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Tampa Bay Rays appear set for spring training

The Rays still have a few big things to do, like finalizing their deals with Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez early this week.

And some small things, such as clearing spots for them on the 40-man roster, either by trade or assignment to the minors via waivers, with potential candidates including 1B/OF Leslie Anderson, just-claimed RHP Rob Delaney or Mike Ekstrom, C Jose Lobaton and/or out-of-options OFs Sam Fuld or Justin Ruggiano. They could add another veteran or two, like a middle infielder, on minor-league deals.

But barring an at-this-point unexpected trade for an established reliever, they're pretty much set for the Feb. 16 opening of spring training.

The offseason focal point was rebuilding the bullpen, and that will be a continuing story, with the potential for ongoing moves.

Four spots seem set with Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Andy Sonnanstine and Adam Russell. That leaves a large field for the other three jobs: Lefties Cesar Cabral, Jake McGee, Cesar Ramos, R.J. Swindle and Alex Torres; right-handers Delaney, Dane De La Rosa, Ekstrom, Dirk Hayhurst and Cory Wade.

The position player side of the roster seems relatively complete, with potentially the only competition between Fuld (who was acquired from the Cubs) and Ruggiano for a reserve spot.

And there will be considerable conversation about the batting order, starting with whether Damon should bat leadoff or second, with John Jaso and/or B.J. Upton other options at the top.

NUMBERS GAME: Look for Ramirez to wear No. 99 with the Rays, as he did with the Dodgers and White Sox. With Ben Zobrist wearing No. 18, Damon will have to switch, perhaps back to 8, which he wore in Oakland, or 22. … Farnsworth will keep 43, which he wore in Atlanta.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Farnsworth's deal includes a $2.6 million salary and either a $650,000 buyout or $3.3 million 2012 option, plus $300,000 in games finished incentives. … C Toby Hall, injured the past two seasons and now 35, is working out and seeking a minor-league deal, hoping for a return to the Rays. … Baseball America labeled the Rays "the gold standard" in player development. … As a promo for Adidas, Upton will do a live video chat with fans at 7 p.m. Tuesday on … The B-Street Band, a Bruce Springsteen cover band led by Joe Maddon's buddy Willy Forte, will play a free concert before the March 20 home spring game. … 1B Casey Kotchman would get a reported $750,000 plus incentives if he makes the team. … After telling the New York Post "we just have to (bleeping) win," Yanks co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said, "I still think the Rays will be tough." …'s Joe Sheehan writes that the Rays still "have more than enough talent to be competitive," and Jon Heyman has exec VP Andrew Friedman on his list of 21 offseason winners. … Five Rays spring games will be televised: March 10 and 18 vs. Red Sox, March 15 vs. Marlins, March 21 vs. Yankees, March 23 vs. Phillies. … Saturday home game times were set, with a 1:10 start April 30; 4:10 on April 16, May 14 and 28, July 16, Aug. 20, Sept. 3; 7:10 on April 2, June 18, July 2, Aug. 6, Sept. 10 and 24.

MISCELLANY: Hall is hosting a charity golf tourney Thursday at The Bayou Club (e-mail for info), and Toronto's Jesse Litsch, a Pinellas Park product, is co-hosting one Feb. 11 at East Lake Woodlands ( … Ex-Ray Wade Boggs, Steve Balboni (Eckerd College) and Cal Ripken were named to the International League Hall of Fame.

.Fast facts


The Rays were ranked second overall in organizational talent by ESPN's Keith Law and in Baseball America's Prospect Handbook (behind Kansas City) and fared well in the prospect rankings, with an MLB-most eight of ESPN's top 100 and four of's top 50.


14 P Jeremy Hellickson 2

16 P Matt Moore 27

20 OF Desmond Jennings 11

40 P Chris Archer 47

49 SS Hak-Ju Lee

77 LHP Alex Torres

89 RHP Alex Colome

97 LHP Jake McGee

Tampa Bay Rays appear set for spring training 01/29/11 [Last modified: Saturday, January 29, 2011 5:54pm]
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