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Rays: Assembling a rotation painful so far

WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times
WILL VRAGOVIC | Times
Published Apr. 12, 2015

Navigating an offseason of massive change, the Rays still felt good about competing for a playoff spot based on the team they could put on the field. • And some day, maybe in mid May or so, they might get to. • A seemingly endless stream of injuries has supplanted the organizational rebuild as the primary narrative as the Rays went into the season's first weekend with a major-league most nine players on the disabled list. • And not just any nine players. • With their No. 2 starter (Matt Moore) and returning closer (Jake McGee) already sidelined, the Rays since mid-spring training have lost their first baseman (James Loney), DH (John Jaso), second baseman (Nick Franklin) and three of their projected top five starters (No. 1 Alex Cobb, No. 3 Drew Smyly, No. 5 Alex Colome) plus a potential fill-in (Burch Smith). • "It's not ideal," starter RHP Chris Archer said. "Somewhat chaotic. It's almost like every few days, somebody's got something." • The result has been even more change, with seven rookies on the roster (including three who made their big-league debuts) and 10 players new to the team. • The Rays have nearly $25 million in payroll, more than a third of their total, on the DL, and, counting Triple-A LHP Enny Romero, six of their top 10 starting pitchers sidelined. • "It's discouraging," baseball operations president Matt Silverman said, "but we're not discouraged. • "We knew we would be calling upon our depth, and that call has come sooner than we expected. The bright side of this is that we're going to get a chance to see some of these (replacement) players and get a better look at them, and we'll be even better off when our players return from injuries."

Numbers game

OF Mikie Mahtook's arrival in the majors Friday marked one of the few success stories thus far from the Rays' much-hyped, supposedly franchise-altering 2011 draft class when, through supplemental and compensatory picks, they made 10 of the first 60 selections. Here is an update:

PickPos., PlayerBonus
24RHP Taylor Guerrieri$1,600,000
Recovering from Tommy John surgery, to join Class A Charlotte
31OF Mikie Mahtook$1,150,000
Was MVP of Triple-A Durham in 2014, made Rays debut Friday
31INF Jake Hager$963,000
Solid '14 at Double-A Montgomery, out all '15 for knee surgery
38INF Brandon Martin$860,000
Released this spring, got no higher than Class A Bowling Green
41INF Tyler Goeddel$1,500,000
Switched to OF, moved up to Double-A Mongtomery in '15
41RHP Jeff Ames$650,000
Back at Charlotte after '14 season ended for throracic surgery
51LHP Blake Snell$684,000
Finished strong '14 season at Charlotte, opened '15 there.
56OF Kes Carter$625,000
Playing at Double-A Montgomery after finishing '14 there.
59LHP Grayson Garvin$370,000
Back from '12 T. John surgery, on Montgomery DL w/lat strain.
60OF James Harris$490,000
Released this spring, got no higher than Class A Bowling Green.

Short stops

. Far from a commitment but at least worth remembering: Principal owner Stuart Sternberg suggested that if a new stadium were to propel the Rays from the bottom to the middle of the pack attendance-wise that the payroll would similarly follow.

. Deft maneuvering by new commissioner Rob Manfred to keep noting how committed Sternberg is to making it work in the Tampa Bay area but fueling Montreal's hopes of getting a team by lauding the potential.

Rays rumblings

Principal owner Stuart Sternberg said the $70 millon-plus payroll is "an area beyond uncomfortable" and "puts us squarely in the red again." … A new team dress code requires collared shirts or a jacket over a T-shirt on travel days and no sneakers. Among other new-regime changes: players on the field for the anthem, and batting practice for day games. … How much is a 40-man roster spot worth? The Rays were willing to pay injured RHP Burch Smith his major-league salary, $508,600 vs. $82,700 in the minors, and give him a year's service time to put him on the 60-day DL to create an opening. … For what it's worth, original owner Vince Naimoli said he thinks the Rays will get a new stadium on the Pinellas side and suggested the Carrillon site. … Bucs defensive back Bradley McDougald wants in on the action, tweeting: Wondering when @RaysBaseball are going to ask me to throw the 1st pitch.. Don't worry, I'll wait lol.."

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You make the call

RHP Chris Archer ....

On his favorite baseball players:

. Jackie Robinson: Because he was the trailblazer for any person of color, not just black players, but everybody. Anybody who wasn't white. And I think that gets forgotten among some other races.

. Derek Jeter: For all the obvious reasons.

. Torii Hunter: Because my Little League team was named the Twins, I had the Twins hats and shirts, and I would watch the Twins whenever they were on. He was, and still is, the man.

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