Rays '95 Percent There' On Division Series Roster
Marc LancasterST. PETERSBURG - A full day of meetings at Tropicana Field brought the Rays' brain trust closer to a resolution on some tricky decisions that must be made this week, but little news was forthcoming Monday.
Published: September 30, 2008
Published: September 30, 2008
Though Manager Joe Maddon said the team was about "95 percent there" when it comes to nailing down its roster for the first round, one big question remains before the process can be settled. Executive vice president Andrew Friedman said the Rays were still kicking around whether to carry 14 or 15 position players on their 25-man roster, largely because of questions about Carl Crawford's health.
"He's a big part of that, for sure," Friedman said.
Crawford played in an Instructional League game at Tropicana Field on Monday and will do so again today and Wednesday. Reports on his surgically repaired right hand have been consistently positive since he began taking batting practice during the weekend, but Monday was the first time he faced live pitching.
The Rays may want to bolster their roster with an extra position player in the event Crawford's hand flares up on him during a game, or they could trust that he'll be able to stay in it for the duration and add another arm to their bullpen. Friedman said the decision ultimately would be based on which player the team felt would help it more - the 15th position player or the 11th pitcher.
"There's no clear-cut answer and we're trying to go through as many scenarios as we can to figure out what we feel like best covers us," said Friedman.
He also indicated the team wouldn't formally announce its roster until Thursday. The Rays have until 10 a.m. on the day of their opening game to lock in the 25 players they want, but Major League Baseball apparently sent out a memo Monday asking teams not to reveal their rosters before everything had been finalized. The Angels had set their roster Sunday.
Nonetheless, the Rays likely will tell those who have been eliminated from contention for a roster spot about it before the day of the game. Three of the 36 players who were active at the end of the season already have been so informed. Pitchers Jeff Niemann, Mitch Talbot and Juan Salas won't be on the Division Series roster, but were asked to continue throwing on the side after returning home in case of emergency.
Aside from Crawford, the next big issue for the Rays is whether Troy Percival is considered healthy and effective enough to help the team in the first round. Reviews of his two appearances in Detroit during the final regular-season series were positive and Percival was adamant that he was ready to go.
Friedman, however, said no decision has been made regarding the closer's status.
"The big issue, obviously, is fastball command," he said. "What we saw in the first two months was different from what we saw for the three months after, and it's understandable. The back injury is something that obviously impedes that and it's kind of in the middle. With what we saw in Detroit, it's hard to say definitively, so it's something that we'll talk about in-depth."
Reporter Marc Lancaster can be reached at (813) 259-7227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.