Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays will use stretch run to help decide several spots on playoff roster

TORONTO — The primary focus right now, of course, is on trying to win enough games to get to the playoffs. But the Rays are also thinking about and sampling some of the options for when they get there, with some interesting decisions awaiting at several positions. Among them:

Rotation: At this point, about the only things that seem for sure are that the Rays will need four starters in the first round, and that David Price and Matt Garza are two of them.

Wade Davis obviously looked good Saturday, and how Jeff Niemann and — as shocking as this would have sounded in February — James Shields do from here on out will determine who joins them. And it remains unlikely that Jeremy Hellickson will.

DH: Arguably, the most wide-open spot, or spots, on the roster. Most likely, there will be a platoon, so there are duel competitions right now between lefties Brad Hawpe and Dan Johnson, and between righty Rocco Baldelli and switch-hitter Willy Aybar.

And depending how those shake out, there could be another decision on whether both reserve INFs Sean Rodriguez and Reid Brignac make the 25-man squad, as well as potential pinch-runner Desmond Jennings.

Catcher: The first decision will be whether it works to carry three, which would be the easy way to provide the most flexibility.

But if the Rays opt to go with two, they'd have a tough decision on whom to pair with rookie John Jaso — sticking with Kelly Shoppach, and his .187 average, or figuring Dioner Navarro can't be any worse a hitter and is much better defensively.

Bullpen: Rafael Soriano, Joaquin Benoit, Randy Choate and Grant Balfour are set, leaving two or three other spots, depending on whether the Rays opt for 10 pitchers and 15 position players, or 11 and 14.

Dan Wheeler and Chad Qualls have the most experience, but the Rays may end up picking between them as they also consider Hellickson (assuming he gets the bullpen gig figured out), Lance Cormier, the left-out starter, and LHP Jake McGee, who is about to join the mix.

Tampa Bay Rays will use stretch run to help decide several spots on playoff roster 09/11/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 11, 2010 7:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning shifts search for defense to free agency

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — As much as he tried, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman left the weekend's draft without acquiring another top-four defenseman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101
  2. Lightning journal: Russian forwards top Day 2 draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — After taking a big, right-shot defenseman in the first round, the Lightning's second day of the draft was headlined by a few skilled Russian forwards.

    Canadiens rookie defenceman Mikhail Sergachev with Brian and Michelle Reid, the billet family he lived with while playing for the OHL's Windsor Spitfires last season. COURTESY OF BRIAN AND MICHELLE REID
  3. The people you meet along O.J. Howard Lane


    OJ Howard (far right) is seen in a photo from his adolescent years at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church in Prattville, Ala., on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. Howard served as an usher in addition to attending regular services at this church.
  4. Lightning opens day two of draft by taking Russian forwards


    After taking a big, right-shot defenseman in the first round, the Lightning's second day of the NHL Draft was headlined by a couple skilled Russian forwards.