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Tampa Bay Rays' offseason moves, spring training plans

With the opening of spring training just more than a week away, here's a look back at what the Rays did during the offseason and a look ahead at what they have to do during spring training:

In with the new (and one familiar)

1B Carlos Peña: Free agent from Cubs; 1-year, $7.25 million

DH Luke Scott: Free agent from Orioles; 1-year, $5M plus option

RHP Fernando Rodney: Free agent from Angels; 1-year, $1.75M plus option

INF Jeff Keppinger: Free agent from Giants; 1-year, $1.525M

C Jose Molina: Free agent from Blue Jays: 1-year, $1.5M plus option

RHP Burke Badenhop: Trade from Marlins (minor-league C Jake Jefferies)

RHP Josh Lueke: Trade from Mariners (C John Jaso)

On minor-league deals: OF Jesus Feliciano, INF Matt Mangini, 1B Juan Miranda, LHP Jhonny Nunez, INF Will Rhymes, RHP Romulo Sanchez

Out with the old

INF Russ Canzler: Traded to Indians for cash

RHP Juan Cruz: Signed minor-league deal with Pirates

DH Johnny Damon: Unsigned free agent, Yankees a possibility

C John Jaso: Traded to Mariners for RHP Josh Lueke

1B Dan Johnson: Signed minor-league deal with White Sox

1B Casey Kotchman: Signed with Indians; 1-year, $3M

Bullpen coach Bobby Ramos: Not rehired, joined Marlins

OF Justin Ruggiano: Signed minor-league deal with Astros

C Kelly Shoppach: Signed with Red Sox, 1-year, $1.35M

RHP Andy Sonnanstine: Signed minor-league deal with Cubs

Main spring story lines

For starters

Unless — or until — they make a trade (or have an injury), the Rays have more starting pitchers than they have room. With James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore presumably set, it would seem Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann, right, has to go, or at least go to the bullpen. Plus, they have Alex Cobb and Alex Torres in reserve.

Catching on

The Rays say they are set behind the plate, but that could change as they get closer to opening day. Free agent addition Jose Molina, above, is 36 and has never started more than 81 games (and that was in 2008), and the candidates for him to share time with, Jose Lobaton and Robinson Chirinos, are inexperienced (42 big-league games combined) and coming off winter-ball injuries.

Order up

With their offense boosted by signing 1B Carlos Peña, DH Luke Scott, left, and INF Jeff Keppinger, they'll go through the spring determining how best to set them up. (See column, above.)

Coming up short

The plan is for Reid Brignac, above, and Sean Rodriguez to play out what should be a good battle for the starting job, but it's possible, if not likely, that they'll end up platooning. And free agent addition Jeff Keppinger could end up in the mix.

Bullpen roundup

There's depth but also some sorting out to do, with Fernando Rodney, who has previous closing experience, and Burke Badenhop, a ground-ball specialist, joining Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Peralta, who did well last season. Also some questions on J.P. Howell, Jake McGee, Brandon Gomes.

Follow our coverage all spring on the Heater blog (tampabay.com/blogs/rays) and on Twitter @TBTimes_Rays.

Key dates

Saturday: FanFest, Tropicana Field, 10-5, free admission

Feb. 20: Pitchers and catchers report to Port Charlotte

Feb. 21: First workout

Feb. 25: Position players report

Feb. 26: First full squad workout

March 3: Exhibition opener vs. Twins, in Fort Myers

April 6: Season opener vs. Yankees, at Tropicana Field

Exhibition schedule

Where: Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte

Tickets: $9/12-27, available at raysbaseball.com, box office, through Ticketmaster

Info: Toll-free 1-888-326-7297 (FAN-RAYS)

Games 1:05 unless noted

March

3: at Twins

4: Twins

5: Orioles

6: Twins

7: at Yankees

8: Tigers (ss)

at Twins (ss)

9: Orioles

10: at Red Sox

11: Pirates

12: Twins

13: at Orioles

14: Marlins

15: Phillies

16: at Jays

17: at Pirates

18: Red Sox

19: Off

20: at Marlins

21: Yankees

22: at Pirates

23: Jays (7:05)

24: at Twins (3:05)

25: Marlins

26: at Twins

27: at Red Sox (1:35)

28: Pirates (7:05)

29: at Phillies

30: at Pirates

31: Red Sox

APRIL

1: at Orioles

2: Twins

3: at Twins

4: vs. Future Rays, 1:40, at Tropicana Field.

Area teams workout dates

• Blue Jays, Dunedin, Feb. 22

• Orioles, Sarasota, Feb. 19

• Phillies, Clearwater, Feb. 19

• Pirates, Bradenton, Feb. 19

• Tigers, Lakeland, Feb. 20

• Yankees, Tampa, Feb. 20

Tampa Bay Rays' offseason moves, spring training plans 02/11/12 [Last modified: Saturday, February 11, 2012 7:21pm]
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