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Tampa Bay Rays juggle several options for September roster expansion

The Rays have a lot to do this week.

With a Tuesday deadline for postseason roster eligibility, and September callups starting Wednesday, there are several moves and decisions to be made.

Not all are going to be simple. Some will seem odd. And you'll likely hear J.P. Howell's name.

First, they have to make room for new OF/DH Brad Hawpe, who has to be added to the 40-man roster, which is full, and the 25-man active roster, and by Tuesday.

Then when rosters expand Wednesday, in addition to reinstating RHP Grant Balfour and, presumably, OF Gabe Kapler from the DL, there are some seemingly obvious moves.

They should add a third catcher (Dioner Navarro), some depth to the bullpen (Jeremy Hellickson and a second lefty, either Brian Shouse or prospect Jake McGee) and a needed pinch-runner (Desmond Jennings or Fernando Perez).

Each could help win a game, so it only makes sense to take advantage of the opportunity as soon as they can.

Rocco Baldelli is another strong possibility as a right-handed DH/pinch-hitter/extra outfielder. Other names likely to come up are INF Elliot Johnson, OF Justin Ruggiano, 1B/OF Leslie Anderson and RHPs Mike Ekstrom and Dale Thayer.

One issue is finding spots on the 40-man roster. They have one "free" move, shifting Howell from the 15- to 60-day disabled list, which could be used for Hawpe. (Or they could get tricky and option someone to a minor-league team that ends play next week, thus making him eligible to return in less than the usual 10 days.) Of the other potential callups, Baldelli, Shouse and Johnson would also need to be added to the 40-man roster.

Since it sounds as if Hawpe is taking Dan Johnson's job as the left-handed DH, might his spot be in question? Or maybe Perez, who is hitting .222 at Durham. Or Durham C Jose Lobaton? Or Kapler, who reached the 10-year service mark Friday?

There are ways around the Tuesday postseason roster deadline. In addition to the 25 on the active roster, players on the DL as well as the restricted lists are eligible. (Thus waiting for Wednesday to reinstate Balfour and Kapler.)

Plus, Howell comes into play again. A player on the DL at the end of the season can be "replaced" on the playoff roster by any player anywhere in the organization Aug. 31. So, in theory, Baldelli could be called up Wednesday but still be eligible for the playoffs in taking Howell's spot.

Lots of decisions.

Tampa Bay Rays juggle several options for September roster expansion 08/28/10 [Last modified: Saturday, August 28, 2010 9:24pm]
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