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Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Fernando Perez injures wrist

FIRST OF (PROBABLY) MANY: New Rays DH Pat Burrell, right, gets a high-five while entering the dugout after hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning off Toronto’s Brian Wolfe. It was the first home run this spring for Burrell, who was batting fifth, likely his spot for the regular season.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

FIRST OF (PROBABLY) MANY: New Rays DH Pat Burrell, right, gets a high-five while entering the dugout after hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning off Toronto’s Brian Wolfe. It was the first home run this spring for Burrell, who was batting fifth, likely his spot for the regular season.

PORT CHARLOTTE — OF Fernando Perez injured his left wrist Tuesday, and executive VP Andrew Friedman said it is "certainly possible" Perez could be sidelined for an extended period of time.

Perez was hurt diving for a ball in the first inning and left the game immediately. He was taken for tests and returned to the Charlotte Sports Park complex late Tuesday afternoon. The Rays wanted to get a second opinion from their doctors before specifying the injury's severity, but there were indications that it was not a fracture. Friedman would definitively say only that Perez won't play in the next week.

Though Perez may be ticketed to spend most of the season at Triple A, his absence could have a significant impact on the season-opening roster. If CF B.J. Upton is not ready to start the season as he recovers from left shoulder surgery, Perez was considered one of the leading candidates to take his place on the active roster and could have gotten some playing time even if Gabe Kapler ended up starting in center. Justin Ruggiano may now be the prime option for that spot.

DEBUT TIME: Manager Joe Maddon said RHPs Matt Garza and Andy Sonnanstine threw well in their debuts. Garza, who gave up three runs, said the Jays swung at some first-pitch fastballs, and he felt fine. Said Maddon: "Stuff-wise, he was very good." Sonnanstine worked a perfect fifth.

PRICE CHECK: LHP David Price settled down after throwing six straight balls to toss two hitless innings in his debut. Maddon said Price threw some "really good changeups," getting a strikeout and double play off the pitch the Rays have wanted him to improve. "I proved not only to these guys but I'm proving to myself I can throw a good changeup to a big-league hitter," Price said. "That's huge for me."

ROSTER REDUX: The Rays made their first roster moves, optioning LHP James Houser to Triple-A Durham and reassigning six others to minor-league camp, including RHP Chad Orvella.

Also sent to the minor-league side of the complex were RHPs Neal Frontz and Calvin Medlock, LHP Jason Cromer and Cs Craig Albernaz and Nevin Ashley. That leaves 56 players in camp, though three are away for the World Baseball Classic, INF Willy Aybar, LHP J.P. Howell and 2B Akinori Iwamura.

Orvella, working his way back after missing 2008 with a shoulder injury that required surgery, said he expected to be sent down but was "a little bit" surprised it happened so soon. But Orvella said with the starters getting more work, he'll need to get more innings, too. "I'm using spring training to get my arm healthy again whether it's here or it's down there," he said.

LINING UP: Maddon at first claimed serendipity, then acknowledged there was a certain appeal to the way he arranged the middle of the lineup — Evan Longoria hitting third, Carlos Peña fourth and Pat Burrell fifth — and there is potential staying power. "I kind of like it like that right now,'' Maddon said. "I kind of like the way it sets up. But who knows.As you see it during the course of the spring you're going to see it set up pretty much that way."

Among other things, the arrangement provides the preferred righty-lefty-righty mix.

PITCHING IN: LHP Carlos Hernandez, making a strong bid for the No. 5 starter's job, will start Friday ahead of RHP Wade Davis. RHP Jason Isringhausen impressed Maddon with his velocity, movement and delivery during a 42-pitch live batting practice session, though his command was off some, and seems headed to a game debut in about a week. "I was very encouraged with what I saw today, and I hope he was, too,'' Maddon said. Isringhausen said: "If he liked that, that's good, because it can get better.'' … RHP Grant Balfour, the bruise on his right arm from Saturday's line drive subsiding, is on track to return Thursday or Friday.

MISCELLANY: Burrell had a grand slam in the Rays' 11-4 win over the Jays. … The Rays opened full minor-league workouts Tuesday with 134 players on the field.

Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Fernando Perez injures wrist 03/10/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 7:27am]

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