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Tampa Bay Rays considering a bigger roster expansion than originally planned

DETROIT — The Rays may end up with plenty of help in September.

After talking about keeping the additions to a minimum, the Rays are now considering adding up to eight players starting Tuesday when rosters can be expanded.

RHP Andy Sonnanstine, OF Fernando Perez and a third catcher (potentially Shawn Riggans rather than Michel Hernandez) seem certain to be called up then, with another reliever, from the pool of Joe Nelson, Dale Thayer and Jeff Bennett, also possible.

RHP Wade Davis, who is expected to make his big-league debut either Sunday or in the Sept. 7 doubleheader in New York, will follow shortly.

After that, based on need or the end of Triple-A Durham's season, INF Reid Brignac and OF Matt Joyce are possibilities, along with another reliever.

Sonnanstine or Davis will end up taking Scott Kazmir's spot in the rotation. After that, Perez may have the most impact of the additions, as the Rays see his base-stealing ability as a key weapon.

"Perez brings a lot to us," manager Joe Maddon said. "Besides his bat, his ability to pinch-run is big. And last year, I think, he really came on as a baserunner. He got more aggressive and got better at stealing bases when they know he's going to try and steal a base. And that's a good thing."

The toughest decision is between the catchers, with Hernandez having the advantage of spending much of the season with the Rays (before the Aug. 7 acquisition of Gregg Zaun) and Riggans — who has been injured much of the season and has played in one major-league game — the greater advantage of being on the 40-man roster. (Hernandez would have to be added and another player dropped.)

"We have some roster issues," Maddon said. "All the rules they present us kind of get annoying at times, so you have to work within the structure."

RED ALERT: The Rays couldn't help but notice how the Red Sox shuffled their rotation to use their three best in the series that starts Tuesday at the Trop.

LHP Jon Lester was pushed back from Sunday to Tuesday (and will have six days' rest), ace RHP Josh Beckett starts Wednesday and RHP Clay Buchholz will move up, despite today's off day, to start Thursday.

"Rock 'n' roll," Maddon said. "I've said it before: You've got to beat the best to be the best. It doesn't matter who they pitch against us, we've got to play our game. Fortunately it's at our place, which helps us a bit."

POSTSEASON BONUS: The Rays, and other teams, have to turn in their postseason eligibility rosters at midnight tonight. It appears the Rays would have 28 slots to work with, the 25 active players plus Perez, and an opportunity to replace the two on the DL, Jason Isringhausen and Troy Percival, with anyone else in the organization at the time.

MINOR MATTERS: A day after Durham moved into first with a 10-9, 14-inning win over Gwinnett, RHP Jeremy Hellickson had a career-high 12 strikeouts in eight one-hit innings as the Bulls won 4-0. … RHPs Heath Rollins and Rayner Oliveros were promoted to Durham … LHP Alex Torres, acquired from the Angels in the Kazmir trade, debuts tonight for Double-A Montgomery.

MISCELLANY: 2B Akinori Iwamura is expected to get today off against LHP Jarrod Washburn. … Maddon said rookie RHP Jeff Niemann (12-5, 3.80 ERA) "should have three more wins than he does; he's pitched really well." … 3B Evan Longoria homered for the first time since Aug. 8, a drought of 74 at-bats and 18 games. … Iwamura, in his second game after missing three months, hit his first since Sept. 15. … Carl Crawford stole his 55th base, four shy of his career high, but Tigers C Gerald Laird threw out Jason Bartlett in the first and B.J. Upton in the seventh.

Tampa Bay Rays considering a bigger roster expansion than originally planned 08/30/09 [Last modified: Sunday, August 30, 2009 9:39pm]
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