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Tampa Bay Rays to call up Baldelli, Jennings, others for roster expansion

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' plans for today's roster expansion include a blast from their past and a big part of their future.

DH Rocco Baldelli, continuing his comeback in his second stint with Tampa Bay, will join the team, and top OF prospect Desmond Jennings will be called up to the majors for the first time. C Dioner Navarro and RHP Jeremy Hellickson will join them. Recently acquired OF Brad Hawpe was selected from Class A Charlotte after Tuesday's game.

The Rays are also planning to bring up Durham C Jose Lobaton then put him on DL, allowing for additional roster flexibility at the end of the season.

The moves will address the need for extra bats (Hawpe, Baldelli) a third catcher (Navarro), a pinch-runner (Jennings) and a bullpen arm (Hellickson). They will add another soon, when RHP Grant Balfour comes off the DL. The area they are not yet addressing is lefty reliever, with Jake McGee and Brian Shouse the top options. Manager Joe Maddon said there's a chance of a small "second wave" of callups at a later date.

"We're looking to fill in the periphery a little bit regarding the different skills that they have," he said.

The Rays made room to add Hawpe to their 40-man roster by shifting LHP J.P. Howell from the 15-day to the 60-day DL, and room to put Hawpe on their playoff-eligible roster by optioning RHP Andy Sonnanstine to Class A Hudson Valley. Sonnanstine is being sent to Hudson Valley so he can be brought back more quickly. A player doesn't have to stay down for 10 days if the team's season ends, and the Renegades' last game is Sunday.

Baldelli will have to be added to the 40-man roster, so the Rays need to create another spot. Lobaton is expected to stay on the 15-day DL for now. OF Gabe Kapler is also on the 15-day DL.

GETTING CLOSE: Balfour (intercostal strain) plans to throw in a simulated game today at Tropicana Field, with the possibility of rejoining the team Friday in Baltimore. Balfour felt — and pitched — better in Monday's outing for Class A Charlotte, retiring all three batters after giving up three runs and three walks Saturday.

"It's definitely a lot better feeling to go out there and just throwing strikes and do what I know I can do," Balfour said.

WITH HONORS: Rays 1B/DH Dan Johnson was named MVP of the Triple-A International League, Hellickson was named most valuable pitcher and Charlie Montoyo manager of the year. Johnson, Hellickson and Elliot Johnson were named IL All-Stars. "It's an honor to ever win MVP of anything," Dan Johnson said.

MINOR MATTERS: Four Charlotte Stone Crabs and manager Jim Morrison were named to the advanced Class A Florida State League All-Star team. Chosen in a vote of league managers, official scorers and media were starters Matt Moore and Joe Cruz, reliever Zach Quate and DH Stephen Vogt. The Stone Crabs are headed to the FSL playoffs. … Montgomery OF Leslie Anderson will play in the Arizona Fall League, along with RHPs Alex Cobb and Jeremy Hall, LHPs Sergio Espinosa and Neil Schenk and INFs Jose Ruiz and Henry Wrigley. … The Gulf Coast League Rays defeated the GCL Phillies 4-1 in the best-of-three championship series, with Game 2 today at noon at Charlotte Sports Park.

MEDICAL MATTERS: Charlotte RHP Matt Bush, the 2004 No. 1 pick who was making a comeback on a minor-league deal with the Rays, will have surgery on the radial nerve in his throwing arm today and said it'll take about six weeks to rehab. Bush plans on being back with the organization next year.

Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Rays to call up Baldelli, Jennings, others for roster expansion 08/31/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 12:08am]
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