March 25, 2012; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Burke Badenhop (31) throws a pitch in the seventh inning during their spring training game against the Miami Marlins at Charlotte Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The Tampa Bay Rays have made some of their final cuts of the year, and their 25-man roster to begin the season is beginning to take shape. Joe Maddon has chosen Jose Lobaton over Chris Gimenez as his back-up catcher, and Burke Badenhop over Brandon Gomes for the final spot in the bullpen. This makes the final bullpen:
Also, it was announced last night that B.J Upton will start the season on the Disabled List, as his back continues to have good and bad days after his collision with Desmond Jennings earlier in spring training. Sam Fuld is also getting a second opinion on his wrist injury, and it seems increasingly likely that he will require surgery. If he should need surgery, Fuld's timetable is uncertain; he remains confident that he will return "...during the season", but that could be anywhere from mid-March to mid-September.
With Upton and Fuld on the sidelines to begin the season, the Rays will have to dig into their depth to fill the holes. Reid Brignac will start the season with the big-league club -- the Rays believe he can play through his injury -- and Elliot Johnson is expected to take one of the other bench spots. The final spot is still up in the air, though; the Rays would likely want an outfielder for that final spot, so their decision probably comes down to either Jeff Salazar or Brandon Guyer. Guyer would make the Rays a better team, but the decision probably depends on if they want him getting used as a bench player or would prefer him seeing regular reps in Triple-A.
- The Rays starting rotation will be rather straightforward to begin the year: Shields, Price, Hellickson, Moore, Niemann.
- Marc Nemcik from Rays Digest interviewed Patrick Kinas recently, the new broadcaster for the Durham Bulls. If you'll be watching minor league games this year, it's not a bad idea to read up on Kinas and see how he approaches game-calling.