Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays roster appears set

CLEARWATER — There's some tightness in Luke Scott's right calf that could change things, along with the possibility of something — injury, trade — unexpected happening over the next few days.

But otherwise, the Rays all but set their 25-man roster for Tuesday's opener, giving veteran Jamey Wright the final bullpen spot over Brandon Gomes and leaving them with a group that doesn't look all that different from what they projected months ago, which manager Joe Maddon said is a good thing.

"It doesn't surprise me that we're at this particular juncture," Maddon said. "This is what we had talked about. We talked in the beginning (of spring training) about the team was pretty much kind of like set in a sense, except for 'moments.' The 'moments' have not occurred, thank God. Everybody's been relatively well."

Maddon, of course, likes — actually, he used the word "love" — what he has to work with, acknowledging slight questions about the starting pitchers being able to provide enough innings to keep the bullpen strong and how the lineup stacks up against left-handed pitchers, but seeing a team overall that can win big.

Sports Illustrated likes the Rays, too, picking them to get to the World Series, though losing to the Nationals, and putting David Price on one of its regional covers.

"I'll take it," Maddon said. "Not the losing part. But I'll take getting to the World Series. That's interesting. …

"I think we're capable. I love it. I think it's great. You never run away from that kind of stuff. Expectations are good. I like expectations. I think they give you something to live up to. There may have been a time you might run away from that stuff or cower a bit, but I think we're beyond that and I would like to believe that our players really enjoy hearing that kind of stuff, too."

With the opener less than a week away, Scott, their primary DH, appears to be the biggest question mark. He was scratched from Monday's lineup due to what he described as "a knot" in his calf and said he wasn't sure when he would return, but that he's " being smart" by resting it now. "I've got to make sure that there's no issue," he said in Port Charlotte.

Maddon said Scott won't play today and that he'd want to see him get back into a game before the opener. But he also said he doesn't think Scott, who last played Saturday and has only 37 spring plate appearances, is necessarily headed to the disabled list.

"As of right now I think it's okay, the next two days will probably be very telling if there's any looseness to it," Maddon said. "But as of this moment I don't think from what I've heard that he's going to be unable to play."

Outfielder Sam Fuld, out since March 4 with right hamstring tightness, is scheduled to make his return today and is expected to ready for the opener.

Wright got the final bullpen spot — or next to last, with Jeff Niemann expected to join them with Roberto Hernandez winning the fifth starter's job — despite an unimpressive spring (6.30 ERA) as a result of a sinker that wasn't sinking.

"I'm not worried about it at all," Wright said. "It's spring training. Once opening day hits, it'll be there. It's never not been there. I'm really excited about where my cutter and curveball are right now, so that's good. And everything else will be there."

Though Wright signed a minor-league deal, the Rays were required to tell him by Tuesday if he'd be on the roster and will officially add him by Sunday's deadline. They did the same with reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo, who is recovering from elbow surgery and will be placed on the disabled list. (They will also have to make room on the 40-man roster.)

Gomes has had a great spring (1.74 ERA, 5 hits, 2 runs, 0 walks in 101/3 innings), maybe the best of any pitcher in camp, Maddon said. Though he showed he was ready to be in the majors, he will have to wait.

"I knew it was a possibility, I'm obviously not happy about it," Gomes said. "But that's how it goes. Now it's on me to keep doing what I've been doing and come up and help the team whenever need be."

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.

 
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