Rays Roundup: Search For Bats Continues

Carlos Pena is still available as FA.

In this week's edition of Rays Roundup: The search for bats continues and the team adds more bullpen help for 2012 with the signing of Fernando Rodney. Plus Notes and Quotes and a Roster Report. All inside.

The Rays apparently really are considering all options in an effort to improve their offense.

The expectation throughout the offseason was that they were looking for a big bat to pop into the middle of their lineup, but with the first week of January behind them they had not made a move, either in free agency or trades.

Several players they had interest in ended up elsewhere, with veterans such as Josh Willingham and Carlos Beltran and traded prospects such as Yonder Alonso and Anthony Rizzo ending up with other teams.

But the Rays seem to be considering other scenarios as they surprisingly were the runners-up to the A's for outfielder Coco Crisp, who is much more of a leadoff type hitter than the slugger they were looking for.

The pursuit of Crisp suggests they would be willing to trade one of their other outfielders, presumably center fielder B.J. Upton, perhaps paired with one of their surplus starting pitchers (Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann) to get more in return.

They don't seem to have much interest in any of the remaining bats on the free agent market, with former Rays 1B Carlos Pena probably the most attractive option after Prince Fielder.

They also need a first baseman, with the return of Casey Kotchman a possibility. Kotchman batted .306 last season while playing his usual solid defense.



NOTES, QUOTES

--RHP Fernando Rodney was signed to give the Rays another experienced option for high-leverage relief work. Rodney is coming off a pair of unimpressive seasons with the Angels, but has been pitching well in the Dominican Republic and said he feels capable of regaining his 2009 form, when he saved 37 games for the Tigers.

--RHP Kyle Farnsworth is expected to remain in his role as the Rays closer despite the signing of RHP Fernando Rodney. Farnsworth saved 25 games for the Rays last season, including five of four or more outs, but was sidelined in September because of elbow tenderness. Rodney is more likely to team with RHP Joel Peralta to provide a solid setup crew.

--C Robinson Chirinos was not allowed to return to action in Venezuela as he hoped, as the Rays decided it was better for him to continue the rehab process for the right wrist he broke in October. Chirinos, who is expected to compete with Jose Lobaton for the spot sharing time with veteran Jose Molina, had been working out with plans to join Magallanes for the playoffs.

--C Paul Hoover spent eight years in the Rays' organization, getting some big-league time 2001-02, before going on to the Marlins and Phillies. Hoover has rejoined the Rays as a minor-league manager, named to head up the rookie-level Gulf Coast League team in Port Charlotte.

--Bill Livesey, a Rays' executive during the formative years of the franchise, was named recipient of the Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in Scouting from the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation, and will be honored Jan. 14 in Los Angeles.

--RHP Taylor Guerrieri and OF Mikie Mahtook, the team's top two picks from the 2011 draft, are among 28 minor-leaguers invited to the annual Winter Development Program, which includes workouts at Tropicana Field and information sessions.

BY THE NUMBERS: .224 -- Batting average allowed by RHP Fernando Rodney in an otherwise disappointing 2011 season with the Angels.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I want to say sorry." -- New Ray Fernando Rodney, in a call to Tampa Bay BBWAA chapter chairman Marc Topkin, in reference to 2009 incident when he threw a ball from the field into the Tropicana Field press box.



ROSTER REPORT

ARRIVALS: C Jose Molina (free agent from Blue Jays), RHP Josh Lueke (trade with Mariners), RHP Burke Badenhop (trade with Marlins).

DEPARTURES: C John Jaso (traded to Mariners), RHP Andy Sonnanstine (non-tendered, signed with Cubs).

FREE AGENTS: RHP Juan Cruz, DH Johnny Damon, 1B Dan Johnson, 1B Casey Kotchman.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: RHP Burke Badenhop, LHP J.P. Howell, RHP Jeff Niemann, LHP David Price, CF B.J. Upton.

MEDICAL WATCH: RHP Alex Cobb (surgery to remove part of top rib and blood clot from right arm in August 2011) is on track to recover and participate in the offseason throwing program. He is expected to be fully healthy for spring training.

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