friday, January 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays may still be shopping for bat, bullpen help

Even with deals to bring back DH Luke Scott and Kyle Farnsworth set to be completed this week, and spring training opening in just more than two weeks, the Rays are still on the lookout for help. Maybe another bat and another bullpen arm.

In the Rays' current configuration, there seems to be a need for another right-handed hitter, whether to spell lefty James Loney at first base, Matt Joyce in the outfield or Scott at DH. Sean Rodriguez is one option; Brandon Guyer may be another.

So, too, is Shelley Duncan, signed last week to a minor-league deal. Duncan, 33, has shown power and plate discipline in limited big-league opportunities with the Yankees and Indians, and with the ability to play first and the outfield, he could end up battling for a final spot.

The Rays also could use another reliever, even more so if either Jeff Niemann or Alex Cobb isn't in the rotation and free-agent signee Roberto Hernandez (the former Fausto Carmona) is.

Brandon Gomes, Josh Lueke and Dane De La Rosa will get looks. But so will veteran Jamey Wright, also signed to a minor-league deal. Wright, 38, could be a good fit, especially with his ability to keep the ball on the ground, a benefit given the Rays' infield defense.

Also interesting will be how the Rays clear space for Farnsworth and Scott on the 40-man roster, which has five catchers, including Robinson Chirinos and Stephen Vogt, and a surplus of middle infielders, including Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac.

PRICE CHECK: As only David Price would, he "named" his American League Cy Young Award "Clarence," saying he names everything and "Cy starts with C so I just figured Clarence would do." … The award will be on display at Saturday's Dinner with David and Friends, featuring the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame inductions of Lou Piniella, Ryne Sandberg, Darrell Evans and the Alomar family, plus an award for Jack Morris. For tickets ($125), see raysbaseball.com (Fans section) or call (727) 534-5343. … Price also will bring the award to the Feb. 16 FanFest at the Trop.

MINOR MATTERS: Merit was the reason for the minor-league staff shuffling, with promotions for managers Brady Williams (from Class A Bowling Green to advanced Class A Charlotte), Jared Sandberg (short-season Class A Hudson Valley to Bowling Green) and Michael Johns (rookie-league Princeton to Hudson Valley), farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "We have a couple of young managers that have earned the opportunity to manage at the next level," he said.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Closer Fernando Rodney will pitch for the Dominican Escogido team in the Caribbean Series, starting Friday in Mexico. … There has been a multiyear extension of the radio deal with WDAE-AM 620 and parent Clear Channel, senior VP Mark Fernandez calling them "great partners." … The funky 1970s-style retro uniforms debuted last year will be back for a game or two. … Ben Zobrist was ranked sixth among current rightfielders by MLB Network (and second by stats analyst Bill James), the 2012 bullpen ninth best all time by ESPN's Buster Olney. … New batting practice caps with the burst logo are available (including youth sizes) Feb. 22 in Port Charlotte, March 1 at the Tampa team store and the Trop. Also, a new clubhouse (interview) cap. … Expect 15 spring games (nights and weekends) on radio, three or four on TV. … Congrats to Rodriguez, and wife Giselle, on the birth of their third child, named by sister Sofia, Vanelope Grace. … RHP Chris Archer teamed with the Good Sports organization to donate $58,000 worth of sports equipment to the Wake County Boys and Girls clubs in Raleigh, N.C. … Excerpts of former RHP Dirk Hayhurst's rough draft of a Rays book are posted on dirkhayhurst.com.

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