The Rays sent five players to minor-league camp today, including their most valuable player from two years ago. Second baseman Jorge Cantu, who hit 28 home runs and knocked in 117 runs in 2005, was sent down -- and didn't take it well, according to reports.
If Cantu goes to Durham, and there are doubts he'll show up, that could cost Elliot Johnson some at-bats, but I don't think it will. One, I can't see Cantu staying too long and, two, I can't see the Rays delaying Johnson's development. Cantu had physical problems all last season and may need to consider a move to another position. Unless the Rays fulfill his trade request and move him to another team.
Catcher Shawn Riggans also heads to the minors with the Rays using Dioner Navarro and Josh Paul as their catchers. Riggans will benefit down the road from playing every day in Durham rather than riding the big-league pine.
Tampa Bay set its pitching staff Friday and sent three other position players out Saturday: infielder Jorge Velandia, outfielder Dustan Mohr (a former Alabama star) and catcher Raul Casanova.
There were two players released at the minor-league camp: outfielders Francisco Leandro and David Cardona. Leandro, 26, hit just .220 at Montgomery last year after posting a .355 average in 60 games at high-Class A in 2005.