LAKE BUENA VISTA - It may have been the fastest trip through a Rays' clubhouse because it was announced the recently claimed first-sacker Dan Johnson was designated for assignment to make room for outfielder Gabe Gross, picked up yesterday from the Brewers for pitcher Josh Butler, who was with Vero Beach (Class A).
"Obviously it's a awkward situation," said Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for Dan as a player. It was something, that for us, a lot of variables changed from Friday to today. At the time we claimed him we weren't sure about Carlos (Pena's) hamstring and how quickly he would be able to come back. We also didn't think this trade was going to happen."
Johnson was barely fitted into a #26 jersey that he came to the park Tuesday and found that he was out of a job. The Rays have 10 days to ask waivers on, trade or release him and Friedman did not rule out the possibility he could remain in the organization if the process goes through without someone picking him up.
"Ideally, we would have liked to avoid this situation," said Friedman. Everything was on the up-and-up. We just didn't know what we know now."
Friedman said that Johnson took the news like a professional but manager Joe Maddon looked at it differently.
"It was unfortunate it came down that way," he said. "I feel bad for the guy. I feel awful about the whole scenario. Andrew spoke to him first then I did and it's a tough moment for him and his family."
Add to that a 3,000 mile trek to find out you are unemployed is kind of tough, too.
GROSS-ED OUT: Unlike Johnson, Gabe Gross is an outfielder and when he sees action it will be in right although the Rays' skipper says he can hold his own in center, where he can spell B.J. Upton occasionally. He will also face righties primarily.
"If you look at his record over the last few years he's had only four hits in 44-at-bats against lefties," he said. "That doesn't mean he can't hit lefties. I'm curious to see his swing, I've never seen him. He has a good walk to strikeout ratio is excellent with some power."
OFF TO TOBACCO ROAD: Joe Maddon reported that things went well with Scott Kazmir today in his second rehab start. The lefty went 4.2 innings, throwing 64 pitches. His next start will be at Triple-A Durham and should be back for a start either May 3rd or 4th, depending how the rotation and days off factor in to his schedule.
DUCAT DOPE: Tickets to the Jays-Rays finale are still available at the Tropicana Field box office (no service charge), phone 727-898-7297, 813-288-8844 or 407-839-3900, Ticketmaster, and on raysbaseball.com. They can also be purchased at the Champion Stadium box office. In addition, all fans attending the games in Orlando will receive a voucher for a ticket to a designated weekend game at Tropicana Field this season. Parking is free.
TUBE TIME FOR "HOME" GAME: The Thursday game from Lake Buena Vista will be carried on FSN Florida. It will also be broadcast over the Rays radio network, including WHNZ 1250-AM locally, WHOO 1080-AM in Orlando and for Spanish language listeners, on WGES 680-AM.
AND IN THE END....: Pitching probables for game three of the Disney Series are Andy Sonnanstine (1-0, 5.79) vs Dustin McGowan (0-1,3.71). The Rays will return to Tropicana Field Friday for a weekend set against Boston.
FOUR! Tuesday's victory marked the Rays best record at any one ballpark during the regular season. They are 3-0 against the Padres at Petco Park in San Diego, however, they are now 4-for-4 at Disney's Champions Stadium.
MINOR MATTERS (Organizational Record: 33-42, .440)
DURHAM (8-10 - 3rd place): Jeremy Owens’ RBI-single in the bottom of the 11th inning gave the Bulls a hard-earned, 3-2 win over the Charlotte Knights on Tuesday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. With the score knotted 2-2, Joel Guzman led off with a single and was replaced by newcomer Josh Labandeira as a pinch runner. Lavandeira advanced to second on a pass ball, then scored one out later on Owens’ single to left. Durham trailed 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth inning when they tied the game on Hector Gimenez’s double play scoring Chris Richard. The Bulls took the lead in the eighth when Joel Guzman’s sacrifice fly plated Reid Brignac to make it 2-1. Charlotte tied the game in the ninth inning when Chris Getz led off with a walk, took second and third on a wild pitch and scored on former Bull Fernando Cortez’s single up the middle. RHP Scott Munter (1-0) picked up the victory, pitching two hitless innings of relief while allowing only a walk and a strikeout. RHP Oneli Perez (0-1) took the loss allowing a run on two hits in one third of an inning. (Matt DeMargel)
MONTGOMERY (7-12 - 4th place): The Biscuits dropped a 6-4, 11-inning decision to the Suns Tuesday night. Montgomery tallied twice in the ninth to send it into extras. Erold Andrus was 2-6 with 3-RBI including the game tying run. Rashad Eldridge was 4-5 with a ribbie.
VERO BEACH (10-9 - tied for 3rd): The Devil Rays nipped the manatees 2-1 with Wilton Noel allowing just the one run and two hits over 7.1 frames, striking out four. John Matulia picked up his 28th hit in the game, second best in the Florida State League.
COLUMBUS (8-11 tied for 6th): The Catfish slide has reached four dropping a 6-1 decision to the Rome Braves. Josh Johnson was tagged for six runs and ten hits in 5.2 innings. Omar Luna was 2-4 while Emeel Salem swiped his 17th bag, tops in the Sally League. Cody Cipriano is now second in the circuit with his 8th two-base hit.