The Tampa Bay Rays roster is finalized, however one more opening needs to be made before Sunday’s opening game against the Yankees.
The Tampa Bay Rays begin their 20th season on Sunday when they host the New York Yankees in the first of 19 meetings this season between the two clubs. Many changes since that first game in 1998 for the Rays has taken place, but there are no changes when it comes to hearing the plate umpire call out “play ball.”
Entering Saturday, the Tampa Bay Rays had three openings with four players vying for bench roles – rookie Daniel Robertson, Mallex Smith, Nick Franklin, and Peter Bourjos. Many assumed including me that Robertson would be the odd-man out considering that his spring offensively was not very good, and that the Rays would go with experience.
It was a no-brainer with the additions of Smith and Bourjos as both will give the Tampa Bay Rays two additional outfielders with speed and strong defensive skills – both that can centerfield and the corners. However, the third spot went to Robertson noted for his defense and that he can backup Tim Beckham at shortstop and as well play third and second if called on.
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So, the odd-man out turned out to be Franklin, who the Rays DFA’d as he is out of options. Franklin, can play short, but his natural position is second base and the Rays are covered there – and, Robertson is much more defensively sound than Franklin.
"“Basically it was about fit,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Nick hit the ball really well this spring, but we needed to make sure we were covered at shortstop, and we felt Robby did that.”"
In regards to the bullpen, there was one opening and the Rays decided not to go outside the organization as a possibility reported by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times via Twitter, instead sticking with Jumbo Diaz who the Rays claimed on Mar. 11 from the Reds.
“We think he can provide depth in our bullpen, and we think he has a chance to get some big outs for us with a couple adjustments,” Cash said.
Opening Day Lineup vs. New York Yankees
As for the Rays decisions on their selections for the Opening Day roster Cash said, “the decisions we made were to help this team win, win now, win out of the gate.”
Putting together the 40-man roster did not come easy as the Rays had more non-roster invitees and additional spring acquisitions then available openings to accommodate Tommy Hunter, Derek Norris, Jesus Sucre and Rickie Weeks. Off the bat, the Rays added four openings when they put pitchers Kevin Gadea and Shawn Tolleson along with catcher Wilson Ramos on the 60-day DL and designating Nick Franklin for assignment.
However, although Peter Bourjos was tentatively added, it is not official as one more opening is needed and according to Bill Chastain of MLB.com, the Rays could trade Luke Maile or Curt Casali, as there are four catchers on the 40-man roster. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times adds that pitcher Ryan Garton and or Maile could be DFA’d or trading Casali.
25-Man Opening Day Roster
Starters (5): Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb, Blake Snell, and Matt Andriese
Relievers (7): Alex Colome, Xavier Cedeno, Jumbo Diaz. Danny Farquhar, Erasmo Ramirez, Tommy Hunter, Austin Pruitt
Catchers (2): Derek Norris, Jesus Sucre
Infielders: (6): Tim Beckham, Evan Longoria, Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Daniel Robertson, Rickie Weeks
Outfielders: (5): Peter Bourjos, Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier, Mallex Smith, Steven Souza Jr.
10-day DL: RHP Brad Boxberger (lat), SS Matt Duffy (heel), OF Colby Rasmus (hip, core muscle)
60-day DL: RHP Kevin Gadea (elbow), RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Tommy John surgery), C Wilson Ramos (knee), RHP Shawn Tolleson (flexor strain)
The new turf at Tropicana Field will have something missing this season – the Rays starburst is history. The reasoning behind this is a combination of the new turf that was just installed and new MLB rules outlawing markings that help position defenders.