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J.P. Howell Could Start Season On DL

If you haven't noticed the RotoWorld widget update on the left sidebar, the Rays are concerned with the strength of J.P. Howell's left arm. Because of this, Howell may start the season on the DL. I wrote about his spring absence recently, but figured it was nothing more than being conservative after last season's "wall" crashing.

Howell did not rate well in pre-spring strength tests, and it seems that his arm is not where the team wants it to be. It is in the best interest of all parties involved to take it slow and not rush him back. I'm glad Steve touched on bullpen chaining as Howell's potential absence could have a big impact on the bullpen.

With Howell slotted as Rafael Soriano's set-up man, the Rays will most likely turn to a set-up man by committee. Grant Balfour seems to gain some more high-leverage work with Dan Wheeler (righties) and Randy Choate (lefties) also in the mix. As for a roster spot, if healthy Joaquin Benoit would seem like a near lock for a spot.

The Rays could keep Andy Sonnanstine and Wade Davis, but Davis is not going to the bullpen, and if the plan is to have Sonnanstine start to keep Davis' clock stalled then this news doesn't change anything. Because of his 40-man status, Dale Thayer is a likely option for the potentially vacated roster spot.