Saturday, April 01, 2006

Trickle down effect

The Devil Rays finalized their 25-man major-league roster today and the sifting to the minor leagues begins.

Tampa Bay have added two catchers to the minor-league rolls in the last two days -- Kevin Cash and Mike Rose -- which could complicate Shawn Riggans' deserved promotion to Class AAA Durham. It would be hard for the Bulls to carry three catchers.

Chad Orvella's demotion was a surprise, especially since he had been one of the favorites to be Tampa Bay's closer at the start of the spring (and another, Shinji Mori, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury). Ruddy Lugo stuck with the Rays, which was a stunner.

Russell Branyan and Greg Norton were sent to the minor-league camp, which could influence where Wes Bankston starts the season. Branyan is a utility guy who primarily plays first and third base. He also has played extensively in the majors the last six years. Norton is also a corner infielder who played more first this spring with Tampa Bay.

Bankston started his conversion to third base this spring. He could be the big guy in the middle of Montgomery's lineup when the season starts Thursday.

With the major-league roster set, the Rays can start settling on their minor-league rosters and making some tough decisions.

Though every player wants to start as high on the Rays' chart as possible, there are limitations to what the Rays can do.

Durham and Montgomery can open the year with only 24 active players each. Class A Visalia and Southwest Michigan have a 25-player limit. Each will surely have a few on the "phantom disabled list," but not a lot.

On Saturday, there were 66 pitchers, 19 catchers, 21 outfielders and 28 infielders on the minor-league roster. That was before the major-league moves. Some of those that don't go to a full-season team will stick around for extended spring training. Some will be released.

Either way, there will be a lot of unhappy players Sunday.

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