Unofficially, the Rays opening day roster is set. The team has until 3 p.m. on Sunday to finalize the roster (J.P. Howell to DL, ect.), but after today's moves all spots are filled. Reid Brignac claimed the final positional player spot earlier in the day, and just a few minutes ago Mike Ekstrom was chosen for the final spot in the Rays bullpen, Going back to my post on Wednesday, I still think the spot belongs to Joaquin Benoit when he's really for a full work load. Until then, he will join the Durham Bulls bullpen.
Benoit could have company in Durham as Hank Blalockhas had a change of heart about playing in the minor leagues. A few days ago it sounded as if Blalock would rather retire than ride the buses in the minor leagues, however, he now says he would accept an assignment to Durham if he can not find a major league job by Sunday. He remained unsigned until just a few weeks ago, and didn't do much in his brief time with the Rays. It's hard to see how he would now attract a major league job, but you never know.
What we do know is barring any injuries or unforseen events during tomorrow's exhibition in Durham the 2010 Tampa Bay Rays opening day roster will be:
Starters: James Shields, Matt Garza, Jeff Niemann, David Price, Wade Davis
Bullpen: Rafael Soriano, Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour, Randy Choate, Lance Cormier, Andy Sonnanstine, Mike Ekstrom
Catchers: Dioner Navarro, Kelly Shoppach
Infield: Carlos Pena, Willy Aybar, Reid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez, Jason Bartlett, Evan Longoria
Outfield: B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford, Gabe Kapler, Ben Zobrist(against RHP)
Designated Hitter: Pat Burrell
Congrats to all the members of the roster and good luck!